Touch, touch, touch me; can you stay tonight?
I don’t want you to leave my side
Talk, talk, talk to me; I need to know
Will you remember me tomorrow? — David Diamond/Berlin
— — — — —
Twilight slid in.
“Where are the hangouts at, besides the woods in this town?”
Velvet and Josh answered in unison, “The Bug.”
“So what is the bug?”
“It’s a hostel, and pub. Lots of service workers hang out there. Josh has a fake I.D. so he’s known as Sam there, so make sure you don’t forget to call him Sam.
“Sounds cool, lets’ go.” I really wanted to go.
The moments of stupidity during sunset were forgotten by this time.
“No Darin, it’s really cool. All the rooms are themed. There’s even a sixties Austin Powers room.” Josh trying to sell me on the idea.
“Damn man! Let’s go.” I said with genuine excitement.
“I got classes tomorrow.”
Velvet had said earlier that she was in her first year of college down in Merced.
“You and Josh should go. You’re new here, you guys have fun!”
“How are you going to get back?” I asked her.
“I’ll take Josh’s Moms’ truck back, and walk the trail back home.”
Josh kissed his girlfriend, and gave her a big bear hug bending down from his six foot stature as she was about to open the door to the beater truck. Velvet was about my hight; 5 foot 8, but still shorter.
Velvet drove off into the darkness.
“Well it’s just me and you, homo.” I teased.
“Hey, I’m comfortable in my sexuality, kissing you was just nothing.” Josh avoided eye contact with me.
“You started shaking, lost your beer, and wanted me to lie to your girlfriend. I’m not a guinea pig man. If you want to explore sexuality, do it with someone else.” He looked at me like a child who’d been just spanked.
I mounted my bike, and covered my head in a helmet. “There’s a helmet in the lock…. here…” I unlocked the helmet lock, and handed him a spare helmet. He put it on, awkwardly. I tied the chin straps underneath his jaw.
“Getting on the bike is the hardest part, because it’s tall. When I get on, and straighten the bike out, you hop then. Do you know how to ride on the back of a motorcycle?”
“Yeah, my dad used to take me on his.”
“Cool. Hop on.”
Josh held me tightly as I wound my bike through the pine lined highway on the way up to the Yosemite Bug Hostel. I began to see signs for The Bug. Then Josh poked me mid-back, gesturing to a hotel on the right. I couldn’t hear what he was trying to tell me, the rushing wind knocked the sound out.
The Bug was pretty big, with cabins, outbuildings, and yurt, all centered underneath a clearing of firs and pines. I pulled up after Josh tapped my back again and yelled, “THIS IS IT!” Even with my helmet on, I could hear him clearly.
“What were you showing me on the way up?” I asked.
“That was the lodge that Carry worked at, and killed a couple of his victims. I think that’s where he beheaded one of them.”
Long irritated stare from me; then, “Let’s not talk about this tonight.”
The Bug was a typical alpine lodge, with high steep ceilings, but atypical in it’s decor. There was lots of camp on the walls, John Waters’ posters, a movie poster from “Zanadu” for starters. “This is cool Josh.” There were several people gathered around a big, half moon shaped bar. We sat down, laying our helmets next to our feet.
“Hi Sam!” came from a bar back. He walked up to “Sam”. “Where have you been buddy, if you aren’t single, then you should come here more often, a lot of girls ask about you.”
“What girls? I have a girlfriend.” Josh told him.
“Well, a guy that looks like you should be used to having several girls after him.”
David was his name, the bar back. Josh had awkwardly introduced us. This is my new friend Darin, he lives at the White House. Oh, and this is David, Darin.”
“Already heard lots about you. Hey, me and my boyfriend talk to Dana and Dan a lot, are you interested in coming to our LGBT potlucks?” David seemed nearly squeamish. “ I mean, if you’re out and feel comfortable in such situations, it’s a good time.”
“Oh GOD. Fucking LGBT potlucks. How do I hide my disdain?” I thought. Then more angrily, “Dana has no problem outing me. It’s 2001, how could anyone be so lame?” I don’t even like other gay men, and I certainly can’t relate to mainstream gay guys. They don’t exactly represent well. If there is such thing as a gay community. I don’t fit in. I’m might be gay but, I’m very bad at it.”, I was thinking.
“You know what David? I’m going to be super busy at the White House. Thanks anyway.”
Josh looked confounded. He sipped from his pint. I could tell something was up, he looked away, and away again when I met eye contact with him.
“So Darin, we saw a movie you are in, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Oh and Phenomenon. Don’t you do a political show, syndicated?” the thin, greying older man landed in my bar space with his elbow.
“Everything is new David. New life, new interests, new friends.”
“Dana said something about you bringing film to the area?”
“The Mariposa Film Commission is out of existence. I don’t feel like jumping through hoops just yet to bring film to the area. Yosemite is a bitch to get permits for film production.”
