Youthful Vitality


This story is for those who got out, but is dedicated to the memory of those who did not.


The boys were joyriding, which was not an unusual thing for boys to be doing in the rural acres of Benton County on a Saturday night. Beers in hand, they aimlessly cruised the country roads in Steve’s 1957 Chevrolet. It was getting close to eleven o’clock and everyone was well intoxicated.

“Pull over, I have to leak-a-take,” insisted Allen Thompson. The car filled with drunken laughter as Steve recklessly brought it to a halt beside the gravel road.

“Hurry up, you guys!” he said.

Steve was overly cautious—he had had a run-in with the law before and he didn’t want to get busted again while he was still on probation.

“Lighten up, Stevie babe!” his best friend Jimmy Robertson told him. “No one’s gonna find us clear out here.”

Steve reached down to turn off the headlights.

Allen said, “Better not do that, Steve. Jimmy won’t be able to find it!”

More drunken laughter.

“What’s wrong with the Loser,” Steve asked, noticing the slumped figure in the back seat.

Jim said, “He passed out half an hour ago. He’s wasted.”

The three conscious boys proceeded to exit the car. Allen tripped over his own feet, falling face-first into the mud. Jim laughed hysterically.

“You OK, Allen?” asked Steve.

“Yeh!” the Loser mumbled before passing out again.

“I was talking to Allen, you asshole!”

“It’s alive!” remarked Jim, helping Allen to his feet.

“Alright I am!” Allen said.

Once again, drunken laughter.

The three boys moved into their respective positions and began to relieve themselves.

“Wonder why beer makes you piss so much?” Jim pondered aloud.

“Don’t know,” Allen thoughtfully mumbled, “Maybe it’s because ya have to be relaxed to piss, and beer relaxes ya, so ya can’t help but piss all the time.”

Up went the zippers: zip, zip, zip.

Steve sat down at the edge of the road.

“Thought you was in such a hurry,” Allen remarked.

“Fuck the cops! If they want me they’re gonna get me no matter what!” Steve screamed into the crisp air.

Jim sat down beside him and said, “Mellow out, Steve.”

Allen was occupied trying to walk a straight line down the center of the road. Steve and Jim watched him absently as they talked.

“Where’s your old man tonight?” asked Jim.

“Probably in town gettin’ drunk and screwing some dirty whore.”

Steve leaned back and rested his head in clasped hands. Jim did likewise.

“How about yours, Jimbo?”

“I don’t know. I think him and mom were going into town to eat out for their anniversary or something like that.”

Allen clumsily climbed into the back seat and passed out beside the Loser.

“Guess it’s just you and me,” Jim observed. Steve ignored him.

For awhile they said nothing. Steve finally broke the silence.

“It’s the same damn thing week after week,” he mumbled, mostly to himself.

“Yeh I know.”

And then suddenly Steve’s brandy eyes brightened.

“I know!” he told Jim, “Next week instead of just driving around drinking beer, we’ll get us some of that peppermint schnapps stuff!”

Jim looked at Steve, thought about it, and nodded in agreement.

Satisfied, their empty lives once again temporarily fulfilled, they rose and walked their ever-crooked paths back to the car and drove away, leaving behind three steaming puddles of urine and an air of youthful vitality shot to hell.


© 1987 Bryan Patrick Deno