Stuck in Lawndale

By Neal C.

Ch 3.

Party!

I was headed toward the shower, having had a fairly intense jam session with Trent, when I heard Jane talking from behind her door. Now I'm no snoop, but I had to pause and listen when I heard what Daria said.

"So you guys are having problems?" Daria asked

"Well not problems really."

"Then what? I mean Neal seems like a... decent guy."

Ha! She can't bring herself to say nice.

"That's just it, despite the anarcho-punk exterior he is a really nice guy. Maybe he's too nice."

What? Too nice?

"What do you mean?"

"Well, we've been going out for almost a month and he... well he just isn't very intimate."

"Excuse me?"

"Well we kinda make out but... well he's too nice. We've gone together for a month and he hasn't even tried to feel me up."

"Should he have?"

"Well, yeah. I mean all my other boyfriends have. Hell even guys who weren't my boyfriend. Remember Bobby Big-head?"

"Yeah, I still have that bonus sock. Have you considered that he might just be of a higher caliber than those guys? Maybe you should talk to him about it after the party tonight."

Party?

"Yeah, maybe I should."

Then they changed the topic and I retreated to my room to think. It was about an hour later when the knock came.

"Hey man." Trent greeted as he entered.

"'Sup Trent."

"Nothin' much. Uh Jess is here and we were going... uh going to...uh."

I get it, he's supposed to get me out of the house. "The pool hall?" I'll let 'em all have their fun. Hell I've never had a surprise party anyway.

"Yeah, the pool hall. You wanna come along?"

"Sure, let me throw my boots on and grab my wallet."

"Cool, see ya downstairs." With that he turned and walked out, looking a little relieved.

I threw my boots on and grabbed my wallet, then headed downstairs. I didn't see Jane or Daria. Maybe theyíre avoiding me... Nah, probably getting supplies, it is a party after all.

I walked outside and saw, much to my chagrin, the Tank. And Jesse was at the helm with Trent riding shotgun. I heaved a sigh and opened the side door.

"Sorry, there's no seats in the back." Trent said.

"So I noticed. Hey Jess."

"Hey."

With the greetings done, we drove off. Trent and I spent the next two and a half hours getting our asses royally kicked. Jesse was something of a pool shark.

"Rack 'em up." Jesse boomed.

"Nah." Trent cut in. "It's time to go."

"Why?" Jesse was baffled. "I'm havin' fun."

I pretended not to notice as Trent stamped on Jesse's foot and jerked his thumb at me.

"Oh... right. Cool."

It was already dusk outside. We got to the parking lot and were walking to the Tank.

"I call shotgun." I said.

"Cool." I guess Jesse didn't mind.

"Hey what about me?" Trent asked

"First come first serve." I told him.

"Oh really?" With that he ran off toward the Tank.

Reminds me of my friends in high school.
"Hey!" I was about to run after him.

"Don't worry, it's cool." Jesse said before I could run. "Here." He handed me the keys to the Tank.

"You sure this is cool with Max?"

Jesse shrugged. "Max don't mind if I tell him not to." He grinned and flexed his arms

I rolled my eyes. Just like high school.

We walked on towards the Tank. Trent was sitting in the passenger seat looking smug. In a friendly, three guys bonding at the pool hall sort of way. I knocked on his window and jangled the keys. That burst his bubble pretty quickly.

I climbed into the driver's seat and Jesse clambered into the back of the van.

"Okay, where to now?" I turned to Trent.

"We gotta go by Jesse and Max's dive. I left some lyric sheets there, I gotta pick 'em up."

Probably for the party. Leave it to Trent and Jesse to forget something I'm not supposed to see.

I drove for about ten minutes, with Trent and Jesse periodically spouting directions. Finally we arrived at Jesse and Max's "house". It was a very run down warehouse on the waterfront near the edge of town. It had probably seen its better days in the twenties.

"Shack sweet Shack." Jesse intoned from the back.

"You live here?"

"Yeah, Max's dad was in the shipping business."

Trent opened his door and climbed out followed by Jesse. Trent turned to me.

"Coming?"

"Uh, sure." I hope this place hasn't been condemned.

