Jerney’s real name was Jennifer but she preferred “Jerney” because she favored herself to be the free spirited, hippie type. She even had the long blonde hair to boot. Although born in the nineties, she dickate on the fashion trends of a generation before her time. But it was all an act. She wasn’t really a free spirit. She was more so just imprisoned by the romanticized nostalgia of an era. Jerney just liked to get stoned and wear psychedelic dresses and fringed corduroy jackets. She was obvious and didn’t have much depth but I kind of dug her attempt at style. Sometimes. Other times her lack of mental substance just got on my nerves. The visual can only go so far. Otherwise there might as well just be a hologram there instead of a human being.
One day the two of us were hanging out at her place and she was fiending. Jerney was a speed freak and was constantly on some type of upper. She was still cute though, if you were able to look past the dilated pupils and runny mascara, the constant fidgeting and nonsensical ramblings about nothing. She had a chaotic existence.
“I need to cop up. I’m all out,” she blurted out at one point.
“I agree. You’re more annoying now than you are when you’re on the shit.”
“Fuck off. Come on. I need to go to my dealer’s house.”
“Do I have to go? I don’t take that shit. Can’t I just stay here?”
“I’ll buy you a six-pack if you go….”
We drove along for almost an hour. I was holding my breath for the whole trip because Jerney was driving like an erratic lunatic. I was afraid to breathe, fearing it would be my last. She cut three corners and blew two red lights along the way. The bitch drove as if the STOP signs weren’t in English. My head was on a swivel looking for cops. But we were lucky, and getting away with it. I wasn’t even sure what neighborhood we were in. All I knew was that it was a lot nicer than where Jerney and I resided.
“Where the hell are we?” I eventually asked.
“Maverford,” she replied.
“Never heard of it.”
“That’s because you never leave the fucking hood. I used to go to school up here.”
“Is it weird that I feel more uncomfortable in nicer neighborhoods than I do around our way?”
“No. That’s typical for someone like you.”
I didn’t know what she meant by that and didn’t ask. However, it sounded derogatory.
Jerney finally parked the car. We were on a residential street with big houses. None of the houses were connected and they all had yards. The grass and trees and birds all seemed appropriate unlike the manufactured nature that seemed wrongly placed around our way. We also had grass and trees and birds, but it always kind of felt like none of that shit should have been there. It never seemed appropriate. Nature in its most unnatural state. Surely it didn’t match the rest of the rundown concrete. It was like putting jimmies and sprinkles on an ice-cream cone full of shit and calling it dessert.
“That’s Dean’s house right there,” Jerney told me.
“Your drug dealer’s name is Dean?”
“I don’t know. Dean just isn’t a drug dealer sounding name to me.”
“What’s a drug dealer’s name supposed to sound like?”
“I don’t know. Like a nickname sort of thing. Like ‘Beans’ or ‘Fizzy’.”
“Not all drug dealers have nicknames. Plus, Dean’s not your typical drug dealer. I went to high school with him back in the day. Now I only go to him when he comes home from college. He goes to Princeton.”
“Princeton, huh? A Poison-Ivy Leaguer. The upper-class is out here selling uppers. How ironic.”
“You’re so fucking annoying,” she replied. I don’t think she really meant it, though.
We got out of the car and up a walkway that was lined with beautiful flowers, organized in a pattern of various colors. This guy Dean even had a screen door covering his storm door. That was impressive. You have to be pretty well off to have two front doors, I thought.
“We’re going to have to stay here for a bit,” Jerney said. “Dean doesn’t like people running in and out. This is his parents house and he’s afraid the neighbors will get suspicious.”
“Dino’s smart. I’d feel that way, too.”
“Don’t start calling him Dino. And don’t worry. We’ll only be here for like a half hour, tops.”
“There’s always some bullshit with you, so we’ll probably end up being here a lot longer. But, it’s whatever.”
Jerney knocked on the door and a dorky looking frat boy type answered. He was wearing a powder-blue dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to the elbows and a pair of pink khaki shorts. His shirt was tucked in and he was wearing sandals. I already knew we weren’t cut from the same cloth. His were a lot more expensive and mine had holes in them.
“JERNEY! Long time no speak!” he rejoiced, while giving her an awkward ass hug.
“I know, right! How’s everything been?” she asked.
“Ehh, I’m just out here living the dream.”
Was he living the dream, or was he just lucky enough to be born into it?
Dean looked at me and I could tell from the rip that he didn’t fuck with me. “Who’s your friend?” he asked, playing the fake nice guy role. But he had no lie in his eyes. He could tell I was white-trash.
