Happiness is.

Time to Settle Accounts

February 9, 2012: Happiness is.

After five days of sleeping next to my brother, I decided to crash out on Train’s couch. A nice change-of-pace, I thought. The three of us had been hanging out in Train’s room, me already laying on the couch, and when I opened my eyes a few hours later my brother was gone and Train was asleep and an action movie I did not recognize was on Train’s 60 inch LCD, roaring away. Two of his three bar hall fluorescents were on. It was 3:30 a.m.

I stood and found the power button on the side of the television. Sweet silence. And the slim bulbs of TRAIN and OH MY the only light in the room. Satisfied, I returned to the couch to sleep, laying on my side facing the back of the couch…

A rumble.

I heard a grunting, and looked over in time to see Train walk to the monitor. He clicked it back on and flipped to Netflix. He scrolled through row upon row of digital movie boxes, and then settled on something with Nicolas Cage’s big face on the cover. Train selected the film, fast forwarded past the opening credits, and was snoring by Nic’s first close-up.

God damnit, I thought. I turned back toward the couch wedge and pulled my hoodie hood over my ears. I anticipated explosions and gunshots and lots of Cage yelling. I rolled back over and looked at the screen. What is this? It looked late 90s based on Cage’s head, but I could not place it. I saw like every movie Nic Cage made when I was a teenager… what could this be?… he’s in a mansion… he’s talking to an old woman… oh shit… no, no way he put THIS in for a SLEEPING movie…

“All I want,” the old woman said to Cage, “is to know that this atrocity is false. I want the proof of it,” and right then I knew: yes, we’re watching 8 MM, one of the few mainstream films I ever personally chose not to see because of R-rated content. I’ve since seen most of it, walking in and out of the room while Justin was watching, and that viewing confirmed what I long suspected: this is not a film to fall asleep to.

So I stood unsteadily, eyes still closed, and wandered into Mike’s room. I cracked the door, creeped to the bed, took off my hoodie and my new striped socks, and climbed up next to him. He has one enormous blanket that he has been good enough to share, but it was cocooned around him, so I just laid down next to him and reached my feet under the ends of the scrunched up blanket…

“Bye brother,” he said. Birds were chirping and the room was bright, and I looked up and saw Mike dressed for work. I kneeled up on the bed and we hugged.

“Bye brother!” I said. “Thank you for having me.”

He made a please! Come now noise. “Time’s your flight?”

“4:40. Ben’s driving me at 2. Time’s it now?”

“8.”

We smiled, and then broke into one of our many impromptu staring contests, and then smiled and laughed, and then did our brother shake and hugged again. And he walked away. And I laid down for a final hour of sleep…

“Yo,” I heard in the hallway outside the still open door. Ben was heading for the shower. I nodded to him. Ten minutes later I was speaking on the phone with my old train crash pal Ishmael the Rebel, and when that call was over I flipped into wide-awake mode. Turned on the computer, signed into everything, checked everything. Ben was now out of the shower and dressed, sitting at his computer working on a beat.

“Too early for this?” he asked when I walked in.

“No, thank you, no – I’m up. This is all good. Like this one,” I said about the beat. Train walked in behind us, wearing a black button down with sleeves rolled up and plaid shorts. This is breezy day-time L.A. Train. “Gonna miss this?” he asked.

I looked to the window – perfect blue. “I mean, what do you think?”

We laughed and talked about the trip, and Ben and I plotted out the next few hours, and when I said I would be doing some writing it was suggested by Train that I “get in this sun.”

“Good point.” I walked back to my brother’s room and changed into a pair of basketball shorts. I grabbed a towel, my hoodie, and a bottle of PF 30 Banana Boat and walked back to Ben and Train.

“Off to the beach?” Train asked.

“Are you guys headed back there,” I said, gesturing to the roof. They shook their heads. “Perfect. I’m gonna lay out back,” I paused for emphasis, “fully, you know – ” and then I made some kind of snapping hand gesture mixed with a head cock and a tsk sound, all meant to convey my warning of deck nudity. Apparently, this was understood…

“As long as I don’t forget and walk out there,” Ben said. Train laughed. I walked to the back and out onto the deck. The sun shone with blazing ferocity; when it landed on my cheeks I grinned and turned upward into the glare like a puppy feeling the tips of fingers on his side and rolling onto his belly.

I found a long strip of sun just past the warped ping-pong table and laid down my hoodie in the shape of my back. I took off my shorts and laid them down beneath the sweatshirt, and immediately the sun felt like God on my pale pubic region. I took the sunscreen and made lines down each of my arms. I rubbed them in. I got the backside of my arms, and then my shoulders, hands, fingers, and then my chest, stomach, waist, hips, pubic, and finally my legs, feet, and toes. I found an outdoor pillow of sufficient cleanliness and placed it down for my head. I laid down on the sweatshirt, covered my face with the towel, and then stretched my legs and toes and arms and fingers like a naked star fish baking on a roof.

And really, what’s better than that?

NEXT: Whether. (2.10.12)

PREVIOUS: Impressions. (2.8.12)

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