From A Toast to Starry Nights ( Print | Kindle )
Jet is my favorite creation. There’s too much of me in her to deny that she’s not at all based on me (and a huge chunk of my bestie, but in a non-Frankenstein sort of way… she lived in Bali. Before that, she skipped out on the last two weeks of our senior year in high school to fly over to Indonesia and stay with her aunt and family [who went expat when they took their two kids out of school for a year to travel the world. They got to Bali and decided they finally found the home they never knew existed] She came back in time for graduation, then went back for a year and a half.) Conversation between her and Kay are snippets of what my bestie and I have actually spoken to each other. Heh.
So, without much further ado, I’m dropping you in the middle of my novel and let Jet guide the way. Oh, it should be noted, I’m working on The Jetnia Phenomenon— First chapter of it starts with this chapter, from Jet’s POV.
A mighty shindig shook the backyard’s canopy rafters the afternoon of July Fourth. It seemed like a bee hive, abuzz with activity. A group of men led by Dmitri stood by the barbeque being utilized as a stove with cast iron pots and pans atop. Beans simmered, as did applesauce. Various veggies got the grill treatment, as did chicken for those less adventurous to try the boar. A few feet away, Wiley’s Caja China roaster oozed out the smell of cooking pork and the promise of crackling skin.
The roaster seemed nothing more than a wooden box on wheels lined with aluminum sheeting. Inside, a grill held the meat, and then to close and cook it all, the recessed lid which held charcoal briquettes nestled into place. Wiley called it his “Cuban microwave”. Inside resting upon a steel grate, our wild porky friend.
The back door into the garage stood open as a constant stream of people meandered through the house and out back. Two wee kegarators in the garage also helped to make the traffic flow through there.
People frolicked in the pool while others sat at tables shaded by trees, chatting and laughing to their hearts content. Inside the air-conditioned house, a marathon of Firefly episodes played on plasma for those in the mood to cruise the ‘verse with their favorite space cowboy-pirates.
My family gathered for this shindig… Willow, of course and her little sister, my Aunt Daisy with her second husband Pat and their progeny; Anita Ann, Lydia Louise and Kiyah Kathleen. My mother’s fraternal twin, Uncle Rowan and his wife, Aunt Sheena floated on tubes in the pool. Little Row and his sister Rosie kicked a soccer ball-shaped ice cream maker around the grass with Lyddy and Kiyah. They ranged in age from seven to eleven. Grampa sat in his wheelchair with Wiley’s dog at the side and scratched the black lab behind its ear. The lab looked singularly devoted to Grampa.
“If that dog was a cat, she’d be purring.” I couldn’t resist smiling as Grampa and the dog grinned.
“Reminds me of old Buddy. Best dog I ever had.” Buddy the Lab was Grampa’s duck hunting dog from my youth. Smart, sweet and loyal. Happy memories were associated with that black mutt of awesomeness.
Jet too, wandered around in her star-spangled bikini, looking somewhat like a tatted Wonder Woman missing her golden lasso. This year, her cleavage devoid of a shot glass. She slung a sarong she painted to look like the night sky over a forest around her hips, and helped to keep everyone’s drinks topped off. Also, as a seeming first for her, Jet wore no shoes and no longer seemed an Amazon when standing next to me.
Dmitri invited Bryant, Wiley and a few of his chosen work team who were like family to him, and their corresponding significant others. Two of his old high school friends joined us as well. Not a huge shebang all together, but lively and fun. Those who were closest to us were there, and that was peachy keen if you ask me.
When dinner time rolled around, Wiley and Dmitri both wore huge smiles as they lifted the charcoal-filled roaster lid to reveal the pig. With silicone-gloved hands, they hefted the grill containing the porky entree, complete with red apple in its mouth. We had no platter large enough to contain the beast, so layers of blank newsprint paper were spread on the glass-topped table and the porcine centerpiece put into place. Before it went into the roaster, I placed herbs in a cheesecloth sack held against the pig’s insides to lend an aromatic scent to the flesh. Piggy injected and basted in an infusion of coconut milk, ginger, garlic and black pepper gave it a tropical taste. It met Dmitri’s approval of Filipino inspired lechon.
