As Jay walked his few week’s old garbage out towards the back dumpster parameter, he could hear the unmistakable sound of a skateboard thrashing against the pavement- it’s noise echoing through the complex’s narrow outside corridor.
Jay reached the end of the hallway into the last resort section of the parking lot and saw his neighbor Joey, flinging himself and his skateboard onto a shin high concrete block; a block that used to be the foundation of a torn down auxiliary tool shed. The block had been updated with a band of cheap shiny yellow cautionary paint that covered it’s four corners along the tops and the sides – most likely the product of surplus money used by the complex’s new management to spruce up an otherwise unremarkable demolition plot.
Joey, rolling dangerously slow towards the block, popped the tail end of the deck and flung himself and the board into the air, turning forty five degrees, with the metal part of the skateboard that held the wheels landing perpendicular on the edge of the block. Joey awkwardly balanced and stalled on the ledge, lost his balance and jumped back onto the ground- his board falling down behind him.
For your normal clueless kid, Jay was again reminded how cool Joey actually managed to dress. Joey had on an old Pepsi biker’s hat which looked like it was made in the late eighties, a black t -shirt sans sleeves that had a graphic of puffy paint- puffy paint illustrating a nonexistent or hypothetical branch division of the clothing company that fabricated the garment, turquoise sweatpants with what looked like an un-deliberate rip in the knee and an old pair of vintage white Airwalk 540s. Jay didn’t know Joey all that well, but most of the time he saw that kid outside of his apartment he was friendly enough to him. Joey usually alone, would keep talking and yapping until Jay would have to politely excuse himself and go his own way. Although Jay had never asked Joey about his family, the fact that he never saw a man around- led him to believe there was none- that he was an only child being raised solely by his mother-Brittney, and that Joey was a kid who most likely latched his keys.
“You’re not going fast enough. You gotta go faster. Pop it and lock it harder, man!” says Jay, sounding like a coach.
Joey instantly looked up from the ground then noticing Jay, “Oh hey, Jay!” he says casually, easy -with an optimism that could only be associated with youth.
“Wad up? Jus putting out the garbage.” says Jay dutifully, as if he was on top of his house cleaning responsibilities.
Joey looking at the over filled medium sized garbage bag. “Wow, that’s a lot of Trash. Did you like have a party or something?”
Jay walking his garbage closer to the dumpster, the sound of soon to be un-recycled bottles clinking against themselves in the bag, “Uh..no…..just me” he says.
Jay looked down at Joey’s skateboard, that unreleased Nick Rivera Skatemental prototype never released to the public due to stalled contract negotiations -a deck Jay had casually flowed Joey months ago. Jay noticed that Joey even made his own mods decorating the deck; he spray painted the nose pink and let the paint drip down towards the base plate mounter holes. He apparently fabricated his own stickers with a home or office printer- some opaque and some translucent joints- grainy black and white images of impossibly bored young hipster chicks collaged over the original generic deck graphics. Grids and lines were laid upon layers of other hand painted abstract images- other new types of images which seemed somehow based on nature. The composition and color placement oddly worked though, and the stickers and paint all fit together somehow- the subtle placement actually complemented those lame Skatemental logos.
It was quite obvious to Jay that Joey had decorated his deck in a way he had not quite seen before- he thought this could easily trump literally anything that came out of Don Pendleton’s tree house- could trump all of Don Pendleton’s aggressively unremarkable graphics which he probably drew with his superfluous laser stylus, on some bulky touch screen computer monitor.
The board was laying upside down on the ground and Jay flipped it over with his foot and noticed Joey had scribbled on the grip-top-tape with paint pen: “Please Don’t Skate me on Rails- Thank You.” and it reminded him of the tag that came with Paddington Bear. Jay thought it was a clever anthropomorphism of the skateboard and he had never seen one interpreted this way. Nobody making skateboards had ever seemed to think of what a skateboard would say if it had the chance to talk.
“Oh, the Rivera promo prototype!” said Jay, totally remembering that he had forgotten about that generic pro-logo deck- forgot he had flowed it to Joey months ago.
Jay placed his right foot on the tail end of the board, casually tapping it against the pavement- reflexively, like how someone would swing a baseball bat at a ghost pitcher.
“ Ah, I forgot about this! Looks like you did some mods, huh Bud?” said Jay, enthused.