“This is Bud. He’s my friend from back home.” I reached out to shake his hand and he gave me a limp noodle. He probably thought my hands were dirty, which they might have been. But, regardless, I still felt some type of way.
“I’ll go get your stuff. How much do you need?” Dean asked Jerney.
“I got two-hundred on me, so whatever that gets me.”
“Sure thing. I’ll be right back.”
Dean went up stairs and I could hear him go into the bathroom and wash his hands. He must have thought poverty was contagious.
“Fuck this dude. I don’t like him. Just a first impression, but still,” I mentioned to Jerney.
“He’s a square. I’ll admit. But he usually gives me good deals, so it’s worth it.”
“You should just let him fuck you. You might get the shit for free.”
“I’d rather just pay the bread.”
Dean came back down the stairs with a sandwich bag filled with round, orange pills. If you didn’t know any better it could easily have passed for a bag of SweeTARTS. I’d never seen so many pills in one bag before. He handed it to Jerney and her face lit up like a Christmas tree.
“They’re five milligrams, so I just charged you five each. But I threw in an extra ten because I haven’t seen you in awhile. So there’s fifty there, altogether,” Dean told her.
“Oh my God! Why are you so sweet!?” replied Jerney as she opened the bag and threw three of the pills into her mouth.
We all went into the kitchen and sat down. I sat there not saying much as Jerney and Dean talked about various things and people who they knew but I didn’t. Hollow smalltalk back and forth. I noticed the pills were starting to take effect on Jerney because she started talking a lot faster and couldn’t sit still. Then I heard her say, “Oh my God! Are those board games, over there?” as she pointed to a shelf across the room. “We should all play a game!”
“Sure. I’m down!” said Dean.
I’m not, I thought to myself.
The two of them got up and walked over to the shelf.
“Which game should we play?” asked Dean. “How about Sorry?”
I’m sorry I came here, I thought.
“I’m not a big fan of Sorry,” Jerney said.
“How about Trouble?” Dean suggested.
I’m in enough trouble as it is, I thought.
“MONOPOLY! OOOOH! OOOOH! Let’s play Monopoly. That’s my favorite!” Jerney emphatically said.
“Then Monopoly it is!” Dean answered. I got the vibe that he just wanted to get in her pants and would go along with anything that she said. It was only annoying because I became aware of it.
The two came back to the kitchen table. “To be honest, I don’t feel like playing,” I told them. I hadn’t played Monopoly since I was a child and I barely even played it then. I was always bad with money management. I could never manage to get my hands on any of it.
“Oh, come on. Don’t be such a party pooper. It’ll be fun!” Jerney told me.
“I’d rather not.”
“Here. Take two of these, you’ll get into it. You’re mind just needs to focus and be stimulated. Just watch,” she said as she took two of the orange pills from the bag. I had a fuck it moment. I popped the pills in my mouth and swallowed them without water. “Alright,” I said. “Let’s get this shit over with.”
“I’ve yet to lose a game of Monopoly a day in my life,” bragged Dean, as he gleefully started passing out the assorted-colored, fake cash.
“I’ve only played a handful of times, in mine,” I replied. I started counting out what fake money he handed me. “How much are we supposed to have?”
“There should be a total of fifteen- hundred dollars,” replied Dean.
“You shorted me fifty.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. My mistake,” he replied as he handed me two $20s and a $10.
Right then and there I realized Dean wasn’t on the up and up. There were plenty of fifty dollar bills in the bank but he knew exactly which bills he had shorted me on, without me saying anything. I pretended not to notice. Playing dumb is one of the smartest things you can do. Especially when dealing with a fraud. See how far they try and take advantage of you, before unveiling the truth and letting them know that you were on to them the entire time. And, even then, they’ll still probably attempt to lie their way out of it.
We were playing Monopoly but I came with my poker face.
“Okay, let’s get started,” said Dean. “Pick which piece you want to be. Jerney gets to choose first since she’s a woman.” Was he well-mannered or a sexist? I’m out of the loop when it comes to gender etiquette these days. I once tried to hold a door for a woman and she snapped at me, going on this long spiel about how she didn’t need a man to do her any favors. She was so insulted by my attempt at being a gentleman. I went from chivalrous to chauvinist in the blink of an eye. Anyway, Jerney couldn’t decide what piece she wanted to be. It was between the dog or the iron. She ended up choosing the dog.
“You should have picked the iron,” I said to Jerney. “Your clothes are wrinkled.”
