backyard crowing


Jackie and Diana


"Oh yeah, you know life goes on...long after the thrill of livin' is gone," an alto voice sang through the women's bathroom on the fourth floor of Rusty Fields dormitory. The voice repeated the same lyric without any signs of stopping, and the songstress clapped enthusiastically at the appropriate times. Steam left the mirrors foggy and the sink area was covered with a thin film of moisture.

Jackie Mendoza, a freshman resident with too much booze in her blood, stumbled into the bathroom and sat on a toilet. The vodka was in full effect, and she was imagining things again. Looking through the crack in the stall's door, she glimpsed a large black vibrator in the singer's clear shower basket and chuckled silently. That Saturday night was her first foray into drinking, thanks to three upperclassmen who liked her video collection and wanted to corrupt her. Her head spun and she tapped her foot nervously. She remembered the Sudafed she had taken earlier. Could one take Sudafed and drink?

The shower voice continued with the same lyric, pausing for a few seconds each time, as if meditating on what it meant to be alive. After a few minutes of the comings and goings of other bathroom users, Jackie still sat drowsily in the stall and the singer paused for longer than before. Accustomed to the brief pauses, Jackie looked through the crack in the stall once more, wondering if the voice would continue. Instead she saw a hand reach into the shower basket and pull out the vibrator. A few seconds later, the sound of a gunshot told Jackie it was an entirely different machine. She heard a heavy thud and the clamor of metal hitting the tile floor.

She began to shake. Pulling her skirt up, she walked to the shower, stepping over the stream of blood which flowed into the drain in the middle of the floor. She slid the shower curtain to one side, revealing first a cloud of steam and then a bloody redheaded girl. Even her skin was ruddy. Her green eyes remained open and stared at Jackie, making her jump for the second time that night. The handgun clicked restlessly at the floor due to the shower's strong spray beating it against the tile. Jackie placed her fingers underneath the showerhead and removed them immediately; the water was scorching. The gun clicked away, and after a few seconds, Jackie recognized its rhythm as the redhead's song. She looked at the green eyes again, then back at the gun, then the eyes, then the gun, and...


Jackie did not hear one of her neighbors enter the shower room, shriek, and exit. She did not hear her tipsy upperclassmen companions skipping and singing down the hall. One of them, Nika, yelled her name, and then screamed it, but Jackie needed a proper shaking to regain consciousness. Once her eyes opened and the blurry world appeared again, her body's shaking recommenced. "Let's get the fuck out of here," she said, and the group fled.

Jackie's door slammed behind her and she started weeping. "Sh-sh-she," she stuttered between sobs. After much shushing, Nika helped her out of the clothes, now stained here and there with the redhead's blood. "Now," she instructed her, "Calm down. You didn't do anything, right?"

"N-no," Jackie said, breathing unevenly. "No, I just saw her. Th-through the crack in the stall."

No one in the group was sober enough to drive, so Nika called a cab. Sirens screeched outside the window.

"Someone else will find her in a minute. But think fast," Nika whispered. "Bloody clothes, in backpack. Alcohol, hidden. Purses, caps, coats, scarves, mittens if you have them--get them on, go. Let's say two minutes."

The girls rushed around the room and followed Nika down the hall, to the corner stairwell, and outside into the woods behind the building. They walked six blocks and waited, checking their watches as each minute passed. "Stop it!" Nika snapped. "Stop it! Here, look! The cab's here."

The quadruplet piled into the car. "Hi! Can you take us to the Pennsylvanian?" Nika asked pleasantly. The driver nodded. "Thanks."

The group did not say a word for the rest of the journey. The girls looked out the window, at their feet, at the upholstery, but never at each other. Nika paid the driver, paid the concierge, and as the group finally exhaled in their room, Jackie returned to sobbing.

"Jackie, shhh, Jackie, what happened?" Nika asked, hugging her.

"Sh-she killed herself."

"Why were you lying in her blood?"

"I don't know, damn it! I wanted to see if I knew her. My mom shot herself when I was two."

Two of the upperclassmen gaped at her confessional, but Nika continued. "Okay, now are your fingerprints on anything? The gun? The girl? The shower curtain?" she asked.

"Just the shower curtain."

Nika looked at the floor. "And I suppose your footprints are on the tile."

"No, I was in socks. Remember?"

"Did anyone besides me see you?"

"...She did," Jackie said, the green eyes still in her head.

