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The Way It Is

By Steven Kane

What Happened is, me and Mack and Johnny D. built this fort in the woods off Power Street. They were building this new jail-that's where we got the wood. One Sunday we went under the fence. But they had so much wood I bet they never noticed. I never heard about it anyway.

It was like, totally hot but we carried all these boards in the woods way past the brook up the top of the hill. Then we smoked a butt and Johnny D.'s brother sold us an eighth so we torched a bone and drank these brews Mack stashed in the brook so they were cold. Mack didn't have any ID but he always came up with these things, like that snuff mag and that gun with blood on it from the dumpster down at the projects. I'm serious. He like never fucking stops moving or talking. And he takes these pills. He says they're for allergies but his sister says it's cause he's hyper. When I took a couple I puked my guts out.

Anyway, probably Mack took the brews from his old man. His old man was like a big doctor and his mother was like a professor so they had no idea. They were always working. Mack was lucky like that.

Me and Johnny D. chopped down all these trees, like all the ones between these four big corner trees. Actually, Johnny D. cut most of em. I mean, he's like Mr.-fucking-America, like everybody in his fucking family. He's been like, six-two since he was two, like with that crew cut and like the football team just kind of watches while he basically annihilates the whole fucking game. So everybody acts like he's God.

Anyway, we sawed these spikes then we dug holes and pounded the spikes in with this sledgehammer Mack ripped from the mall. Mack's kind of klepto but he gets really cool shit. The hammer weighed a shitload but you could like, get going and just pound those spikes in like shit. Mack got going so good he went fucking flying. But what really cracked us up was, Mack fell in this rotten log and got fucking maggots and shit in his hair. He went down to the brook to get it out and brought back more brews which was cool. Then we nailed boards onto the spikes and the corners and we had like, a floor. And we were pretty fucking psyched, you know? I mean it wasn't exactly a fuckpad but it was decent enough. So we kind of just lay on our floor and smoked a few butts. It was cool.

Then Mack said, fuck it, I'm hungry, let's go to Eddie's. Eddie's mom died in a car crash and his dad was never around cause he was always driving around selling shit. Like one time these plastic footballs that supposedly lit up when you threw em but never did.

I don't know. Eddie was like, retarded, except he was pretty smart at Quinsig. As in, Quinsigamond Junior Fucking High. But the guy was like a space, like zoned cept he didn't get high. But his teeth were all fucked and he never washed his hair. Not after his mother kicked anyway. One time I asked Eddie what it was like, like, seeing his mom die. I mean, he was in the fucking car. But Eddie just spaced, as usual. And he had these braces but like only on top. And his bottom teeth were like completely fucked.

I mean, we gave Eddie a lot of shit most of the time and like his friends, too, like Stu. Stu's like Albert-fucking-Einstein. He's like a midget with this huge head and these fucking glasses. I don't know why but those guys just aren't cool. I mean, sometimes they're like fucking embarrassing, like around chicks or Johnny D.'s brother and those guys. That's when we'd really give them shit. I mean, they were alright about it, like they wouldn't laugh but they wouldn't talk back either. I guess they liked to hang out like everybody else and that's just the way it is.

Anyway, so we get to Eddie's house and Eddie and Stu are fucking around with these model rockets they make. The kitchen was a fucking disaster like always, like nobody fucking cleaned it, you know? Eddie's sisters are just stupid fucking girls, though Maggie's starting to get some alright tits. Sometimes I'd like, you know, get behind her at Quinsig and smell this shit she used that was kind of decent. I don't know-she was like, alright.

But just because she had tits and decent perfume or whatever didn't make her any better at cleaning that fucked-up house. We just kind of cruised in and gave Stu shit about his glasses and Eddie's braces and started munching out, like chowing this tuna Maggie kept screaming was dinner. But then Sharon started wailing and probably shit her diapers so Maggie had to slap her and take off.

Then Mack went to Eddie's dad's study and got this Jack Daniels and Eddie like, went schizoid. He like, never talked to Mack but he cruised right up and snagged the JD and Mack was like, his mouth was bleeding. Mack definitely wanted to pound Eddie's face in but I said I'd kick his ass and Johnny D. didn't say anything so Mack had to listen.

I mean, I knew Eddie and Stu from like Jew school, you know? Like sometimes we'd cut together and hang at the corner and I'd smoke a butt and they'd ask me what it's like and I'd say smoke one but they never did. But we'd talk about shit and Stu showed me how to like, flush an M-80 down the till. Eddie and Stu were like, out there but they knew some pretty cool shit.

But then Mack said, let's get that JD and I said let's not but Johnny D. said let's and sometimes you just don't talk back.

So we go to the study only it's locked. It's like this fancy fucking door and eating made the brews and the weed wear off and I'm getting a fucking headache so I say fuck it, let's just bag it and go work on our fort. But Mack says no. He says, let's break in and get the JD then do the fort. And Johnny D. backs him up so the next thing I know they're like kicking the door down but it's locked and it sounds like a fucking war zone so I start running, like running through the house cause there's a key just a stupid fucking key but where the fuck're Eddie and Stu? I even go to Maggie and Sharon's room even though Eddie and Stu would never be there and there's Maggie like holding Sharon like both of em are gonna die. I mean, I was gonna say like, don't worry or where's your brother but I never did cause all of sudden there was like a shot.

It wasn't a shot but it could've been for the way I went running through that fucking house. And like, there it was: a humungous fucking hole in the door. Mack was like, on his ass on the rug from his flying drop kick. Him and Johnny D. looked at me like kind of scared but it was just me and first Johnny D. then Mack then me, we just like, started cracking up. I'm serious. It was like the funniest fucking thing.