Wiley broke a piece of ear off and popped it into his mouth with a smile. “Damn, Dim, this brings back memories…”
Dmitri replied, “I know. Remember that little joint in Manilla, the Pooti Shack? This pig brings that back. Ah, the divine Miz Pooti. She was great with meat. Little Miss Pooti, too. She could handle my meat every day.”
Great, glad the Marine vets approved of my recipe gleaned from the internet, although my curiosity got stoked by the Miz/Miss Pooti remarks. Was Dmitri aiming for double entendre?
“The Divine Miz Pooti? Is this a story for civilian ears?” Curiosity evident in my tone. I placed a huge salad bowl of spinach, bacon, candied almonds and blue cheese upon the table and retrieved the stack of paper plates from Jet’s grasp. She also held three tankards holding the flatware, looking a bit like a South Beach Beer Wench with a bottle of balsamic vinaigrette secured in her armpit for transportation.
Dmitri actually giggled at what I can only assume was the blatant tone of inquisitiveness my voice held. “Miz Pooti was a tiny little old Filipino woman. Not a single tooth in her mouth. She’d make passes at all the Marines who came to eat the lechon she’d whip up with her grandkids turning a pig on a spit over an open fire. She really liked Wiley. Little Miss Pooti was her granddaughter who was set to keep the family legacy alive. Perhaps she got her grandmother’s lechon genes because every time I went to the Pooti Shack, it tasted awesome.”
“Shut up Dmitri.” Wiley’s golden eyes shone with humor as his lean face brandished a smile. “She loved me and my ass in fatigues. Waited all her years for a handsome young warrior who made her weak in the knees. She always gave me the choice bits of lechon because I let her grab my ass. A lusty old woman. Give her a kiss on the cheek and she’d beam with sunshine all afternoon, while fattening you up on her roasted pig. Give her a kiss on each cheek, and she’d give you all the beer or cola you could guzzle to go with the lechon. I wasn’t brave enough to kiss her on the mouth though… not sure I could handle her heady delights if she slipped me a little tongue action.” He laughed. “I have very fond memories of that Filipino minx.”
“Yeah, you do recall the time she smacked your ass with the flat side of her giant cleaver, right? And you fell into the fire pit. That was minx-like.”
“No, I nearly fell into the fire. I bent over to pick up the napkin she dropped then bam! She aimed for the taint. The lechon saved me. I owe that pig a debt of gratitude. Miz Pooti never smacked my ass after that… just stuck to pinches and grabs. I considered it a good trade off.”
“She didn’t want you ruining another lechon and corrupting her business. Then how’d she retire to Hawaii and make you her cabana boy?”
“The love Miz Pooti had for me was pure and unsullied. Like the sound of roasted pig skin between the teeth. Don’t dirty it, Dim.”
I studied Wiley during his conversation with Dmitri. Usually he carried himself with a military bearing; life was a series of missions to accomplish in the most direct way possible. He stood at ease during leisure time with hands clasped behind his back, at least when I’ve seen him. Tall, must have been at least six foot four. His dark blonde hair always kept in a clean buzz cut with a little extra on top and wire frame glasses perched on his hawk-like nose.
I welcomed his addition of the roaster as it helped to make an important day even more memorable with the novelty of a whole roasted pig with an apple wedged in its gaping maw.
The Feast went well. There wasn’t much left over but the scrapings of bowls and a decimated skeleton of a pig. Looked like wolves had joined us for dinner.
With a glance, I looked to Dmitri sitting and laughing with Bryant and Wiley. He planned to announce our engagement after dinner, but I wasn’t sure when. After the entree and before dessert is all I knew.
But now, Wiley’s sixth or seventh home-brewed beer in hand gotten him to the point of wide grins, loud laughs and random ideas. He looked relaxed.
“Dim! What is this beer you brewed?” Wiley held the pint glass aloft, as if to memorize those tiny bubbles within the intoxicating elixir.