Jerney looked down at her blouse and started brushing herself off, trying to straighten it out.
“Don’t listen to him, Jerney. Your shirt looks perfectly fine,” Dean chimed in.
“Thank you, Dean. See? Why can’t be more of a gentleman like Dean?”
“I don’t know. Anytime I’ve tried it ends up getting thrown back in my face. I feel much less vulnerable being an asshole.”
It was my turn to choose what piece I was going to be. I reached for the car and Dean nearly smacked my hand away. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I must be the car. You can ask anyone I’ve ever played with. I’m always the car.”
“I don’t know about that,” I responded with sarcasm. “I have no way of asking everyone you’ve ever played with. You could easily be lying to me.” I was just being snarky and difficult on purpose. I really didn’t give a fuck whether or not I was the car. Shit, I didn’t even own a car in real life.
“Come on, dude. Do I look like a liar?” he asked.
“Nah. I trust you,” I replied. And here I was, ironically lying to him. I didn’t trust him one bit. That made us both liars. The only difference was that he cared a lot more about Monopoly than I did.
I ended up choosing the wheelbarrow instead of the car. I only chose it because it seemed like the stupidest piece that was left. I almost picked the battleship but my lack of interest didn’t have me prepared to go to war.
“You’re choosing the wheelbarrow?” Dean asked while doing a very condescending laugh. “In all my years of playing I’ve never seen anybody choose the wheelbarrow.”
“That makes sense. I’m a non-conformist. Plus it might come in handy when I collect all the cash at the end of this. You’re both looking at a first generation millionaire,” I said while pointing my thumb at myself.
The game got underway. The first half was agonizingly boring as we all tried to acquire whatever properties we deemed fit. I could tell Dean had some sort of strategy brewing because he wasn’t purchasing any of the properties he was initially landing on. I decided to be facetious and bought up all the skid row properties because they represented the type of environment I was accustomed to in real life. That meant Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue were going to belong to your’s truly. I was playing the role of a slumlord. Jerney, on the other hand, was basic and just kept talking about how much she wanted to land on Boardwalk and Park Place.
The pills that Jerney had given me were starting to kick in. I felt a slight buzz and glow forming throughout my body. I became very tuned into the environment, both the board game and reality itself. I hadn’t felt mental clarity like that in quite a long time. Then I caught Dean cheating, again. He passed “Go” and when he went to collect his two-hundred his fingers got sticky and he took an extra hundred from the bank. I saw him do this a few more times as the game progressed. But I continued to bite my tongue. I didn’t care enough to bust him, yet.
Midway through the game I had acquired all of the railroads and was able to build a hotel on Mediterranean and Baltic Avenues. I didn’t spend my cash on anything else and was fortunate to not land on any of Dean’s properties. Dean’s main focus was on collecting all of the red properties. Despite stealing bread from the bank he had only managed to build two houses on each.
Jerney’s strategy, or lack thereof, was a shit show. The speed had her far too erratic to play the game wisely, or even somewhat coherently. She was biting off way more than she could chew. All the properties she owned were random impulse buys and none of them coincided with one another. She’d buy one of the purple properties and then go buy a yellow one. She was able to grab Boardwalk, however, just like she had hoped. But by the time she landed on Park Place she didn’t have enough money to buy it. She was still having a great time, nonetheless. She was high as a kite and just enjoying life. I started thinking, maybe she’s the smartest one out of all of us.
“So, what’s your dad do? You got a really nice place here,” I mentioned to Dean at one point.
“He works in real estate.”
“No wonder you’re so good at Monopoly. You probably get it from your father. It’s that genetic real-estate of mind.”
“Yeah, maybe so,” he replied, but you could tell his mind was focused on the game.
I laughed on the inside because I was really throwing shade. His father was probably just like him. Real-estate frauds.
It came to a point where Jerney was almost out of cash. She passed “Go” and got her two-hundred dollars but also landed on my hotel, Baltic Avenue. Even with the extra two-hundred she didn’t have enough to pay the rent. I had to evict her. I had no choice.
“Well. That’ll be four-hundred and fifty bucks, my dear. And by the looks of your bread over there, you don’t got it,” I said to her.
“Fuck it. I’m tired of this game, anyway,” she replied while leaning back in her chair and lighting a cigarette.
“Don’t worry about it. You’ll be alright. I might even be generous and let you trick out of one of my hotels. How does that sound?”
“Suck my dick,” she said.
“You might just have one, too.”
“ALRIGHT! ENOUGH! Enough of the talking! I’m trying to concentrate,” Dean lashed out.
