Ball Busters - Ch 2 - Lilly, the Fourth Wind

Lilly joined us later. Let's be honest. Tish needed a girl in our close circle, especially once we all started maturing. She always had friends, but needed a girl in our group. The night I met Lilly... such things are never easily forgotten. Even if you put that in a box and bury it deep, you still know what's in it, and you still know where its buried. You still know you will have to open the box or else you would've thrown it away.

I had just washed the Nova. My '69 Chevy Nova, named 'Blue Betty', was more than this non-motorhead deserved.  The dark blue metallic coat looked pristine. I just vacuumed the inside, the windows were dark and printless, so she was looking ready for the car show. Sully and I had just gotten off work and we were still in our tuxedos, which shocks nobody who knows us.  This was our work attire, so stained tuxedo shirts and pants, suspenders, shirt buttons open, no tie.

What do you do after a long nights work serving free drinks to the rich people who know the bride and groom well enough to get an invite? The junkies head to to the hall, where life is going on without them. 

Our hall was called "Ball Busters", and there was no name more perfect for this lot of junkies. We are a solid group of 30-40 people we see nearly every day.  We are family in a different, better sense. There are no secrets here, the gossip flows like the gambling does.  It is our home.  

I grab my stick and throw the strap over my shoulder. Sully has the same shit eating grin he carries pretty much all the time. We walk through the door and walk up to the front counter to check in. There was a mass of people hanging out over by the bathrooms, there mustve been heat. "Lewis, what's going on in the corner?!?" I need to yell over the hum of the room.

Lewis is actually working behind the counter, as if anyone ever cared. Lewis is equal part best friend and pool hall little-bitch. His actual name is Mark. He hates it so just goes by his last name only. Most people here think its his first name. He is, Lewis. Lewis is a fairly thin, maybe buck-twenty, fairly small, little wiseass, which is specifically love him so much. He is also seriously impaired and needs a walking cane to finagle about. His right knee was a problem and always fighting with insurance to clear the surgery he needs to fix it. Like most kids dealing with extremely mature things, he hides his behind a wall of humor. Most important, he was one of us.

Once cashing out the table he was working with, he restacks the set of balls, grabs his cane, and gimps his way on over... "Bababrooooski... Hhhheeeeeeaaaahhhhh????? Whats up? You two look like penguins, were you guys at work or did you finally tie the knot?" Knowing better as he laughs at his own joke, he goes to get me a cold Pepsi.

"What's up?" Nodding to the corner, dropping my dollar bill. Cracking the can while handing him my cue case to hide behind the counter.

"Big game, its been going on for two hours. TishTishPotatoKnish is in the middle there, somewhere." Looking back in said direction, Sully is already talking to those on the outer circle of the game. Lewis returns to his 'job' and I go find my sister watching two really good players play their set. I wind thru the watchers saying hello to those I mostly like, and sidle up to her and say near her ear, "We didn't smoke yet... I made him wait. Little group, big group?"

Without even turning her head, she answers, "yeahyeah, Dust is on fire tonight. And, little group, my friends coming." She is locked in to the skinny kid (who is undoubtedly under-age for a billiard hall after midnight) running the rack out, showing off like a little punk. We all knew him as 'Dust'. His older brother who was first known to as 'Jay' before he felt comfortable enough to come to the hall straight from his landscape management job, had come to be known as 'Dirt'. Meeting his younger, nearly identical brother, it seemed obvious to all, we quickly gifted him the name 'Dust'. Both players reminded you more of Pigpen when you looked at them, but glided with speed and ease, nearly running with excitement from shot to shot. The kid had confidence spilling out of his ears. But it was sincere happiness and joy of making it all look so easy. He would smile it up and play to the crowd, only making you want to beat him more. But then at the end, he usually collected the money and likely, sadly blew it up his nose. In the world of junkies, bright stars burn fast.

"You have no friends. No problem, let's go..." I begin to walk away, she doesn't move.

"Wait, I want to see the end of this... third set, race to 5, $200, Dust is giving the 8, and now up 4-2..."

