Fear and Loathing in Remer: CHAPTER 5
by T.H. Bear
It was nearing eleven o’clock at night, and none of us were the least bit tired. Duke and I were passing the time playing cribbage and drinking Hamm’s. I wasn’t pegging very well. I kept making dumb mistakes. It also didn't help that Duke kept getting lucky cut cards, completing several of his double-runs. I didn’t miss counting any of my points, and all of the games were close in the end, but he still ended up taking about a hundred bucks off of me in only three games.
I am convinced that some people are inherently lucky. Duke is one of them. Some people will tell you that cribbage is mostly a game of skill, but I would argue that it is much more important to be lucky. Without a decent bit of luck on your side, it becomes extremely difficult to ever come out on top. Trust me. There are certain things I know, and cribbage is one of them.
“That’ll help me pay for that boat,” Duke gloated, lifting his hand and pointing down towards the dock.
“Feh,” I uttered in frustration. “I’m done.”
“Let’s play one more game,” Duke suggested with an evil grin. “I wanna skunk you and double my money.”
"No thanks," I said, deciding to cut my losses short. "How about we drive into town and check out that bar you were talking about?”
“The Pub? They might still be open,” Duke said, looking down at his watch. "It's Thursday night though—probably not a lot going on."
“Is that what it’s really called?” I asked. “The Pub?”
“Yeah,” Duke nodded. "Great name, huh?"
“Creativity must be in short supply around here,” I joked. “They couldn’t come up with anything better than that? The Pub?”
“It stands for ‘Possibilities Unlimited Bar’. It’s an acronym,” Duke explained.
“I know what a fucking acronym is,” I noted.
“We have a ton of Hamm’s right here,” Duke reminded me. “We don’t need to go anywhere. Neither of us should be driving anywhere right now.”
“You’re right. We shouldn’t be driving,” I agreed. “But Pete can. Let's go have some fun.”
“You’re not having any fun?” Duke asked.
“Not yet,” I joked. "It's been a fairly tame trip up to this point, don't ya' think?"
“Well, then go ask him,” Duke gestured to the living room where Pete was set up with his laptop and surfing the web.
"Hey, Pete!" I yelled. "You okay to drive?"
Less than five minutes later, we were heading east down Highway 200. The Pub was off to our right. It looked like a dead zone with one lone car parked in the lot. Our prospects for fun were growing dim.
"Let's go check out the Muni instead," Duke suggested. "Keep driving. I'll tell you where to stop."
We continued on—past the Cenex gas station, past the Woodsman Café, past the Fire Station, and then stopping in front of the Municipal Liquor Store. Unfortunately, the adjacent bar had just locked its doors for the night. We could see the bartender inside closing out her till.
We could have decided to call it a night and head back to the cabin, but, in a last ditch effort to salvage some Fun, we decided to stick with our original plan and try our luck at the Pub. As we pulled off the highway and into the large gravel parking lot, I noticed a woman smoking a cigarette just outside the front door of the establishment. She seemed to be annoyed by our sudden presence.
Pete rolled down his window. "This place still open?" he asked her.
She looked us over. "I guess it is," she replied. She took a final drag from her smoke and then threw the butt on the ground, stamping it out with the heel of her boot. "I'll let you guys stay until 12:30, but no later. I’m exhausted. I wanna go home."
Undeterred by her unwelcoming demeanor, we all shuffled out of the Dodge and into the Pub. I found my way to the pool table and grabbed myself a nearby barstool. Duke retrieved some quarters from the change machine, and Pete ordered us a round of beers. I racked up a game of eight ball and the three of us lagged for the break. I won the lag and then walked around to the other side of the table to chalk up my cue. I made two stripes off of the break, but then my bladder got the best of me, and I botched my next shot. I tossed my cue to Duke and then darted to the men's room to take a piss.
When I returned from the can, I spied a young woman who must've wandered in after we did. She was chatting it up with the bartender, and they were both laughing loudly. She caught my glance and returned it with a smile.
“Where’d she come from?” I asked Pete. "Was she here when we walked in?"
“I don't think so," Pete said, taking a sip from his beer.
"You should probably invite her back to the cabin,” Duke jokingly suggested, as he continued to clear the remaining stripes off the table.
"Maybe I will," I said. "Be careful what you wish for."
"Now's your chance," Duke said, sinking the eight ball in the side-pocket to win the game.
"You bastard," I groaned. "That was way too quick. You’ll have to play against Pete now."
I approached the bar to order another round of drinks, but before I could order anything, the young woman spoke up.
"You wanna go smoke?" she asked me.
“Sure,” I said. "Why not."
She stood up from her spot at the bar, and we walked outside with our drinks in hand. I took my plastic film canister from my pocket, popped off the lid, and packed up a one-hitter. “Do you want one?” I offered her.
