By Brady Achterberg

Senior week, Nick Voag, a 6'1 JROTC guy with Tintin hair and ladder abs and a quick dumb industrious face, went to Ocean City and came back saying he'd got his cock sucked by an Instagram model named Gini and that Gini was now his girlfriend. He said she was 23 and an inch taller than he was, no really, he said, she’s crazy tall, that’s one of the first things we talked about. No you can’t know her Instagram, he said, I don’t want you hopping on there and being all weird. The boys had a lot of fun with this. They’d hop up on his shoulders from behind and be all like what’s up Nicky whatchu texting your invisible girlfriend. None of it was unbelievable, he’d been the stud in high school too, but it was more fun to not believe it. So Nick with something to prove now found a week in July when his parents would be at an uncle’s wedding and his baby brother would be at sleepaway camp and told Gini he wanted to pick her up to be with him for a couple days in PA. Gini went along with it, and he set out at 8 AM on a Tuesday in a white Honda Civic with a broken left turn signal and took four hours to get get there, what with him trying to skip tolls. The GPS led him to a mobile home just outside of Rehoboth. He pulled up and she walked out fast in a suede crop top and a miniskirt, carrying two bags. She threw the bags in the back and took shotgun. Nick put his face out for a kiss, but she was busy kicking around wrappers and Frisbees in the footwell of the car. Sorry about the mess said Nick. It’s alright, said Gini, dragging her skirt over the end of the passenger seat.

Do you want to get something to eat, said Nick. Yeah but I get to pick where, said Gini. Nick drove an hour bugging her about it and she still hadn’t picked. All these are too pricey, she said. We gotta get away from the shore, she said.

Once they were well into Pennsylvania she had him pull over at a metallic roadside diner that had been an Arby’s before it was annexed and reskinned by locals. A springy guy covered in acne seated them at a booth with a highway view. Nick’s car was right next to him behind the window. He ordered a bacon cheeseburger and a bowl of chili and Gini ordered a Greek salad.

Nick got into the burger and Gini got more and more uneasy. I’m sorry can you stop, she said once he was halfway through. Stop what, said Nick.  Eating, said Gini. Why though, said Nick. It just grosses me out, said Gini. Well then what the fuck am I gonna eat, baby, I’m hungry, said, Nick. You can just have the stuff on my plate I’m not eating, said Gini. What is it about the stuff I’m eating that grosses you out, said Nick, are you vegan or something. I’m sorry I wish I could describe it but it just does okay, said Gini, like I really wanna help you out but I just can’t, it’s just gonna pick at me all day, please, you don’t have to, but if you wanna make me happy you should, you can have everything on my plate, I’ll just get something else. So Nick had the food that was on Gini’s plate and Gini ordered a coffee.

They got back at 5. Nick’s home was a pale brick Colonial, brown like a cubicle, old part of a suburb that was just sprouting up. His parents had deep-cleaned it right before they’d left so every room had a brisk, bitter aura like a landlord photo. Nick sat at the kitchen table and swiped his hair up to get a look at his texts. Gini checked through the kitchen window over the sink and watched the next-door neighbor attack a rose bush with hedge clippers.

The boys all showed within half an hour. The first thing they had to check about Gini was her height, which they did by standing her and Nick up back to back, and for sure she was an inch taller at least. The second thing was her age, which they checked by driving her to the liquor store and having her buy them alcohol. Normally they’d have to rely on Nick’s mom, who bought Nick beer because she said if he should drink at all then he should be drinking under her roof, but all she ever bought was Guinness and over the years the boys’ bodies had slowly learned to reject Guinness as a poison so they went hog wild for variety. They gave her $60 and she got two handles of rum and two of vodka. When they got home they set all four bottles on the kitchen table and started using them to fill Nick’s kiddie cups. The sun hadn’t yet set. They started floating around in the kitchen and the living room and the back porch and talked. They bitched about jobs or old teachers and the ones gearing up to go to college talked about college. Gini was the main topic because she was new—how’s Ocean City, do you have a job, how’s that pay. Ocean City is a buttfucked place, she said, nasty and noisy and I just try to avoid it.  I get paid to take care of my brother Ethan and also I do those online surveys for change. Pay’s horrible, Medicare is shit, Ethan’s a fucking prison who takes up my whole day, I’m trying to find another caregiver but I just don’t have the money to walk away like that, whether or not he needs me I need him, it’s sticky. When she got a little drunker she told the boys a story of how last summer her brother had run away for a month and she had her boyfriend at the time dress up like him to keep the feds from knowing. Every day I drove around to all the churches and homeless shelters asking about him, she said. You gonna make Nick dress up like your retard brother, one of the boys asked. Gini laughed and said, Maybe. Yeesh, said Nick, shaking his head.

By 11 PM two handles were empty and the boys were all blasted and making regular runs to the bathroom to piss. Nick was in general a buffoonish drunk who thought it was funny to grab people as he was brushing by them or fall into them when they were sitting down or come up from behind them and beat them on the back. But here he tried to do that and just got rolled to the kitchen floor. He’d get up and look to Gini who was always busy with the boys. Right now she was trying to arm wrestle each of the boys in succession and was getting downed every time and laughing about it. Someone spotted Nick’s boner rippling through his shorts and pointed it out, which was news for Nick as much as everyone, and people started laughing and hollering and someone tried to pull down his pants and someone else grabbed him at the shoulders and half-led half-carried him over to Gini, who was sitting at the table with her hand over her mouth. Package for you my dear, said the boy carrying Nick. She stood up and grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled him in for a kiss to resounding oohs. Then she dragged him into his parents’ room and he flopped along blindly like a dog trying to get its head out of a leash while whoops and battle cries chased them both.