"We'll go get it ready. What's his name?" I spoke back to my sister who looked back with her quirk face. I continued, "You said you had a friend, a dude?"

"His name is Lilly. Don't drool, you perv. She is supercool. She is going to fit in."

Sully follows me knowing where and why I'm going. We get outside and get to my car, he gets in the shotgun. Once sitting in his spot, he begins his sculpture. I put on music as I put my head back on the seat rest, exhausted from the very long day...

<<Writers note: Start - Stop Draggin' My Heart Around - Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks>>

There's people running 'round loose in the world
Ain't got nothing better to do
They make a meal of some bright-eyed kid
You need someone to look after you

I know you really want to tell me goodbye
I know you really want to be your own girl

Sully never exactly invited you into his thoughts, he just thought... out loud. "Dust must be up $500. That kid is just lights-out some nights. I hate working Chinese Auctions. What the fuck is a Chinese Auction anyway?"

I don't respond to his comment as much as offer my own with the hope I direct him into safer waters. I responded with, "some stupid charity crap. All gin and tonics... 300 fucking gin and tonics... They bid on shit, but in secret... then find out who spent the most and suck each other off for being fucking richer than the little people. 'Can I have another gin and tonic? ugh.... My fingers still smell like limes." Sincere frustration has breached. Damn. Aaaannnnnnndddddd, here we go...

"It's like that rich smarmy bad guy pimp character in all the Shaw Brothers movies... NO... Enter the Dragon... the rich bad guy...."

Watching him finish his roll and search for a lighter, I hand him one, and say, "Han".

"HAN!!!"  His eyes light up as he silently thanks me with a nod, then turns into his hand where the glow is to light the end. As this happens I notice a hot redhead walk into the hall and up to the counter. I'm immediately jealous of Lewis for talking to her. He hands the jay to me... finally... pondering my response.

Sully blows his hit out and continues his thought process...  At this point, I resign to the banter I'm in, happy I finally have my joint. 

"All night, I can't get this vision of a short, smarmy, Chinese man wearing a purple suit and a long thin mustache, holding a walking stick slash cattle prod in one hand and a burning cigarette at the end of one of those ridiculously large cigarette holders in the other. Like right out of the Shaw Brothers movies... every one of them has this dude... Behind him are four girls of questionable age, slightly rocking back and forth, dancing to a song that isn't playing, all wearing different colored silk dresses and gritted-through forced smiles..."

Wow, ok, we're starting here... I continue to toke as he talks. We've gotten far into the depths of Sully's mind, buckle up. Its easier to just let him go now. We have entered the full on pantomime section of tonight's show. Now a scene being playing out, displaying his wares using his invisible cane slash cattle prod, using his voice with very little effort to speak proper sex or accent.. 'You hrrrike? Hmmmm? My girr trea you right??'

As he insults a fairly large part of the globe I notice the redhead again, walking towards us with Tish. Sully is oblivious and doesn't stop. When Tish gets to the car, she interrupts. "Boys, act like adults. This is Lilly. Yes, she is hot. No, you cannot date her, she is a lesbian... don't try and embarrass yourself. I told her we'd get her really stoned. She needs it. This one is Sully, that one is Baba." I hand Tish the joint as the two of them climbed into the back, Sully's eyes followed which ever ass passed him, waited for them to get comfortable, then climbed back to the shotgun and continued...

"... Then the silky minors are like standing behind him, like on the verge of tears but smiling through the pain... He notices they're faking their happiness. Tzzzt 'You rike dance??' Then he pokes the closest one with the end of his walking stick Tzzzt sending a mild shock to its victim to his invisible victim… 'Tzzzt-Tzzzt  Dance uhrike uh monkay', then turns back to smile for his audience as the girls do a half dance as they fake smile through the whimper, dude turns back to audience, gives two thumbs up..."

The entire story pantomimed as he went... The whimper cry was far too accurate.  You can tell he practiced.

"Dude??" I say, full shock and awe.  He doesn't even realize how far this one got or who was listening before pulled back to reality. Lilly looks to Tish for information. Tish just rolls her eyes.

"What?" He says with the inability to understand. To say he was unaware is honestly being generous.