We walked across the broken concrete towards the garage door that was used as the main entrance. It was dark out and Jesse fumbled for the latch for a few moments. Finally the door slid up and we walked inside. Then the lights came on.

"SURPRISE!!" Everyone yelled. And quite a few people were there. Some I recognized, some I didn't. But Jane, Daria, Nick and Max were standing in front surrounding a large cake.

I stood there slack-jawed in astonishment. Damn it. They got me.

Then Jane bolted forward and jumped up on me. Her legs were around my waist and arms around my shoulders. I wasn't prepared for it and she knocked me off balance. I stumbled backwards right into the door, which Jesse had closed. I banged my head but kept my hold on Jane.

"Whoa!" She yelled.

"I've got you." I said, regaining my balance. Then I kissed her, a real smoker.

After we came up for air she said, "You sure do."

I sat her down on her feet. Then rubbed the back of my head self-consciously, while I looked at all the people who had seen that. I'm not really one for public displays of affection... or embarrassment.

Daria walked up. "Are you all right?"

I smirked and crossed my eyes. "Yeah, I'm fine... but I didn't know you had a twin."

"Ha, ha."

"So what's this party for? Not that I'm not thankful or anything, but in case you haven't noticed I'm not really a social person."

Jane started ticking the reasons off on her fingers. "Three things actually. First, You've been her exactly one month today. Second, We will have been dating for exactly a month tomorrow. Third and finally, Daria and I both got accepted at the University of Connecticut in Lawndale."

"Why'd you invite so many people?"

Jane smirked. "We didn't, but Nick and Max knew, so everyone else in town did also."

I kissed her on her forehead. Then turned to Daria, and hugged her. She was shocked to say the least. "Well, Congrats. College, big step." I said, to both of them. "Thanks for the party guys, it really means a lot."

Jane hugged me. "No problem, now lets party."

The Party went well. Mystik Spiral took the stage and played. There was a definite "band party" ambience to the place. You know when you've been to a band party. Loud music, usually by the band hosting the party. In this case Mystik Spiral. An inordinate amount of alcohol. And some dancing, of course at this party it was slam-dancing.

Jane and I walked around. I talked to people I knew, and Jane introduced me to the people I didn't. We ran into Axl and Monique.

"'Ello Jane. Ew's this?"

"Hey Axl. This is Neal."

"Hey." I said

Monique sized me up. "He's cute."

I looked at Jane out of the corner of my eye. She looked very cold. "Hands off Monique. He's mine."

Monique put her hands up. "Geez get a grip. He's not even my type..."

Jane and I started to walk off when Monique mumbled. "'Sides, it's too easy to steal candy from babies."

Jane spun around. "What!?"

I gently grabbed her shoulder and leaned in to whisper. "She's not worth it, letís go." Jane haltingly nodded. I pulled her closer and we walked off.

We walked to the "bar". It was composed of a series of turned over crates piled with bottles of booze and plates of food. I turned to Jane.

"Was this your Idea?"

"Nah, it was the Spiral's. Not that I mind."

I nodded in agreement. Then the music stopped. And Trent spoke through the PA.

"Will Neal please join us on stage."

I turned to Jane. "You put him up to this didn't you?"

She grinned. "Guilty. I've never seen you play, just heard it. Go on, I wanna show."

I rolled my eyes. "Okay, I'll perform." I turned to go. She tapped me on the shoulder.

I turned and she kissed me on the cheek. "For luck... Uh and I need to talk to you after your set."

The crowd parted for me as I approached the stage. It was actually a disrepaired lift platform. I cautiously climbed up onto it.

"So what are we playing?" I asked Trent.

"Dunno, Janey put me up to this. What do you want to play?"

I thought about it for a moment. I hate performing, damn butterflies... thatís it!

"Okay guys I got a plan..." As I explained my idea all the guys started smiling. It was a smile of conspiracy. "Okay, Jesse go get everything else set up. Give me the signal when you're done."

Jesse nodded and jumped off the platform. I turned to the mic and flipped it back on.

"Okay everyone, we're taking a break to decide what to do. Be back in a few."

We stood on stage and waited until we saw Jesse climb a pile of crates off to our left. He waved and I nodded. I turned the mic back on.

