Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

The Homestanders
Book Four of the Bradford Exiles
Wes Boyd
2005, 2011

Chapter 13

“That was a good evening,” Jason said to Vicky as he drove the pickup back across town late that evening. “Those two are just as crazy as all the stories.”

“Yeah,” Vicky said in a rather subdued voice. “And believe me, you haven’t heard all the stories. You’ve just heard very mild versions of some of what happened at college.”

“I sort of suspected there were some things I wasn’t hearing,” he nodded. “And what I heard tonight was wilder than anything I’ve ever heard about your time up there.”

“In a way it was the high point,” Vicky sighed. “And at the same time, the low point. That bondage party, for example. That ground at me for years, it took me a while to admit it.”

“It sounded like you had a good time,” Jason said softly, suspecting he was getting near a touchy spot.

“I did have a good time at the time,” she said. “Let’s not get into the morning after, or the recriminations. Shit, I don’t know how to describe it, but it really put me in my place.”

“I don’t understand,” he said gently from the darkness behind the wheel.

She shrugged her shoulders and slid a little closer to him, although the seat belt held her back. “Look at it this way,” she said. “You remember that I was a pretty popular kid in high school? A cheerleader, homecoming queen, lots of highs, lots of good times, right?”

“I saw some of that,” he admitted quietly. “Toward the end, Christine was getting pretty bad, so I didn’t see all of it, but still, yeah, you had a good time in high school.”

“Like Emily, probably the best time of my life,” she sighed. “So I go off to college figuring the good times are going to continue. I mean, I went out for cheerleading there, but when the time came to choose the squad, the girls picked were the skinny ones with big boobs. I was better at it than most of them, but I didn’t have that tits-on-a-stick figure, so I was screwed before I started.”

“I remember your mother saying you were pretty disappointed,” Jason said gently as he slowed to turn a corner.

“Yeah, I was damn disappointed,” she said. “That was strike one. So I figured I could still be popular, go to parties, hang out with people, get involved with clubs, be very socially active. Maybe it wouldn’t quite be the rah-rah-peppy-cheerleader stuff it was in high school, but I could still have a good time. That didn’t last very long – I got stuck with the world champion wet blanket for a roommate.”


“Yeah, she was short and fat and had a million zits,” Vicky sighed. “She was a serious Christian, proud of it, proud of her virginity, and planned on keeping it for marriage, and she was damn determined to not let me have any fun just in case there was a chance she might somehow get polluted in the fallout.” She was silent for a moment, then continued, “The first night we were at orientation, the day Dayna and Sandy met, and within an hour they were down in the lounge busking the crowd. Less than an hour after the first time Melissa and I met she was having a shit fit at me because I wanted to hang around and watch my friend play that sinful music.”

“Oh, shit,” Jason shook his head as he pulled into the driveway and hit the garage door opener. “I get the picture.”

“Yeah,” Vicky sighed. “In time she loosened up. I’ve come to realize she was nervous, and that was how she reacted, trying to control her space. But in those first few days when everyone was making new friends and testing their space, I had to be pussyfooting around to keep her from blowing up in my face, and she could throw some really screaming shit fits. Dayna and Sandy got asked to play this mixer dance the first night; they made their reputation around campus right there. I got yelled at because I wanted to actually go to a dance in the first place. I went anyway, and really got yelled at when I got back. It was all I could do to keep from using my dirk on her, and I had it in the room with me. Oh, and she had a shit fit about that, my actually keeping a real knife hanging on the wall. Not a pocket knife or something, but a real weapon. So, hell, I realized I was going to have to back off to keep the peace. That was strike two.”

“I could see how that could pull you down,” he replied, pulling into the garage. He shut off the engine and hit the garage door opener again. You couldn’t change roommates?”

“Oh, hell no, the administration considered it to be part of the socialization experience, the assholes. So what happened was that back in high school I was one of the popular kids, went to the parties and the games and other social activities, while Dayna really was kind of a wallflower, this being before anyone realized she was really good with a guitar. We got to college, and Dayna was the one who was going to all the parties and hanging out with the guys. Me, if a guy happened to call our room, Quickdraw Melissa would land on the phone so quick it wasn’t funny, and if it was a guy she’d hang up on him. I got so goddamn jealous of Dayna out screwing around it wasn’t funny.”

“So you didn’t have much fun, then?”

“Oh, some,” she shook her head. “But I paid the price. Dayna knew what was going on, of course. I guess I’d put her down a little in high school, you know how it is, and though I honestly think now she was being a good heart about inviting me to some places – go along with her and Sandy – at the time I thought it was just payback. I didn’t often take her up on it, partly because I knew Melissa would have a shit fit, but some because I felt like Dayna was rubbing my nose in the fact she was the popular one now.” She was silent for a moment before she continued. “The only reason I’m still friends with Dayna is that I finally came to realize that it just didn’t matter to her, she was marching to her own drummer and really trying to help, but that didn’t come to me right away.”

