You Can’t Always Get What
… from the Mighty Hunter Gazette— April
And special news, our very own
homegrown band, Outbreak Monkey, will be performing a six- song set between D.J. Boomer’s dance
music at the Graham Winters High School prom. The band, headed by McKay
“Mackey” Sanders on lead vocals, Jeff Sanders on bass and their brother
Kell Sanders on lead guitar, also features Grant Adams on second lead and
Stevie Harris on drum set. All members are Graham Winters High School students
and we are proud to have them play!
THE FIRST time
McKay Sanders kissed his brother’s best friend, Grant, they were getting
high in a burned-out car in the field behind Mackey’s apartment
building. Kellogg, who looked old enough to buy even though he’d just
turned eighteen, had spent ten dollars the brothers didn’t have on cheap
Muscat. By the time Grant—whose father had money—brought out the pot, Kellogg,
Jefferson, and Stevie were passed out on the old camp blanket Stevie had
brought from his dad’s garage.
It was a celebration, of
sorts, for landing the prom gig.
The older kids had hogged
all the Muscat, though, and Mackey felt left out. Kellogg kept saying it wasn’t right to get his little brother drunk, and Mackey kept saying it wasn’t right to drink in front of him, but by the time Kellogg was too drunk to
argue, there wasn’t any wine left.
Jefferson and Stevie had
finished off the other bottle all by themselves—just sitting quietly, not
making any waves like they usually did, passing the bottle between them.
“Boy, you two argue a
lot,” Grant said after Kell let out a gut-buster of a yawn and fell asleep
quick as a baby.
Mackey grunted and
prodded at his older brother with his toe. The three brothers present looked
nothing alike. Kell was built like a tank, with rounded shoulders, a brown-eyed
glare, and plain brown hair that he buzz- cut short to his scalp. He was like
born practicality, which was why hoarding the wine rankled Mackey so badly. An
expenditure like that wasn’t going to happen again.
“He gets mad,” Mackey
said, letting out a sigh. He slouched back inside the shelter of the car,
peering through the doorframe at the iron gray sky. “He’s the one who
takes care of us, you know? But not in the band.”
Kell could play guitar
ably enough, but Mackey….
“You can play
everything,” Grant said with admiration. “You’re the one who puts the
songs together, figures out who should be playing what. And the shit you
write on your own….”
Mackey smiled at him a
little shyly. Grant had the most interesting face, with a long, straight nose,
full pink lips, and almond-shaped hazel eyes. When Grant looked at him with
admiration, it stopped his breath and pulled rubber bands in his stomach.
“I just….” He stopped because Grant was reaching into his pocket, and he
pulled out a baggie full of weed and papers. “Ooh….”
Grant looked down at the
other three, who were sleeping soundly in the late afternoon chill. “I was
gonna share,” he said mischievously, “but Kell was a dick about the wine, so I
thought you and me?” Mackey nodded, captivated by the thrill of the
forbidden—and by the way that cherry-ripe mouth pulled up at the corners when
Grant shrugged. “Me and
Kell do sometimes. But, you know, Kell’s usually a good guy.”
Mackey reflected on his
sleeping brother. Kell was a good guy. For example, Mackey had a confused memory of their
youngest brother Cheever’s dad, the one dad they thought would stick
around beyond giving the baby a first name. Cheever’s dad hadn’t been very
patient, and he’d hated Mackey. Well, Mackey was sort of a smartass. He’d probably had that fist coming. But that hadn’t stopped Kell from stepping up and hitting Enos Cheever right back.
Mackey and Kell had both needed stitches after that, but their mom had kicked
Enos Cheever out—child support or no child support. That was okay. Kell and
Jeff had been almost old enough to work by then. They’d only needed
assistance for a couple of months.
“He doesn’t like it that
I can boss him around,” Mackey said glumly. “He… he’s the leader, right?
But… but I hear the music, and it just makes sense, you know? And… and
you can’t do it wrong just ’cause it’ll hurt Kell’s feelings. It’s augh!” He was waving his hands
around, trying to find words, which was funny, because Mackey actually wrote songs. He
closed his eyes, ignoring Grant rolling a number, and tried to make a song out
“He wants to keep me
happy and he wants to keep me fed, he makes sure that I’ve got
blankets and a place to sleep in a bed, but the music in my heart is like a
freight train. It goes and it goes and when I stop it, it’s like pain, but my
brother doesn’t see it doesn’t hear it doesn’t feel it, and all there is to do is shove him out of the way. Don’t want to hit my brother with the
Mackey’s eyes smarted,
because the friction with Kell hurt. They were tight. They had to be tight, because
Tyson, California, had a population of ten thousand, and it was a small enough
town that the woman with the four sons and four fathers was sort of famous.
They had to have each other’s backs or Cheever wouldn’t have survived kindergarten.
Mackey blinked and took a
deep breath, then coughed.
