Wednesday, February 29, 2012

reference photos for "By Your Side," an upcoming short story


rejection, or running the stop sign

so for the past two years i've submitted my best well-edited stories to USF's literary magazine The Ignatian. being a school-published magazine, it'd only be fair to encourage all English majors no doubt to submit what they consider is their finest to the publication, and even get at least one good critical look to a work of each student. i mean, English major, writing-- that's our thing. that's what we strive for, want to do.

no, twice i've submitted is twice i've been sent an email "kindly" rejecting my works. i sent in one short story the first time; okay so maybe that was too long or weak. the second try, i send 4 pretty decent stories, and not that long either-- couldn't one at least please them enough to include in the issue and satisfy the author with the fact that his/her work isn't all crap? at least one of them. c'mon, a literary mag for a school is supposed to feel encouraging and showcasing, not exclusive and pompous.

i get it, like that's the way the publishing world goes-- but when i've been reading The Ignatian since my freshman year and i just see poetry after poetry AFTER poetry AS WELL AS THE SAME AUTHORS GETTING AT LEAST 3 DIFFERENT STORIES IN THERE-- where's a breath of fresh air? room for new materials and catchy ideas?

i don't know if i'll support them anymore. i sure didn't need them to get published anyway; i don't need their say-so or OK to publish my work and consider it good or not. i have confidence in my writing-- it's not the best but it sure's not terrible. when it's an exclusive business like this publication, no thanks. i've got Blurb, Kindle publishing. i've gone a long way with them than The Ignatian will ever get me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

new prose written last night.

"Rest Stop Along Cabrillo Highway" by Paris Kim

Saturday, February 25, 2012

the write spot: the write time too, Hayes Valley

one of those exceptional days in which all things went right. beautiful.

class got cancelled, so four hours of nothing were spent very nicely with a bus ride out to Hayes Valley under the sun. and a spontaneous purchase (at 75 cents!) for this lovely postcard:

it's Two Angels by Giovanni Battista Cirpriani. it was nestled between other old postcards and Christmas cards in a bin marked $1 and under. but this one was captivating; i love how happy and playful the angels look in this, and the colors are so airy and soft.

also couldn't miss out on this pair of earrings for $1.50 too in a shop down ther. so 60's, perfectly to my taste!

a day in the sun and shopping is what i needed for this Friday. goodness how beautiful Patricia's Green in Hayes was, too. everyone was out for their lunch and friends sat about and dogged frolicked across the grass.

and there were mice in the bushes behind me. how adorable they were.

there sure is nothing like San Francisco. nothing, completely. all the stories i've gotten from this place, good lord. don't believe? come out and see for yourself.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"The Chase"

Then wear the gold hat, if that
            Will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce
            For her too,
Till she cry, “Lovely gold-hatted, high bouncing lover,
            I must have you!”
--“Then Wear the Gold Hat,” Thomas Parke D’Invilliers