“You look at things differently after a while,” Jason said, more to try and fill a blank space in the conversation than anything else.

“Yeah,” she sighed. “So I got home after my freshman year, back to good old Bradford, and I was really bummed out, and wanted to play catch-up to balance off that really crummy year. So here I was, things were dead as always. So finally, out of sheer goddamn frustration, one night after I’d been home a couple weeks I called up John Engler and asked him if he’d like to do a movie or something. Now John was a nice guy in his way and still is, but it was pretty well understood around the class that the only reason he’d go out with a girl was if he thought there was a good chance to get into her panties. For me to call him up and suggest we go out to a movie was the same to him as saying I wanted to get laid so bad it wasn’t funny. Well, I did, and we did.”

“I knew you were going out with him some,” Jason said quietly. “But that was the summer after Christine died, and I wasn’t paying attention to much. I guess I was just glad you were having a good time.”

“Oh, we had a good time,” she smiled. “I don’t know if the folks knew just how good a time we were having, but we did.” She shook her head and continued, “Jason, I don’t know if I ought to say this, but I’ve never told anyone much about it except for a little outline, but if there’s anyone I can tell, it’s you. Like I said, John had this reputation among the guys for getting laid a lot. There were, uh, two or three girls, I’m not naming names, who kind of hinted he wasn’t all he was cracked up to be. They, uh, they were right, but it seemed like they were the kind of things that would get better with practice. So we practiced. A lot. I mean, we tried just about everything in the books we could do, mostly at this little summer cabin his folks had on a little lake outside Fremont.”

“Making up for lost time?”

“Well, yeah, but it was an education in itself, and when you get down to it I’ve never had such intensive or enjoyable sex before or since. We literally had a ball, we more or less conquered his problem, and we made good use of it. Now, you have to understand, this wasn’t a romance, it was get together and screw. We never promised each other anything more than that. I think maybe I had the idea in the back of my head it might turn into something else, but that really wasn’t what I was trying to do,” she said as Jason drove into the garage, shut off the pickup’s engine, and hit the opener to close the door. The light came on, and he could see she was looking rather downcast, but said nothing, figuring this was something she needed to talk out. He’d never heard much of this before, only how lousy college had been, never the real reasons why.

“Now, he’d been going to Eastern and he just hated it there,” she continued. “What he said was it was right next to U of M; you had all these Michigan types running around looking down their noses at the Eastern kids, and I guess he had a roommate who Melissa would have gotten along with just fine. So he wasn’t going back, he’d already worked out a deal to transfer to Wayne State. Like I said, we hadn’t made any real promises, but I guess I was thinking absence makes the heart grow fonder, and as soon as he wasn’t getting laid regularly he might be interested in getting a little closer. As it turned out, he was walking across campus one day and ran across Mandy Paxton; she’d been one of the girls he’d had some fun with in high school. The story I heard was they had a cup of coffee for old times’ sake, and they wound up in his little apartment off campus. She was real impressed he’d cleared up his old problem, and the next thing anyone knew they were living together. I’d guessed wrong; if I’d really wanted to keep him I should have transferred, too. But then, maybe I guessed right as she divorced him about the same time I divorced Augie. I still don’t know very much about why. I’ll guarantee you this, though: she got a hell of a lot better sex while it lasted than I did.”

“And you’re the reason why,” he smiled, trying to hold back a snicker.

“Yeah,” she said philosophically. “There have been some times I’ve been sorry about that, but while John can be a nice guy, he can also be a real domineering, anal-retentive perfectionist asshole, so it wasn’t a total loss. Mandy did pretty good with him to go almost five years; he only got a year out of his second wife and four months out of his third. Ems was telling me he broke up with this last girl he was going to marry, so it’s just getting worse, not better. But he was just exactly who I needed that summer, and we were good for each other. I’ll always be grateful to him for that. But anyway, you can guess I’d had a real attitude adjustment when I went back to school that fall.”

“Sounds like it,” he said quietly. “But you were back with Melissa again, right?”