Shaking my head.…"just… dude..."

Trying to defend himself, he fails, "stop it, you know I love Chinese girls... and food."


"What??? Ok, fine, I like 'Oriental' chicks." The more he tries... I know he means well, just, not tonight, we have a guest... with red hair.

Tish, normally tried to ignore the banter in payment for her free smoke, begins her apology. "So, Sully is a dick. I wish I could tell you it becomes endearing..........................................    no.....  its closer to when you accept your foot has a 6th toe. Annoying, shouldn't be there... but eh..."

The very nice smelling girl with red hair with red hair finally spoke with a smidge of a small, fairly cute laugh said, "Baba?? What's that for??"

"Babaganoosh" Sully jumped in.

"Hey, its cool. I've been called that since before I can walk, if you just accept it as stupid as it is, its easier. Everyone calls me that, literally everyone." I say hoping we find something else to talk about.

Its possible, I blushed. I don't realize I start to sing with the song. I quietly hear an unfamiliar voice joining in for Stevie's words...

And baby, you could never look me in the eye
Oh, when you buckle with the weight of the words
Stop draggin' my
Stop draggin' my
Stop draggin' my heart around, yeah

Tish knowing I'm awful with girls finds a way to make it worse, "Fellas, relax, just a girl, this is why we don't have friends... Lilly and I work together, and I really think she will fit in with us... both you (turning to Lilly) and Baba are far too smart for your own good as well as your both sarcastic fucks. You will fit into our little group, I just know it... And, that one is Sully, I told you about him. He's an asshole, but we love him because he rarely means harm. He's just an ass... and he knows it, as you've seen and will continue to see."

Continuing his story as if never interrupted, Sully says, "I'm telling you she was amazing... wore me out... and when I finally caught my breath I was like, Grandma, I had no idea the inside of your mouth would be so warm...", then acting to just realize the new person is present… "oh, hey, I'm Sully. I'm just an ass."

In a feeble attempt to make him less rough, I add, "We keep him around, he buys weed."

Jumping in without a hitch, Lilly offers, "Ok then. I guess, tell Grandma I said hi the next time you see her, and don't forget to brush her teeth, in or out." She takes a huge hit off the joint, blows the smoke from her nose, has no problem with it... The boys are stunned. Tish watches them realize why Lilly was going to fit in fine, and swears she heard one of us say 'damn.' The four of us finish smoking and start to talk like old friends. Enjoying the smoke and the afterglow, we find little reason to go back inside. Eventually, a group of four come out. After scanning the lot, my car is noticed and the pack moves our way.

In the span of seven seconds, the three of us have an entire shared conversation, all using the hive brain to mutually solve the problem as a single thought. "Who is that? Lewis, and waitresses Sam, Jess, and Franny... they're closing up, its late... you know they... diner... do you... no... no... ok, so chilling? Mom's working... hospital... just us tonight?? yes! yes!! munchies?? random supplies at home... ok, done."

They settle the deal as Lewis approaches the window. "Hey, we're going to the diner, wanna come with??"

Sully begins the performance. "That sounds really good, actually, which one are you going to?"

I quickly chime in, "So hungry, whose going?"

Tish contributes from the back, "Honestly, a stack of pancakes would totally hit the spot right now... but I hate Deer Park Diner. I know its further, but would you mind to Commack Diner instead. Their bacon is better."

Lilly is more than confused, genuinely unsure what is happening, but impressed at how well they played off each other unscripted. She doesn't want to give up the rouse, but at the same time was so stoned that a very large stack of pancakes with bacon did sound like the most delicious thing on the planet right now. She really wanted in, but will sit back and play quiet for now, enjoying the show she realized was being performed to impress her.

"We were going to go to the one on New York Avenue. And it just the four of us, some others may meet us later. You guys should come along."

Sully gets out of the car to complete the negotiations. As he talks he points in the direction to each of the options. So, we want to go to the one in Deer Park, which is this way, and you want to go to the New York Avenue, which is...", when gesturing east in direction, he changed his hand from pointing with his index finger, to using his index and thumb to make a circle. Lewis eyes get pulled to look in the circle..