            There was no gold hat. Nothing to move her, and no delicate her to even impress. No one wanted Dean, and there was nothing he could possibly want out of this place, this dead-end after graduation and returning to Missoula. Sitting at the kitchen table one night of his parents’ lackluster craftsman, he couldn’t keep his eyes off of the television an old commercial where a ski resort was luring viewers to visit the heavy snow that past season. Dean had nothing. But there was something he wanted, and it wasn’t getting up to the resort. It was getting out.
            The Golden State said it all in its name. Bouncing out of Montana in less than a week he managed to catch up with Greg at Four Barrel coffee just south of downtown San Francisco. At least Greg, his roommate in college, was from the Bay, and at least he was still there before bouncing that scene and into Australia for the summer. They were working out living conditions for Dean over dark hot espresso in teal ceramic and poached eggs on French rolls, though neither touched any of it.
            “What else you’ve got?” Greg was asking. He was looking at Dean’s worn North Face he’d seen him abuse their four years at Denver.
            “Just this,” Dean replied, moving the bag close to him.
            “I’m surprised,” Greg said. “Given you’ve never been to the West Coast I was expecting a grand U-Haul or something.”
            His companion laughed, and began, “Didn’t think much into this, man. Just did. Just got outta there to find myself something for the summer here.”
            “A job?”
            “Not even that. God—how are you supposed to pack for something when you don’t even know why the fuck you’re here?”
            “Well I know I certainly can’t answer it. All I did was agree to meet you in the city and let you stay at my place.”
            “For which I’m grateful for.”
            “Yeah. Fuck that.”
            “You’re not even going to be here, you fucking leave tomorrow.”
            “So why have you come?”
            Dean was hesitant. “I don’t think you’ll really care for it.”
            “I’ve never really cared about much. No one’s ever expected me to.” Dean sighed, getting his phone out and opening the browser to an ad on Craigslist:
            “Good God,” Greg exclaimed. “Where’d you dig her up?”
            “The first listing for ‘services.’ Had to do it.”
            “You don’t even know her name.”
            “I don’t know her name, but I know she’s the sort of thing I want out of life right now.”
            “You sick shit.”
            “C’mon, nothing like that, I’m serious.”
            “No, you are sick—why couldn’t you have found someone like her back in Missoula?”
            “Because I’d be in Missoula.”
            But there wasn’t much Greg disapproved of, giving Dean his ex’s key to his place out on Haight and Steiner. In the hours of the evening that followed Greg got Dean drunk, and Paul met up with Greg and Dean. Paul knew Greg and that was all that mattered to Dean; it was the last thought he had of the night sitting at the bar of Chambers in the Phoenix Hotel.
            In the morning he’d found himself alone and dirty. He smelled tequila in his short sandy hair and in his mouth he tasted peanut butter and traces of Tobasco. Greg’s presence was only felt through the photos of him with his grandparents from Zimbabwe and scattered vinyl from Lady ‘Day to Dr. Dre and the Strokes. Dean searched his jeans for his phone, then the couch on which he passed out. His head hurt, and he wasn’t feeling the need to leave a message of his parents’ voicemail or call later. It was one o’clock in the afternoon.
            The hot seventeen-minute shower and a quick run down to the burger joint on Hayes in his old Crown Victoria was alleviating. He sat at the counter of the kitchen back at Greg’s place with the windows all opened. It was fairly warm and the sun poured light into the tiny apartment. Life was being let in to the place. Dean was letting something in. Maybe the gold would find him; meet him halfway as Dean had ventured a thousand miles out to it. So far, all steps to it were giving him bounce; he was surely getting higher to this need in his empty Rocky Mountains life he wished to get over badly. He was meeting her at seven.
            Dressed and the apartment door locked, Dean set out. He felt his windbreaker was anything but the wrong choice, walking against the fog turning around him. He let out an exalting and triumphant laugh.
            She waited in front of the studio out on McAllister near Civic Center, wearing a tint of orange just as she’d promised. Her highlights in her long hair were fading, hair which she kept draping all over her left side while adjusting a cigarette in her wide mouth that was dabbed in a coral balm. Her knitted infinity scarf about her long neck was orange, but her dress was a short teal color with a flowing hem and fitted at the waist with a white belt. He didn’t know how to approach her, but at the corner of her eye she saw him staggering to her and called, “Come here.” It was a soft high voice.
            “Hi there,” Dean began, smiling uneasily at this strange first encounter. “I’m sorry if I’m late—”