“That’s the Scotch Brown Ale. How’s it setting with you?” Dmitri, ever proud of his brewing, beamed at the reverent tone of his buddy’s voice.
“I wish I were a Hobbit, as this is what I would heft in my tankard should I find myself in a Scots pub.”
This was a new version of Wiley. An intoxicated and mildly philosophical version of a former hard-ass. “So you’d only drink it if you were a Hobbit?” I couldn’t resist the opening he gave.
“No, but I think the intoxicating effects would be more intense with one of less body mass. But I could be wrong. For all I know, Hobbits grew up drinking beer and could probably out drink a frat boy.”
Jet replied, “No, the Dwarves drink ale like its water. If I were to put a bet on who’d get blitzed first, it would be on the Hobbits, hands down. No matter how traumatized Frodo happened to be from the horror of The Ring, Gimli could pound more, longer.” She threw a glance my way. “The Silmarillion and the like were my reading fodder for years.”
Addressing Wiley, Dmitri asked, “Want to try the Canadian Amber?”
Wiley not yet removed his predator gaze from Jet who sat to the left of me. He ignored Dmitri and asked Jetnia in a very deliberate voice, “Does it look like I’ve taken the stick out of my ass to your satisfaction?” Irritation reigned supreme on his face as he looked at my Maid of Honor with intense dislike and more than a hint of loathing.
I’m guessing he’s still pissed about the Christmas party… or else he’s just a dickhead drunk.
Jet bestowed him with a scathing glance. “Don’t know, sweetheart. Stand up and bend over so I can get a look. Did you lose the leg to your tripod or something? Just warning you, I’m not pulling it out if it’s still up there. That’d be a dinner date sort of activity. You pay, of course.” A glittering smile of Fuck You Very Much! Then the gauntlet got chucked. She puckered up and blew Wiley a sarcastic kiss.
Jet is not known to be gracious, well-behaved or nice. When pushed, she pushes back twice as hard. I’ve never witnessed Wiley drunk, and I didn’t know if this qualified. Either way, friction was evident and if at all possible, I’d rather not have those chosen as Maid of Honor and Best Man be at each others throat. Not today, at least, you know, when we announce our engagement to our brohams. I looked to Dmitri to see if he happened to be concerned about his intoxicated friend trying to start shit with a natural-born scrapper.
Dmitri looked alarmed if the height of his eyebrows and the stern set of his lips meant anything special.
Time to break out the fire extinguisher. “Hey Jet, can you help me in the house?” Perhaps removing her from the situation would give Dmitri a moment to talk his buddy back down to being congenial once again. I stood and picked up a huge salad bowl to return to the kitchen for sanitation.
“Sure.” A regal nod of her dark head and Jet arose to walk with me back towards the kitchen’s air-conditioned haven, pots and pans in hand.
“What was that about?” I whispered as we ambled upon the patio to the deck steps.
“Dunno. But he started it.” Jet didn’t bother to whisper. Guess she was getting in touch with her child inside.
“Did not. You started it back in December. Worst Christmas ever. Thanks by the way.” Wiley didn’t bother to whisper either. In fact, his voice rang with a certain authoritative tone that carried over the din of surrounding conversations. All eyes within earshot were upon the intoxicated lawman and miffed librarian.
Jet turned around. “I didn’t start anything with you, mister. If I had, I’m damn sure I would remember. I don’t know what your damage is, but if you do have some sort of bowel distress, I suggest you talk to a proctologist or psychologist about such a personal issue. I lack the credentials needed to understand why you are fixating on mentioning and being an asshole.” She resumed walking up the steps with me. “Come on, Kaykay, let’s get this done.”
Wiley didn’t know when to stop. Maybe it was the beer, perhaps the seven months of stewing… whatever it was that bothered him, it didn’t slow down his mouth’s horse as it ran straight towards the figurative burning barn. “You know, I know exactly what kind of dame you are… you’re the kind of gal who butts into conversations to add some snarky commentary to anyone within earshot.” Caleb Boldton cocked his head to the side and snarled, “And from the looks of it, a tatted, diseased bimbo. I would say whore, but I don’t know if you have to be paid to get nailed. I suppose in a modern sense, me buying you dinner as suggested earlier would constitute a form of prostitution, right? Free meal then you get all kinky?