“Right, but it was different,” she said, with a ghost of a smile he could see on her face. “I told her right up front I’d spent my summer on my back, I liked it, and I intended to get more of it that year, and if she didn’t like it she could damn well find a different roommate because I wasn’t going to put up with her shit. Well, she stormed out of there, but she’d been such an asshole the year before that she couldn’t find one person to switch with. I’d pretty well decided to torture her like she’d tortured me the year before.” She let out a sigh. “I guess that was something I’d picked up from John, too, which is why I didn’t get all that bent out of shape when he wound up with Mandy. Well, I kept my word. I didn’t do it lots and lots, just enough to piss her off once in a while to remind her who the boss was. The partying actually started off pretty slow, since Dayna and Sandy were off at renfaires on the weekends for the first month or so, but once they were over with it picked up. Then the bondage challenge thing came up. Dayna came over to our room and explained what was coming down, and of course Melissa couldn’t imagine such a thing. But then, Dayna pulled these rolls of duct tape and paper towels out of a bag and we started working out how to do this tie-up she’d dreamed up, and the next damn thing you know Melissa is down there on the floor helping us.”

“A little bondage kink she didn’t realize?” Jason smirked.

“Must have been,” she smiled as the garage light winked out, leaving them sitting in the front seat of the pickup in the dark. “So the next thing you know, there she is at that party. It was really just going to be the bondage thing. After it was over with we were going to have a few drinks and listen to Dayna and Sandy play, but it got out of hand, and they never got the guitars out of the closet all evening. After I recovered from being tickled close to death, well, I was getting pretty drunk and I wasn’t real aware of everything that went on. I remember thinking that it must have gotten too boozy for Melissa and she must have split, so I could have my fun. You remember Dayna talking about the girl in their suitemate’s room who was taking on all comers?”

Jason guessed she was talking about herself, but didn’t want to say it, so just responded with a “Yeah?”

“It had gone on for a while before I discovered it was my little Miss Virgin-until-marriage-and-then-some roommate,” Vicky snorted. “I don’t know what got into her, maybe some booze, maybe drugs, but she just absolutely went apeshit. She just could not get enough; she probably did every guy at the party at least once, and probably even some party crashers.” She let out yet another sigh, and replied with an audible sadness, “Jason, I don’t even want to admit this to you, but I was having a pretty good time over there myself. I’ve never been such a slut in my life, and I realized after I sobered up the next day that I’d gone way the hell overboard. I was, uh, I was in that daisy chain for a while, and all of a sudden I realized there was a girl going down on me, and she was as good as I’d ever gotten from John. That, well, it bothered me, and it sobered me up enough to get the hell out of there.”

“Dayna or Sandy?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “It wasn’t Sandy; the girl had dark hair; it could have been Melissa for all I know. I really doubt it was Dayna. They weren’t lesbians at the time; they may have been bi, but there was never any hint of it. They did get out with guys a lot though, and sometimes it was pretty raunchy. There was a story going around that Dayna got hit on at a party one time by some drunk, and she told him the only way she’d go to bed with him was if he paid her. I mean, a lot, I heard from five hundred to five thousand.”

“Did she?”

“I don’t know. I wouldn’t have put it past her, not in those days, but there were other stories going around about them, too. They definitely went for guys in those days, but Sandy told me one time, years later, when she was breaking up with that asshole she was married to that she and Dayna had never met a guy they liked half as much as they liked each other. That’s as close an admission from either of them as I’ve ever heard, and don’t you tell anyone, either.”

“It’s still not a flat out admission that they’re lesbians,” he commented. “Not that it would surprise me in the slightest.”

“Me either, but they’re not going to say it in Bradford,” she replied. “I will say that the day after the party I talked to Dayna about it, and she basically told me I wasn’t a lesbian, that booze is booze, and a mouth is a mouth. Even then I couldn’t tell her how ashamed Melissa was of herself when she sobered up the next day and realized what she’d done.”

“That must have been pretty bad.”

“Yeah, it was. It was also the last time I had any problem with her turning sanctimonious on me, all I had to do was look at her and smile and she’d be reminded she wasn’t any better than I was. We actually got along pretty decently afterwards. I mean, I was still capable of torturing her if I needed to, but I never needed to. She even played along some, like that time we wrapped Dayna in that duct tape cocoon for that performance art thing. You know the story about Sandy’s birthday party, right?”

“I’ve heard it a few times. She got her wrists and ankles locked in stocks and booze poured down her all evening, like happened at your party, right?”

“If ever I should have kept my mouth shut around Emily it was over that story,” she said, a rueful light tone in her voice in the darkness of the truck cab. “This was a big party; it was at a bar and had some of the regulars who went to Dayna and Sandy’s parties but also had a bunch of kids from the performance art class. I was invited of course, and since Melissa had been in on that cocoon dealie, Dayna asked her along. It was in a bar, and I was still under twenty-one, so I’d volunteered to be designated driver. I didn’t drink a drop, but I got a pretty good buzz from all the fumes.” She was silent for a moment and then said, “It was that night I probably made the biggest mistake of my life.”

“What happened?”