            “It’s no bother,” the girl interrupted, looking up to him with that wide smile. “Finally nice to meet you.” They awkwardly moved forward with their hands extended and ready to shake, but after a confused but mutual laugh she reached over him for a hug. It was a beautiful gesture, she smelled like hazelnuts.
            “Jesus, we’ll be late!” She suddenly cried, moving away. “Sure hope you warmed up before you got here, yeah? Been breakin’ in my ankles with these heels for weeks!” He had a slight turn in his stomach. “Sure did,” he replied calmly to her, beaming. “Thank god I don’t need no heels.”
            “That’d be a sight to see! Well, must be frank but the spotlight is bound to be on me. I’ve never even been to a class here, but I can feel the crowd with their eyes on us.”
            “Never been?”
            “Yeah, just jump in and join, even if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing—don’t give a shit.”
            “Just ‘cause I’d never done it before. Otherwise you’ll miss chances to do all sorts and you’re gonna reflect back on ‘what if’ for the rest of your life. Get what I’m saying?”
            They rushed up the stairs to the second floor where the dancing was being held. In no more than a little over half an hour they lost. The circumstances under which the two of them had miserably but amusingly been disqualified was driving their conversation over their drinks at Comstock on Columbus. Dean was laughing as he recalled walking into the next couple while the girl amused at—
The girl, she had still not told Dean her name.
            She was going on about her skirt folds outlining her legs and the fear of her crotch being seen by the judges when Dean interrupted her. “My name?” she repeated. “Could have sworn they said it at the contest.”
            “They would have called mine,” he said. “You would probably know that then, would you?”
            The look on her face gave her away; she smiled and shook her head. “Wow, they really didn’t address people by names.”
            Dean joined in her bewilderment. “Been together at least four hours now, and we’re practically still strangers!” She looked blankly at him. “I mean,” he went on, “I flew out here from Montana to be your dance partner. The least I could have is a name.”
            “And really,” she began, “I thank you for it. But even I can’t put a finger on why you’d do such shenanigans.”
            He couldn’t answer for it either. “I’m Dean Fairbanks,” he said politely to her.
            The girl in orange smiled back and shook his outstretched hand. “Nice to meet you, Dean. I’m Valerie.”
            She rode with Dean. Thursday evening it was, just in time to go dancing at the Rickshaw Stop and meet up with Drew and Elly. They were strange folk, these tattooed pin-up reminiscent girls who embraced Valerie and got them seats at the bar of the dim, stuffy venue. Both were pretty, giggling girls who swayed with New Order and MGMT as they talked loudly to Valerie and Dean.
            “New piercing?” Valerie shouted to Drew, pointing at what looked like a silver dot just above the left corner of her mouth.
            “Uh huh,” Drew replied, looking to Dean for his response. “Hella cool, yeah?”
            “Very Winehouse,” he said smoothly.
            “Exactly what I was going for, fuck!” She leaned over to touch his hand. “I like you.”
            “She came here with me,” Elly playfully threatened to Dean. “Better not be getting no ideas.”
            Dean winked wickedly at her, buzzed and quick with his words. “It’s cool. You’re invited, too.” Elly kissed his cheek and nodded approvingly. With Drew, she pulled him out to the dance floor, bodies bouncing and swerving to the tunes that hung in the air as gold streaks of the light shone at intervals.
            At one point, when Drew and Elly had deserted him to smoke outside, Dean was dancing alone, lost in the crowd, looking up to admire the light falling down onto the place. And in the light he saw Valerie approaching him for a dance, her flowing hair loose about her sides and her face illuminated into a glow. If she had it, everyone did too. He could see the gold falling onto his own crown. They were all wearing the hat now.
            She was yawning and bare foot with her white high heels dangling in her hand by the fingertips. She wanted to go home with the girls. Valerie embraced Dean before parting ways, telling him so sweetly in her high voice, “Good night, Dean.”
            He repeated the words to her as she and her friends walked away. It was almost two in the morning.
            He’d abandoned his car and walked back to Greg’s place alone. He got into the bed and stayed awake in the darkness. The windows were still open despite the cold. He looked around the dark and then out onto the street. The gold was gone, and she’d had him. She was on to the next.
            But there was still something in the crisp air. It was barely there, but dim and still prevalent, screaming at him to sleep and keep up the pace. There was still a ways to go for Dean, he was realizing it in that darkness. He was seeing gold was around him. Hats were aplenty.
            He got dressed in his best jeans and jacket in the early morning, and the chase was on again.
he is the greatest.

