Crank, p.7
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       Crank, p.7

         Part #1 of Crank series by Ellen Hopkins
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  What did that make Adam?

  Watching his dad choose

  the monster,

  seeing his

  brother lie down for the demon,

  how could he want to party too?

  Buddy’s all I’ve got left. I pray

  to the good Lord he makes

  better decisions.

  And, knowing all these things,

  perhaps more intimately

  than I ought

  to, what did

  that make me?

  I thought about praying too.


  The Phone, Still in My Hand, Rang

  I jumped, like a bee had just

  given me a nasty hello.

  I returned the favor

  with a totally foul, “Yessss?”

  (Then thought,

  jeez, what if it’s Adam?)

  Hey, Kristina. It’s Sarah.

  How are you? How was your

  trip? Tell me all about it!

  How was your dad? Sweet?

  Did you meet any cute boys?

  Sarah—my best friend since

  4th grade. Crazy smart,

  pretty in an Irish sort of way,

  with embarrassing freckles

  and wicked red hair she was

  forever trying to tame.

  Was is hot down there?

  It’s been miserable here!

  Did your dad have a pool?

  Did you get a tan?

  What did you do for fun?

  What could I tell her?

  How much did I dare?

  That is, if she ever gave

  me a chance to talk.

  How much did she

  really want to know?

  Did you do any shopping? I

  already got school clothes.

  What did you do for the 4th

  of July? We went

  up to Virginia City.

  What day was today? The 10th!

  Dad never said a word

  about fireworks.

  The 4th of July had slipped

  on past, with me held

  fast in the grip of the monster.

  We’re going camping.

  Want to come? My mom

  said it’s okay. I hate to spend

  a whole week, alone

  with my parents and little sister.

  I told her I’d ask and call later.

  My brain needed a rest—not

  to mention my left ear.

  Kristina could listen

  to Sarah talk for hours.

  Bree was ready to scream.

  At Least I Had the House to Myself

  I downed an ampicillin,

  splashed peroxide on my


  thigh, which actually

  looked a little better, the


  more pink than violet,

  the pain more a soft


  reminding me with

  a steady beat of an


  so complete I had

  no clue how to fill it,


  so heavy I had

  no idea how to lift it,


  so intense I had only

  one way to relieve it:

  a bitter drink

  of its very source—

  the deep well

  of the monster.

  I Considered

  the Reno crank scene,

  or what I knew of it.

  Legit entertainment—



  comedy clubs.

  Legal and semilegit—


  sports betting,

  light night carousing.

  Legal, semi-immoral—

  adult revues (aka “titty shows”)

  gay clubs, strip clubs, swap clubs,

  beyond-the-city-limits prostitutions.

  Such activities,


  practically invited

  the monster’s


  Remote desert

  dwellings, travel

  trailers and

  sad, little

  shacks, went up

  in flames regularly,


  of ether-fed fire.

  Oh, yes, there was

  crank in Reno,


  for me, calling

  out to Bree.

  All that was left was

  to find it.

  Suddenly, However

  all those days with little

  or no sustenance hit me in one awful instant.

  Lucky me! Mom’s kitchen

  was a whole lot better stocked than Dad’s.

  (Not to mention a whole lot cleaner—

  no mega-cockroaches allowed!)

  Summer fruit.

  Garden veggies.

  Leftover roast beef.

  Homemade bread.

  Hand-churned ice cream.

  I’d almost forgotten how great a cook

  Mom was, at least when she wasn’t

  too busy writing or going through one

  of her “I’m not your damn servant!” phases.

  Double lucky me.

  It seemed she was going through one of her

  Suzy Homemaker stages.

  Fresh salsa.

  Homemade chips.

  Leftover chili.

  Cherry pie.

  I felt like I’d died and

  gone to God’s grocery store

  in the sky!

  My Luck Ran Out

  ’Cause after I

  finished pigging out, I

  really wanted

  a cigarette.