I could see beyond the “employees only sign.” A double door led to the kitchen where a downs syndrome kid was loading glasses into a dishwasher.
“All fags, niggers, Jews, Mexicans need to go. And retards.” some shaved headed boy in a wife beater, of course, said these things while lastly pointing out the kid with disabilities.
“Josh!” Guy in wife-beater.
Josh didn’t look up, still swilling his beer.
David to Josh or Sam; “So has Tom showed you’re new friend around yet, or will it be my pleasure?”
“Your pleasure.” Josh replied.
David disappeared through a hallway, leaving the bartender to himself.
The door opened behind us.
“This way gentlemen.”
We followed. Josh said, “Darin, and Dana have known each other for a while.”
“Yeah, Dana said Darin is the bomb. I trust that.” Said the effeminate gay owner.
He led us up to one of the cabins nestled in the forest beyond the clearing.
“This is the Wizard of Oz room.” The room was decorated like the films family house was. Next he led us to something completely different, the Dark Forest room, complete with cobwebs and horrible taxidermy. Next was the Austin Powers/60’s room. Janis Joplin LIVE screamed a poster, the walls were lined with foil wallpaper, a lava lamp, a paisley bedspread, and big molecule models hanging from the ceiling. I loved this room.
Weezer came from the lodge below, blaring Beverly Hills.
“So you and your other half built this entirely, or did you take something over and just expand on it?”
“Jake and I took this over when it was just a campground. It was zoned just right, so we built all this.”
“Well how cool is that.” I said. Said, because it wasn’t a question, it was a statement. The whole grounds where well managed, well planned, and uber cool.
“So what do you think?” asked David.
“I think it’s super creative. It’s chilly. I don’t want to ride my motorcycle home, so maybe we’ll just make a night of it.” Answered.
“Is tomorrow your day off?”
“No, just some things came up at the restaurant that needs repair. We are off tomorrow, I said, pointing to Josh.
All points led us back to the bar. We were through with the tour.
“David; a pleasure to meet you.” I said, shaking his hand.
We walked up the redwood deck up to the entrance of the bar, now just Josh, or “Sam”, and me. We sat down at the bar. “Let me see that I.D. of yours.” I begged.
The picture looked nothing like Josh, some strawberry blonde dude with the only check point being the eyes. Blue.
“I paid a hundred and fifty bucks for that.”
“Nice. Good choice, he looks so much like you. No he doesn’t. These old guys must just like you.”
Across the bar, the white supremacist guy in the wife-beater kept staring at me.
White supremacist to Josh: “Is that the guy in the movies?” It was asked like I wasn’t there.
I believed there was no validation I was giving him if I spoke to him, but I did anyways.
“Yeah, I’m the guy in film and T.V”, I said to the white supremacist. “You don’t have to talk about me like I’m not here, I”m Darin.”
“I’m Eric.” he reached over the bar to shake my hand. I actually felt violated. I had no tolerance for haters.
“So you’re Darin. Heard you were coming.”
“Guilty” I swigged on my pint.
Josh and Eric got into some conversation I couldn’t relate to. Local shit.
I looked around, then said to Josh, completely ignoring, and interrupting his conversation with the skinhead, “Hey do you want to stay here tonight? I will call Dana and find out whether we work tomorrow or not. I know I probably don’t.”
“Dishwashers always have to work Darin.”
I gave him a knowing nod.
A beautiful brunette sat next to me on a bar stool, and I was getting drunk.
She ordered something pretentious.
I stole glances at her, and then turned my attention to Josh.
“Wanna stay here tonight, for real? I feel like getting hammered.”
“Yeah, things are weird at the homestead, and probably yours too, let’s just hang here for tonight.” Then I ripped out my cell phone from my pocket and dialed Dana. “Darin and I aren’t home right now, but neither are you, but if we were, perhaps we might be too.” Dana’s voice mail answering. I noticed several people in awe that I had a cell phone.
Me on my cell leaving a message; “Dana, it’s Darin. We’re staying at the Yosemite Bug Hostel tonight, just to let you know. Call me SOON if you need me tomorrow but chances are you don’t. Call here if there is a problem.”
I don’t know what to term a bunch of smokers; a gaggle, a smoke fest, everyone seemed to re-conjoin on the deck to smoke cigarettes and what smelled like weed.
Garbage came on the sound system : appropriate because the devastatingly beautiful brunette was talking at me again and she wasn’t all that. I loved this song. And it goes like this…
“You pretend you’re high
Pretend you’re bored
Pretend you’re anything
Just to be adored
And what you need
Is what you get
Don’t believe in fear
Don’t believe in faith
Don’t believe in anything
That you can’t break
“Hey, I’m Darin.”
“And hey, you’re handsome.” she said as she melted in her bar stool.