“Well, people were getting a pretty good buzz on, and Melissa was right there in the middle of everyone getting shitfaced. For someone who didn’t drink she could drink like a fish, but she couldn’t hold it very well, so she and this guy from the performance art class were in the first load I hauled back to the dorm. Well, I dumped ’em out front and went back for more. It was an hour or two before I got back to the dorm, stone cold sober and pissed about it because everyone else had so much fun getting blown fucking away. So I open up the door to our room, and here’s Melissa and this guy from the performance art class going at it, and she’s screaming, “More! Harder!” I mean, he was really going at her and she was really enjoying it. I just fucking blew my stack. I mean, little Miss Priss was the one who had gotten all fucked up and was getting all fucked out, and I was the one shut out. Well, I knew who this guy was, so I slammed the door, went down to his room, beat on the door, and when his roomie answered it I said, ‘Your roomie is down there fucking my roomie, so I’m going to bed with you.’ Well, he just about shit his pants, but we were in the sack in minutes getting it on. Like I said, it was the most dumbass thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

“Why was that?”

“It was Augie,” she sighed. “I mean, I knew who he was, but I didn’t really know him at that point. He was just someone to fuck, and he wasn’t any damn good at it. I can understand why; anyone who would have wanted to go to bed with him had to be out of her fucking mind, and I guess I must have been.”

“I’ve never heard that,” he said. “All I ever knew was that you got going with him in college.”

“I didn’t get going with him then, or for quite a while afterwards,” she replied. “I got home the end of that month for summer break. No John, of course, he was spending the summer in Mandy when he wasn’t working at some emergency medical service up in the Detroit area. I thought maybe I could get something going with one of the other classmates who were home for the summer, but most of them were with someone by then. I thought I had a chance with Scott, but then Emily had that weenie roast. He showed up with Sonja, and one look told me there was no way that was going to work out. So then, I got back to school in the fall, feeling pretty miserable anyway, and there was no Dayna, no Sandy, and no Melissa.”

“No Melissa?”

“She died that summer. Car wreck,” she replied bitterly in a voice seeming very distant. “I got a call from her parents along in the middle of the summer, telling me about it and when the funeral was, so of course I went. Well, I was talking about it with some people at the funeral, trying to find out what happened, and all anyone would say was that she ran into a bridge. Something seemed funny about that, and, well, after it was over with I went to the sheriff’s office and looked at the accident report. This road ran right alongside a river, and it curled around to get up to the main road where the bridge went across the river. She’d run right straight off the curve into the side of the bridge, and the accident report estimated her speed at close to a hundred. I went out there and looked, and there wasn’t a hint that she’d tried to touch the brakes. It must have been early in the morning, the car burned out and no one found it for two or three hours.”

“You’re saying she did it deliberately?”

“No one will ever know, but that’s what I came up with,” she said sadly. “Jason, do you remember that time when I was in high school when you told me how you wound up with Jody? About how you must have fucked her a hundred times?”

“I remember,” he said softly.

“I listened to you, Jason. I really did. Yeah, I screwed around some, but I was always on the pill, and that may be part of why I put on so much weight back then. And I never, no matter how drunk I was, I never let a guy fuck me without a rubber, just to be on the safe side. I know I told Melissa that, more than once. If she listened to me, well, I don’t know.” She sat silently for a moment, then continued, “I know people around this town think Jennlynn’s dad is pretty hardnosed, but he’d be a liberal next to her folks. She could never have told them she was pregnant, and couldn’t have dared to get an abortion unless she aborted herself in the process.”

“Does Dayna know this?”

“No, hell no, you’re the only person I’ve ever told. Damn it, if I’d left her alone, if I’d gone to Wayne State with John, it might never have happened. She may have been a pain in the ass but she was a good person at heart.”

“It might have happened anyway, and it might have been something else entirely,” he said. He reached out to put a friendly hand on her shoulder. “She might have had a fight with her folks or something. You shouldn’t blame yourself.”

“I know,” she sighed as she unbuckled her seat belt and slid over next to him, cuddling under his arm. “I’ve told myself that ever since. Sometimes I even believe it. I almost didn’t go back to school after it happened, but I couldn’t think of anything else to do. And, well, to make a long story short, I was the only girl who had ever hit on Augie, rather than the other way around. I didn’t really like him, but he was someone I could be friends with a little. He was still an asshole and probably still is, but, well, hell, I didn’t have anyone left. One thing led to another, and that’s how I wound up making that dumb decision.”

“Vicky,” he said to the girl under his arm, sensing she was near tears. “You’re not the only person who made a dumb decision or two when they were looking to have fun when they were young. Hell, you’re not the only person in this truck who’s done it, and I don’t need to tell you the story, because you’ve known it most of your life.”

“I know,” she said softly in the darkness, the tears obviously rolling now. “That’s why I know I can tell you.”

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To be continued . . .

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