"What do you mean 'she?' You mean Lindsey here?" Nika asked, pointing at one of the upperclassmen.


"Well okay then. She's not the enemy now, is she?"


Nika took off her coat. The room remained hot, so she resorted to turning on the fan. "I figure we're safe for now. Right? Only Jackie lives on campus...I don't think anyone knows we're friends with her," she said to the upperclassmen. "We should all just go to sleep. This whole situation will look better in the morning."

The upperclassmen followed their leader to bed, and Jackie pretended to fall asleep. The fan's pull chain clicked away, tormenting her. That same song tapped away at the glass. She thought of the redhead, who looked familiar. Jackie left the fan to click on its own and walked down the hall to the concierge. At four in the morning he was cleaning his glasses and listening to oldies on the radio. She sat in an armchair in the lobby and started to doze off.

"We're bringing you the latest and greatest hits of the year! Philly's 98.7!" the radio voice filtered through to the lobby. Jackie's eyes fluttered as the sound of a guitar kicked in. Sleep had almost taken hold when the first song lyric made her freeze. "Little ditty, about Jack and Diane. Two American kids growin' up, in the heartland." She screamed. How could this happen to her again?

"Ma'am, are you okay?" the concierge said, rising to his feet.

"Yeah, I just hate that song," Jackie replied.

"Really? Why? It's topping the charts."

"It reminds me of my mother. Could you turn it off?"

The concierge obliged her, and she sunk back into the chair again, her breath quickening. She decided she could not face her room, because it contained a bathroom, a shower, a toilet. She walked outside. "To get some fresh air," she told the concierge.

She took a deep breath and curled up in the snow beside the Pennsylvanian to sleep.


She woke up in a black plastic seat and rubbed her eyes. She looked around a white room and recognized her lab partner Antoine. "So what did you see in 1982, Sport?" he asked. "We had a bit of trouble with the machine. I know you wanted 1969 for Woodstock..."

"Oc-October 1982. You sent me to October 1982, damn it. Do you realize what happened in October 1982?"


"My mom killed herself. Yeah, and I got to see it. Firsthand. Who the hell is Jackie Mendoza? Apparently she saw it, too."


Sport jumped from the machine and sprinted out the door, down the street, and into the Periodicals section of the library. "Jackie Mendoza, Jackie Mendoza," she said to herself. For the first time, she dared to look up her mother. "October 15, 1982...Student Diana Carrie, age twenty-one, shot herself in a Pennsylvania University dormitory at roughly 2 a.m. this morning," she read quietly. Then came the obituary. "Her husband Samuel Carrie and daughter Sport Carrie survive her. Memorial services will be held Wednesday evening at Good Shepherd Catholic Church."

Her mother's high school graduation picture looked up at her; the green eyes appeared no less lifelike in black and white. She searched again, this time for Jackie. How did she spell her name? Jacqueline? Jaclyn? Jacklynn? Of course, Jacquelynn was the proper spelling, but eventually she found it. "Pennsylvania student Jacquelynn Mendoza froze to death yesterday morning in front of the Pennsylvanian. Officials say she wandered from her dormitory while drunk and could not afford to stay in the hotel," Sport sputtered.

She shut the books and returned to the laboratory as quickly as she had left.

"Take me back," she told Antoine.

"What?" he coughed out.

"Take me to August 1982 and let me stay there."

"But you can't--"

"No. Take me to August 1982."

Antoine pressed the buttons reluctantly. He stopped and looked up at her. "Sport, don't know who you could turn into, you could die or something."

"Oh yeah? Well, I almost died last time. I think I can handle the prospects."

"Do you want me to try to take you to the present after a few days? Just in case?"

"No. Just start me at August 1st, and let me go until my October 15. That's 77 days. That should give me enough time to keep them from dying."

"Wait. Them? What do you mean?"

"I'm Jackie Mendoza in 1982. I can befriend her and save them both. Antoine, just do it for me. If I die, I die. I'll have known my mother."

Antoine sighed. "Okay. Good luck, Jackie." She nodded. With that, he pulled the last lever and the machine began to whir. Her body twitched and for the first time she sang during her launch into the past. "Oh yeah, you know life goes on...long after the thrill of livin' is gone." Her body disappeared, and Antoine made a note of the song on his chart. The machine was malfunctioning again. The sign above it read "October 15, 1982."

4:01 pm - thursday, Mar. 20, 2008


lovesounds - futuresex


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