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FREE TO READ: How It All Got Started 003: Lina

Monday, June 18, 1984

It was such a classic trick, Lina Porter was a little surprised she’d pulled it off.

Her mother, who had just dropped her off at the Laguna Hills Mall on this first Monday of summer vacation, believed Lina was meeting Clair Glick for a day of window shopping and boy watching. If that had really been the plan, Lina would totally not choose this old-folks mall. She’d meet Clair at the newer Abbeque Valley Mall… which was actually where her best friend was right now, with her sister.

Lina’s heavy black leather platform boots clunked on the tile and her black ankle-length skirt swished as she strode to the other side of the mall. The reason for her misdirection (okay, lie) would be waiting to pick her up in his cherry 1968 Dodge Charger just outside of Sears. Lina didn’t want to be late.

She pushed through the doors and emerged into bright sunlight. Eric Finn’s car was right there on the curb, engine running, windows rolled down and speakers blasting the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.” Lina executed a little skip before she pulled open the passenger door and slipped in.

“Hey,” Eric nodded to her. He dropped the car into gear and pealed out.

Lina giggled. “Hey there.” She reached out and tickled the back of his neck right below his duck tail. He squirmed a little and rewarded her with a smirk.

Lina looked at him. His hair was jet black— he’d done a fresh dye job a few days before— and piled in a high pompadour. His sideburns went all the way to the edge of his sharp jaw and made his cheekbones seem even higher and more perfect than they were. He wore black Ray-Ban sunglasses and had a pencil-thin line of beard running from just below his thick lower lip to the cleft in his chin.

Eric Finn was nineteen years old, he drove a bad-ass car, he was into psycho-billy and some spooky-cool shit, and Lina’s parents absolutely forbade her from seeing him.

He was perfect.

“How long’ve you got?”

She smiled and leaned back in the seat. “The gullible Mrs. Porter thinks I’m hanging out with Clair at the blue-hair mall. I told her I’d call her when I needed picking up.”

“I didn’t ask that,” Eric said. “I asked how long have you got?”

She shrank a little. “Sorry. I… guess I should be back at the mall by five. Sorry.”

Eric nodded. “We’re going to Ian’s place. Watch a movie and stuff.”

“Okay, cool.” She watched him. He didn’t seem angry. “Sorry, hon.”

He nodded slightly. “S’cool. Just answer the question, okay?”

“Okay.”

Eric drove them down the five freeway and south to a trailer park in San Juan Capistrano. They pulled up next to Ian’s little camper.

Ian—long skinny muscles twisting under pale skin, ratty Adolescents tee shirt (sans sleeves), black sunglasses and a two foot green Mohawk currently hanging down the left side of his stubbly skull—met them coming out the door. He grinned and half-saluted Eric.

“Don’t burn the place down. I’m goin’ to get Tammy.”

“Burn the place down. Good idea.” Eric punched him in the shoulder as they passed each other.

“Fucker.” Ian shot him a cheerful bird as he walked to his motorcycle.

Lina thought Ian would be a real close second choice if Eric hadn’t taken a shine to her, but it wouldn’t be too smart to be obvious about that. “Hello to you too, Ian.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Ian kicked the bike to life, turned it around, and left, gravel spitting in his wake.

Lina followed Eric into the stubby trailer. It was her first time there. It reminded her of Carson’s bedroom when he was in Create-o-matic mode and let everything go… but worse.

Clothes were piled on the narrow bed, which was an unmade tangle of sheets, blankets, and sleeping bags. Ashtrays (full) and a two-foot tall bong (stinky) shared limited counter space with notebooks, cassette tapes and a few books. Finally, a small television and a VCR were balanced on a corner near the tight dining area, a stained and peeling plastic table framed by an L-shaped, cracked vinyl bench.

Lina didn’t look in the bathroom. She hoped she wouldn’t have to use it. “Dang,” she muttered. At least Eric was neat.