thoughts from my notepad:

The world looks different today. It is brighter, feels a cold in the air that's no unfriendliness-- this is sunshine, and the world woke having plenty of sleep, I should think.

The crackheads, the wheelchairs, the sidewalks, durags on short matted hairs belonging to people who might smell of their own piss. Veterans, vehicles, liquor stores on every corner, their shopping carts scattered on streets but careful not to die in the middle of the road. Through the windows of the bus, this is not a shield-- they do not separate me from them, but gives me an observation of an oddly scenic picture of inner-city routines.

Dragon flies. Where are the dragon flies?

ACADEMY OF SCIENCES-- I saw, fish, oceans, birds, trees. My worst fears slithered before my eyes. Warm, open, where to run first? A wonder they should have no mermaids, nor dragons, a phoenix inside. I saw the eyes of children-- they were awake, as if life had just been given to them in that moment.

To Do: Watch more Diego Luna films.

She kicked the glass slipper and donned cream combat boots, blowing that sinister kiss at the prince as she jumped with fulfillment onto the back of the motorcycle with Matt Helders.

Earl Grey, your grace, it's been too long, dear friend. How are you to this bright, soft-spoken day? Too long, I saw, and how gracious of you to have brought sugar!

11:00 P.M.

Look up! Up to the windows, in those damned alleys.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


forever and always, this band first concert i ever went to, all songs spectacular. really heavy influence in my earlier writings, especially with San Francisco. songs from Favourite Worst Nightmare album specifically bring me back to the City narrative. streets, youngsters, bar fights, break-ups, and running. didn't necessarily write about all of them, but certainly i salute them.

"Suck It And See" from their fourth album of the same title. their sound's a little more rock and retro with this, but in all honesty it's better than Humbug in my opinion. particularly i miss summer and california beaches when listening to this. any given day.

be inspired, my friends!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

wednesdays off: Will and Grace, the Drums, and 75 degrees

getting up early puts a smile on my face; the day's started so early and you get so much time in return to just be productive or relax OR do both!

it's gorgeous today in the East Bay, warm and blue with the windows opened.

makes me miss summer; listening to the Drums i've realized puts me back in that mindset for the beach and Santa Cruz.

 also spent the morning with Will and Grace. gosh, i miss that show. even though i was too young to watch it (middle school) it still made me laugh and i have many memories with that show. it was one of the things that shaped me into the person i sure am today.

feeling a new story coming on! hit me yesterday. for some reason caught a burst of want and inspiration yesterday. an amazing feeling, and it continues today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


            She’ll be out today. A lovely homecoming for Carmindy.
            In the two months of her absence from his life Devin has ordered seventeen dozen bouquets of sunflowers and purple matsumotos, her favorite ones, which he plans to strew about her little apartment. He’s got the keys from her mother and in that sunny week before she returns he’s mopped, reset, and cleared up the things so precious to her in that space. He loves the warm colors on the thin walls, plastered in orange, blue, and white frames. They’re filled with her lives in Madrid, Brooklyn, and Ici Ice Cream—that particular photograph of her and her dog Maxie, both dribbling brandied cherry and saliva, it sure was priceless.
            Carmindy will be back. And when she is Devin is sure of how much she’ll love that her CDs and Vinyl are scattered in the corner on her braided lilac rug where the wine stains never came out. The red marks are the premise for the mystery novel she was bent on writing after college.
            Her shoes. That girl and her pairs on pairs of flats and boots and the filmy jelly shower shoes with the Brazilian flags on the heels. Devin looks under her brass bed, lifting away the neatly draped white cotton comforter, to eye with admiration the thoughtfully kept boxes of silken London Soles in various pastels. She’d always have a sparkle in her eye when she wore a pair and told their friends that Devin bought them all for her 24th birthday.
            It’s been two years since. The apartment was there then, and now it is glowing, more than ever. Devin’s only wish is for the rest of the street to shine, for the apricot trees lining the sidewalks to blossom in this winter and the red-winged blackbirds to sing loudly in their sharpest notes that melody she and him heard one Saturday evening after their first date.
            They were idly standing in the middle of the newly-tarred street under the apricots, waiting for the stars to come out. On that spot Devin had a feeling she would be someone he’d love forever.
            She’ll be out today. Carmindy gets out of the hospital, but she won’t be alive when she does.

Monday, February 20, 2012

thoughts from my notepad:

It's always coffee or tea... why not COFFEE AND TEA??

You: What are you studying?
Me: I'm an English major at the University of San Francisco.
You: Oh, you want to be a teacher?
Me: No, I want to get into publishing and become a writer.
You: What do you write?
Me: (I'm always temped to reply, "I really don't know!")

Dirty minds, dirty dishes. The pretentious sounds of Marley & The Smiths, throwing empty wine glasses at the paper lanterns to make a firework finale to our Thursday night in.

Asian man. Harry Potter glasses!!

