Authors: C.D. Payne
The Journals of Nick Twisp’s Younger Brother
Book VI: Youth in Nevada
© copyright 2006 by C.D. Payne
SATURDAY, June 18 – My cousin Tyler Twisp is visiting Grandma Wescott and me in her dreary singlewide trailer deep in the lonely wastes of Nevada. Tyler loves everything about Winnemucca, just as I, conversely, despise every aspect of my hometown. Of course, he is an immense jock who eats his own weight in grub every three days. Whereas I am a picky-eater flyweight with intellectual and cultural aspirations. Hard to believe my sinewy cousin is only 15, while I–a mere shadow in his wake–will be 16 in December. Strictly speaking, I may in fact be his uncle, since he’s the son of my half-sister Joanie. But since it would be silly to have a nephew twice one’s size, we prefer to regard each other as cousins.
Nevada prides itself on being the emptiest state in the nation. For example, Winnemucca is situated 165 miles east of Reno and 353 miles west of Salt Lake City. In between stretches a forbidding expanse of barren rock and scrawny sagebrush. Nice country for jackrabbits, but a challenge for any life form higher than a buzzard. If it weren’t for the Internet, I’m sure my mind would have atrophied and died long ago.
Nearly 8,000 rednecks call Winnemucca home, while the population of New York City is over eight million. Therefore, according to the law of averages, my chances of residing in that great metropolis are at least
one thousand times better
than of moldering in this God-forsaken hole. Yet here I sit in a trailer that’s not even within the city limits–with a thrift-shop wardrobe, nothing to do, no place to go, no girlfriend, and $4.37 to my name. Meanwhile, my cousin–a zealot for clean mountain air and challenging hikes–resides in gridlocked L.A. This strikes me as blindingly unfair.
Must stop here. Tyler wants to go over to the high school to shoot some baskets. Wish I had a gun. I’d show him how Real Men shoot baskets.
SUNDAY, June 19 – Father’s Day. What a nuisance. Grandma Wescott made me call my dad–never a fun prospect. The guy is such a sourpuss. Is it my fault my mother in distant Oakland shot off most of his genitalia? Talk about your worst castration anxieties come true. Never the warmest of dads, he’s become even more emotionally distant since my voice changed. He says I sound just like my half-brother Nick–a guy he really has it in for. Don’t ask me why. Ever mum on my twisted family matters, Grandma says it’s all “water over the dam.”
Fortunately, Dad was getting ready to go to work when I called, so our desultory chat was mercifully brief. He works security for an Indian casino in California near Clear Lake. He asked me what I was doing; I said “not much.” I asked him what he was doing; he said “the usual.” I asked him if he got my card; he said he only goes to his post office box once a month. I asked him if he was coming to visit; he said “maybe at Christmas, but don’t get your hopes up.” (As if I’m pining away to see the big dork, whose support checks arrive here about as often as Halley’s Comet.)
I handed over the clammy phone to Tyler, who had a lively 45-minute talk with his pop in Los Angeles, then rang off with the words “I love you, Dad.” Pretty amazing, especially when you consider that he was speaking to his
father. Maybe that’s the secret. Perhaps a kid can have a cordial and loving relationship with his dad as long as they’re not actually related.
Like all Twisps, Tyler is very competitive. We are now into day two of the First Annual Wescott-Twisp Beat Your Meat Contest. Every hour on the hour we retire to the rusty metal shed at the back of the lot and flail away. First guy to fail to get it up and/or produce at least one drop loses. So far, we seem to be fairly evenly matched–except, alas, in size. I’m extremely jealous of Tyler’s advantage in that department. Talk about penile overkill. I keep suggesting to Tyler that he is freakishly oversized and will never find a girlfriend to accommodate him, yet he just chuckles and remains anxiety-free as he tucks his massive tool back into his pants. Tyler has promised his mother that he will not have sex until he’s 16, so he hasn’t actually gone all the way with any of his numerous girlfriends. He just lets them fondle his instrument and practice their fellatio techniques. I should be so lucky. I had one girlfriend back in the sixth grade and never got past some experimental kisses. Consuela’s parents objected to her seeing a non-Catholic Anglo and made her break up with me. Rather stupefying. I mean–did they imagine we were planning on getting married at age 12 and raising a pack of mixed-race Protestants?
Speaking of child brides, I’ve heard rumors that my half-brother Nick was married briefly when he was about my age. Hard to believe. I’d ask him if I ever saw him, but he never comes to visit and rarely answers my e-mails. He’s a big-time comic juggler in Las Vegas with a too glamorous and fulfilling life (see
magazine) to bother with poor relations in the sticks. He does send nice Christmas/birthday presents though. Yeah, I was born on December 25, hence my dumb name: Noel Lance Wescott. Remarkably pedestrian I agree, but at least it’s not Twisp.
MONDAY, June 20 – Another sports triumph for Tyler. I was obliged to forfeit this morning. I could still get it up, but the area was too raw and chafed to permit further handling. Tyler and I agree after two and a half days of incessant masturbation we are now manifesting virtually zero interest in sex. A most unusual state for us both. With my luck some cute chick will throw herself at me today and I’ll be forced to decline a Golden Opportunity. Have applied some of Grandma’s Avon hand cream to my inflamed member and now have the sweetest smelling unit in town.