  Nicotine’s a

  strange addiction. I

  didn’t even realize I

  was hooked until I

  couldn’t have one. No

  one at my house

  smoked, at least not

  so you’d notice. Not

  my mom. Smoking

  causes wrinkles. Not

  Scott, who had

  a family history

  of emphysema. Not

  Leigh, who said

  they made

  your hair smell

  like an ash

  tray (only true

  if you don’t

  smoke). Surely not

  Jake, the

  ministud athlete. Nope


  was most definitely

  out of luck.

  For the moment


  It Got Worse

  because just about then,

  my mom came home.

  Good. You’re up. You looked dead

  to the world, so we let you sleep.

  Leigh shadowed her

  through the door.

  “Feeling better? We went shopping.

  I needed a new swimsuit in the worst way.”

  Mom put an armful of bags

  on the counter, ignoring

  my crumbs.

  I got you one too. Your old one

  is pretty ratty.

  Leigh reached into

  a Macy’s bag, extracted

  it for approval.

  “Cute, huh? She wanted to get you a tank. I

  insisted on a bikini. You do still like pink?”

  Mom looked at the hot pink

  crochet, as if for the first time,

  shook her head and clucked,

  Better try it on. Can’t show too much

  skin at Scott’s company picnic.

  Leigh glanced down

  at my T-shirt hem,

  barely covering our

  sisterly secret.

  “Nope, wouldn’t do. Wouldn’t

  do at all.”

  All Thoughts of Bad Habits

  I Went to Try On the Swimsuit

  Few things are quite as


  as cinching yourself up

  in a completely


  bikini and standing

  in front of a full-length


  rotating like a bird on

  a spit, trying to admire the

  naked truth

  staring back at you:

  body slim but not


  boyish hips, just

  barely qualifying as


  uncertain breasts,

  cup size


  somewhere between

  A (plus) and B (minus),


  desperately trying

  to escape,


  once a month,

  like it or not,

  ready or not.

  (At least that wasn’t

  currently a problem!)

  The Tattoo, However, Was

  It did look better,

  but it still didn’t look good—

  a bright pink, semi-heart-shaped thing,

  blue ink hiding somewhere beneath my skin,

  not an easy thing to hide in an itsy bitsy bikini.

  Band-aids were problematic. A little

  one wouldn’t cover it, but one of those big

  square dudes would draw everyone’s attention,

  guaranteed. Besides, have you ever seen a Band-aid,

  floating in a swimming pool? Would you want to

  be responsible for such a disgusting thing?

  And even if one did manage to stay

  on midst gushing gallons of chlorinated

  water, what would all that wet

  wildness do to the just forming

  scab and retreating infection?

  Still, I couldn’t beg off.

  Wild Waters Day was important

  to Scott’s “leg up the management ladder.”

  It was Mom’s day to strut her stuff in

  her own itsy bitsy bikini.

  And it was always a summer hit for us kids.

  If I said I didn’t want to go,

  Mom would check for a fever for certain.

  Even if she didn’t find one, it

  would open the door for questions

  I really was in no mood to answer.

  Questions I knew I’d have to answer soon.

  As I Pondered

  my problem, the telephone rang.

  Jake happily informed me—not to

  mention everyone else—it was

  Adam/Buddy on the far end of the line.


  Hey, Gorgeous. I miss you.

  Melted butter.

  “Oh, Adam. Me too.”

  I can’t stay on long. Phone bills, you know.

  Hot butter burned.


  Just want you to know I love you.

  Burned good.

  “Me too. Always.”

  Lince is coming home tomorrow. She’ll be okay.

  Burned bad.

  “I’m glad.”

  Bree? I’ve been thinking. We’re a long way apart …


  “I know.”

  So I think we should give each other permission to see other people.


  “You want my permission?”

  You have mine. Just think of me from time to time.


  “I don’t need your permission, Buddy. And you obviously don’t need mine.”

  Well, okay then. Better go. Keep in touch. I really do love you.


  His Idea of Love

  sure didn’t mesh with mine.

  “I love you, let’s see other people.”


  sentence structure.

  “Lince’s coming home.

  Let’s see other people.”


  paragraph construction.