"Hey everyone, havin' a good time?" The crowd cheered. "Great. Well since Jane engineered my appearance before you, this next song goes out to her. Hit it!"

Trent and Nick started the guitar & bass intro for Crazy Town's Butterfly. The lights dimmed as I looked over the crowd. I began to sing.

"Come, my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Come, my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Such a sexy, sexy, pretty little thing. The artsy chick who's got me hung on her loving.

And I ain't gonna lie, 'cause your lovin' gets me high. So to keep you by my side, there's nothing that I won't try.

Butterflies in her eyes and the looks to kill. Time is passing and I'm asking could this be real.

'Cause I can't sleep I can't hold still. The only thing I really know is, She got sex appeal.

I can feel, too much is never enough. Always there to lift me up when these times get rough.

I was lost, now I'm found, ever since you been around. You're the woman that I want. So Yo, I'm puttin' you down."

I jumped and landed on my knees at the front of the stage.

"Come my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Come my lady. You're my pretty baby. I'll make your legs shake, you make me go crazy.

Come my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Come my lady. You're my pretty baby. I'll make your legs shake, you make me go crazy."

I stood as the guys played the bridge to the second verse.

"I don't deserve you. Unless it's some kind of hidden message. To show me life is

precious, then I guess it's true. To tell the truth I really never knew 'til I met you.

I was lost and confused, twisted and used up. Knew a better life existed, but felt

that I'd missed it. My lifstyle's wild, I was livin' like a wild child. Trapped on a short

leash parole, and police files. So Yo, what's happenin' now? I see the sun breaking into dark clouds.

And a vision of you standing out in the crowd."

At that moment the lights went out completely exept for the strobe and the footlights. And Jesse, stationed on the crates flipped on the mini-spotlight and trained it on Jane. I motioned her towards the stage as I sang the chorus.

"Come my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Come my lady. You're my pretty baby. I'll make your legs shake, you make me go crazy.

Come my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Come my lady. You're my pretty baby. I'll make your legs shake, you make me go crazy."

She got to the edge of the stage and I pulled her up while the guys improvised a bridge for the action.

"Hey sugar mamma, come and dance with me. The smartest thing you ever did was

take a chance with me. So, whatever tickles your fancy. Girl it's me and you like Sid and Nancy.

So sexy... almost evil, talk about the butterflies in my head. I used to think that happy endings

were only in the books I'd read. But you made me feel alive when I was almost dead.

You filled that empty space with the love I used to chase, and as far as I can see It don't get better than this.

So butterfly here is a song and it's sealed with a kiss, and a thank you miss."

Then I kissed her. Trent skipped a beat but was able to pick up the song for me.

"Come and dance with me, so come and dance with me.

Come and dance with me, so come and dance with me."

Then Jane and I broke the kiss and I picked the tune back up for the last chorus.

""Come my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Come my lady. You're my pretty baby. I'll make your legs shake, you make me go crazy.

Come my lady. Come, come, my lady. You're my butterfly. Sugar baby.

Come my lady. You're my pretty baby. I'll make your legs shake, you make me go crazy."

Then I picked Jane up the way you would to carry a bride over the threshold, she's remarkably light, and jumped off the stage. She tucked her head in the hollow between my neck and shoulders and whispered.

"I thought you were going to play your guitar." She smirked.

"I said I'd perform, not that I'd play. Besides I can't play and sing at the same time anyway."

"So what are you doing now."

"Well I'm going to embarrass the hell out of both of us by carrying you outside. You said you wanted to talk to me anyway."

She looked up at me thoughtfully. "I don't think we have to."

"Well I'm still carrying you out. I want to talk to you."
"Okay."

Again the crowd cleared the way as I walked towards the door. But this time they were cheering and leering and whistling. I got the the small side door and opened it. Exiting into the cool of the night. I sat Jane down and we walked down the pier looking at the reflections in the water.

"Okay, so what did you want to talk about?" She asked when we got to the end of the pier.

I sighed. No way to put this smoothly, so here goes. "I know you aren't exactly happy with the way I've been handling our relationship."