"No thanks," she said. "I’d really like to, but I'd probably get tested at work." She took a full pack of Marlboro Reds from her purse and retrieved a cigarette.
"Where do you work?" I asked, handing her my lighter.
"At the bottling factory," she answered before taking a drag. "I just got done with my shift."
“What’s your name?” I asked her.
"Esme,” she exhaled.
“Esme?” I asked. “Is that French?”
“I’m don't know,” she replied. “It’s short for Esmeralda. You guys staying around here?”
“Yeah,” I said. “Not far away. My buddy's cabin—fishing, drinking Hamm’s, blowing shit up. We destroyed a wasp nest earlier this afternoon.”
"What's with your matching T-shirts?"
"Fear and Loathing in Remer," I explained, but she looked puzzled. "Have you ever heard of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?"
"Hunter S. Thompson? Yeah, I’m familiar with his work," she said before taking another long drag.
“Well, I forget who came up with the idea, but one of us suggested that we dub this trip ‘Fear and Loathing in Remer’ and have some Fun with it. It was a goofy idea, but it made us all laugh, so we went ahead with it,” I explained. “I worked with my next-door neighbor—she’s a kick-ass graphic-designer—to create this T-shirt design. It’s a combination of the Hamm’s Bear and that famous illustration of Dr. Gonzo.”
“The one by Ralph Steadman/” Esme asked. I was impressed. Esme seemed to know her shit.
“Exactly,” I said. “I’m also toying with the idea of writing a book to document the trip.”
"Gonzo Journalism?" she asked.
"Something like that," I laughed.
“What’s the story about?” she inquired.
“We are the story,” I said.
“I see,” she said with some hint of a smile. “Are you going to include me in your book?”
“Maybe,” I said. “I can’t promise you anything though. Will you be at Harvest Festival on Saturday?”
"Yeah, I’m actually in the parade. We’ll be driving in a red convertible—towards the beginning of the parade—if you look for me. Will you guys be there?”
“Of course we’ll be there,” I said. “We wouldn’t miss it.”
“Good,” she said. “I’ll try to throw some candy in your direction.” She took another drag off her cigarette and then extinguished it in the coffee can. “I'm out of beer. Let’s go get another."
“Oh, I almost forgot,” I said. “My friend told me to tell you that you’ve been invited back to the cabin after we’re all done here.”
“Should I bring my guns?” she asked.
I paused for a moment, pondering her strange question. “Sure,” I finally replied. “I don’t see a problem with it. Do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable.”
“Do you think there's any way I can get one of those T-shirts?” she asked me.
“Maybe,” I said. “We made enough for all of the guys on the trip, but one of the guys doesn't want his . . . so, yeah, I guess it can be yours.”
“And I’m probably gonna want to take a ride out on your boat before the night is over,” she said, adding to her list of demands.
“You’ll have to talk to Duke about that, but I think it’s a possibility,” I said. “Let’s go back inside. I’ll introduce you to him.”
We stood up and went back inside the Pub and found Duke and Pete at the bar. He was ordering another round of drinks. “Esme has accepted your offer to have her back at the cabin.”
“No one gets to have me,” Esme clarified. “I’m my own girl.”
“I didn’t mean it that way,” I laughed. “Esme, this is Duke. Duke, this is Esme.”
After we paid our tab, I grabbed shotgun in Esme’s Oldsmobile Delta 88, and we followed the Dodge back to the cabin. We parked in the front yard and exited our vehicles. Esme reiterated her desire to take the boat out on the lake, and, after some minor arm-twisting, Duke agreed.
“Pete, go get us some beer,” Duke ordered. “There’s a large cooler with wheels right outside the front door. Meet us down at the dock.”
“It wouldn't hurt you to say please,” Pete complained.
“I don’t say please and I don’t say thank you,” Duke said. “If you don’t want to do it, then I’ll do it.”
“I'll get the cooler,” Pete said. “I don't know why you gotta be a dick about it.”
Duke, Esme, and I walked down to the dock and worked to untie the boat. After Pete arrived with the cooler and we were all settled in, Duke cranked up the motor and we moved out from shore. When we were a safe enough distance away from the dock, Duke began to speed up, but then we heard a large splash behind us.
“What was that?” Duke asked, letting up on the throttle.
“Shit, I think it was your trolling motor,” Pete said. “I think it fell overboard.”
We all spent a few minutes looking in vain for any sign of it, but it had disappeared beneath the dark surface of the water. “Fuck it,” Duke said with a hint of dismay and a tinge of disgust. He pushed back down on the throttle and we sped out towards the middle of the lake.
“I want to go for a swim,” Esme said as Duke killed the engine. “Who’s with me?”
“I’d be up for that,” I lied.
“I’m in,” Duke and Pete said simultaneously.