Eric didn’t hear her, or maybe didn’t care that she’d spoken. He went directly to the tiny fridge/freezer and pulled out a frosted bottle of blue stripe vodka and a mini tray of ice cubes. “Pig doesn’t have a clean glass anywhere,” Eric said.

“You want me to wash one for you?”

“Wash two,” Eric said.

Lina smiled. “Yeppers.”

She found two ancient former jelly jars decorated with Warner Brothers cartoon characters among the filthy, crusted dishes in the trailer’s plastic sink. She didn’t find any dish washing soap, and no sponge.

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do this with.”

Eric looked carefully at the seat of the bench before he sat down. He put the bottle and the ice cube tray on the table and looked at Lina. “You’ve never washed dishes before? Maid always do it?”

Lina scoffed. “We don’t have a maid. Ian’s the one who never washed a dish in his life. There’s, like, nothing to clean with.”

Eric nodded and shrugged. “Hot water and fingers.” He tapped the bottle. “This’ll kill any germs, anyway.”

She washed the glasses best as she could, shook most of the water off, and brought them to the table. She sat next to Eric.

Eric dropped some ice into each glass and covered it with vodka. He tapped Lina’s glass (the Road Runner) with his (Porky Pig) and drank.

Lina sipped. She’d sneaked alcohol from her parents’ liquor cabinet before, so she already knew she didn’t really like vodka all that much. Super-cold like this, it wasn’t too bad. She swallowed quickly and looked forward to the buzz and whatever else she and Eric might get into before Ian and Tammy got back.

Eric twisted around and picked up one of Ian’s books. “Heh! Crowley!”

Lina took another sip and read the title. “‘The Book of the Law.'” She drank. “Which one is Crowley, again?”

“The Great Beast,” Eric said with a smile. He flipped the pages like a hungry man unsure of where to start on the restaurant menu. “This book, it’s supposed to be the word of this… angel, demon, entity, thing, whatever. Crowley just wrote it all down. It’s interesting stuff.”

Lina took in another small mouthful of vodka. Ice cubes bumped against her lips. Her buzz was coming on. It made her feel cool. Older.

She leaned into Eric. “Like what?”

“Like how knowing yourself is the only way to really be powerful. And to know yourself, you gotta do everything; try everything.”

“Like what?” She liked when he taught her things.

He licked his lips and drank. “Like everything, no matter what the world or the law or anything says is right or wrong.”

“But what if you get caught?” Lina thought about what her father would do if he found out where she was today.

“That’d just be another experience, right? But it’d probably be better to not get caught.”

“Totally.”

Eric read aloud, musing. “‘Love is the law, love under will.'”

“‘Love is the law.’ I like that,” Lina said.

“Under will,” Eric stressed. “Under will.”

“Whose will?”

Eric gave her a dark look. “It’s not somebody’s name, Lina.” He shook his head. “This is serious shit. C’mon.”

“Not ‘who is Will,’ Eric.” Lina laughed. “Jesus. I’m not a total idiot. Whose will is the law gonna be under?”

“Oh.” She could tell he didn’t quite believe her. “Whoever has the most experience. The most power.”

He put down the book and ran his fingers down the cover, slowly.

Lina wanted him to do that to her.

“You know who that’s gonna be?” Eric asked.

She drank. The trailer baked in the sun. The place smelled like stale clothes, old pot and cigarettes. Her ears felt warm.

Definitely buzzed now.

“Nope.”

“Me. And you’re gonna help me get there.”

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Copyright 2003 ~ 2018 Matthew Wayne Selznick.
The Sovereign Era, The Shaper's World, Daikaiju Universe, Protector Universe, Hazy Days and Cloudy Nights, How It All Got Started, Thing, Carson Meunetti, Lina Porter, Alex Kent, Crystal Dubois, Abbeque Valley, Dana Cove, Pinnacle Records, Hagar's and related characters, institutions, situations, and representative depictions in media are trade marks of Matthew Wayne Selznick.
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