"No, after what you did tonight..."
I put my hand up for quiet. "Just listen for a second okay. Now I like sorting through my emotions about as much as Daria does. But I've been giving them the once over lately. And one thing keeps popping up. You know what it is?"

"N..No."

"It's the fact that I... well I... Jane, I love you. I haven't been acting like your normal teenage guy because I respect you. And I really don't wanna fuck this up. I didn't wanna drive you away. But now that I know what you want, I'm more than willing to have a more physical relationship."

"How...how did you know?"

"I heard you and Daria talking." Now she's gonna be pissed for a few days.

She smirked. "You're as bad as Trent. I really need to get a thicker door. So I take it that you knew about the party."

"Kinda, I knew you were having it but I didn't know it would be here."

She nodded. "Well let's get back in there before Daria or Trent get any weird ideas about what we're doing out her."

So we went back inside and watched the party unfold. After it was winding down and most people had either left or passed out where they stood; Daria, Jane and I found the inhabited portion of the warehouse. The rooms were obviously offices at one point. But they had been renovated to serve as a kitchen, bathroom, living area and three bedrooms.

Jane showed us around the place. Everything looked like you would expect the apartment of two twenty-something grunge rockers. Clothes, pizza boxes and other assorted detrius choked the floor and most other flat surfaces. The only room up to health standards was the guest bedroom. I cleared off the table in the kitchen and we all sat down.

"So how was your night Daria?" I hadn't seen her since the start of the party.

She shrugged. "Same way parties always go. I didn't talk to anyone. I didn't get asked to dance, not that I would have. Mystik Spiral was playing so the music was... interesting. Uh, your act was kinda cool, even if it was pretty sappy."

"Sappy?"

"Yeah, you changed part of the first verse to fit Jane, and it is a love song... after a fashion."

"Well I liked it." Jane chimed in.

"So what do we do now?" I asked. I looked at the clock, it was two in the morning.

"Well, since the band is passed out in the warehouse and anyone in any condition to leave already has. The question is do we sleep here or walk back to Jane's." Daria said. At that moment Jane yawned loudly. "Well I guess that answers that."

"Okay, you two take the guest room, I'll sleep on the futon."

"Always the gentleman." Jane said.

"Hey, chivalry ain't dead."

"Yeah, just paralyzed from the waist down." Daria said.

"Well, G'night." I kissed Jane on the forehead.

With that we went to our separate domiciles. I flipped the futon down to it's bed position and got undressed to my boxers. This was certainly an interesting day.

I laid down and closed my eyes. Well what next? Then the pad on the futon shifted with the weight of another person. I opened my eyes and in the gloom I could make out a human form.

"Jane?"

"Got it on the first try." She fumbled around for a minute.

"What are you doing?"

"Getting ready for bed, Daria's already asleep. So I figured you might like my company."

My eyes went wide. "Uh, I know I said I was ready for a more physical relationship, but don't you think it's a little early for..." I couldn't voice the words.

"You're sweet. No I just want to actually sleep beside you on the same bed. Nothing more than cuddling. I mean I'm not ready for... that either. Hope you don't mind me borrowing your shirt. I needed something to sleep in."

"That's fine. What about Daria?"

"She came prepared."

"That sounds like Daria."

"Yeah." Jane laid down beside me. I curled up around her possesivly and put my head in the hollow between her neck and her shoulder.

"G'night, love." I said.

"'Night."

For the first time in a month, I didn't dream of a life left behind. Or of the fears of a new world. I dreamt of the future. It was perfect. It may have not been Connecticut. I think, maybe it was Vermont.

Authors Notes: Am I mushy? Hell yeah, I may put on a cool exterior but deep down I'm a hopeless romantic. Am I actually a "nice" guy. Unfortunately, I am. You know what they say, nice guys finish last. Well this is my fic and I'm finishing first for once, Dammit. Yeah the Raising Arizona parody at the end is the corniest thing I've ever written, but it had to be done. As always, If you have comments, suggestions or criticism email me at NetUrza@hotmail.com

Also Daria and the rest of the Daria Cast belong to Mtv Which is chained to it's pimp, Viacom. Butterfly belongs to Crazy Town and whatever record company has the ropes through their bondage bracelets.