Dmitri put a hand on Wiley’s shoulder and issued a stern warning of “Dude, chill…” didn’t do much to mellow the fuming giant.
Jet mumbled/growled, “Oh, that is fucking it!” and stalked off to the house only to return a few moments later wearing her flame red platform heels with tiny white stars.
Thank God, no cast iron pan in hand.
With a catwalk saunter, she strode towards the two men. “No, Dmitri, it’s okay. Your friend is indeed entitled to his opinion of me. He’s ignorant.” Jet stalked up to Wiley. She got in his face as much as she could without physically touching him, and because of the heels, stood eye to eye to the pissed off Game Warden. She spoke low and very clearly to Wiley in a deceivingly friendly voice.
“You may think whatever you like about me. The fact is you know nothing about me. Nothing. You may see a tatted slut, bimbo, whatever blows your skirt up, but that’s because you are an ignorant fool. I don’t know what I did to piss you off last year, so unless you stop acting like an assjacket and tell me what the fuck is up, I won’t apologize. So what bug is up your posterior, Mr. Party Foul?”
She leaned in and raised a finger to almost touch his nose with a bright blue nail. “Oh! I needed to share this with ya before I forget. You don’t need to call me a whore, because unlike some females I don’t cash in on free dinners in exchange for sex. I actually pay for myself, just so fucktard males can’t pull that fucked up train of thought out of their pants with the fucking expectation of it being swallowed. Fuck assjackets like that. Like you. Chauvinist bastards like you are the downfall of a modern society evolution because you think its a God-given right to keep a female in her place. Fuck you, asshole. Why don’t you go have another beer?” This all was said with a friendly grin on her face.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I know who I’d like to nominate for the Best Actress Oscar.
With a final bat of her eyes and another bright shining smile, the battleship Jetnia turned and sailed my way only to grab my arm to tow me inside the cool recesses of the house’s sanctum.
I felt cold. Icy cold. Not the blissful-oh-God-Thank-You-For-Air-Conditioning kind of cold. It veered decidedly towards terrible chemistry resulting in explosive personalities getting set off before the main fireworks with no fire extinguishers in a ten mile radius.
It had been a good eight years since I heard a dressing down issued by her with such venom in her voice. As I set the wooden salad bowl upon the counter, Jet’s voice broke the silence.
“I hate men. Fucking overabundance of testosterone makes them de facto assholes.” Jet stated it as fact. In some regards I agree with her… but then all I have to do is imagine being male and I’m certain I’d feel the same towards females. Can’t live with some, can’t live without some. Jet said under her breath, “At least vibrators don’t talk back.”
Thoughts flew about my mind. A) I did not like Wiley insinuating Jet was a whore. She liked to strut her stuff, but when it came to dating, her taste runs very selective. The woman is content being single. B) Possible repercussions of those selected by my beau and I to stand up with us while we spoke our vows potentially destroying the wedding ceremony itself by some verbal missile right on target at a most inopportune moment. C) Maybe eloping would be better? D) Is Wiley an in-the-closet douchebag?
“Want me to find out what his issue is? Because I have never heard him ever talk like that.” Granted, that didn’t mean much. I had only met him a handful of times. “That was not cool. You are not a bimbo, Jet. You are a serial monogamist.” I also wanted things more at ease when the engagement got announced. The way things spiraled out of control with anger issues and verbal poison made this party a bit more awkward than the last Christmas party. Wasn’t kosher. Thankfully the younglings weren’t close enough to hear Jet’s rampant use of her favorite four-letter word.
“I don’t give a shit what he calls me. But to do that at a party without deliberate provocation is fucked up. What did I say to him to set him off? Jesus, I learned my lesson from that misery of a mistletoe-decked party. I’ve been behaving, dammit. Can I go chug a beer? No. I have to behave. See the things I do for you, Kaylis? You say behave, so I behave and yet Trouble finds me. My deodorant must be magnetic or something. Want to sniff my pits and tell me if I’m attracting assholes?”
