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Scoggin They'd never seen anyone do it like that, no sir, Woody says, they used to come by the dorm and watch me and Joey shoot a six-pack. Some of them got to be pretty good, too, after we taught 'em how, but nothing compared to what we do here everyday. Beer takes too long, he says, so I shoot mine--and then he would--twelve ounces in a gulp, a sixer under a halfminute, a second in his corner to pop the tops and pass--now they've got this goddamn push-button top, and who can shoot any other beer? So Coors bottles for me, he says, Rocky Mountain Kool-Aid...Colorado brown, and bury me with a full one. Woody bought a van. Seems everyone else had one, but God knows he didn't need one and probably would never finish paying for it, what with thai sticks up to $32.50 and copper down to 56 cents. The old man told me they're going to lay us all off, he says, copper is scraping bottom, the mine is losing money and what're we gonna do ? Anything but buy vans, I say, and he laughs. Woody laughs at no job, no money, no dope. Let's go watch the old high-school rasslers tonight, he says, pick you up at eight. There's me and Woody and Bill and Denis and Gene. Me and Denis and Gene are sitting hip to elbow on a stained loveseat Woody has in the back, Bill in front across the hump from Woody. Woody is steering with his memory as he tries to open a bottle on the
ashtray. He gives up and bites the cap off like we’ve seen him do a hundred times, usually in front of some girl, and Bill asks him why he didn't gnaw it off in the first place. Woody shrugs. But I ain’t going to bite them off all night, he says. We stop at a grocery store and buy some beer with a fake ID and a can opener which we lose. Denis can't figure out the dome lights, so Woody pulls under a streetlight and we find it. Gene is sitting on it, grinning. Denis cuffs him. I can't control him anymore, he says, he‘s really on the rag these days. Woody pulls into a gas station and discovers that the attendant has several high school student body cards. Woody extracts them with an incredible promise--saves us a buck, he says. Bill checks his watch and says we have an hour to make the match Sixty miles to Gardnerville, he says, and who's drinking all the fucking beer? We point to each other; Gene points to his leg. Gene and Denis are trading insults. Gene is talking to his penis, which he calls Jackson. Down boy, he says, back in the holster. Have a drink, Jackson. I tell Gene he is a waste, and he nods sadly and pulls a joint from his pocket. It's this mary-gee-wanna, he says, corroding the youth of this great land. We laugh and smoke the pitiful little thing. All I had left, Gene says. Woody passes out the student body cards-—Denis strokes his beard and says, who the hell is gonna believe this crew is in high school? Give me a break. Bill is burning the roach in the cigarette
lighter and passing it to Woody, we are laughing at something on the radio, and Gene is telling us about a girl he met in Vegas who used to--Denis punches him in the shoulder. You’re a liar, he says, she said she only did with me. Bill throws something out the window and says, then she lied to me to? You guys remind me of some little Paiutes I saw fighting the other day, I say. One of them got so mad he called another a fucking Washoe. Gene spits a mouthful of beer on Woody's back and the van swerves and Gene is trying to cough and laugh at the same time. A fucking Washoe, he says at last, a Washoe. Keep it in your pants, Woody says, you nearly killed us all. Bill laughs. Who would notice, he says. Denis is talking about Jackson, something about tweezers which I can’t hear over Woody singing along with the Eagles, and than we're in Gardnerville. Bill directs Woody to the high school, but there are no cars in the lot and the buildings are dark. Shit, Woody says. Denis jumps out and says, Bill, you Washoe, this is the old high school. Oh wow, Bill says, they built a new one? We find the new high school and go in. No one challenges us, and Woody starts to swear. Wasted cards, he says, what is this jive? Denis spots an off-duty policeman and elbows Gene to make him stop giggling. In the center of the gym two scrawny wrestlers are grappling ineptly on an orange-and-black mat. A row of restless teenagers watches from a row of folding chairs.