"FUCK!!!", Lewis screams. "Yes, dick... The one on New York Avenue." Lewis walks over and offers his frail upper arm. Sully punches it solidly. Nobody addresses it.

Tish's turn to keep it going. "Dude, we should go... Are you guys down for that? As soon as she said pancakes, my belly rumbled... I'm just going to run in and pee... Lewis, you sure you don't prefer the delicious bacon at Commack instead??" There are many times in my life where I realize how incredibly cool my sister was. She had him and knew it. When she was at her best, even I was never sure. If I can't read her, nobody can.

"Goodness. Fine. See you at Commack Diner." Lewis says defeated. The poor guy only wanted to relax and eat after work.

"Great! Go reserve the big room for us and we'll be right behind you... I can't hold this." says Tish.

"Cool, see you there." He got in his car and lead the waitresses out of the parking lot making a left. As soon as the last car turns, the three of us burst out in laughter.

"Did you really have to pee or was that?" I ask.

"Nah, cherry on top", she quips as Sully gets back in and closes the door.

Lilly begins to catch on... "Wait, that whole thing??" Turning to Tish.

"Yes." Said Tish. "To be fair, we're all dicks. Its the whole group, not just us. Ball busters in more ways than one. Feel free to join in. You're in now, so be on your toes."

"But... oohhh... YOU MADE THEM GO TO A PLACE FURTHER AWAY!!!" The laughter starts again. "Wow, Tish, is it??" She gives in and laughs along with the group. "So mean... Glad I'm on your side."

"A day in the life. And we do us worse. We're dicks, remember? Welcome to our group. It may take them an hour or so for them to catch up, but they will laugh when they figure it out. I'll bet we get a phone call later." I assure her.

Tish finds the cassette she wants and pops in the tape we are listening to tonight. The guitars of 'Way Down Now' by World Party give us a feeling of genuine joy.

<<Start - Way Down Now by World Party>>

The world is ours and the night is still young, even if most think of it as late. Young, summer, redhead, piss, and vinegar. I doubt I've even been so happy in my life.

"And you made them hold the BIG ROOM!!" Laughing and screaming as we exit the parking lot, making a right.

Lilly is more stoned than she's been in some time, and yes, needed this badly. These guys were fun. No judging, all fun. They are all so close, but she doesn't feel like an outsider already, sitting back, enjoying the breeze in her red hair as much as her buzz and the company of her new friends, she falls into the song.

Won't you show me
Something truuuuuue today?
C'mon and show me
Anything but this

"HEY!!" Lilly yells from the back over the wind and music... "What's up with that punch... I'm not getting hit, am I? I bruise if you look at my ass too hard... Sully."

I shake my head in a no gesture... "That’s a boys game... We have many stupid boy games. Stay on your toes and it doesn't hurt too bad…"  I offered her a wink in the rear view mirror.

"Oh... okay... reassuring... But, why? I saw you showed him something, and I saw you punch him... What??"

"The circle... You make a circle with your finger and your thumb... If you can tempt someone to look in the circle, you punch them..." Now I'm laughing at how completely childish the idea sounds in verbal format, yet, I've played this game for years. "See, stupid boy game..." We enjoy the moment as we drive home... "The game of ditching them at the diner, that's just us being dicks... No game"


Off, somewhere in Commack, Long Island, Lewis sits at a very large round table with 10 cups of ice water and two waitresses in the 'big room', still rubbing his upper arm. "I fucking knew it." Their meal is close to over and the waitresses are incredibly bothered at the table in the big room that now needs to be reset, waiting for their only customer, who also seem to be waitresses, to leave at 3am.


As Betty pulls into the driveway, Tish's eyes turn to saucers. Momma's car was not supposed to be there. She worked as a nurse at the hospital and often caught the night shift to help with the bills. She didn't need to be home for us and the extra pay made a huge difference.

Tish turns to the group once the car is turned off... "Guys... Mom has been working doubles all week. I thought she was working today too, but this must be her first night home for a good sleep in almost a week. If we wake her up, she will blow a gasket... Baba, you know this, don't be stupid." She smacks Sully in the shoulder, trying not to laugh thru her seriousness. "don't do it... Complete silence until the bathroom door closes, no exceptions... She will KILL us."

