Fourth of July festivities are in full swing. The alcohol ban has effectively shepherded the drinking herds inland, away from the beaches and on to patios and lawns – an attempt by City Council to reclaim the coast for all of San Diego’s upstanding citizens. Perhaps the ban was not such a bad idea after all. No one likes a buzzkill, but one wonders what the founding fathers would have thought about the Sodom-and-Gomorrah celebrations that had come to mark Independence Day at the beach in recent years. Celebrate freedom! Freedom to drink and piss and puke and fight and fuck in public! U-S-A! U-S-A!
This year Sickboy lugs a twelve pack of Newcastle bottles along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, on his way to Sevrin’s pad for a barbecue with the crew. As he enters Sevrin’s complex and begins to ascend the stairs, his eardrums are pounded by the explosive sound of whispers. Apparently, the fireworks have started early.
“Yeah, he’s like chronically shy or something. But you have to check it out. obsickboy.com,” Sevrin tells his guests.
Albino Bill follows with a verbal M-80 of his own. “Yeah, I saw one of his cards stuck to a palm tree outside Winston’s last week. What’s up with that?”
No one has actually said anything negative, but Sickboy is nothing if not hypersensitive. His scribbles are what they are, posted on the world wide web for anyone to see. Sure, he wants people to read them. But he sure as hell doesn’t want people to read INTO them. If you like a good story, check it out. If you relate to certain aspects of the character, well that’s the idea. But don’t go thinking you have Sickboy himself all figured out. The story is about you as much, if not more so, than it is about Sickboy. Stoners, loadies, drunks, and depressives – we each have our addictions and character flaws. Can’t we all just get along? Goddamn whisperers!
Mush Rider hurls the next cherry bomb.
“obsickboy.com, huh? Alright. I’m gonna’ check it out and see what that crazy motherfucker is up to. You know what they say… Still waters run deep.”
Just then Sickboy taps on the screen door to throw a damper on the fireworks show.
“What the fuck, fellas!”
Sickboy is feigning embarrassment…sort of. He can take a little shit talk from the boys, but Mush Rider’s new girl is hanging out as well. Isn’t there some code of man ethics that applies here? No clowning one of the boys in front of the new girl. But Sickboy gets no respect. It’s not easy being an anonymous online scribbler, especially when the protective cloud of anonymity evaporates like the coastal marine layer at two o’clock on a sunny summer afternoon.
“Oh, hey, what’s up, Sickboy!” Sevrin stutters.
“Fuck off, Sevrin! But Happy 4th to the rest of you.”
Sickboy is having some fun now.
“Hey man, don’t hate” Sevrin whines.
Sickboy needs to set some things straight so he can enjoy his holiday.
“Chronically shy? Look, you pussy, I have a lot on my mind. So I spend a lot of time lost inside my head. But I wouldn’t call it shyness. I’m just picky about with whom I’m willing to share. I have standards. That’s all. There’s no one who I think needs to hear something who hasn’t already heard it from me. When a friend needs advice, he gets it. When someone offends me, he hears about it. And the girl I love… she knows it. That’s more than I can say for the cocoon of bullshit that you’ve spun around yourself… fuckin’ mothman! ”
Sevrin tries to end the discussion with his usual retort. “Whatever, dude!”
Sickboy isn’t quite finished.
“Yeah, whatever! I think you have some pent up shit that you need to get out, Sev. You need a laxative for your soul or something. You know, push one out.”
“Fuck you, Sickboy. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Sickboy cracks open a Newcastle and takes a big chug. He’s done explaining himself for the day, and he gives the host a friendly pat on the back. Sevrin is a good guy, even if he is emotionally constipated.
The party moves out to the patio where Mush Rider and Albino Bill get into a discussion about the La Jolla traffic circles. Like most motorists, Albino Bill is not a fan. Relating his antics as only he can, the man with no pigmentation has everyone on the patio cracking up.
“There’s like fifteen of those fuckin’ things on LaJolla Boulevard. Forget that slow down, loopdy-loop shit! I just drive right over them – over the curb, on the grass.”
Bill is not kidding either.
For some reason, Mush Rider steadfastly defends the loops, like the Minutemen defending Boston Harbor from the Brits.
“Actually, my uncle’s firm was contracted to build the loops, and there are three, not fifteen. The only problem is that the landscaping needs to be trimmed. The bushes are so high that you can’t see the oncoming traffic making its way around the circle.”
Albino Bill stands up and bellows “To hell with those stupid circles! I hope they tear up all twenty of them! Who wants to smoke a bowl?”
Mush rises from his seat to respond.
“It’s three! Not twenty! Not thirty! Three! And there’s a nugget of Silver Haze upstairs on the counter.”
Nothing like some crystal laden chronic to repair a potential rift between dueling stoners. He rides the mush but he smokes the kush, and the big white man is more than happy to partake in his stash.
Mush Rider is always holding some crazy strain or another. Sometimes the names sound like their taken right off the menu at Jamba Juice. Other times they seem ripped from the cereal aisle of the grocery store.
Hawaiian Punch. Cat Piss. Grapes of Wrath. Vanilla Fusion. Numb Dick Stick. Cocoa Puffs. Humboldt Lightning. Captain Crunch. Mango Madness.
A few rips later and no one’s talking about the traffic circles any more.
Over the course of the day, several species of beast are roasted and consumed by this gathering of beer swilling savages. Right around 8:30 the party breaks up as the stuffed and wasted tribe heads toward the beach to watch the fireworks launch from the OB pier. Sickboy breaks off from the group and finds a spot on the lawn next to lifeguard tower two. He turns his attention inward as sound and fury erupt in the sky above the sea.
Out there in the cosmos, far beyond the exploding sky, there is a parallel universe where Sickboy has his shit together. He is healthy and confident and he sweeps Jenny off her feet, as all that is good inside the boy comes pouring forth for everyone to see. Here on earth, in this lifetime, however, an overthinking, overdrinking sick and troubled soul can only scribble his way to health and happiness, one episode at a time.