Danny Sutherland was always an asshole. He and Casey were friends in that sort of necessary way because they played football together. And then they played football together on Possum Springs High's football team freshman year—you know, before Casey quickly put together what a bullshit sport football was and begged his dad to take him off the team. But Danny was the biggest fourteen-year-old in town. Like, somehow by fourteen, he had amassed enough bulk that he could throw people around like they were nothing. Nobody could take him down just by themselves.
You know what having that kind of power does to a kid. It turns them into a real piece of shit.
I mean, Danny never really did anything to me personally. To him I was just some weird girl and I think that put me off his radar, because Danny was the kind of kid who only paid attention to the kids that he wanted something from. And when it came to girls, it was always the ones that closely fit his definition of what girls should be. Thin and pretty and feminine. Heteronormative.
So of course when Gregg came out end of sophomore year, he suddenly became Danny's number one target to make fun of. Like, even though Gregg and Danny had no classes together and actually no reason to even talk to each other, Danny couldn't leave him alone. One time, I stopped by Gregg's locker after last bell. And while Gregg was stuffing more teacher handouts and more unfinished homework into a locker overflowing with papers and trash, along comes Danny and slams Gregg's locker door into the back of his head.
"Looks like you need to work on your head, queer," Danny said unimaginatively as he walked away.
"Is that one of Coach's butt hairs stuck in your teeth?" I shouted after him. "Is that why your breath smells like ass?" I didn't know what I was saying. I wanted to do or say something that would really hurt him, but I couldn't think of anything that could be done or said.
Gregg was fine, save for a new lump on the back of his head. "How bad is it? Does it look like I'm growing a second head? Could we put googly eyes on it and make it look like I'm growing a second head?"
I sized up his new lump. "No, it's not large enough." And he sighed.
"Too bad he didn't slam the door on me twice," Gregg said, disappointed.
"Too bad that the door didn't get stuck on your neck and the school janitor didn't have to cut you out of the locker with a blowtorch," I said.
"Too bad that you didn't keep your eyes open when they lit the torch and they didn't melt out of your skull giving you the nickname Melty Eyed Mae forever," Gregg said.
The worst thing that Danny did to Gregg was one lunch period when he was hanging out with me and Casey. Now I said that Casey and Danny were kind of friends, but when Casey quit the football team, he effectively became dead to Danny. Like I said, Danny was the kind of guy who only pays attention to kids that he wanted something from. Giving up football was basically like the equivalent of social suicide to Danny's tiny brain.
So when Gregg and Casey would hang out at lunch, it would apparently infuriate him. Like he had to prove to the rest of the school that he was not someone who would ever tolerate gays. Or kids who stopped playing football.
What he did was he went over to where we were sitting and he threw an open bottle of what I guess was his piss at Gregg.
"Holy SHIT," Gregg screeched. Like, come to think of it, I had never heard his voice get that high-pitched since he hit puberty. Not even that time when I slipped during one of our knife fights and got him really good down his hand.
"Gotta get used to golden showers if you're gonna be a homo, Gregg," and Danny started this really stupid, really nasty laugh.
"What the fuck, Danny!" Casey stood up.
"What, Casey, feeling left out?" And Danny got real close to Casey in that stupid way that boys do when they feel the need to look intimidating. "I'm sure you two can practice on each other later. After all, what are boyfriends for?"
"I'm gonna get you for this," Casey promised through grit teeth.
"No, you aren't," and Danny shoved Casey by his shoulders, pushing him backwards. "You aren't gonna do shit, Hartley trash. You think you can fucking take me down?"
But Casey just looked at me, then at Gregg, who was currently toweling off his face with a napkin and trying not to dry heave.
And Danny shoved Casey again. "That's what I thought," he said. "You can't do jack shit to me." Then he walked off.
"My leather jacket," Gregg shivered and took off exactly the thing that he was describing. "That motherfucker got piss on my fucking leather jacket. Jock piss is so not punk."
"Jock blood is, though," I said.
"Yeah, if ANY bodily fluids from jocks are totally punk rock, it has to be blood," Gregg explained.
I remember looking at Casey. I remember he was staring in the direction that Danny had just left, and he had this look that was somehow intense and totally expressionless. I swear the wind even picked up and blew through his fur. It was anime. It was definitely anime.
And he said: "We have to do something about Danny Sutherland."