Tish was awesome.  She meant well.  Sincerely, I love that about her. But, its like getting yelled at by Tinkerbell. The emotion is there, but the delivery would be more powerful if she wasn't such a Tish. Instead, the more serious she sincerely was, the more you just wanted to laugh at it.

I start humming the Mission Impossible theme.

Bum Bum bumbum... Bum Bum bumbum...

"Fuck around if you want to, it's your death... Lilly, just follow me and you'll be fine."

Sully poses Charlies Angels form style with his invisible handgun... adds high pitch whistle for accent.

Dododooooooooo dododooooooooooooo
Bum Bum bumbum... Bum Bum bumbum...

Tish drops her head giving up hope and leads the way in the house.  Using her key as quietly as possible, opening the door with gentle care, holding it open for us as we walk in so she could close it with the same stealthy care.

She puts her keys on the keychain with the gentle touch of someone about to cut the green wire.


She turns to yell at me, which really just becomes a hand that won't even hit because it causes noise, so her offering of an angry/ugly face suffices... Looking to her friend, she rolls her eyes, and motions to move on. Lilly adds a low volumed "Doo-doo-doooooo", Tish rolls her eyes again.

Approaching Mom's door the group creep (not close to silently, lets call it 'trying'), Tish leads, but stops short and does a militaristic and over gestured hand motion informing the group where the enemy was positioned. The three of us stop in an insta-pose, each an awkward, unrealistic, and over gestured freeze pose... silently.

Her eyes roll again, loudly.

We continued.

One silent step follows another as she steps past the door. Quietly, she takes one gentle step and then another. Finally past the door, she takes one larger step down the hallway towards her room, which is where she trips the wire connected to the coffee can filled with pennies in Momma's room.

So much for plan A.

Sully and I go into far too practiced plan B mode. Tish knows we're caught and there was no point making us all suffer through. We (try to) usher Lilly back to Tish's room and into the bathroom. Mom's door opens far too quick. She is good, and again proven to be many steps ahead of us.

"Wait one second... You're caught too... Sully, you are also caught... and what is this?? A fourth?? Who exactly is this in my house at 3am??"

Tish immediately goes into damage control... "We were hanging out at the pool hall. This is Lilly. She is my friend from work and we were having a good time... We were trying to be quiet and respect your sleeping, knowing how hard you're working lately."

"Hey Miss O'Reilly... Looking good..." He means it, never missing an opportunity. At least he tried, got to give him that.

Laughing now. "Fuck off, Sully, Nice try both of you." Back towards Tish and me,"I know you were trying to be quiet. That was why I set the trap. You guys know I need sleep."

Tish never really does know when to quit while ahead... "Mom, we were silent, we didn't make a noise... You set a trap that woke you up?!?"

"You know I can't sleep until you two are home." She kisses her daughter on the head. Then she walks to me and reaches up to pull me down to her for a kiss. Moving down the chain to Lilly. "You're cute, I'm mom. Nice to meet you." She gives me a look like, 'what are you waiting for?' while giving Lilly a warm mom-hug. Last, to Sully. "When you're here, you are my baby too, give me a hug." A sincere and mom-ish hug to all her babies. "Now, keep the fucking noise down, I'm sleeping in tomorrow." Then she slaps Sully hard on his ass... real hard, then says "and put a towel down so I don't smell that all night!", as she returns to her room and closes the door.

"aaaaand, that's Mom. She does mean every word, trust me. Let's go." I say looking to get the fuck outta dodge and into the bathroom.

Lilly says in a whisper, "I fucking love that woman."

"Dude. that's my mom..."


All four of us are sitting, crammed into a very small one person bathroom. The close quarters will eventually become our hangout spot. Momma knew we smoked pot. She preferred to have us home and safe than out. Eventually, we worked into reserved seats. Tish always sat in front of the sink, Sully always had his back to the door, Lilly was in front of or on the shut toilet, and I had my back to the tub.