He gazed at Grant, who
was staring back in awe over the glowing ember of the joint. Grant held the
smoke for a minute and exhaled,shaking his head. “God, it’s gorgeous when you
do that,” he said, his voice choked.
“Do what?” Mackey asked,
not able to stop staring at him.
“Pull music out of the
air,” Grant said, the dreamy smile on his full lips maybe a side effect of
the pot, but maybe not. Grant was sitting in the back of the car, his feet
at the foot of the blanket the others were sleeping on. He passed Mackey the doobie
around the doorframe, and Mackey regarded the joint with a little bit of fear.
“Just inhale?” he asked
nervously, and Grant grinned.
“Never done this before?”
he confirmed, taking the doobie back.
Mackey shook his head,
knowing his face was flushing in spite of the iron mountain chill.
“Here,” Grant murmured,
taking another hit. He stood up, still holding the smoke in his lungs, and
knelt in front of Mackey, so close their lips almost brushed. Mackey’s
mouth fell open, because, holy God, Grant was right there, and
Mackey had been trying not to look at him like he had wanted him right there since
he was twelve years old.
Grant took his open mouth
for invitation and exhaled, right between Mackey’s parted lips.
Mackey’s inhale was so
gentle, the smoke hardly tickled. He didn’t choke or cough like he’d seen other
people do, just breathed in subtle-like, afraid to startle Grant or make
him move in any way. His exhale was even quieter, letting the smoke trickle out
through his lips and his nose, where it stung.
He swallowed, his mouth
dry from the smoke and from the way Grant was staring at him, seemingly as
mesmerized as he was by those golden eyes and moist red mouth. “How’s
Sam?” he asked, because Samantha Peters had been Grant’s shadow for the
“Not here,” Grant
whispered, and the movement made their lips touch.
Mackey closed his eyes,
because Grant started this, and Mackey was fourteen to his seventeen. Grant
would know what to do.
Grant’s lips on his were
whisper-soft, then angel-soft, then Grant’s tongue swept into
his mouth, acrid with the bitter taste of weed, but something in it was sweet.
Something in it made Mackey open his mouth to beg for more.
Grant took advantage,
pushing him back against the seat, taking his mouth more, and more and more,
until Mackey was pressed against the burned-out seat frame, his hands
buried in the thick top strip of Grant’s hair, his lips being bruised and his
mouth plundered by his brother’s best friend.
The smell of pot smoke
sharpened, turned plastic, and Grant jerked his head back.
“Shit,” he muttered. The
joint had fallen onto the blanket at their feet, and he spent a moment stomping
it out as it smoldered. When he’d killed the ember, he glanced at Mackey
“Got lost in your eyes,”
he said, and Mackey watched curiously as two red crescents surfaced on his
sharp cheekbones, like disappearing ink coming to life.
“I could get lost in you
a lot,” Mackey confessed, feeling brave and bold, and Grant found
something to look at far away.
“Mackey, maybe don’t
count on me like that, okay?”
Mackey had to search far
away too. Well, of course, right? Two guys get high and they do something
crazy—didn’t mean shit, did it.
Didn’t mean a goddamned
thing. “Yeah, well. You know. Strong weed, right?”
“Yeah,” Grant murmured.
“Strong.” His hand was firm on Mackey’s shoulder then, and Mackey closed his
eyes as he felt the rasp of Grant’s chilled palm against his cheek. “Stronger’n
Mackey had to. Had to see
Grant was blinking hard, and
they both knew he’d deny it, but one hit of pot didn’t give you eyeballs that
At their feet, Kell gave
a moan and rolled over, and that was the cue for everyone to wake up. They were
headachy and sick, and it was lucky Grant had brought a six-pack of water, of
all things, so they could at least rinse out their mouths after they puked.
Grant had driven them out
to the vacant field in his mom’s minivan, and later that evening, he
stopped and let them run inside the grocery store to buy noodles and spaghetti
sauce for dinner. They’d promised their mom they’d take care of groceries if
she let them get away with not watching Cheever for the afternoon. When they
got to the Sanders boys’ apartment complex, Grant and Kell were giving
each other shit in the front seat. Mackey stared out the window and let their
banter wash over him, just like he ignored Jefferson and Stevie talking in
quiet undertones about comic books and naked girl pictures. Jeff and Kell had
best friends. Mackey had brothers—six of them, if he counted Cheever’s
little friend Kevin, which he did.
“So, is Sam excited you
get to play at the prom?” Kell asked, laughing.
“Yeah,” Grant said. For a
moment, he caught Mackey’s gaze in the rearview, and then he glanced back
toward the road. “She wants to dress pretty and dance with me in a suit.”
Mackey didn’t make a
noise or anything, but suddenly he knew, knew like it had been branded on his skin, that Grant didn’t want to dance with a girl in a dress. And that it
would hurt worse than orange juice on chapped lips, but Mackey was going to
have to watch him do it.