“C’mon in guys, we’ve been waiting for you.” A voice from the darkened garage beckoned to us. We were all “sun-blind”. You know, when your pupils are dilated from being outside and then you go inside a building that’s dark and you can’t see shit. We walked into what had become party central of Memory Avenue. A place where all the teenagers smoked, drank, made out and listened to Led Zepplin, Molly Hatchet, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Aerosmith. I had been in the garage on various occasions over the past couple years and I knew the record collection was quite massive.
“So, did you bring the magazines?” a familiar voice asked. It was Mike; He’d been in and out of my sister’s life for a couple years. Dating, fighting, dating… I never really understood their relationship and still don’t to this day.
Fin, Fish and I made our way in to where the three teenagers were sitting around a beat up, old folding table. As my eyes adjusted to the light I noticed that Mike was sitting to the left of Dennis and Glenn was sitting to the right of Dennis. Typical, I thought. Dennis was always getting Mike and Glenn to do his dirty deeds for him and it seemed he was the one that was going to run the show for today as well.
“Yeah, we got them. I told you we’d bring them.” Fin answered as he stepped forward with the box of porn in his arms.
“Well, well, I’m glad to see the Punk was true to his word and he brought the Greaser and the Shooter with him as promised.” Glenn spat.
“Can it Glenn.” Dennis said and quickly hit him in the back of the head.
“Ouch, shit man! You didn’t have to hit me.” Glenn complained.
Fish, Fin and I stood in front of our teen counterparts not really saying anything. I was in the middle, Fin to my right and Fish to my left. My BB gun was in my right hand, Fin held the box and Fish was digging around in his pockets trying to get a smoke out. The song on the radio ended and a station break commenced “YOU’RE LISTENING TO WIXX 101.1 ON YOUR FM DIAL! THE ROCK ON THE SHORE OF GREEN BAY!”
“Shit, can someone turn the volume down? I hate commercials.” Dennis said, Mike stood up and walked over to the Hi-Fi on the workbench and turned the volume down. He then started picking through the albums on the shelf above his head.
“So, let’s see what you delinquents have?” Dennis said as he tapped the table.
Fin stepped up and set the box in front of Dennis. Glenn reached forward and pulled out a couple of the magazines and started to flip through them. Dennis grabbed one, set it on the table and opened it up to the centerfold. Mike was busy getting Led Zepplin’s “Houses of the Holy” onto the record player and soon the song “Dancing Days” started blasting out of the speakers.
“This SONG ROCKS!” Mike exclaimed over the din of music as he came back over to the table and took a magazine from Glenn, sat down and started flipping through it casually.
“Dennis, you guys got the money?” I asked.
“Relax Skip. We got the money; we just want to make sure these are what Finnegan said they were.”
“C’mon, you know we aint gonna to pull any shit. That’d be pretty damn dumb.” Fish chimed in.
“How much you want for them?” Dennis asked.
“15 bucks.” I said.
“We got 10. Take it or leave it.”
“Fuck this. You guys are trying to rip us off!” Fin complained.
“Shut up Fin.” Fish said “We’ll take it.”
“10 is good.” I said.
“Mike, pay these fine young businessmen.” Dennis ordered.
Mike stood up, pulled a wad of crumbled up bills out of his pockets and set it on the table. “Don’t spend it all in one spot boys.” He commented.
“Let’s go.” Fish said and he started towards the door. Fin followed. I picked up the cash and started towards the door.
“Hold on Shooter.” I heard Dennis say behind me.
I halted, turned and looked at the three of them sitting at the table. Mike’s feet were propped up on one edge, Glenn was digging through the box for more magazines and Dennis was standing now.
“Let’s go Skip.” Fish called to me as he opened the door. “We got to get up to the hardware store.”
“Yeah, I’ll be right there Fish.” I said over my shoulder and waved him on with my left hand. “What do you want Dennis?”
“Why are you hanging out with the Greaser and the Punk? You’re more than welcome to hang with us anytime. Hell, everyone knows you’re the smart one of that group. Finnegan is a punk and is always causing fights. Minnow is always playing with tools and shit. You though, you seem to just take it all in and avoid as much trouble as you can. And, the girls like you. Hell, you could do a lot worse than hanging here with us.”
“I don’t turn my back on my friends. No matter what. And Fish and Fin always got my back.”
“Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard that Musketeer bullshit before. Well, if you ever change your mind, you can always welcome here.”
“Thanks Dennis.” I said and headed toward the sun drenched doorway.
Once I stepped out of the garage I see that Fish and Fin are waiting for me. “C’mon guys, let’s get to the hardware store.” I say to them.
“Sure man. Hey, what did they want you for?” Fin asked.
“Yeah, Skip. What’s up?” Fish echoed.
“Ah, it’s nothing. They just wanted to know who peppered up my face. They thought it was the assholes at the dead end. I told them I wiped out riding Fish’s bike.” I lied.
“Yeah, like they would do something to those guys. Hell, no one goes to the dead end without coming back with some bruises.” Fish complained.
“What’s up with those guys?” Fish asked.
So for the rest of our walk up to the hardware store Fin and I filled Fish in on all the crap that happens at the end of our street. We explained how a group of six teenage boys, who all lived at the end of our street by the East River, would charge you a “toll” to go fishing, canoeing or swimming. And if you crossed East River Drive you’d better have money or you’d get your ass whipped. I then explained how we now went over one block to Karl Street to gain access to the river.
Our conversation lasted us all the way to the hardware store up on Webster. “You guys are right, they are assholes.” Fish said and then added “You know what color you want to paint the bike.”
“Blue, metallic blue.”