Jay picked up the skateboard and studied the arrangement of spray paint and the layered graphics that had been smeared and scuffed at the deck’s impact points. Somehow all the elements between the color separated screen print, the homemade stickers, and spray paint mixed with the chance operations of the smears came together so well that Jay automatically felt the board shouldn’t even be skated any further, as if further deck damage would ruin a composition which worked so well. The transience of the inevitable destruction of the skateboard graphics, combined with Joey’s primitive paint pen marks, reminded Jay of a Sufi drawing.
“You been skatin?” asked Jay to Joey in a tone expressing stern accountability.
Joey flung his bangs popping out of his biker’s hat, motioning them away from his eyes – casually enjoying the length of his hair.
“A little, not much.” Said Joey, laconically.
“Yeah well, with spots like this. You ever go to that little plaza they got down by the beach? What’s that place called?”
“Oh, the roller skate plaza? Nah, too many weird beach people hanging out there. My mom doesn’t let me go there.” Joey pauses looking down at the skateboard.
“I like to skate alone- I like skating this curb anyways.” Said Joey, shrugging.
“Yeah, actually that’s probably a good policy your momma has. A lot of beach freaks hang out near there. Best wait till you’re twenty five or better yet just not go out there at all.” Jay said as he was reminded how fun it is to actually skate some mundane little curb close to the house. Jay remembered when he was a kid, before he hit his growth spurt and got good- how he wasted hours, eschewed going skating downtown or skating launch ramps or mini ramps or going to some concrete skate park, he was amazed how back them he could easily get wrapped up attempting nose picks and never landing them on a tiny curb or just skating slow on the rough flat ground in the street in front of his house for hours. The learning curve was so low back then, no pressure to jump through hoops.
“Yeah.” Said Joey agreeing but not seeming to much pay attention or consider Jay’s remark. He swiped the board from under Jays foot with his oversized Airwalk and then stood on the board crouching down, touching the front top of the board with the palm of his hand, pressing down way too much and popping only to do an un-remarkably low still standing ollie.
“Um, how’s your mom doing anyways?” asked Jay trying to seem inconspicuous about getting information about Joey’s mom, Brittney.
Jay always a bit curious about her, even though she always seemed so curt and slightly standoffish whenever he saw her in the interval passing between the parking lot and the apartment- the times he saw her in the outside hallways, or in the commons pavilion in the middle of the complex where no one ever seemed to hang out. He had virtually no contact with them besides those intervals and Brittney’s attitude towards Jay had been lukewarm at best. Jay remembers Brittney’s demeanor after the time he kicked Joey down the Nick Rivera deck. He thought he felt a vague sense of contempt and skepticism, even resentment that subtly came across when Brittney barely said “Hi.” to him in passing that one day. Jay even felt unjustifiably guilty while passing her, even though his intentions were innocent enough- it was all just his reaction to seeing Joey kid skating that sad twittled down Valtera twig in the parking lot. Heck, did'nt Jay work for a skateboard distributor!? Giving Joey the unremarkable Nick Rivera pro mo was the very least he could do, was exhibiting just a slight bit of decency to this kid. Jay even thought about flowing Joey some new trucks, some ceramic switch bearings,maybe some Slime Balls wheels and hardware, which he had ample throw away amounts of in a deck box in the hatchback of the Volvo. But Jay showed restraint in what he kicked down to Joey as he thought that would have been too much or could have been read by Brittney as maybe being creepy, when in fact it really wouldn’t have been creepy at all. Sure he thought Brittney was hot, sure he thought about what it looked like inside her tight fitting jeans- any normal hetero dude would. How could he not? But it had nothing to do with kicking down Joey that deck. It really did'nt. It was just more out of brotherly gesture, than anything else -just like how skaters sometimes looked out for other skater bros. Jay was paying it forward. And God knows older guys flowed him equipment many times when he was growing and coming up. Though passing Brittney that one day in the hallway, right after he had given Joey that deck, he still couldn’t help still feeling a bit unjustifiably guilty, still felt like the scum bag he was known to have been in the past. Kind of like when you’re interested in somebody, how feelings of insecurity naturally arise and you start automatically beating yourself up about all the dumb shit you did in the past, even though it has nothing to do with the current situation. Jay still second guessed his initial instincts and generosity- was pretty much just trippin. Passing Brittney though, Jay was somehow embarrassed and it most likely only made him seem more like a kook in tha, tha way he said hello to her. As with women, sometimes it seemed there was really no hiding awkward emotions- as if they can sense it even more when you try to hide it and are even sometimes extra willing to call you out and make you feel even more like a kook, even though you’re trying your best to keep your composure- doing so out of courtesy, in an attempt to spare both parties first hand embarrassment and second hand embarrassment.