We're now telling stories about the fun, different people at the pool hall.

"OK, so, did you see the mountain of a man in there... Like a house? Probably sitting down and playing cards, dressed in black." I ask Lilly.

"Like, all leather and tattoos? He looks scary. He was singing 'Fat Bottomed Girls' really loud…"

Lilly nodded and I continued, "Yes... That is Pugsley... Yeah, he is a bit scary, but don't gamble or borrow money from him and you will be good. In a lot of ways, he is a big teddy bear."

Sully adds in, "In a lot of ways, he is also the meanest mother fucker on the planet. A big teddy bear that also collects for the mob... but, he loves us, so you're good, especially Baba" Sully does his best Pugs impression, "BOOBOO, I BUY YOU FLY!!!"

"Shut your face..." Lilly is shocked at the idea that someone like that actually exists, forget about being close with one.

I continue, "Sadly, no, it is very true. One day, he walks in the hall, and I'm sitting there playing cards with Lewis just wasting time. He walks in 'BOOBOO... I need you...' I'm like, uhh, ok, what can I do to help? He's like, 'Get in the truck.' I do. Then in the car he starts telling me what were doing, or more importantly, my role. 'I'm collecting from this guy who keeps dodging me, and its pissing me off..." I'm like wondering what the fuck I just got myself into, but Pugs was always good with us, so I wasn't too concerned... yet."

We were mostly done smoking by now, it had to be after 4am. We were happily lost in the moment. Damn, I wanted pancakes and bacon right now. I distract the conversation realizing how hungry I am or the last time I ate.

"Sully, you suck, I declare you make munchies." Sully looks at me, then Lilly and Tish, then back at me...

"Fuckkk... Come help..." Sully whines.

Quicky retorting, "I gotta pee, and not in front of girls."

"Fuuuuuucccckkk." Meaning, 'ok, great guys, I will go get us something to eat.'

I got up, which took an effort. I forgot I'd worked my shift tonight. My feet remind me. It was a long day and even that was like hours ago. I climb over and through females, force the dumbass to get up and leave before I do, leaving two girls alone in the bathroom.

(authors comment... never, ever leave two females alone in the bathroom. I actually have sisters, trust me. No good can come of this... alas, I did have to pee.)

So I go into the bathroom in my bedroom, close the door and realize I have not urinated in some time. This one felt great. I genuinely enjoyed relieving myself contemplating many random thoughts. I could finally get out of the tux, I made shit money today in gin and tonicland, and that her smell was intoxicating, I don't know what the fuck he is cooking in there but I doubt it had either pancakes or bacon, and maybe we lost this round... Well played, Mr. Lewis, well played. I am finally able to finally shake it off and complete my task, rip a melodic fart, and flushed. I then washed and dried my hands and turned to open the door.

"Hey, I love your room..." I hear from the girl with the pretty red hair looking at the artwork I drew and is hanging on my wall. She is looking closely at the piece I'm most proud of. And then I remember how to breathe, and also how to respond.

"Thanks. I did that. I used to draw a lot." I say with embarrassment, moving toward my closet and my nightwear.

She doesn't turn away from her examining the drawing. "Sorry for letting myself in. Tish said Sully would sleep here, all our cars are back at the pool hall and I may as well just sleep here too. If I could maybe steal some sleep pants. She is in there changing now."

She made me nervous. But at the same time this was my room and my home and I am a fairly confident guy. But this is not a girl this is a lesbian, and Tish was right, she is very easy to get along with and made me laugh more than once tonight. I try to just treat her like a dude and let that be that.

"Uhm, sure of course, bottom drawer, left side whatever you want." She found the dresser, sizing up the trinkets I've collected in silent judgement. I suppose you can learn a lot by entering a persons room alone. And I was ok with her doing so. Sometimes its just easier than telling a million stories.

She eventually moves to the drawer and fishes out something soft and comfortable, then puts it to her nose to smell, not to check for cleanliness but to learn my smells. I follow up, "If you need, the closet has a hundred tee shirts. Tish steals them all the time. She likes to sleep in them because they are so big."

