Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dead Men Get No Tail by Misty Malone

Chapter One

Wednesday Afternoon

One of the things Clay loved most about Jack Bowman was his ability to make an entrance.  Sure, he was suave and cool, funny and charming, but no one could make a dramatic appearance quite like the University of Colorado's self-proclaimed God of the Senior Class.

"My life is over.  Completely.  Nothing left worth saving.  Just kill me now."

Speak of the devil, Clay thought as Jack stormed into their dorm room and collapsed on top of the nearest bed. 

Unfortunately, it happened to be the bed Clay currently occupied.

"Oof!  Get off me, fucktard!  I can't breathe."

"Life as we know it is finit√©, and all you can think about is breathing?" Jack rolled off and lay beside Clay in the bed.   His hand settled on the curve of Clay's hip, a warm weight that made the blond hairs on the back of Clay's neck stand on end.

"Can I help you with something?" Clay asked, proud that his voice cracked only a little.  Ever since the start of the school year, being so close to Jack made his body do weird things, like make his stomach churn or start his heart racing. 

Fuck it all if he knew what it meant, though.

His dark-haired roommate sighed and stared at the ceiling as if searching for the meaning of life among the cracks, spit wads, and trophy condoms that had accumulated during their nine-month tenure in the room.

Clay watched Jack and waited.

Three.

Two.

One.


"Aren't you even going to ask me what's wrong?"

Right on time.

"Jack, after four years, I've learned to wait until your hissy fits are over before interrupting."  He sat up and stared down at his friend.  "Are you done flouncing yet?"

"You're cruel, Clayface.  An ass, just like everybody else!"  He rolled off the bed and stormed across the room, arms folded over his chest.  Jack stared out the window instead of pacing like he usually did during his snits.

Clay began to think something might actually be wrong this time when Dominic and Miles came into the room, the former's face bright red.

"Jesus, Bowman.  It was just a joke!"

Jack kept his back turned.  "There's a lot of truth in jest, asshat.  Didn't your mom ever tell you that?"

"Yeah," Dominic said.  He scratched the back of his head.  "And my dad told me to lighten up and not act like a girl.  So what's your problem?"

Jack didn't answer.  Instead, he huffed like, well, a girl.

Clay forced himself not to roll his eyes.  "What happened this time?"

"Laura," Miles said, grimacing.

Ah.  That explains it.  It wasn't exactly a well-kept secret that Jack and Dominic's latest conquest didn't exactly see eye to eye.  For example, Laura argued that their Resident Advisor Preston was really a smart, honest, good person at heart.  Jack disagreed with the "being a person" part.

"What was the fight about this time?" Clay asked.

Dominic sighed.  "Laura was talking about graduating next month, and how we all should've left a legacy or something for future classes to remember us by.  Then Jack here had a shit fit!"

Jack turned, grabbed a pillow from Clay's bed, and hurled it at Dominic's head.  It missed, but the calculus book he flung next didn't.  Dominic tried to dodge, didn't make it, and ended up tripping over the pillow.  He fell, his head making a not-so-pleasant thud on the ugly tiled floor.  "Mierda!"

"Don't you 'shit' me, you cocksucker," Jack yelled. 

Clay winced.  He'd never liked that term. 

"Your girlfriend said all I'd leave behind was a trail of STDs and illegitimate children," Jack yelled.  "And you laughed!" 

Dominic shrugged.  "Well, she's right.  I mean, you have slept with half the upperclassmen."

"And there was that sophomore chick around Christmas, too," Miles added.

Dominic pushed off the floor and stood up.  "You are called Jack-Off for a reason.  Face it.  You're a man-whore."

Clay winced.  He could see the explosion before Jack even opened his mouth.

Jack's face turned red.  He growled and clenched his fists.  All he needed was steam shooting out of his ears to make the picture complete.

"I.  Am not.  A man-whore!"

"No?"  Dominic folded his arms.  "This month alone, you've done Tina, Jennie, Elizabeth, Whitley, and that skinny white chick with the weird name."

"Whitney, you ass.  At least try to get the names right."  Jack waggled his eyebrows and nodded towards Miles. "And which Elizabeth?"

Hey!" Miles shouted, shoving Jack.  "If you touched my sister, I'll kill you!"

Jack sighed.  "We're getting off topic.  Can we focus here?"

Clay couldn't decide if that was a good decision or not.

"Mitsubishi! That was her name," Dominic said, snapping his fingers and looking proud of himself.

"Jackass, that's a car," Jack said.

