Armagideon Time

Image is everything

April 13th, 2018

It’s the spring of 1995, and I am nearing the end of an agonizingly long Green Line trip to Brookline.

I’m doing it to meet a friend, one I had been estranged from for a couple of years but have recently reconnected with. In the time since we went our separate ways, he had moved out of his mother’s apartment and got himself his own place on Beacon Street. He has been eager to show me the place, perhaps as way to illustrate how he has progressed from his former status as perpetual fuck-up.

My morbid curiosity compelled me to go, even though I’d sooner go to hell than head to Brookline.

My friend is waiting for me at the trolley stop. “It’s just a few blocks up this way,” he gestures and we start walking. His new apartment is just a couple of doors down from the Planned Parenthood clinic where a dipshit zealot shot and killed a receptionist during an armed rampage a few months prior.

My friend’s place is on the second floor. It’s a typical Studentville jobber, similar to but slightly more upscale than the rentals along the Comm Ave corridor in Allston.

At least, I think it might be nicer, because it’s hard to tell with the thick sheets of cardboard my friend has used to cover every window in the place. The only light comes from a 40-watt bulb over the living room area. The wall-length racks of CDs and piles of music mags are visible only as shadowy outlines.

“Pretty great, isn’t it.” My friend has misinterpreted my stunned silence as awe. I don’t bother correcting him. “Hey, you hungry? Thirsty?”

He lopes over to the apartment’s kitchenette and throws open the door to the fridge. The light inside is several orders of magnitude brighter than the bulb in the living room. It throws the contents into stark and nauseating relief.

There, backlit as if by the radiance of the divine hand itself, resides two dozen packages of Oscar Mayer hot dogs, fifty-odd cans of OK Soda, and nothing else.

My capacity for speech is failing fast, but I need to say something. “You…” I quaver, “actually drink that stuff?”

“Oh, yeah!” He pulls a can from the shelf, pop it open and takes a long swing. “It’s pretty…OK.” He lets the last two syllables hang in the air for a moment, like they were the punchline of some phenomenal joke, then pulls out a second can and offers it to me.

I shake my head. “Why don’t we just grab some pizza in Kenmore or something?”

The overpriced pizza ends up being reheated garbage and the fountain drinks watery slop. I still feel like I dodged a high caliber bullet, though.

I did not make a return visit to my friend’s apartment. A few months later, he lost his lease and moved back in with his mom.

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  3. You’re an image caught in time

3 Responses to “Image is everything”

  1. Costa K

    This 100% reads like something from LIKE A VELVET GLOVE CAST IN IRON and I’m 100% here for it.

  2. Mike Podgor

    One time I was at a friend’s and discovered that his sisters and spread a bunch of hamburger meat on a cookie sheet to cook and eat. The whole kitchen was in shambles as well, and I had seen this friend find an old slice of pizza in his couch and eat it. I imagine my horror at this house of culinary wonderments was similar to yours.

  3. dean

    Did you ever find out what the covered-up windows were about?

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