As she glided about my room, choosing which of my clothes she is wearing to sleep, she says, "you never finished your story. what happened with Pugsley? Did you find the guy?"

I realized I unintentionally left a cliffhanger, I picked up the story as I sat on my bed watching her learn about my likes. "Ha, yeah, I guess I left you in the middle." As I begin, Tish enters my room wearing her pajamas and let Lilly know that she could change in her room whenever she liked. "So, I get in the passenger sear of the truck, he follows me. He gets in and the seatbelt couldn't wrap around him. He is a solid 500 pounds, dry. Dude is a mountain..."

"So, he gets in and starts to drive. I say, 'Pugs, what the fuck is going on?' He said, 'This guy owes me money. I just heard from someone telling me where he is and it isn't far. Come with me.' He knew I wasn't exactly a violent person in spite of my larger size. So, I asked. 'OK, but why me? I don't want to hit anyone.' He says, 'No, you're here to pull me off when he's had enough.'"

"SHUT.... YOUR.... FACE!" Her face was ghost white and her eyes wide open shocked at the telling of this story.

"No, its true. I was thrilled we never found him. But yeah. That's Pugsley. I've never met anyone like him. He is one of a kind. He looks scary, but when he loves you, and he will, he will go to bat for you, or he will go get the bat for you. He carries a gun at all times, and he always has a stack of cash that could easily be over five grand. He drives a Suburban or a Harley and owns a bar in Hicksville off 106/107. He is the man."

Shocked, more compelled. "What would you have done??"

"Meaning, if we found him? I've seen Pugs move in anger, the dude is a fucking buffalo. I wouldn't have gotten in front of him, I promise that. And by the time I caught up to him, the poor dude would need hospital care at best, so yeah..."

I turn to Tish... "He is in there too long... Lets see what he's up to..."

Tish knowing where I'm going with my devious statement and is in tune. Lilly doesn't pick up on it as quickly, and says, "ok, cool, I'm going to change. Be there in a minute." Tish grabs her arm, queues for her to silently follow us, and this time seriously mimed her to be completely silent. I lead us out, and towards the kitchen.

I motion for them to stay close as we moved stealthily along the wall. The noises of the kitchen start coming to life. I smelled bagels (good call, sir), heard a box of cereal and the clinks of bowls and spoons. I motion them to hold while I snuck closer and peaked around the corner. He was oblivious, but planning a robust very, very late snack with multiple options. I can see he is nearly done and preparing to move.

Sneaking back to the girls, I very quietly catch them up and motion them to follow me. Creeping close, I can hear him gathering his rations for the group. I snuck right up the the edge of the corner of the wall and waited for my mark.

His hands were considerably full. He had 4 bowls, spoons, 2 boxes of cereal, the milk, the sugar, and two toasted bagels with cream cheese on it. In his pockets was a jar of jelly. It took him a few seconds to figure out how to turn off the light. He uses he shoulder to slide down the wall over the switch, making that work. At this time, I'm literally 6 inches away from him waiting for my moment to pounce.

All proud of himself and the idea he is bringing his friends food to suffice, he turns the corner to the hallway.

I jump out of the complete dark and into the very near dark, landing about 3" in front of his face, arms waiving, mouth open as if screaming on top of my lungs but making no sound, I have one girl on either side of me, each doing their own scariest silent scare. Not one sound was made by any of us, outside of the rattling of cereals and spoons.

Sully's face was of shear sincere horror. Because we didn't make a sound, he also didn't make a terrified sound just screamed without noise right back at my face. Its possible he peed himself, but it made no sound.

Later that night, back in the bathroom, now with full bellies as well, I believe we knew then that this friendship was special and the four of us would be together from now on. We were a solid team, and starting that night we did everything together. Lilly was one of us with literally zero effort where others spent years trying to crack our tight circle of three.


Somewhere in North Florida, I hear the tape click to flip over again and I eject it and pull the cassette. I come to reality and learn that I'm a good ninety minutes into my journey before I even realized it. Man, I now feel like I have to pee, and I have a serious craving for pancakes and bacon. I find a rest area and take the exit seeking out the closest IHOP.
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