Dean was taking this stupid ass game way too seriously. I couldn’t understand it. You would have thought we were playing with real money by the way he was acting. He wasn’t conducting himself very well. I guess his own arrogance was getting the better of him. He did mention that he’d never lost a game of Monopoly in his life. But luck wasn’t going his way. Oh well, I thought to myself, that’s what you get for cheating.
Being that he was so visually agitated I felt that it was only right to add a little fuel to the fire. I decided that I’d start talking shit at every given opportunity, just to rub it in. I had karma on my side, so I began feeling mighty braggadocious, despite the fact that I didn’t care whether I won or lost.
Things really began reaching a boiling point when Dean started landing on my properties. Three straight times around the board he landed on either Baltic or Mediterranean Avenue. He became more and more enraged each time.
“I don’t know, Dino. I’m starting to get the vibe that you like staying at my hotels.”
He didn’t answer me and handed me my cash. I counted it to make sure it was all there.
“I’ll tell you what. Next time you come through I’ll personally send one of my best hookers up to your room. Free of charge, it’ll be on the house. Hell, I might even send Jerney up there for you.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he screamed. His voice even cracked. “And don’t call me Dino!”
“Whoa, whoa. Cool out, man. I’m just trying to look out for my favorite tenant.”
“JUST PLAY THE FUCKING GAME!”
I rolled the dice and landed on a space that forced me to pick up one of the orange “Chance” cards. I flipped the card over and it told me to go directly to jail, which was appropriate for someone like me. Dean seemed to take slight solace in this.
“Wait. So how do I get out of jail?”
“You either need a “get out of jail free” card, which you don’t have, or you have to roll a double on your next turn,” he replied.
My next turn came around, and you wouldn’t believe it. I rolled a double. Playing craps all those years had paid off. I had mind control over the die. The god’s were playing puppet master, and on this particular day the strings were in my favor.
“Well, well, well. I’ll be damned. Look! I rolled a double. Snake eyes. Just like yours.”
“WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?” Dean shrieked.
“Exactly what I said. You’re a snake.”
“AND WHAT MAKES YOU SAY THAT?!?!”
“Because I’ve been watching you cheat this entire game. You ain’t slick.”
Dean jumped up out of his seat while flipping the entire board off of the table. All of the pieces flew in different directions, a few of which hit Jerney on the head. I don’t even think she noticed. She’d taken three more pills since bailing out of the game earlier. She just sat there wide eyed taking everything in.
Dean stood tense and motionless, huffing and puffing with anger as all of the fake money slowly fell through the air around him. My eyes went back and forth between Jerney and Dean. I was waiting for one of them to say something. Finally I couldn’t take the silence any longer and spoke up.
“Sooooo, I’m assuming the game is over?”
“GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE, BOTH OF YOU!”
Next thing you know Jerney and I were back in her car, both bewildered by what had just taken place.
“Is it just me, or does that dude have a lot of pent up rage in him?” I asked Jerney.
“Nah, you’re right. He’s always been known for spazzing out over dumb shit.”
“Over Monopoly, though? It’s a fucking board game. Who would care that much?”
“He’s a rich kid, you know how they are. They don’t have anything but dumb shit to complain about, usually.”
“I guess you’re right. Anytime I go into the city it always seems like the homeless people are walking around content with having nothing. While all the dude’s in business suits look miserable as fuck.”
“That’s because they are, bro. How does the saying go? Money can’t buy happiness. That shit is real.”
“Facts. Sometimes that shit just helps finance your sorrows instead,” I replied.
“That’s actually pretty profound. Especially coming from you.”
“Yeah……don’t forget. You still owe me that six-pack for putting me through this bullshit.”
“Deep one moment, right back to shallow in the next. But, I’m a bitch of my word. I’ll get you you’re beer. It’s the least I can do after that whole mess.”
Jerney started up the car and we made our way back to our crusty safe-haven. She kept her promise and bought me my six-pack, on the way. Life’s not too bad when you got a six-pack. It helps make life’s bored games a little more bearable. Shit, if you get drunk enough, you might not even have to cheat.
Bud E. Ice is a functioning alcoholic and part-time lowlife located right outside the ratchet grounds of Southwest Philadelphia. His work typically involves a comedic take on social etiquette, race, class, morality, battles within the self, family issues, death, vulnerability, and whatever other realities seem relevant at the time of the writing. It’s HIS reality, but a reality nonetheless. So the reader can either RELATE to it or LEARN from it. After all, isn’t that what this is all about? There’s far worse ways to waste time.