"Eh, whatever.  You still get the Dick of the Month award."

"See?"  Jack flung his arm towards Dominic and looked at Clay.  "Again, back to me being a whore who hasn't done anything meaningful in four fucking years."

"Calm down, Jack," Clay said.  He put his hands on the taller man's shoulders and squeezed, ignoring the strange flutter in his stomach as he did so.  "Dominic didn't mean it in a bad way.  Just that you've been a little…loose this year." 

"Yeah."  Dominic snorted.  "You've gotten more tail than the rest of us combined."

Jack looked like he wanted to argue, but instead sighed and bowed his head.  "It's not that."

"Then what's got your thong in a twist?" Dominic asked, leaning against Jack's dresser.

"Do…do you agree with Laura?  That that's all people will remember me by?  'Jack Bowman, the No-Tell Motel?'"

Miles tried to hide his snicker.  Unsuccessfully.

"See!  I haven't done anything worth shit."  Jack slouched towards his bed and collapsed face-first onto the mattress.

"You streaked across the field at the homecoming game," Miles offered.  "People will remember you for that."

"Not like anyone can ever know about it, though," came the muffled response.  "Wore a mask, remember?"

Who could ever forget, Clay thought with a shudder.  Hilary Clinton's face on a very male body.

He fought the temptation to run his hands through Jack's thick, shoulder-length hair.  "Hey, what about the fact that you've got A's and B's in most of your classes?  Or that you're on the varsity soccer team?  Those are both impressive."

"But what does any of that mean?  My dad's a doctor, Mom's a lawyer, and my brother works for the Peace Corps.  How could anything I've done be considered a legacy compared to that?"  Jack rolled over and covered his face with his hands.  "Ugh.  This sucks.  My life has no meaning."

Dominic and Miles looked at each other and shrugged.  They were shit at handling Jack when he got like this.  Clay was, too, but he hated seeing his friend so upset.  He blew a piece of blond fringe away from his face and tried again.  "Jack.  Believe me, years after we've all left school, people will still remember you.  Hell, I bet in seventy years, half the eulogies people give will say the highlight of their lives was meeting the great Jack Bowman."

Jack popped up from the bed so fast, he smashed headfirst into Clay.  "Oww!  Damn it!"

Before his eyes had a chance to refocus from the blue and black spots dancing in front of them, Jack grabbed Clay's shoulders and shook him like Big Tammy's tits on Wet T-Shirt Day.  "What did you just say?"

"Uh, meeting you?"

"No!  The other part!"

Clay thought his head might explode.  Whether that would happen before or after he puked, he didn't know.  "What other part?"

"Eulogies!"

Jack released him.  Clay fell back on the bed and hit his head on the footboard. 

When the room stops spinning, I'm gonna kill him.

"Eulogies.  Like funerals.  That's where people say nice shit about you and get all sad and stuff, right?"

"Er, yeah," Miles said.  He looked as confused as Clay felt.

The light of mischief and mayhem shone in Jack's blue-gray eyes.  Clay felt something inside him shrivel up and die.  Nothing good could come from that look.  Nothing at all.

"I should have a funeral!"

Miles made a sound like a dying cat. 

Dominic's jaw flapped up and down a couple of times until he finally came up with, "Que joder le pasa a este tipo?  Esta loco."

Clay didn't exactly find the sound of that encouraging.  He'd only gotten two words out of that: fucking and crazy.

Yeah.  Pretty much sums it up.

He took a deep breath.  Once again, the task of knocking some sense into his Drama Queen roommate fell into his lap, even if he had to use a baseball bat to do it.

"Gotta do it soon, before finals start.  We'll send out invitations, and put up flowers and posters and shit, and maybe we could get some restaurant on The Hill to cater the food," Jack rambled.  "Do you think we should have a band?"

Clay got to his feet, a bit wobbly after the recent abuse to his skull.  "Jack.  I think you're missing one, rather important, kinda vital thing here."

Jack stopped ticking off ideas on his fingers and looked genuinely surprised that any facet of his Great Awesome Scheme could be anything less than stellar.  "What's that?"

Whatever remained of Clay's patience evaporated in the face of Jack's complete denial of reality.  "In order to have a funeral, you have to be dead, you moron!"

Jack waved him off.  "Details, Clayface.  No, really, we'll tell people that it's a fake wake.  Just a way to bring everyone together before we leave school and find out what legacy I'll leave behind.  It'll be perfect!"

In Clay's experience, perfect meant problem.