“What exactly did you say to his girlfriend at the Christmas party?” Inquiring minds want to know.
Jet rolled her eyes and leaned back against the cement counter top. With a sigh and her arms crossed over her chest, she spoke, “I told her she needed to take the stick out of her ass and live a little because Heaven isn’t in the clouds when one dies, its here on Earth as we live. We make our own Heaven. She disagreed with me and we ended up talking Biblical scholars and evidently Bible Thumpers hate it when Atheists know more about ancient writings from early saints than they do. Why is it that people assume the Church advocated for celibacy from the get-go? Don’t they know it was Saint Augustine that said celibacy makes for a stronger faith in God?”
She sighed. “And people wonder why I hold organized faith as hokum. The sheeple who supposedly know more than me don’t even know why their saints got canonized in the first place. And her, in particular… incredibly ignorant. She told me I was going to burn on the Devil’s pitchfork, that I was a tool of Satan for informing her of the knowledge springing forth from her religion. Can you imagine? Resorting to petty name calling when one loses a debate? Shit, it was like tolerance training for political hopefuls. She was such a tight ass that if he stuck a lump of coal up her ass during foreplay, by the time she managed to fake an orgasm, she’d pop out a diamond.”
I guess that stick up her ass was actually a diamond probe.
Jet continued on, “He never entered the conversation. Not once. In no way, shape or form. I don’t know what his problem is with me. I only dropped knowledge on her… don’t know why it hurt him.” Jet looked truly baffled as to why Wiley would try to rip her head off and shit down the stump of her neck.
I debated for a nanosecond before telling Jet what I knew of the situation after the Infamous Yuletide Festivities. “Like two weeks after the Christmas party, she cheated on him. Ended up moving in with the fling. Wiley was going to propose to her on Valentines. He already had the ring and everything. He’s still upset at that.” To put it mildly.
“Well, then I did them both a favor. She got spared from a misogynistic asshole and he got away from a hypocrite who was both ignorant and intolerant. Could you imagine the freakazoid they would breed in their eagerness to fulfill tradition?” She faked a shudder. “I have done society a favor. I saved the world from a hypocritedemic.”
In a way, I felt bad for Wiley. Cheaters suck– I could understand his angst on that level alone. And I didn’t think Jet making light of the situation helped. Although Wiley’s ex didn’t make a great impression on us all, who are we to dictate whom Wiley would be happy with? Then again, I consider myself a romantic at heart which I consider my own personal bias. “That may be, but that doesn’t nullify his anger. He loved her. And if you told her to extract the stick from her ass, and then he asks you if the stick has been removed from his ass…. one could easily grasp the conversation they had, don’t you think?”
Jet shrugged her shoulders and tilted her head to the side. “Maybe. But I’m not the reason she cheated on him. That’s on her. It was her choice. He cannot blame me for that… I never said she should cheat. Just live a little. How much you wanna bet if that’s the bug up his ass, he’s been wanting to grudge-fuck me ever since? I can see it happening. Scuzzy bastard.”
“Well, obviously something got lost in translation. Chill out for a while in here, I’ll see what Dmitri has next on the agenda. Get on my laptop and watch scampering ferrets on YouTube or something. Let’s see if we can get this little wrinkle smoothed out before the finale.” I hate drama. It wasn’t welcome on this day or invited to this party.
Although I am proud to say that at least Jet didn’t poke her finger into Wiley’s chest. She doesn’t need an “assaulting an officer” on her record, if she doesn’t have one on there already.
With her, you really can’t tell.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before venturing out to the backyard. The wall of heat from late summer sun hit my body as soon as I slid the sliding glass door open enough to pass through. Made my way back to Dmitri and Wiley to discuss this lovely turn of event. Although Dmitri smiled, it didn’t reach his eyes. Wiley looked a tad calmer than before, and when he saw my expression, frowned and looked away.
As I neared, Wiley spoke low to me. “I didn’t mean to go off like that.”