Clearly Stupid Girl was out for something that night.
Stupid Girl by Garbage was still playing, making me hold back laughter.
It seemed we were the only ones left in the bar; me and brunette. There was a mass exit of smokers on the deck outside now. Jenna? I had a hard time recalling her name.
1979 by The Smashing Pumpkins came on the sound system. This made me want to exit, to ride, and be 19 again. Soon, my want’s will be granted, I knew it.
“So you’re Sam’s friend?”
“New friend”, I took a drink. “I’m working at the White House, living there too.”
“And you’re in the movies.”
“Jesus tap dancing Christ, how small is this town anyway?”
“Just a rumor.”
I became momentarily angry at Dana for being such a good friend who speaks of me so highly, she unwittingly outs me in many areas.
Awkwardly, I just moved away and said I had to take care of accommodations for the evening. I paid for a night’s stay in the Austin Powers themed room at the front desk.
I moved back to where Jenna was seated, and pulled my drink towards me,; Guinness and cider. Josh walked up. “Do I smell like smoke?”
“No I answered.”
“Yes, you do.” Answered Jenna. She seemed to be disrespectful of Josh. He pulled up his shirt from his belly and took a whif. “No I don’t”
I changed the subject; “It seems like Weezer was overplayed today, everywhere.” I said. “Island in the Sun” was playing. The entire, now filled, and nicotine satisfied bar crowd now was singing along. The white supremacist was back, and in his same seat at the bar. His buddies said goodnight in their own fashion to him, and left.
“So you’re Darin. The highly anticipated Darin. Does that put pressure on you or what? Just knowing the whole town knows you’re coming like you are the return of Christ or something.”
I laughed, and took a sip off my drink.
“Dana is my number one, she’s awesome.”
“Oh so you're married to Dana?”
“No, she want’s to be married to a lady.”
“So no sex, you’re just friends?”
“Like I said, she’s a lesbian.”
She was getting drunk, Jenna I think her name is, poked a pointy nail at my chest and said, She’s crazy, wacked even. “You look JUST LIKE CHARLEY SHEEN!”
I was getting annoyed so I ordered another Snake Bite.
“Yeah? I hear that a lot.” The bartender was pouring part of my drink for the tap, then opened a bottle of cider and floated it just perfectly. I was pleased when he brought it to me. I chugged half of it, while the gorgeous girl next to me kept talking. She was getting a little too drunk, and a little too personal.
“So you know Josh?”
I wink, “Are you talking about Sam?”
She bent toward me on her barstool.
“Everyone knows that’s Josh, she pointed at him. I think even the owners, but they would never say anything, they’re homos and probably just like him being here for eye candy.”
“What do you do? Then; “Jenna, right?”
“I fucked up your name, I’m sorry.”
“Jenna is fine.” I suspected she didn’t want to know me so much as screw me, which was fine at the moment. Then she added; “I love your motorcycle.”
“Oh yeah? I haven’t had too much to drink tonight, want to go for a ride?”
“Hell yeah stud!’, she pretty much screamed.
I let Josh know I would be back.
Outside, I unlocked the helmet lock, and handed it to her. “You need to get your hair tucked back before you put this on. Tell me you have ridden on the back of a motorcycle before.”
“I live in hicksville.”
“Motorcycles aren’t just for hicks you know.”
“Yeah, I guess your right, we’re from San Francisco. I’m not a hick. Dad has one too.” She smiled. A very nice smile.
“So let’s ride to the gates of Yosemite and back, about a ten minute round trip. You good with that?”
“Anywhere you want to go. I just love riding.”
“Alright then., Here we go.
My bike too us up from the gravel road to the highway. Jenna held on to me a little too tight, telling me she was kind of afraid. Or horney. The ten minute ride was filled with her shouting at me on the bike, trying to have a normal conversation like we weren’t muffled by wind, and engine noise, and I could actually hear her words.
— — — -
She handed me back my extra helmet after we parked back at The Bug. “So your dad has one? What kind?”
Eric, white supremacist, came up to us both from The Bug. He was just a silhouette against the lights of the lodge.
“Hey Hollywood, he said, Josh and I are playing pool. Come join us”
Inside the billiards room was a multitude of garish neon from long defunct businesses, and bars, all arranged in an electrical, artsty-fartsy montage on the wall. Josh was there, wiping blood from his nose on his forearm, leaving a streak.
“It just started bleeding…” he tried to explain.
I wasn’t buying it.
“New game? Me and Josh vs you and Jenna?” I shouted over the music.
Then, without explanation, Eric, the white supremacist left the room.
“So does heat cause your nose to bleed?”
“No assholes cause my nose to bleed. He kept insisting that you and I are boyfriends.”
“After two days of me being here? What?”
I could feel my heart pounding.
Eric, you’re going down. I might be an “old man” at 30, but tonight, your life changes for good.