Cars on the freeway are traveling like the asteroid belt but with stars00 as if they suppose to be racing in the dark against this old train. They pass us.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

pinned to my bedroom wall, a picture from 1928 taken by Condé Nast photographer Edward Steichen.

old-fashioned things. simple, beautiful. especially the looks of the roaring 20's with the elegant ladies captured in this photograph.

with my works i hope to preserve my time just as this photo did to its own.

the write spot: Starbucks in the Fillmore

ALWAYS a favorite spot. took an easy friday out from campus (cancelled class!), taking two different buses and a walk up the block to the one spot i've always been fond of.

yeah, it's a starbucks, but it doesn't really have that mainstream laptop junkie feel (even though there were a few on their macbooks). i always feel that a cafe is old-school, and should be kept strictly to enjoying a good beverage by yourself to people watch or seek inspiration, or meet up with friends for a good hour or two chat about life, weekend plans, etc. but this starbucks has all of that, especially when in one of the prettiest and liveliest neighborhoods in San Francisco.
wish there was outdoor seating on the sidewalk, but their inside seating is so stylish and idyllic for socializing and taking in the views of the street through their big bright windows. i managed to swing a lovely window booth by the door, working on my latest story for fiction class while also using the time to create a new story into my new short stories notebook. the details of that story? will follow soon, as i'm nearly finished with it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

happy ride home

NO ONE ON THE BUS HOME TODAY. this is a rarity, especially on the 31 in San Francisco. always crowded, stuffy; and students, hipsters, grocery shoppers, very friendly old people or tourists who keep to themselves and speak close together in foreign tongues. but not today. just sun, open windows, and a mellow ride to downtown.

i is very happy about the solitude.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

just one of those songs you regret not having on your iPod.
"Ceremony," New Order
this is BART passing through West Oakland on my way to class this past Monday. downtown's up ahead and below is some truck stop; the raindrops cling to the cold window which i sat next to.

it's a beautiful sight. the rain falling down on city rooftops. and in the Bay, especially when you're on BART, you can see so much from the tracks-- Emeryville in the north, Berkeley Hills with its charming houses nestled in the trees, and Oakland's mismatched old shacks and stained buildings all leading into the modest skyline of downtown. there's such a huge stigma against Oakland for being so dangerous... yes, this is true, but in reality, OAKLAND IS HUGE. meaning that not ALL of Oakland's terrible. beautiful Lake Merrit, the Rockridge area being the flatland Berkeley, not to mention the affluent Piedmont area which could certainly pass as a greener Beverly Hills. there's so much to Oakland, and its little hidden treasures are what i like to capture for my readers. read it, enjoy it, imagine it-- but i hope to god that from my stories you're not afraid of it.

"Winter Break"

            Turn on the radio. Vince’s hands are knobby. It’s Lana Del Rey’s low voice all scratched and distorted because Live105.3 is static out here for some reason. The car’s going, some ’08 Mazda 3—white. I’m sure it’s not his car. There’s what looks like a baby boar tusk hanging from the rearview. The car we drove in two months ago was green—the tusk was there too. At least he’s laughing; I can never tell his mood especially over voicemails.
            Nearing nine o’ clock, we pull up to Skid’s on the edge of Emeryville, up Hollis near Adeline. He always opted for this place, with its dimming blue twinkle-lights strung around the wide windows, its steel door, its mismatched tables of odd white shades. Mike’s still working behind the counter, nodding to us with that gap-tooth smile and always playing The Black Keys on repeat. No matter, we got a seat and Vince declares the drinks are on him.
            “One thing,” he says sternly to me with those browns eyes I know too well by now.
            “You’ve got to try spinal fluid with me!”
            “Yeah right—” but Mike is already approaching with the two murky brandy glasses full of what could have been velvet root beer float. Vince—or Mike, whenever I had the time to drive out there and give him a hello—never gave in when asked about what the hell was in that thing besides the Grey Goose vodka.
            Catching up gets easier as the spinal fluid went down. Lab work, fake IDs, the situation he was in up in Portland (like how he could put up with the snow and how good really were the donuts), selling my brother’s comics to a place on Divisadero in the City for Christmas shopping money—I just really can’t wait ‘til he mentions Carolina. She was why I had to show up. Had to hear it for myself.
            “Is she the one?” I say to him. He takes a breath before downing the rest of my fluid, then he bursts out that laughter that’s always been reassuring to me. Just then someone comes in from the street and starts shouting that a car’s alarm’s going off.
            The front passenger’s window’s been smashed with a wrench they threw onto the dashboard, and the locks on the front doors got jammed in the attempt. They found nothing of interest—except the boar tusk of course. Mike’s inside calling the police and a tow truck, but me and Vince take it easy on the cold black curve. He gets up to examine the car again. “This sure is one fuck-up!” he starts laughing again. “Another reason I can’t wait to get back to Portland.” He’s running his hands through his blonde curls roughly; I know he’s quite upset.
            I go and kiss the hood of the car, leaving my neon lipstick there into a perfect impression. “Alice!” Vince exclaims, looking with satisfaction, “Car looks just as good now.”
            “I know how to fix things,” I say mockingly with a dumb smile. Bet you Carolina would never do that. He doesn’t get to answer, instead he gets out that ’droid phone. “I’m going to call Carolina.” I knew it was her car. She’s the one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy hearts day-- celebrated my way

