Down the Drain #2
After the show, Angelica finds herself very drunk, very high, and having possibly done some cocaine, grabbed by Biscuit and Carter, and whisked away uncomfortably with the three of them stuffed in a two-seater headed out to the local lake to continue the party. That’s how she finds herself now, crammed in the passenger seat of an MR2 with Biscuit on her lap, beat-heavy music blaring, windows down, whizzing down the old highway at dizzying speeds.
Through the open window and a crook in Biscuit’s crunched-up arm and shoulder Angelica can see trees wiping by in the darkness. Tall, aphotic timber capped with fir tree silhouettes. Every mile, or so, a lone street light on the highway flashes a yellow tint onto the browns and greenness of the forest.
The windows automatically go up and she feels the shuffling of bodies around her until in her small window of view, Biscuit slowly lowers down a teensy-tiny spoon with cocaine in it. She slowly moves her head toward the snuff-spoon, gently plotting the intricate docking procedure. Can’t exhale, can’t move too quickly. She makes contact, contracts her face to bend her nose to one side so as to close up one nostril as best she can, and gives a snuff. Up goes the coke immediately helping her body to expel the effects of the booze.
Now she remembers. They said they were going out to Lake Hali, which they refer to as Nightmare Lake. To put it in their words they were, “Going to get fucked up and swim by the drain at Nightmare Lake”, to which Angelica responded with, “Shit! I didn’t bring a suit!”, to which they responded with laughter. This, of course, Angelica did not like the sound of. She wasn’t 100% ashamed of her body, but that didn’t mean she was 100% not ashamed of it either.
But then, there was the story to entice her.
Carter had told her the story of the band’s name, Down the Drain. They were sitting in a corner after the show as some post-party fire dancers spit kerosene plums of flame into the air. She asked why they had such a stupid name and he leaned in close and told her.
“Back in the ’50s or some shit this lake was a total hot spot for well-to-do families vacationing in the summer. I mean, it was hoppin’. Boats, BBQs, bands, ya know, the whole shebang. There was this girl named Sara, I guess everyone called her Simple on account she was an A student that said ‘simple’ when asked a math problem when she was a kid. I guess the name stuck, cuz she’s about 17 ‘er something at the time.”
Angelica had enjoyed his hot liquor breath in her ear as he told the story. “She was traveling up with her newly divorced mom and her little 6-year-old brother. They are trying to get away due to the divorce and all the problems that came with it, one of which being that the boy had to sleep with all the lights on now and would scream in the dark. Weird shit right?” Carter had asked Angelica with a look of excitement on his face. She remembers that at this point she was trying to look coy with a straw while listening and hoping that she didn’t come across looking like a slut.
Then he continued, “So they are out there doing what people did, swimming and drinking PBR or whatever. So now the drain, the lake is manmade, you can’t tell too much by the look of it, but it is and every dam has a spillway for emergency overflow. Normally they have tubes or ramps or other stuff, but some lakes have a drain. It’s surreal. It’s a huge concrete hole at the water level about 20 feet across and about forty or fifty yards out, a literal drain. Ever since the 20s when the lake was opened it was like a right of passage to swim out there and tap the rim and swim back, everyone knew it and everyone did it or wanted to. The basics of the story are that the mom, being newly divorced, was drinking and flirting with lifeguards or whatever moms like to flirt with and Simple was off in the bushes getting to third base for the first time with some churchy kid named Chilly or something. The little brother, wanting to be the new man of the house or something swam out to the drain, and fell in.”
At this point Angelica no longer felt flirty or sexy she was intrigued. Carter went on, “Apparently, the mom and Simple where beside themselves freaking out, in the end, neither could get over his death, especially the fact that he fell in a long dark hole being so scared of the dark.” There was a long pause, then, “In the end, the kid’s body was never found due to the amount of muck and mud at the bottom, the mom killed herself, and Simple disappeared and was never seen again.
Staring out the window at the city of trees speeding by she asks herself, “How was I going to turn down that story? If nothing else I can brag to Charles about it.”
