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High Class Trailer Trash
October 8, 2008
So today's been pretty uneventful. Really the highlight of my day was Chuck bringing out a mooshed pink cupcake from the depths of his backpack during lunch and handing it to me with a lopsided smile. "Happy birthday, Oliver," he said. Which was really a big deal, because in all the years I'd known him (fifteen) he absolutely refused to do any "gay crap". The cupcake was too salty, but I ate it all. I almost cried, if you want the truth. I don't mean to sound like a sissy or anything, but it really was the sweetest thing I'd ever seen him do.
But now I'm home, the fuzziness of that moment gone. Home. My home, for lack of a better word, is a tiny, dilapidated trailer with peeling green paint that shows the sick cream color beneath. Weeds and wild grass sprout up, surrounding the trailer like some pitiful militia. Yellowing lights hang on either side of the door, spotted with the black silhouettes of dead bugs. A tattered green couch sits outside the trailer, pushed up against the front. Around that couch lay empty crunched beer cans in the dirt, the casualties of my step-dad Harry's drunken nights with friends. We're so white trash it hurts.
I sit outside on the carpeted steps, breathing shakily in the frozen, still air. "Happy birthday to me," I mutter, my words coming out on a burst of vapor. I can feel the rotting wood sink beneath me, the hard, weed-choked dirt under my thrift store shoes. I strain my gray eyes against the coming darkness and peer out across the trailer park. Trailers pushed together two by two. Tacky lawn decorations and attempted and forgotten flower gardens. The occasional above-ground pool (the rich bastards of Oak Acre Trailer Park). Scrawny cats and dogs roam freely and no one knows when hunger will drive them crazy, when Animal Control will come for them at last, and keep the cycle going. It's all so damn depressing.
I feel a frown tugging at my red lips (red because that's what happens to them when winter comes around) as I stare at the plastic, hollow gnomes on either side of me. Two unseeing pairs of eyes. Two bearded smiles. Two pointy hats and two sets of hands folded over two round bellies. I reach down and pick up the one on my left, the one with red pants and a green shirt instead of green pants and a blue shirt. I set it down cozy-close next to the other one. Their smiles get bigger. I watch them for a minute, then get up to give them time to talk, figuring that lawn gnomes work like those toys on Toy Story and can't move in front of humans.
I walk around to the back of our trailer, standing just outside the circle of light cast by the dim bulb at the back door. The back isn't much better than the front. A window box full of plastic flowers is drilled in under the minute bathroom window. I remember crawling in through that window, using the flower box to boost me up when I forgot my key once. Other than that our trailer may as well be reversible.
I stand very still and very quiet, my mouth hanging open just slightly, my ears straining to hear the gnome's tiny voices. I think I can hear them, then remember that they're plastic gnomes, and step in through the flimsy green door. I enter the house from the cramped laundry room and pick my way around the white plastic baskets full of dirty second-hand clothes. I remember digging through these baskets this morning for today's outfit. My lazy mother hasn't done laundry in just over two weeks. I hate her. Not for refusing to do the laundry'I'm not that bitter. It isn't her fault, actually. Up until my father died, she had maids and butlers. Then she pissed away the family fortune. Not that we were billionaires, but it was still a lot of money to spend in three years. My dad never would have let that happen, especially when he had me to take care of. That's why I can't feel anything positive about her. I mean, who just gets married and then lets themselves get so useless? But'I digress.
I stumble out of the laundry room and spill onto the tacky orange carpet, stained and matted with cigarette burns and food spills. "Spazz," I hear, and look up. My stepsister Leila is sitting on the squalid orange plaid couch with boyfriend #3. Or #2. They look very similar. "Slut," I retort, getting to my feet.
As I stand up, so does #3 or 2, a guy in his late teens or early twenties (dating and probably screwing my fourteen-year-old sister). He's not wearing a shirt, and he's all tattooed up in black and white and every color imaginable. There's the Virgin Mary on his abs, and I can't help but contemplate how Christianly jailbait is.
"What'd you say to her, asshole?" he snarls at me in deep voice thick with a Mexican accent.
I stare at him blankly, unseeing, then move to go around him, heading towards the stained white door at the other end of the couch. He puts out a huge brown hand, pushing me hard on the chest. I look down at his hand as it falls to his side, curled in a fist. He has a tiny sparrow on the flesh between his thumb and index finger. When I look back up, it seems like it's been an unusually long amount of time. #3 or 2 is still glaring at me with dark, hard eyes. "You better apologize to her, you little prick," he spits.
"I'm sorry Leila," I say automatically, feeling very confused. What did I even do?
"It's okay, Ollie," she says, and I look at her quickly, because she sounds scared. Her light brown eyes are glassy and wide. My sister. Her pink lipstick is smeared, her shining brown hair is wild, and her knees are scraped from climbing trees in a nearby park. I realize how pretty and miserable she is, and my heart breaks a little.
"What's wrong?" I ask, and #3 or 2 gets back in my face.
"Leave him alone!" Leila shrieks, too quickly, too shrilly. #3 or 2 and I look at her. "Come on, Mario, it's his birthday," she says, quickly regaining her composure. "Let's just go back to your place. This place stinks anyway." She gets daintily to her feet. I start thinking how this life isn't for her; how she was meant for such a different and better life. Poor kid.
She walks out the front door and I see her pause at the top of the steps, staring down at the oddly placed pair of gnomes. She starts to turn her head to look back at me, but #3 or 2 puts a massive hand on the small of her back, urging her forward. They leave, with only a cold draft to take their place. I hear their footsteps receding. Leila's soft, hushed voice against #3 or 2's hard, angry words.
Soon I'm left alone in an eerie silence, standing still. I stare forward but don't see anything. After an unknown amount of time passes, I slip out of my shoes and walk into the tiny bedroom behind the dirty white door. I get on the floor and feel my way into the sleeping bag on the floor, next to the twin bed that my older stepbrother Don sleeps in. I turn on my side, close my eyes, and fall asleep, ending my sixteenth birthday.