this lovely Valentine's day started quite early for me; yesterday before midnight in fact. i stayed up hours after my family had gone to bed-- water colored Victorian Valentine's Day cards from the computer, learned in 5 minutes how to cut out string of paper hearts, found ALL the red paper i possibly could in the house, all to make a lovely impression the next morning upon waking for my parents and my sister.

ever since i was little i anticipated waking up early to find the dining room table decorated accordingly to whatever holiday it was and a surprise for me and my sister in separate Easter baskets, Valentine's Day gift bags, or mini pots of chocolate gold. last night i wanted to make a good start of the day for my family i love so dearly, and this was how i would show it, and return the favor to my parents who always tried to make the holidays seem so magical and exciting.

some of those Victorian cards i water colored. turned out pretty well, although i was nervous on the ink bleeding together with the colors. the art was so playful and romantic, not to mention innocent (by the use of children and cupids in most cards i found).

in the end, all the cards went into that Victorian courtship presentation i had for gothic literature today; and after an hour-early arrival to set up and prep, the final result was:

and the feedback was incredible. it got the class wide and awake and to my surprise engaging in discussion with my presentation. i'm relieved i chose today for a project. it couldn't have worked any better!

there's always that stigma against Valentine's Day singling out people, but you know, i look upon it as just a day of love to anyone. it's that one time to really reflect on those who've had your heart, whether it's a boyfriend or girlfriend, family member, or people who make your day on that commute to work or the waiter in the coffeeshop you chat with in the mornings. share love, pass it on, give to others your heart and show them their worth. love is appreciation and admiration. with Valentine's Day, it's surely the best time to let these things be known to those who really matter. today? i didn't receive, i made damn sure i gave my all to make others have a great day and feel loved by me. how about you?

Monday, February 13, 2012

thoughts from my notepad:

BART attendant stumbles over his words on the intercom.

AMERICANO. Pleasant Hill downtown.

I can see Mountain View Cemetery from the tracks.

Hipsters, homeless. Girls, cigarette-mouthed boys. The Captain Morgan man with a lolipiop-- MONTGOMEREY STATION.

I took the 5 today because I couldn't wait for the 31. Cleaner, too.

the mission district-- it is old, it is life. The mission is where hard dreams refuse to die, when they have gone only so far, and just out of reach. I lost a silver button out here.


You don't realize it, but you're huming to yourself./

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Shake Night"