In the parking lot of Nightmare Lake’s marina area the three of them come piling out of the microscopic MR2 like a clown car. Next to the car are two 80’s-dated, but extremely fancy cars and a group of a few silhouettes walking down to the beach beckoning the trio to follow.
They go running after them through the darkness laughing. Angelica is relieved as she feels her feet start landing on sands and in front of her a small campfire illuminates part of the shore.
Including Angelica there are seven of them. The Down the Drain band members, Carter, Two-Bit, Biscuit, Tiffany Tiffany and Debbie Debbie, and the seventh was the soundman from the show she had met in the throng named Brad. Some of them were undressed and some were in a state of getting undressed. Tiffany Tiffany and Debbie Debbie were fully clothed and obviously angry.
“Turn it off, fuckhead,” one of the Rock Pop twins said to Chad.
Biscuit leans over to Angelica while shimmying out of her pants and panties at the same time and says, “It’s a song by their old band when they were a duo. Chad loves it, but they hate Chad.”
Angelica listens. It’s a beat and some electronics and some L’Trimm, Cars that Go Boom style rapping over it. Something about wanting to go to school and get a job.
“Fine, fine,” the naked Brad concedes and taps his phone, and the speaker on the blanket switches to the Down the Drain song, Sweet Light.
Angelica knew it was now or never. She had three options. One, Not get undressed and get teased, sit on the sand with loud music, sobering up and bored. Two, stand dumbfounded by fear of the nakedness until they all made fun of her and she gave in, leaving her to undress while they watched and waited. She chose the third option, to get undressed while they did so as to blend into the crowd by the dimness of the campfire.
“Thanks, fucker,” Tiffany Tiffany and Debbie Debbie said in practical unison and started to get undressed. They both had amazing bodies, perfectly fit and athletically shapely. Angelica’s insides startled just a little bit when she noticed one significant difference, one of them had a penis. She’d lived in cities and around diversion long enough to know to avert her gaze as naturally as possible and continue as life was before, but there is always that twinge of guilt for the moment a situation such as this shocks you.
“I don’t see why you always have to do that, Brad.” The taller one bitches.
“Cuz I fucking love it, you know that ladies,” he replies and chugs his beer and tosses the can in an open Trader Joe’s bag.
“You’re a dickhead,” one of the two responds, then turns to Biscuit. “Are we doing this or what, Little Chicken?”
“Fine,” Biscuit says and asks Angelica, “Were gonna tap the drain, wanna come?”
“That’s a hard pass,” Angelica protests. “Cocaine, death cult industrial metal, and showing my goods to a group of strangers is about as adventurous as I’m getting today, but I’ll happily watch you do it.”
“Now who’s the chicken?” Biscuit asks the girl.
“You. You’re still the chicken. This is her first time out here, but you’ve been talking about this shit for weeks.” She responds, then yells, “Come on!” and runs out into the shallow water, her light brown body shining in the blend of dark water, sky, and mountains. Biscuit takes off after her, tripping slightly as she hits the water, then diving forward to a swim to catch up.
“Deb Deb is a nut job, one reason why I love her,” Brad says, watching the duo disappear into the murk.
“Shut up creep,” the other girl says to him. Angelica thinks, “Okay, this one is Tiffany Tiffany making the other Debbie Debbie.” Angelica quickly looks down, sees no penis, and makes a mental note.
Carter hands Angelica a beer and asks her if she wants to wade. She obliges as they both walk out, knee-deep into the tepid water, and talk.
“Wait up!” Biscuit yells to Debbie Debbie, then realizing that Debbie Debbie has one hand on the rim of the large concrete rim. With a final kick, Biscuit glides up next to her grabbing the rim as well.
Debbie Debbie looks at her, smiles and softly says, “Now she’s the chicken.”
The girls start laughing.
“Ok, let’s head back and get some booze and tunes in our system before I lose my shit,” Debbie says.
“One sec,” Biscuit asks, swinging her leg over the side of the drain.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Debbie yells.
“I’m gonna dive off it,” she responds and before Debbie can stop her, Biscuits knees are knocking as she tries to stand up right. Upon reaching full arms up body extension, Biscuit hoots a howl of triumph, slips and falls backward into the drain as her victory call is silenced.