In the bedroom Gini let go of Nick and once he got his feet steady he was on her, kissing her neck and humping her thigh while she double-checked to lock the door. Two minutes later they were in doggy in the middle of the bed. Every time he thrust she said, Ah fuck, like a curse, mincing through it over his rhythm, like Ah fuck I forgot the milk, Ah fuck I lost my keys, Ah fuck I left the stove on. This lasted thirty seconds. Then whiskeydick hit and Nick went soft and slid out and just started slapping his crotch against her backside to no avail. She slid away from him and said, Yeah we’re gonna stop. Nick tried to think of a rebuttal but the motion had left him with a fast headache and he couldn’t talk. He slumped on the bed while Gini got dressed and left. He laid there for a few minutes surmising she was out joking with the boys about how bad he was, toying with his dick trying to get it to go hard again.

When he came out most of the boys had gone already. The ones left didn’t have much sass. Everyone was drinking water. By midnight Nick and Gini were the only ones in the house. What do you want to do now, said Nick. Fuck I just wanna sleep, said Gini. So they bedded down in his room and were trying to get comfortably arranged when Gini said that she had to go piss. Nick nodded and put his head on the pillow. Between the booze and the bed he felt he could sleep right now if he wanted.

A minute later Gini started shrieking from the bathroom, over and over, things he couldn’t decipher, and he swirled out of bed and knocked a lamp over and stumbled towards her. The door was open and she was standing between the sink and the bath with her arms out wide and her hands bent like claws and her eyes in tears. Pubic hair! There’s pubic hair on the seat and in the tub and on the fucking hair dryer! Your fucking teenage boy pubic hair is everywhere! Your gross fucking teenage boy pubic hair! You gross fucking teenage boy! Teenage boy! Teenage boy! Teenage boy! It was as if she had just found out. Nick turned around and went to the living room couch.

Gini stomped around a bit and then came into the room. I need you to unlock the car so I can get my bags and then I’m going to call an Uber and go to a hotel, she said. I can’t fucking sleep in a place where there’s fucking teenage boy pubic hair in the fucking carpets and the walls and I can’t believe it’s gotten into me too you fucking bastard. Nick tried hard not to laugh. I’m not giving you your bags cuz you’re crazy, he said. You’re fucking gone, he said. I’ll call the cops she said. Babe they won’t listen to you you’re crazy, he said. Don’t call me crazy I’m not sleeping near you, she said. Just let me clean up a bit and you’ll feel way better I promise, you’re just out of your head, you’re not thinking, he said.

They talked like that for a while and she started to calm down it seemed to him.  He took a shot at a compromise. We’ll go to a hotel but you don’t need an Uber, he said. I’ll drive you there and pay for it and everything, he said. She said, You’re too fucking drunk you can’t drive. I feel fine, he said. I’m already sober, the hotel’s like five minutes away, there’s no cops up this late it’s a Tuesday. He got her in the car and started driving. The whole time he was staring like he was trying to see his own front wheels. He bit some curb pulling into the parking lot and they talked to a Hasidic guy at the desk and passed for sober long enough to get a key and stripped to their underwear and slept back to back without a word.

Nick got up at 6 and couldn’t fall back asleep. He went for a walk around town. Nothing was open yet except for the gas stations. When he got back the hotel had the complimentary breakfast set up with oat muffins on a big plate and scrambled eggs cut up like sponges. He went back into the room and nudged at Gini’s shoulder and she groaned. They have coffee and stuff in the lobby, he said. Clearing up at 10. You should come eat.

Gini sat up. Out the window the air was already rubbery with heat and the sun was bleaching the road like an old photo. A stray pregnant pit bull mauled a gutted baseball in the grass. I guess it got pretty bad, she said. What, said Nick. Hangover, she said.

Gini dumped Nick after he dropped her off in Delaware. A day later she was boiling hot dogs for Ethan, writing a grocery list by to the stove, unlidding the pot once a minute. When the dogs were done she went and put them on a plate and set the table with plastic knives. Ethan came in and sat down and peppered his hot dog and cut it into bits. He was a scrawny, moley kid, with standuppy hair and deep grooves behind his clavicles.

One of the surveys said it’ll send us a sample purse so we can say how we like it, he said. Not that helpful, she said. I just thought for your Instagram, he said. Doesn’t work like that, she said. When they send me stuff for Instagram they send money too. Did they offer anything else, she said. There was an offer for soap to I think, he said. She said, Pick that up. What, he said. I mean get the soap when you get back on the computer, she said. Uh huh, he said. I’ve been thinking I’m gonna write to the schools, he said. She said, Ethan you’re chewing with your whole mouth can you just shut up and eat for a moment. She said it and as she did she quieted out at the end. She watched him move. He took the plate of hot dogs and threw it sideways at her head. She dodged and it hit the window midpane behind her and chipped the glass on one side and popped off it Frisbee-like and slid into the sink. None of that, she said.



Brady Achterberg is a senior studying creative writing and computer science. He was published previously in RiverCraft and Spilled Milk Press. He lives in Shrewsbury, PA with a few dogs and chickens.