            A blessing when Cassandra called the boys up. Her and Zac, Kyle, and Anthony. She usually was a nocturnal little eccentric—calling up at odd hours for hang-out whenever eight o’clock had passed. Mostly week days. Weekends she devoted to her boyfriend Alex or aging parents.
            Tonight, it was to In N Out Burger in San Ramon. Kyle was recruited to pick up everyone, starting the rounds with Zac in the foothills of Clayton’s polished country suburbs and then to Cass on old Concord Boulevard. Anthony was last. Chivalric courtesy, Cass called shotgun and no one objected. They were even forced to listen to her iPhone which she hooked up to Kyle’s stereo and put on blast Elvis, Orbison, Frankie Valli—it was a sentimental cruise along I- 680 as she laughed along with the tune. “You look like Frankie, Anthony,” Cass exclaimed and turned back to her closest friend, “only taller. Your voice is deeper too.”
            “He’s not gay, pretty much,” Zac added with a laugh. Cass ignored him.
            The lights were dark around San Ramon as Kyle’s white Mazda pulled off the freeway and made some turns towards the bright illumination of In N Out, a square kitsch block of palm trees and large red outdoor seating flooded with cars— parked or strung on in the line to the drive-through that edged into the main street. Fuck that, they all agreed, swooping into one of the last available parking spaces shadowed in some trees off to the corner of the lot. Inside, Zac, not hungry, reserved a seat for the four of them. Cass pulled aside to get a better view of the menu. “It’s all shit,” she concluded to Kyle.
            “Do the secret menu,” he suggested with a wink, “The animal fries, those you never go wrong with.”
            “Agreed!” Cass nodded. “No, what you getting Ant?”
            Anthony shrugged. “Well the animal fries, no doubt,” he decided, “and a four-by-four.”
            “Bold,” she said, looking up. “Give me everything. Gosh, this secret menu shit’s just the best thing that ever happened to these people, ain’t it?” They looked around after getting the orders: high school hipsters walking in and taking a look around scornfully at the place; hulky bros flocking from their raised 90’s trucks; occasional t-shirted families piling in from their sons’ victorious little league game. They refrained from the likes of these crowds and continued to talk on about most things, relevant and irrelevant. Cass only was bold to mention the irrelevant, such as Billy Bogart shying away from the gang. “It’s been like the whole summer and he’s not invited us to shit!” she spat after a big slurp of her Neapolitan milkshake, another secret menu delectable. “You’re all fair game, good sort of guys—he’s just a jackass.”
            “It’s whatever, who gives a fuck,” Anthony was saying lightly, “Since we all got back from college, he’s been M.I.A. with all those other people we barely spoke to in high school—kind of odd he should start messin’ about with them now.”
            “He’s a puss,” Kyle started, “a smart tool that’s going where the fun is. Sorry we like to eat and sit around and get fucking fat, dumbass.”
            Cass admired his sarcasm, eyeing Kyle while she sucked her straw. One of the boys, she was. Anthony could see that, they all could. More so Anthony, he knew her longest, practically introduced her to his guys. All was casual and deep with them, though their emotions and quick jabs of general subjects from good new music on Live 105.3 to rating attractive peers seemed shallow. “I don’t see why you’re being left out of the cuts Cass,” Zac began, “You’re a fun person. You’ll do anything.”
            “Make me seem like a slut, thanks asshole,” she snapped at him with a grin. Zac flinched at first, returning an uneasy smile. Anthony looked to Kyle and both smirked—Zac’s wounded experience with women always made him alert with their impressions and ready to retreat from hurting any girl. Cass’ strong sarcasm didn’t help much.
            Fuck Billy Bogart, they moved to sitting outside where they tossed their trays and sat around with milkshakes. When’s the next hang-out, who’s throwing a party that weekend when their folks were away, if you saw that funny shit on Tosh.O, what dates they were all leaving back to their colleges. “Poor Anthony, he sits around on his ass just waiting for us to come back on holidays,” Cass shrugged.
            “It’s not bad, Cass, I got only a semester left at DVC.”
            “Oh man, you know how hard it is to fucking transfer into the spring,” Zac sprung up. “God, it must suck getting stuck there.”
            “You talk like I’m going to be there for-fucking-ever,” Anthony remarked. “I got a semester left, and then if all goes well, Cal Poly. Fuck, I wasn’t so lucky as Kyle to afford that school, forgive me.”
            “Calm your tits there, Zac,” Cass came to his defense, Zac’s expression moving through mixed phases.
            “Yeah Ant, hurry it up so you can come move in with me down in San Luis,” Kyle said. “You get the good side of life there. The ocean, the town’s alright, girls are amazing—“
            “Sorry, Oregon’s better with the girls, you should ask me, going there,” Cass cut in.
            “We’re not going to touch on USF Zac, the tuition fucking blows,” Kyle sneered.