“I figured as much, because I’ve never heard you talk like that. I’m astounded, Mr. Boldton. For shame. Such things out of your mouth are truly shocking.” With a sarcastic sigh, I continued. “Most horrible of all is that my best friend is truly bewildered as to why you’d verbally attack her, impugn her honor in addition to making a scene at an engagement party. Best Man isn’t a suggestion, Wiley. Jet has been trying hard to behave today because she learned her lesson already at Christmas.”
“I don’t know what about her rubs me the wrong way, and I am sorry.” Wiley did sound genuinely contrite. I softened my demeanor towards him.
“You know, there’s speculation as to why you blew your gasket… and its not me you should apologize to… you didn’t insinuate I was a diseased whore.” I shook my head like a disappointed mom. “You don’t have to like her, Wiley. But please don’t pick fights. Or call names. Like, not until the marriage license is signed and filed. After that, we can sell tickets for the showdown between you and Jet. I’ll do some tee-shirts to commemorate such a battle.”
Wiley lifted his hand to show me that the pint of beer was now replaced with a bottle of water. “I know I should, but I don’t want to apologize to her.”
“Why?” I couldn’t resist asking.
Dmitri butted in. “This is that picking up of the shovel thing I told you about, Wiley. Kay won’t quit until she’s satisfied.”
“I don’t want to apologize to someone I consider catty and bitchy.”
“Cats learn to defend themselves from a young age and dogs are loyal.”
Wiley shook his head in apparent disbelief of my statement. “Of course you’ll defend her, she’s your friend.”
“I defended you against her when I was inside a bit ago. And for the record, when I first met Jet, I thought she was a stuck up uber-cunt from Hell.”
Dammit, why did I not think to have my camera ready for his reaction to my choice words? Bug eyes and a dropped jaw. Dmitri laughed.
“Miss Woods, I dare say you take my breath away with your colorful language!” Gotta admit, Wiley does a better impression of an offended Southern Belle than myself. “Why did you consider her a bitch when you met her?”
“Same reason you do. She’s abrasive, loud-mouthed and flippant about sacred topics. A know-it-all who will tell you straight up why you are wrong… I dreaded having to work with her on a project because I saw how she spoke to others.” The Then Jet was a Grade A Bitch of the Highest Order. High Priestess of Bitchatude. The Now Jet is a much more cuddly and sweet incarnation of attitude. “But I got over myself and found a wavelength that I could surf with her.”
The cosmos brought the SheWench and I together– well, a lunar eclipse that I didn’t want to miss and made my frustration evident when it happened to fall on a school night – night class did have downfalls, after all. To compliment the celestial awesomeness, a meteor shower. I eyeballed the clock in the warehouse of a classroom only to mumble under my breath, which Jet snarked a reply that resulted with us both laughing at the idiocy of screenprinting on a hot night when the ink sets up too fast and clogs the screen. We both got kicked out that night for the classroom-disrupting gigglefit we couldn’t quell. Didn’t matter, we still got to see the celestial show.
Thus our friendship formed.
“I don’t think there exists a wavelength that she and I could meet on. Ever. That gal is a taco short of a combo plate.”
So be it. Stubborn male. “All I’m asking for is no name calling or fighting at nuptial related social gatherings. Is that too much to ask? She’ll behave if you behave. And she’s not that bad… Jet and Dmitri get along just fine.”
Wiley closed his golden eyes and sighed deeply. “I suppose I can apologize for saying crude things about her.”
“In front of people at a party.” I think he forgot that part.
Dmitri added, “In front of people at his best friend’s engagement party.”
“Fuck you, Dmitri. I already said I was going to apologize to her.”
“Temper, temper, Yotie.”
“In your ear with the fucking, Dmitri. In your ear. And stop smiling.”
“Yotie?” Never heard Wiley referred to that before.
Dmitri grinned even more. “Yeah, Yotie. Like in Wile E. Coyote… always losing ground and getting himself in trouble before he knows it. Feet too fast for his brain. Or mouth, as the case may be.”
I smiled wide, glad to have gotten things somewhat worked out before Jet had any idea I pledged her good behavior to someone she’d gut with a dessert spoon.
Ah, to life’s wee adventures which keeps one on their toes!