So me and Mack and Johnny D. went like zippo over all this booze. I mean, we were like fucked up. Then Mack tried to chug this vodka and it came out his nose and he started hacking like fucking wild. Johnny D. could guzzle like twice anybody but Mack of course had to top him and like I fucking swear, he tossed right there. That was pretty funny like, Mack's eyes were fucking bulging but then Mack said hurling made him feel better and he fucking nailed the vodka.

Then Maggie showed up. It was like, the longest fucking minute in history. She like came in but she didn't like, say anything. I thought she was gonna cry but she just like, looked at us. Then Mack said get the fuck out of here but she like, looked at me like only me but she didn't like, say anything, like I should say something, not her. Then stupid fucking Mack shoved me like, right at her. That got him and Johnny D. really cracking up. So I like smacked Mack like cut the shit, only he was all fucked up and even that fucked him up and he like bounced off this table with all these pictures on it and shit went crashing and it was a fucking riot and Maggie just like, took off. Then Mack started whipping all those pictures around then me and him were whipping CDs. Then Johnny D. twisted a bone and we stopped fucking around to like, smoke and that's when we started hearing Maggie.
Like, screaming.

For Eddie. She was out back near the woods like he was out there or something. When we came out she just like ran in the house and locked us out and like, flipped us the bird out the window.
It was like totally hot and maybe we might have cruised down the corner or back to our fort and the cold brews but then Eddie started yelling and that was kind of how it started, I guess. Maggie couldn't hear him or maybe she could but Eddie was yelling, what? Like, what Maggie, what? He said, I'm at my fort, Maggie, what? But Maggie didn't hear him and we didn't say a fucking word so Eddie stopped yelling and all there was was like the sun and the woods and the fucking bugs in our ears.

Then Mack said, what fort?

But I didn't know Eddie had a fort or anything.

So we went in the woods to go see.

The swamp was like pretty rank. Since nobody knew that part of the woods and we couldn't see Eddie's house anymore we got like single-file with Mack then Johnny D. then me, all carrying some booze but quiet so maybe we could hear-and sure enough, we did. Like, there they were, Eddie and Stu. We saw them but they couldn't see us the woods were so fucking dense around there. They were like, in the dirt, putting a fucking bug in a jar or something.

And they had this totally cool fort. I mean, seriously, it was like, awesome, like it had walls and a place on the roof with a chair and a ladder up the tree. It was like, cool, with like a fire pit and everything. Me and Mack and Johnny D. kind of looked at each other like, what the fuck. Like, how the fuck did these zippos get that?

Then we like, cruised out. But like, nobody said anything. Eddie and Stu just kind of like, froze, but like watched us when we checked out their fort and shit, like the frogs and even a fucking bird Eddie had in there.

Then it got like, weird.

It was like, I was really into Eddie's fort but when I went to tell Eddie the fucking guy just like walked away. I was kind of pissed but Mack was like out of his fucking mind and he said, hey fuckhead, don't walk like nobody's fucking talking to you. Then Stu gets in the middle and the next thing Stu's glasses are fucked and he's in the dirt and Mack's like smashing his face. But then I never saw Stu like that but he was like, all over Mack, like almost kicking his ass and screaming about his glasses. But then Johnny D. got in and it was over pretty quick.

And Mack was like, freaked. Like-I don't know. He said, tie them up, so we did. There was like, all this rope in the fort and Johnny D. knew what the fuck he was doing. It was amazing how tight we got em tied.

Then Mack like-got the frogs and the bird and like, poured booze all over em. Then Mack booted em over where Eddie and Stu had to see, but when he torched em Eddie closed his eyes, like real tight. I mean, he still heard all those fucked up noises like while they kicked but Stu watched it all, with the fire like all in those busted-up glasses of his.

Then Mack said, let's hang em, Johnny D. you tie the rope. Then Johnny D. said which one, and Eddie was like crying and Mack kind of kicked him and said, him. So Johnny D. made this noose like a real one from TV and he put it on Eddie's neck and picked Eddie up like he fucking weighed zip. Then Mack threw the rope over a big branch and said, hold it tight, so I did, like really digging in. Johnny D. was like, holding Eddie way the fuck high and I pulled the rope like totally tight. Then Mack torched Eddie's fort and it went up fucking fast, like all loud and crackling and shit. And Mack started screaming at Eddie he was gonna die like really die and go to hell with his mom.

Then like, I don't even know why I looked but like, there she was. Like staring at me, behind these trees. It was like, just me and Maggie and it was totally fucking swampy but I fucking swear I could smell her. Then Mack said die ! and Johnny D. dropped Eddie but I let go of the rope and Eddie just kind of fell. Then Maggie ran up and untied him and Stu, and they could like, barely fucking walk. But then it was like all smoky and shit and nobody even saw when Maggie and Eddie and Stu took off.

Then the fort burned out, and it was like, what the fuck. So we just kind of went home.

And like, nobody even mentions any of that shit anymore. Me and Eddie and Stu still see each other around but like, nobody says anything like no big deal like nothing fucking happened and neither does fucking Maggie. I mean, like I wasn't the one who let go of the fucking rope. But it's like, fuck you. Who fucking cares? Her tits aren't that nice.

And like our fort. We never even go there anymore. Like, me and Mack and Johnny D. hang down at the corner but we never say a fucking word about the fort or even the cool floor we built.

But sometimes I think about it, and I bet it's still there, like, way out in the woods but like nature's all over it, like trees and moss and shit, like you'd have to fucking dig to even know we built it but we did, and under all that nature shit it'll probably be there forever cause that's just the way it is.

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