And Gregg asked him: "Crossbow?"
"Crossbow?" I asked Gregg, not at all hiding my disappointment.
Gregg looked at me, raised an eyebrow. "Knives?"
I could feel my face light up. "Baseball bats?"
The corners of Gregg's mouth turned up and he started with: "BASE—"
But Casey cut him off. "Nah." He was still staring after Danny. "I got an idea."
So. About the dirt bike.
Danny Sutherland's mom, who I guess must have been named Mrs. Sutherland, worked in the city and she was rarely around. She had a really high-paying job, too. I think she was a lawyer? They lived in a really big house a street over from where my house was. Danny's dad worked in real estate, so I got to see his face every time Mom and I went to the Food Donkey. His awkwardly forced and toothy grin had been plastered all over every grocery cart in Possum Springs forever.
If you fish some of the old Food Donkey grocery carts out of the creek, you can probably still see that stupid grin of his, even though the paper's been destroyed from water damage.
But that's beside the point. So. Danny's parents were loaded. And that didn't help Danny's condition much. They bought him this stupid green dirt bike that he rode to school because I guess it made him feel like a real badass. And it was always really clean and polished, which seemed like, suspiciously not the point of having a dirt bike.
Anyway, there's this parking lot just off the school property, which had been a really small outdoor shopping center at some point. Just a bunch of old, abandoned storefronts with kids parking their cars in front of it. Our high school years came with a high point in the town's population, so there were a little less than a hundred kids in our graduating class. Three hundred in our whole school. That's a lot for Possum Springs. But more than anything, it was a lot for Possum Springs High's parking lots.
And yet Danny, with his stupid, shiny green dirt bike that was apparently too cool for dirt, decided that he still deserved an entire parking space. Every day his stupid bike took up an entire parking space meant for a large car. Other sophomores with driver's licenses had to park a street up from the school because of his stupid dirt bike. It was a travesty.
So, a week after Danny's stupid golden shower prank on Gregg, I was crushing tiny clay people with my thumbs in art class when Casey shows up.
"I've come for Margaret Borowski," Casey said, handing Ms. Quelcy the migraine-inducing piece of bright fuchsia paper that was an administrative hall pass.
Ms. Quelcy called me up. "Is everything all right?" she asked.
"She needs to speak with her counselor immediately," Casey explained. "Probably won't be back for the rest of this period."
"Hartley, when did you have the grades to start working for admin—" but Casey grabbed my arm and we quickly went out the door.
I was pretty awestruck. "Holy shit, dude. How did you get hall passes?"
"Forged 'em," Casey said, producing a huge stack of them from his pocket and flipping through them. "Got a huge ol' collection of all kinds of school forms if you ever need 'em for anything."
"Anarchy," he agreed. "Now let's go bail Gregg out."
We didn't actually get to bail Gregg out of class. We found him in front of the vending machines with a bottle of water in each hand, flailing his arms excitedly.
"I just didn't go to class AT ALL," he explained.
A couple of minutes later, we were up in that parking lot off campus. Casey had produced a portable cooler with a six pack of beer in it and he and Gregg were working hard on drinking as much of it as they could.
"You sure you don't want any?" Casey offered. "You might like it."
"Quit peer-pressuring me!"
"I'm definitely pressuring you," he said. "As a peer."
"I refuse! I refuse to be pressured by peers!"
"This is why I had Gregg get water," he said, nodding at Gregg. And Gregg rolled me one of the water bottles.
"Why are we—why do I have to drink water?" But I still opened the bottle and started drinking as much water as I could as quickly as I could. And I wiped my mouth slime off with the back of my hand, burped. "Did we skip class just to sit in a parking lot and drink?"
"I am okay with this!" Gregg interjected. "Just want to say!"
"You'll see," Casey said, being all cryptic. "This is part of the plan."
"The plan for what?" I asked.
"The beer is what is making me okay with this!" Gregg shouted.
The next part of the plan Casey didn't so much explain. He just produced a baseball bat and handed it to me. And my eyes went wide.
"You see that stupid dirt bike?" he said, pointing to Danny's stupid dirt bike, stupidly taking up a whole parking space. It glistened in the sun, all stupidly and pointlessly clean.
"It's Danny Sutherland's stupid dirt bike!"
"Yes, comrade," Casey took another swig from his beer can and wrapped his free arm around my shoulder. "You know what you must do to it?"