“Oh Shit! Biscuit!” Debbie yells, scrambling her arms over the rim and looking in. All she hears is her own echo. “Biscuit?” she pleads softly into the black hole. “Can you hear me?” It is silent as she stares on in shock.
The moment is broken by a slight snap, like a twig and then a subtle scratch like stones settling in a pile. As she peers into the shades of black in the opening she sees movement. She sees a hand, and a foot, and arms, but not moving how they should be moving. Deep down the drain a black stringy form emerges from the shadow climbing up the wall with arachnid dexterity. She sees teeth or eyes glint in the darkness then screams and frantically starts swimming away from the drain.
In her panic her competent swimming has become a panicked dog paddle of splashing and frantic head-turning, searching for a direct line to the shore. She looks back and sees a slender dark figure standing on the rim of the drain, with reflective yellow eyes and a pearlescent grin.
Debbie’s fear has helped her find her focus. She turns her head back to the shore with a new determination. She finds her rhythm and swims faster than she ever has. Even faster than the one year in summer camp when she came in number one at the 50-yard freestyle, but that was a long time ago. Behind her she hears the splash of a body into the water. She swims on, then feels a bump on her foot, and then a grab as she is pulled under and her hysteria instantly silenced.
Angelica and Carter stand in the knee-deep water drinking from cans and talking. The light from the shore’s campfire is dim, but light enough for each of them to make out each other’s naked bodies in the titian glow. They like one another, obviously, and are doing their best to keep eyes locked so as not to contaminate a perfect moment with shame or fear.
In the distance they hear the girls swimming out to the drain, yelling, splashing, and laughing. A distant “Wait Up!” chuckles through the night air.
“The water is causing your makeup to run,” Angelica teases Carter.
“Can’t always be pretty, unless of course, I was you,” he expertly responds.
“Oh, a quick wit,” she sarcastically says with air quotes, ”To add to the guitar playing and good looking face. Should I be worried?”.
“No,” he says, taking another pull from his beer can. ”I’m confident with a guitar around my neck, but take that and everything else off and not so much. Success with girls is not my piece de resistance.”
As the laughter of the girls in the distance billows through the evening, Angelica steps closer to Carter. He slips his hand around her wet, slippery waist and pulls her lips closer to his. She feels the anticipated extra pressure from his groin as the side of her hip is pulled into it. They kiss.
Angelica and Carter pull their faces away from one another and look off into the darkness upon hearing a yell from out in the lake’s wide expanse. “What the fuck are you doing?” Echoes through the cove. They both look back at the shore and see the blackened figures of the others standing in front of the campfire staring in the same direction.
“What the fuck was that?” Carter asks.
Angelica just shakes her head.
A commotion of splashing and yelling pierces the night and then, silence.
The pair of almost lovers make their way to the shore quickly, as they see the tall, lanky, naked Two-Bit running up towards the cars. Angelica quickly starts putting her clothes on as Carter approaches the others.
“What the fuck was that?” Carter again asks, this time to the remaining group.
“They’re probably just fucking with us,” Brad responds.
“Ya know, Brad, just because you’re a douchebag doesn’t mean that other people are?” Tiffany Tiffany responds. Brad drops his head in misstep and apologizes saying that he’s just worried. She puts her hand on his shoulder and they meet eyes with a shared look of concern. The two of them go to the shore and start yelling Biscuit’s and Debbie’s names.
Two-Bit comes running back from the cars with a bag in hand. He opens it and pulls out an extra blanket and three flashlights, keeping one and handing the other two to Angelica and Carter. The three shine their flashlights over the murky water.
They pass the beams back and forth across the unbroken surface.
“Wha,” Two-Bit stutters, “What is that?” Angelica and Carter match their flashlights’ focus to his.
In the liquid black top of the lake they see the top level of Biscuit’s face from the nose up, silently glaring at them. The eyes reflect the torches as yellow and as she slowly moves forward her mouth is exposed from the murk, a massive rictus, a grin from ear to ear distorting her face. It is Biscuit, but it is not Biscuit and she is coming closer.