They wear street clothes. Denis' girlfriend, Harry, is a cheerleader. She comes over to us and looks at Denis' eyes. They forfeited every match but one, she says, these are some JV's wrestling now. While she is talking, one pins the other and people begin to leave. We sit in the stands until the gym is empty. Sixty miles, Bill says, sixty miles to watch one stinking JV stinking match. Here's a match, Gene says, and throws a headlock on Denis. We are bummed out on the way home. I'm bummed out, Bill says. We nod. Woody snaps his fingers. Let's stop and shoot some pool at the Central Bar, he says. Is it mellow, Bill asks. Sure, Woody says, I know the bartender. Gene puts out his cigar. I’m up for it, he says, let's do it. There is one cowboy at the bar, talking to the bartender over a scotch. Denis and I rack up while Woody and Bill go behind the bar looking for Jim Beams. Hi George, says Woody. Hi Woody, says George, and keeps talking to the cowboy. George thinks Woody is 23, or says he does and doesn't care much. Business is slow. Gene put a dime in the dusty jukebox and is strumming a pool cue, singing falsetto with Chet Atkins. We play five-way elimination, first loser buying drinks, but Gene goes out in four shots and he only has $1.12. Woody and Denis play eightball for straight shots of Jim Beams. Bill and I are sitting at
the bar drinking beer and talking about a seventeen-year-old girl. Gene is throwing peanuts in the air and catching them on his tongue. He's really out of it, Bill says. A peanut lodges in Gene's beard and he is stretching his face into horrible pained expressions trying to reach it with his tongue. God, Bill says, Gene is feeling some kind of buzz. Gene nods vigorously and the peanut falls into his tequila sunrise. The bar closes at midnight. The only other customer had left around ten. We say good night to George and go out, stopping to pick up Gene, who trips over the doorsill. Holy shit, says Woody behind us, and we turn and gape at Wood's van. White vapor is curling from the tops of the windows and streaming from the overhead vent--steam, I think to myself, and Woody is running, yelling something, and we chase him. Woody yanks the driver's door and smoke billows out. I slide the side door over and my eyes burn. I'm on fire, Woody yells, and through the grey clouds I can see a glow inside the loveseat so I grab an arm and drag it out of the van. It falls on the asphalt lot--one cushion bouncing away, a square wheel charred on one edge, leaving a contrail. We gather around the smoldering loveseat. It‘s only the loveseat, Woody says, wow--I thought the mother was torched. Gene is laughing, bent over, he is laughing so hard, and then we are all laughing at him and at how scared Woody was and
at the column of smoke rising into the stars. Goddamn, Bill says, goddamn...I’ve never seen anything so funny in my whole goddamn life. Smoky the Bear seize piss on it, Woody says, and he does. I find a bottle of Coors in a paper bag which had fallen from the van, shake it and spray it over the coals. Bill goes off to look for a hose but comes back without one. He kicks the loveseat. Sparks fly, and we laugh. The damn thing'll burn all night, Denis says, let's put it in the road and beat it. I can see some cowboy hitting a blazing loveseat, Bill says. Gene falls to the pavement. George is locking the bar door and stops to laugh at us. Go throw it in the ditch, he says, and we whoop like wild Paiutes. Denis and I snatch the seat, run it across the road. The drainage ditch is ten feet on the far side of a barbed wire fence. We swing one-two—three, and the loveseat flies, trailing fire and smoke and splashes sizzling into the middle. It sinks. Bill throws in one cushion, and Gene the other, but Gene misjudges and the cushion lends on the opposite bank in the weeds. No one volunteers to retrieve it. Back to town, I am sitting in front and Denis and Gene and Bill are lying in back. The van smells like scorched plastic. Denis is fighting with Gene. You started it, he says, you and that cheapo cigar. Spontaneous combustion, Gene says, but Denis is sitting on him and the words aren't clear. It wasn't even
mine, Woody says, it was Joey's. What am I going to tell him? Tell him we smoked it, Gene says. We stop outside of town at another beer. They card us. Bi11 has four fake IDs, but I vote to leave and we do. Gene says it's Jackson's bedtime anyway. Woody drops me at my house and roars away. The van weaves slightly. The dogs bark, but no lights come on, so I slip in the door and to bed. The next day Woody told me everything was cool. Joey had ripped the loveseat off.