Esme stood up and removed her loose-fitting sweatpants and then stepped towards the rear of the boat near the ladder. She took off her shirt, tossed it back on the captain’s chair, and then jumped off the boat. Pete quickly undressed down to his boxers and dove in headfirst behind her.
Duke turned in my direction. “You going in?” he asked me.
“Yeah,” I said. “Right after you. I want to finish my beer.”
I sat down in my chair and pretended that I was taking off my sandals. I started to chuckle to myself since I had no real intentions of actually abandoning ship. I watched with a smirk as Duke jumped from the boat and into the cold water.
I stood up and lit a smoke and walked towards the front of the boat where the cooler was. I plunged my hand into the ice and felt around for another can of Hamm’s. I cracked it open and took a big sip. Duke, Pete, and Esme were all doggie-paddling around in the water, adjusting to the cold water.
“I changed my mind,” I laughed. “I’m gonna stay right here. Someone responsible needs to man this vessel.”
All three of them kept making repeated claims that the water was warm, and they egged me on to join them. It all looked fun enough, I guess, but it was also very relaxing to sit there in the boat, all by myself, enjoying a cold Hamm’s beer and staring up at the stars.
After a few minutes of gazing up at the constellations, I looked over and noticed that Pete and Esme had moved closer together. They were smiling, quietly giggling, bumping into each other as they treaded water.
“Do I need to call for a hand check?” I asked them. I took another drag off my cigarette and then gulped down the last half of my beer. “How many more of these did we bring with us?”
“Only eight!” Duke yelled out. “Don’t drink all the beer!”
“I can’t make any guarantees,” I said. “I’m pretty thirsty.”
Before Duke could say anything else, we heard the call of a loon from somewhere nearby. It was followed shortly thereafter by the sounds of two or three other loons. It sounded to me like the loons were having fits of nervous giggles. About ten minutes passed before I helped Duke, Pete, and Esme back into the boat.
“Hand me a towel and a Hamm’s,” Duke said.
It was almost 3am. We dragged in the anchor, cranked up the motor, and headed back to shore. We tried to stay quiet as we let ourselves back inside the cabin. All of the lights were off, and we could hear Eric and Steve both snoring loudly in the spare bedroom.
We decided to throw on a movie in the living room and try to wind things down for the night. Duke gave Esme a fuzzy flannel shirt so she could stay warm while her shirt was drying. She sat down on the couch next to Pete. I pressed play on the remote and followed Duke to the kitchen so we could preheat the oven and cook a pizza.
As we waited for the oven to heat up, Duke suggested that we step outside and take a couple pulls off the vaporizer. Without any arm twisting, I followed him onto the patio.
“Are you having fun yet?” Duke asked me.
“I think I might be,” I laughed. “Are you?”
“I’m not sure,” he grinned. “Ask me again in the morning.”
When we came back inside to put the pizza in the oven, we noticed that Esme and Pete had disappeared from the couch. Our jaws dropped open as we both realized what that probably meant. We crept down the hall, tiptoeing our way to the door of the master bedroom. It was locked. Duke cupped his hand and made an attempt to listen through the thick wooden door.
“They’re in there,” Duke whispered to me. “I can hear them. Serious foreplay going on."
I could hear them too. I found myself a bit shocked, but not entirely surprised. If one of us was going to end up having sexual relations with a Remerite, it was going to be Pete.
We walked back outside. I followed Duke to the window of the master bedroom. The blinds had been closed, but the window was cracked open just enough for us to hear what was happening inside. We could hear the flesh pounding upon flesh, the moans, the cries, the sighs, and the groans as they both worked themselves up towards climax. It was all we could do to contain ourselves, to hold back our laughter and maintain our ninja-like silence.
It was quiet again, so we went back inside to retrieve our pizza and play one last game of cribbage to end the night, but, about halfway through our game, it became apparent that Pete and Esme had caught a second wind. The mattress was squeaking loudly over the sound of the head board first quietly tapping and then violently banging against the wall.
We threw our cards down on the table mid-hand and ran back outside so we could hear what was happening. Once we were back within a few feet of the open window, we could hear them talking.
“I don’t usually do things like this,” Esme confessed.
“Me neither,” Pete replied.
I felt like Duke and I were back in ninth grade, eavesdropping on the sexual escapades of a friend. I considered telling Duke that we should give them their privacy, but before I could say anything, Esme said something to Pete that I don’t think either of us will ever be able forget:
“You can stick it in any hole you want,” she whispered to him.
“I can?” Pete whispered back.
“Yes,” she replied. “But if you stick it in the wrong one, I’ll kick you in your face.”
Duke and I did our best to suppress our laughter, but it was an act of futility. We both stumbled away from the window and worked to creep our way back to the patio. We attempted to catch our breath. Without saying anything, we quietly let ourselves back inside the cabin.
I was exhausted. I stole a fleece blanket and a throw pillow from the couch and then retreated to the sunroom and fall asleep on a futon.