"I must smash. With bat."
"Yes," and Casey burped a humid, beer-stinking burp. "Smash with bat, comrade. Smash with bat."
The first hit knocked the bike over off its kickstand. That was really the most satisfying. I think I probably put a couple of dents in the body afterwards. Gregg took the bat after he finished his beer and knocked one of the side mirrors out of the chassis.
Then Casey came over. Gregg tried to hand him the bat but Casey refused. He just looked down at the wreck of a dirt bike and he said: "Hartley trash, huh? Call a Hartley trash and a Hartley's gonna trash your bike, you stupid piece of shit."
Then he unzipped his pants and started peeing on it.
"Who—o—o—o—a," from Gregg. Then he dropped the bat, unzipped his pants, and started peeing on the wrecked dirt bike too. "Don't cross the streams!"
"What the hell are you guys doing?!"
"Part three of the plan, Mae," Casey said, drinking more beer while peeing. "It's pee."
"That's what the drinking was for?!"
"C'mon Mae!" Gregg said. "Enter our pee pact! It's like blood siblings but way more gross!"
"Way more gross means way more strong," Casey chimed in.
I mean, it was gross. It was really gross. But I was really feeling my trash mammal status that day. Plus, I wasn't going to let these guys pee on a bike without me. So I pulled down my pants and popped a squat over the bike, and let it go. And it was great. Peeing on Danny Sutherland's stupid dirt bike felt great. It was one of those teenage moments where you feel completely invincible. Like the adrenaline of doing something totally stupid and wrong outweighs the fear of getting caught, and at that moment, you can only be in the present. The past and future don't exist anymore. And you feel like you're going to be that stupid and excited forever.
"GUYS," the revelation coming to me as I pulled my pants back up. "WE ARE THE PEE MUSKETEERS."
"NO WAY," Gregg responded, flailing his arms. "WE ARE THE THREE PISSKETEERS."
"PEE MUSKETEERS IS BETTER."
"CAN PEE MUSKETEERS BE OUR BAND NAME WHEN WE MAKE A BAND."
Casey frowned. "There's literally no amount of beer that anyone could give me to agree to name a band 'Pee Musketeers.'"
After smashing and pissing on Danny's stupid dirt bike, I half expected to get called into the principal's office. Or beaten up by one of Danny's fangirls or friends. But nothing ever happened.
Except that Danny stopped bringing his dirt bike to school. Of course his parents had bought him a car.
And he also left Gregg alone after that. Didn't even so much as look at him ever again. Sometime later, I was watching Gregg stuff even more papers into his locker somehow, and Danny walked behind us, drinking a Fiascola. And Gregg stopped and just sniffed the air all exaggeratedly. And then turned to me.
"Wow," he said, way louder than he needed to be. "Do you smell that?"
"Smell what," I responded, way quieter than him.
"It smells kinda like no dickheads are bringing their smashed-up pissed-on dirt bikes to school anymore," he shouted. "What an oddly specific thing for me to smell! I wonder why that is!"
Then we turned and looked at Danny. He had stopped in his tracks. He had slumped over. Then he crushed his Fiascola can in his hand. All this cola fizzed out from between his fingers and splashed onto the floor. Then he breathed in a long, drawn-out breath like he was counting back from ten, and he walked away. He didn't look back at us.
We did it. We really hurt him.
That's it. That's the whole story. The end.
I don't know where Danny Sutherland is now. He's probably at college, succeeding at everything that I couldn't do. And I guess Mr. and Mrs. Sutherland must have moved to the city because their house is empty now. There are no pictures of Mr. Sutherland on the Ham Panther's carts.
Casey's gone. Gregg's gone. Everyone in this story is gone, except me. I'm stuck in what's left of Possum Springs with a memory of this one time me and Gregg and Casey peed on a douchebag's dirt bike in a small parking lot that no one really uses anymore. If I went to that parking lot, it'd probably be mostly empty, now that the high school only has like a hundred kids in it. Maybe even less. It's weird to think about. I could look at the spot where Danny's dirt bike was parked that day and see all the broken glass from the busted street lights and the trash that the raccoons and possums and the wind have spread around. And I can repeat the story to myself as much as I want to, but it doesn't really mean anything anymore. It's just a ghost story about some people who aren't here anymore. It doesn't mean anything.