My friend Carlyle Bogy dropped by with his .22 rifle, and the three of us wandered up the ravine behind the trailer to take turns shooting at anything that moved. I think Tyler may have winged a lizard. Due to his constant twitching Carlyle is probably the worst shot in the state. He has extensive neurological damage from spending his toddler years in his father’s clandestine methamphetamine lab. They also think he has fetal alcohol syndrome from his mother boozing it up. (I learned all this by sneaking a peek at his confidential file back when I was an office volunteer in junior high.) Carlyle lives in a foster home now as both his parents are incarcerated. He’s with his fifth foster family, but he’s having better luck with this latest set of hired parents (the Greenes) as they’re pretty progressive and he’s mostly worked through his fascination with fire. For a time there he was keeping the Winnemucca fire department on constant alert. Carlyle remains on a first-name basis with all the firemen in town.
Grandma phoned out for pizza later, but she did not invite Carlyle to stay for dinner. It bugs her that Carlyle is always going into our bathroom and helping himself to any pills he finds in the medicine cabinet. Grandma likes to take a nip now and then, but she says she doesn’t dare take a drink lest she wake up with a hangover only to find there wasn’t an aspirin in the place. We watched a semi-violent video and sewed on spangles. Grandma used to be a beautician, but she got increasingly broad in the beam and could no longer endure all those hours on her diabetic feet. When her sister (Aunt Deb) died, she inherited her sit-down occupation: sewing mail-order outfits for showgirls, strippers, and tap-dancers. This involves endless application of tiny spangles, rhinestones, and beads to shimmering or gauzy fabrics. I help her out sometimes in the evening while we watch TV. Rather tedious, but Grandma pays me 25 cents an hour. Pretty miserable wage, but how many kids can say they get paid to watch TV?
You wouldn’t think a big jock like Tyler would be good with a needle and thread, but he approached it as another competition and once again left me in his dust. In three hours he covered the entire bodice of a midget tap-dancer’s tutu with neat rows of pink sequins. Grandma was so pleased, she gave him a whole dollar.
In case you’re wondering where Tyler sleeps in our cramped two-bedroom trailer, he is crashing on the lumpy sofa. My junior bed is not big enough for two, though if Uma Spurletti every drops by I’m willing to make an effort to squeeze her in. She’s the cutest girl in the history of Northern Nevada and has been wearing a deep groove in my brain ever since she moved here last year. Her father is part owner of the Silver Sluice Casino downtown. I don’t know if he’s a mobster, but I have it on good authority that he’s Italian. His daughter, I believe, regards me as an EWP (extremely weird person). It’s true that I do not hang with the local teen elite, but unlike those smug cretins, I’m not entirely brain-dead either. Have to halt this train of thought. I’m in no condition to think about Uma Spurletti.
TUESDAY, June 21 – Another sunny day in the high desert. The elevation here is 4,300 feet, which as I remind Tyler is
higher than where he lives in L.A. He claims not to know the point of such statements, but I know he hates to be beaten at anything. Grandma was giving him a trim around the ears when my pal Stoney Holt dropped in for her usual boy’s regular haircut. Her real name is Claudia, but she tends to punch people in the face who call her that. She aspires to be a lesbian, though she’s even more girlfriend-less than I am. She lacks even a secret crush, since she regards all the girls in town with total disdain (and they return the favor). Stoney was always a plain, chunky girl until last year, when–during a few eventful months–her anatomy mysteriously rearranged. She now possesses a spectacular figure, which she attempts to camouflage under baggy cargo pants and oversized sweatshirts bearing rude graphics. When her baby fat retreated, it also left behind some classically chiseled cheekbones draped in pale, flawless skin. Grandma says she’d be as pretty as a model if she didn’t try so hard to look like Mickey Rooney in “Boys Town.”
Stoney seemed surprised to see Tyler even though I told her at least twice last week that he was coming. She also blushed when he spoke to her–an entirely novel reaction for her.
Take a seat,” said Grandma. “I’ll be right with you.”
Grandma treats her few hair clients like customers even though no cash exchanges hands. Stoney sprawled on the sofa and leafed through the magazines on the coffee table. Her torn sweatshirt read: “Drop Dead Before I Make You.”
You got this month’s
?” she inquired.
Wouldn’t let such trash in my home,” Grandma chuckled.
Tyler and I are starting our own street gang,” I said. “Would you like to join?”
Stoney planted her dusty boots on the coffee table and gave the matter some thought. “Who else is in it?”
Just Carlyle so far.”
That guy is deranged. OK, I’m in.”
I don’t want you kids getting in any trouble,” cautioned Grandma.
Noel Nothing?” sneered Stoney. “He couldn’t if he tried.”
Just remember, Noel,” said Grandma. “Your dad is a law enforcement officer.”
As if I could forget. Has there ever been a greater inducement to crime?
7:45 p.m. We’ve made some progress on our gang plans. We are to be called the Upts–short for “Uptowners.” We like the gritty urban edge to it, even though our town barely manages a downtown, let alone an uptown. Initially, our gang colors were yellow, and we vowed to be mortal enemies of anyone seen wearing red or blue. This decision necessitated a quick trip to the Golden Eagle Thrift Shoppe, where the pickings in yellow turned out to be slim. So we decided to go with brown, which Stoney thought was much more butch anyway. I’m not so sure. I’m now dressed head-to-toe in budget brown and look like a sanitation worker.
After completing my gangland brownout, I asked Stoney how I looked.
You look like shit” was her cogent assessment.
Too bad the color spectrum is so limited. OK, red and blue are already taken, plus the Goths have pretty much nailed down black. That leaves green (you too can look like a hippie tree-hugger), purple (so fat ladies over 50, as Stoney points out), orange (that ’70s scene), pink (just knife me, ’cause I deserve to die), or white (yes, we also paint houses). Perhaps this is the reason that like us Mussolini adopted brown for his Fascists.
As for our gang signs, we’re still working on those, though we may just adopt some of Carlyle’s more elaborate twitches.