            “I’m not saying Ant should try it there. I practically sold my soul to get in.” Anthony’s face was growing pale. He hated talk of college, when everyone had their situated homes away from home and adventures and he would never know of until next spring. He slurped on his shake, nothing was left. He still slurped.
            “Take it easy Ant,” Cass then told him, sensing his sulk. “God-damn you guys, poor choice of subject. Fuck you all, rocking—no, shaking,” she swept up Anthony’s empty carton, and shook it to the other guys playfully, “the boat. Ant feels left out.”
            “I don’t,” he quickly said, taking the carton from her and tossing it to the far-distant overrun trash bin, where it missed, “it’s just a headache to think about the future. I haven’t even started classes yet at DVC. Must get past that first before I can even think to Cal Poly.”
            “True, true,” Kyle agreed. “But the future’s not all to avoid. I don’t even want to touch on after graduation—fuck—but the basics at least: finding a job, your own place—mostly the job. Do what you want to do. That’s the main bit of it all ain’t it.”
            Cass was shaking her head, mouth and flickering lashes all about ready to laugh, “Then there’s the in-between. The future is going to be so great! You see, when I graduate, here’s this,” she leaned in and proceeded; “Get the hell out of Oregon, probably get something going with Pixar or whatever my graphic design degree will take me. Pick up my dog Keefer from my parents, stop in occasionally to say ‘hi’ and send my love to them—in the meantime I’ll have found my own place.”
            “Where?” Zac asked.
            “Oakland probably. Or wherever my job will be. I’m just certain I’ll stay in the area for a bit. But you know, I can’t stand it to hell being lonely, Keef’s not enough. So I’ll save up, muddle on down to San Luis Obispo, and snatch Anthony up so I can marry him.”
            Zac and Kyle laughed, Cass was smiling still. Anthony was mute.
            “The dream team, you two,” Zac was saying, “Yeah, the future’s pretty fantastic when you put it that way. But why Anthony?”
            “So that Kyle doesn’t get there first,” she bluntly said. “Duh!” Kyle dropped his jaw and stood up defiantly. “Challenge accepted,” he announced, he and Cass shaking hands to bind a hypothetical contract.
            Anthony never could get the shake night out of his mind after that. It made him nervous to get singled out—nervous it should have been Cass to do so. Such thought reoccurred amongst the group, merely a whole year after that night happened. Give or take a week, it was summer once more, a cold cloudy day that miraculously transitioned into blue skies and refreshing heat as Kyle’s car made it down the coast of Cabrillo Highway to Santa Cruz. They were visiting the Boardwalk, the five of them—Cass’ friend Reyna from University of Oregon was visiting and as of that May officially dating Kyle; she had called shotgun, and no one, not even Cass, objected.
            The rest of the gang was making its way ahead through the bunches of tourists and families and half-clothed teens strolling up and down the game stalls, fried food stands, ticket booths and photo-taking in random corners. Anthony and Cass were taking it slow, sight-seeing and observing rather than participating with the others.
            “One of you better win me something at one of these games,” she said, looking forward. “Of course, I won’t count on Kyle, he’s got Reyna. She’s probably eyeing a cute fuzzy big-ass monkey or whatever, I just want a stuffed Kenny from South Park.” Anthony laughed at her suggestion of prize.
            “Zac needs some practice,” Anthony returned lightheartedly. She looked at him with disgust.
            “He’d surely miss, but don’t say anything that’ll make him nervous and he might knick the bottle or make the skee ball at 20.” The group ahead steered out toward the adjacent beach, vast and crowded while fresh cool waves as blue as Cass’ eyes sporadically swept in and out. Zac, Reyna, and Kyle, the latter two hand in hand, descended the sandy wooden stairs that met with the sand; Anthony and Cass made it to the second step down before taking a quick stop to admire what was before them. Cass stayed quiet, until a sigh: “What’s Anthony thinking, I wonder?”
            He shook his head. “All the babes on the beach. No big deal.”
            He’d made her laugh. “Just find those up in Oregon. They’ll flock to a tanned Californian boy like crazy.” She sighed and nudged at his elbow. “Too bad Alex hates roller coasters—crowds. Something he’ll never get over, I guess.” She got quiet, lost in her own thoughts which anybody rarely saw. The laughter and glow in her face seemed to be fading.
            “Don’t worry about it, Cass,” Anthony assured her, “He gets it.” He didn’t really quite know what he meant. She looked up at him, and crooked her arm loosely in his. “Silly Ant,” Cass said to herself. She seemed to have understood.
            They remained blocking traffic, standing firmly on the second step adoring the big ocean. The last question, he asked, “You in love with me, Cass?”
            She smacked her lips together with a smile. He was surely joking. It was their way of things.