  My face flushed

  tears poked my eyes,

  scar tissue twisted my heart,

  wrapped itself around arteries,

  closed tight around my jugular.

  I coughed pain.

  I never went to Albuquerque

  expecting to find love.

  I thought it had found me there,

  followed me home.

  I never came home,

  expecting to lose

  love in the space

  of one brief

  telephone call.

  Is it always so short-lived?

  Mom Knocked on My Door

  I found that strange.

  She never knocked.

  May I come in?

  Never asked for permission

  to come in. Permission.

  That word again.

  We haven’t had a chance to talk

  since you got home.

  Then she looked at my face,

  all puffy and pissed, read

  everything she needed to there.

  Looks like we’ve got a lot to talk about.

  But maybe this isn’t the best time?

  I wanted to talk. Needed to.

  But how could I possibly talk

  to her? She was my mom.

  I know I’m your mom and not always

  easy to talk to. But I’m here for you.

  I was ready for a lecture.

  Why did she have to choose

  that moment to try “nice”?

  I want to hear all about your trip. Let

  me know when you’re ready.

  Big girls don’t cry, especially

  not in front of their mommies.

  But a cloudburst threatened.

  I hope you’re hungry. I’m making

  your favorite—lasagna and garlic bread.

  I was hungry (somehow).

  I was tired (still). I was hurting (inside and out).

  And more than ever, I wanted to walk with the monster.

  Over Lasagna and Garlic Bread

  I talked about airplanes.

  I talked about lonely seatmates,

  third-run movies, and pretzels

  (for this price!) in place of meals.

  I talked about Albuquerque, bowling alley

  etiquette, Los Alamos-grown cockroaches,

  and walk-ups in decidedly bad neighborhoods

  (omitting the part about my own little nighttime foray).

  With some prodding, I talked about Dad,

  his job, and (lack of) girlfriends;

  I talked about his philosophy, somehow sadly yet

  to ripen into something resembling maturity.

  With a lot more prodding,

  I talked about Adam aka Buddy

  (omitting everything of use to anyone

  interested in blackmail).

  Considering his recent treachery,

  it was easy enough not to gush

  about his hot bod, wildcat eyes,

  incredibly perfect lips, and intuitive hands.

  And, mostly because everyone knew

  it anyway, I talked about how, despite

  his undying love, he had given us both

  permission to date other people.

  Leigh Knew

  there was a

  whole lot


  to the story,

  of course.

  But I’d never

  told her


  and trusted


  she would

  never betray


  Still, just in

  case, I

  never dared




  by periods;


  interrupted by


  or my own

  infatuation with

  the monster’s


k and roll.

  No, these


  belonged strictly

  in my own

  private closet.


  Leigh climbed into my bed,

  moved very close to me,

  her proximity strangely


  Want to talk? I do.

  I miss how we used to talk.

  I recalled a time, not so long

  ago, when snuggling with

  my big sister was


  Tell me more a bout Adam. Is he

  really your very first boyfriend?

  So why did it bother me now,

  when I so needed

  the consolation

  of touch?

  I’ll tell you about Heather. She’s

  not my first, but she tops the list.

  Heather? Lesbians had names like

  Bobbi or Jo, didn’t they?

  “Heather” belonged to a

  model or cheerleader.

  She’s a cheerleader. Well, a song

  leader, and pretty much perfect.

  Leigh was almost perfect herself.

  If she were taller, she could be

  a model. Picture-perfect

  lesbians. I had to laugh.

  What are you laughing about? Didn’t

  know cheerleaders were my type?

  Didn’t know cheerleaders could be

  that type. Which got me thinking.

  What else might those peppy

  cheerleaders do?

  I Tucked That Away

  and tried to focus on my sister

  going on and on about being in love

  with a girl:

  their meeting, touching

  accidentally, connecting

  immediately, interwoven

  hand in hand, heart-to-heart.

  And even though I loved my sister

  had accepted her eccentricities

  I found it hard

  to listen to detailed

  descriptions, abstract

  ambitions, relevant

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