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How It All Got Started 027: Crystal

Friday, June 22, 1984

Crystal tired of her post at the front door. She spotted potential relief.

“Brad!”

Brad Krueger bobbed his head in acknowledgment and crossed the living room to her. “Hey, Crystal.” He was almost a foot and a half taller than Crystal and kept his chin tucked against his collar bone to talk to her. “Cool hat.”

“Thanks. Look, somebody’s gotta play doorman for a while. Preston doesn’t want those kids across the street to crash the party. I have to pee. And I want a beer. Can you…”

Brad nodded vigorously. “No problem, Crystal! Hey—do I get to wear the hat?”

Crystal took the pork-pie hat off her head and pushed it over Brad’s haphazard ball of curly brown hair. “You get to wear the hat.”

Brad grinned. “Nice!”

“Thanks!” Crystal decided to go for the beer before the bathroom. It would give her a chance to check in with Preston and see if he’d done his acid yet.

That could go either way, she knew, and it might be good to find out now. She didn’t want to have to babysit him all night. She wanted to have fun.

She passed through the kitchen and went into the back yard. A few people were hanging out there; she nodded to Star Bell (girl belonged in a forties movie with a name like that, she thought for the millionth time…) and exchanged a hug-and-hello with Dennis Vale. That was fun, if only because it made Dennis’ Barbie-doll former-majorette fiance Isabel stiffen with jealousy.

Bitch.

She reached Back House. No one was in the little one-room converted storage shack because Preston hadn’t yet turned on the hundreds of purple Christmas lights on the interior walls and the ceiling. That was the deal with a party at the House of Back: the level of fun / inebriation / wastedness needed to rise a little before Back House opened for business and people gravitated to its tight confines.

Preston thought he was playing with the crowd. Crystal enjoyed the experiment in practice, but knew it wasn’t worth much when there was nothing even close to a control group among their friends.

The back house was also where she and Preston had stashed a cooler of the good beer earlier this afternoon. Crystal went inside, found the cooler in the dim light, and grabbed an Elephant. The bottle was wet from soaking in half-melted ice, which made it easy to scrape off the label. It wouldn’t do for people to wonder where or how she got something better than Corona or Miller Genuine Draft. She popped the cap with the bottle opener on her key chain and half-sneaked back to the main house.

So. No Preston in the living room, back yard, or back house. His room, then.

She went down the hall and opened the door. Several expectant faces looked up through a cloying haze, including Ian Pinchley and Jeff Hargis. Jeff waved at her, his smile stiff from holding in smoke from the toke he’d just inhaled.

Crystal let the sweet, cloying fumes come and go through her lungs. “You guys seen Preston?”

Jeff croaked, “Nope,” and exhaled.

“Thanks.” Crystal stepped back into the hallway and closed the door. Might as well go to the bathroom.

The bathroom door opened as she reached for it. Crystal automatically took a step back.

Tall Skinny Gail nearly bumped into her coming out, anyway. “Oh! Hi!”

Tall Skinny Gail. She wore a black sequined flapper dress that fell off her shoulders like a rectangle and accentuated her long, angular body. Her hair, waist-length, thick, honey-blond, and just about the only thing about her Crystal was genuinely envious of, was out of sorts. Her make-up was all fucked up.

Gail closed the door behind her.

Crystal sneered. “What are you doing here?”

“I… oh, you know.” Gail tried a gracious smile, but it was a soap-opera maneuver. They hated each other’s guts. “Just hanging out.”

Gail brushed past her and made for the living room. “You got nothing there to hang out, Tall Skinny Gail,” Crystal said to her back. She reached for the bathroom door knob and stopped.

Gail’s make-up was a mess. Why would she leave the bathroom without fixing herself up?

Her hair was disheveled. You’d have to work pretty hard to put hair that heavy out of place.

The bathroom light was still on.

Where the fuck was Preston?

All these thoughts passed though Crystal’s mind in a fraction of a second. Furious, she opened the bathroom door.

Preston leaned against the sink. He grinned sheepishly. “Hi.”

The narrow, curling line of smoke rising from a little cone of incense on the sink counter hadn’t yet overpowered the sticky smell of sex, which seemed as thick as the pot smoke in Preston’s bedroom. Crystal hung on the door and swayed, momentarily paralyzed with rage.

Her voice came from low her throat. “You piece of shit.” Her lungs took in air heavy with incense and pheromones, and that powered volume that notched louder with every subsequent word: “You mother fucking dick!”

“Crystal, hey, it not—”

Preston took a step toward her. Crystal didn’t hesitate. She pushed him with both hands. It sounded like he fell back against the sink, but Crystal had already turned around, was already moving down the hall, forcing herself not to run, forcing herself not to cry.

In fact, fuck crying. She wanted to kill him. If she didn’t get away from him, she’d do it. And fuck him if he was going to make her have a scene in front of everyone here.

Half these assholes probably knew what was going on, anyway. Guaranteed everyone in Preston’s bedroom did. Had Preston smoked Gail out, too, before he fucked her over the goddamn toilet?

She needed to be away from everybody for five minutes before she could move through the house, get her shit, and go home. If she saw that Gail on the way, she didn’t care who else was around. She’d fucking clock that fucking bitch.

She needed five minutes. Five minutes to breathe, to put the wall back up, to not look like a fool. To get her stupid hat back from Brad.

She whipped open Preston’s mother’s bedroom door.

What she saw there did not improve her mood.

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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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