Jay felt like a dick for thinking about it so much, but he couldn’t help it. Maybe he really did want to win some of Brittney’s approval but it was pushed so far back, he didn’t realize it when he was opening up the hatch back. Maybe Brittany just hated skaters, maybe she was used to men making empty promises or flinging their careless lust onto her that she would build a wall- some protective social barrier. Let’s face it, beautiful women are kook magnets and God knows LA has more than it’s fair share of them. Maybe a woman like Brittney had to somehow walk the world in such a way. There seemed to be some type of rare nobility that went with her also possessing such pristine looks- as she literally looked like Kristine Dunst’s younger, hotter sister. Some other women could exploit their looks, drive men crazy with demands and games and a steady barrage of mind fucking. Something seemed different about Britt, though. She seemed kinda tough, not the kind of woman to cry when she got lost on a side of town she was unfamiliar with- she seemed like she could change her own flat tire without any help. She was probably real independent and was the type of gal who wasn't afraid to bust anyone’s balls if her bullshit detector sensed such. Jay figured that her cold demeanor could somehow have made sense and not been totally irrational, even though he felt she was still being unfair to him- and that was the best he could do to try to understand her. Maybe Brittney was protecting Joey from some kind of future hypothetical disappointment that their small unit was perhaps all too familiar with, or maybe Brittney just simply didn’t like Jay.
“She’s fine, she’s at work right now.” Said Joey seemingly unaware of Jay trying to mask wanting to get more information about his momma.
Joey bent down touching the front of his board with his hand and again popped another unremarkable ollie.
Jay swiped the board back from Joey with his foot again, as he felt Joey was hogging his own skateboard, “You’re not doing it right. Let me see.” Said Jay.
Jay got on the board and couldn’t remember the last time he had been rollerboarding.
Jay pushed down the parking lot and felt he could barely navigate, as the trucks were ridiculously loose.
A grown man trying to do pathetic little tic-tacs to get used to it: “You need to tighten these trucks they’re way too loose!” said Jay.
“I like them that way.” Said Joey content.
“Well, look you’re never gonna get good unless you’re good at rolling, that’s all I’m saying.” Said Jay talking louder as he was coasting further from Joey.
“I’m just saying I wasted so much time skating in place- the momentum you build up gives you more power- look!” said Jay as he scooped his first ollie in what seemed like a decade.
“You see, I didn’t have to bend all the way down. The momentum helps you out, even keeps you safer some times.” Continued Jay as he turned around and cruised closer back.
Jay stopped right in front of Joey, stepped off the board and popped it into his hands, like Marty Mc Fly- a cheap trick that he always enjoyed.
Joey took the board back from Jay, got back on board and popped an ollie in place again, not even taking Jays pro-pro bono advice, as if he was oblivious to Jays little demo.
Joey popped another unremarkable ollie, “I like ollieing in place, its fun.”
“Well, if you don’t like rolling, maybe you better get a pogo stick, brah.” said Jay slightly offended that Joey gave virtually no response to his little lesson.
Jay resigned himself and said “Yeah, well just as long as your having fun, I guess.”
Walking away back towards the hallway Jay says “I’ll catch you later, man.”
“Later, Jay.” Said Joey bending down again to do another unremarkable ollie.
Getting to the front of the hallway, Jay looked back and took sight of the mental picture leaving Joey all by himself in that miserable parking lot, he couldn’t still help thinking it was shame that this was this kids playground, even though Joey didn’t seem to much mind.
“Fuck, it.” Jay thought to himself.
“Hey man, you wanna maybe go out to the West Covina park sometime? That is if it’s okay with your mom. The parks not that bad, used to be my old stomping grounds. That’s my old spot, you know? You’re wasting your time out here, man. Id be fun.” said Jay concerned.
“Yeah. Maybe. I’ll ask my mom if it’s okay.” Said Joey absent mindedly.
“Yeah, man- well, if she says yes, knock on my door- you know where I am.”