Roman Sturgis Take care of each other and make good decisions.

January 27, 2010

A Small Lie

Filed under: Between Worlds — Roman @ 5:00 am

Craig’s car stopped and opened the door for him. He gave the simple instruction “drive home,” and headed up a winding flagstone path to the front door as the car drove through the other end of the horseshoe, around the pond. The rubber tires squeaked louder than the whirring electric engine and the windows rolling back up. At the front door, Craig was greeted by an electronic voice that recognized his wifi footprint and greeted him by name before sliding open into a climate controlled foyer. Randy came through the inner door and welcomed his friend in, shaking his hand, as the air was quickly sucked out of the foyer through scrubbing filters. Randy’s mother had terrible allergies.

Randy led Craig to a marble floored great room adorned with thick crimson Persian rugs that eventually turned into an open kitchen sparkling with white enamel appliances and chrome. A long seamless window showed off the backyard view of an infinity pool and the 18th hole beyond.

“What’s up?” Craig asked as they settled into soft leather sofa chairs, sprawling their legs over the arms.

“Mom and Pop are in Corpus Christi for the night. Some party. I’ve got some friends from Strake coming over. I need your help getting ready.”
Craig did not mind being Randy’s number 2 at times, especially when he was hosting small parties, as he increasingly did over the breaks as they grew older. Even if they were casual with one another at school, neither had much of a social life at home beyond family gatherings. “Who’s coming over?” Craig asked.

“Some guys you met last winter. Ali, you know. Tony, too. They’re bringing some of their girl friends from St. Agnes, so that should be cool. “You want to have a smoke with me?”

“Sure,” Craig said, not really thinking about it.

“Let’s go outside.” The leather crunched underneath them as they swung themselves out of the deep chairs.

Randy placed his palm upon a discreet pad set in the long window and a sliding glass door opened. They stood next to the pool as Randy lit a cigarette with an antique Zippo and held the pack out to Craig. He liked the way Randy flicked the lighter, and the sound it made. Randy did a little snap trick with his fingers and Craig leaned towards him, cupping his hands. “So these St. Agnes girls,” Craig said. “Are any of them spoken for?”

“Yeah, I think so. Down to party, anyway. Ali is dating one of them. I don’t know her name, but it should be obvious.”

“Cool,” Craig said. “So what do we need to do to get ready?”

Randy shrugged. “Not a whole lot. Pretty much just get the drink situation under control.”

“What is the drink situation?”

“We’re going to have to be creative about that.”

They started by looking in the low fridge next to the outdoor grill kitchen. Several warmish zero cal Budweisers were the result of that. In the pantry, Randy found half a case of dark Shiner Boc beer and some sodas. They collected the cans and bottles on the kitchen counter. It was not a very good collection.

“Can we take anything from the bar?”

Randy shook his head. “No, I don’t think we should. But I have half a bottle of rum in my room. Can you get anything from home?”

Craig thought about it. “Yeah, I could ask my parents.”

Randy looked surprised. “They’re cool with that?”

“Sure,” Craig said. “Within reason.” This might have been a little lie. Craig’s parents sometimes poured him wine on special occasions. He’d had a few beers with his Dad over the last year. And he was looking old enough now that when they went out to eat, sometimes the waiter would ask if he’d be having a cocktail as well. That gave his father a good laugh, and prompted his mother to fawn over her grown up little boy. Randy perked up with new respect for the friend he’d always thought was a little bit of a pussy. “All right. Let’s take my scooter.”

They rode without helmets which was not against the law inside their neighborhood, and Randy drove sensibly, with Craig hanging on behind. The little scooter was quick and the air was chilly as they rode, but both had been somewhat inoculated at school, where a Puritanical lifestyle was modeled. Houston winter was nothing compared to what awaited them back at Standish after the break. Their cheeks were bright red when they arrived at Craig’s house, which was modestly removed from the golf course, though in the same community. A park butted up against their un-gated backyard, so that it almost looked as if the pair of public tennis courts were on their lot. Craig’s mom tried to sit them down at the counter for a snack, but the boys headed upstairs.

Craig knew that he couldn’t ask his mother outright, but he thought he could discreetly take a bottle of something from the wet bar. In his bedroom, Randy was on the computer while Craig sat on the edge of the bed. Randy searched for ingredient lists for Texas Tea, which they had both heard about, but never tried, having not been properly inducted into the Houston High School scene. “Where are you?” Craig asked, and Randy told him the address. Craig navigated there himself with his Invisilens, and downloaded the ingredients to a sticky note that he placed in the corner of his vision.

When Randy realized what Craig was doing he said, “Did you just get those?” Frankly, he was a little surprised.

“Yeah, about a week ago.”

“Those just came out, didn’t they?”

“I think so. My dad got them for me.”

“We need vodka,” Randy said.

“I’ll go. You stay here,” Craig said, popping off the bed and closing the door behind him.

Downstairs in the living room, his mother was watching a television show about selling houses. The screen was projected from a dropdown in the ceiling onto a perfectly flat white wall, so that the actors were almost life-size. She worked on a cable-knit sweater that she was making for her husband as a Christmas gift.

“Almost there Mom?” Craig asked. He would of sat next to her but he didn’t want her to smell the smoke on him. “Do you think you’ll finish in time?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” his mother sighed, diligently clicking away with her long needles. “Can I do anything for you, sweetie?”

“Just getting a soda for Randy,” he said and slipped into the kitchen. He took two cans of Coke from the fridge, and on his way up, out of view of his mother, he quietly opened the wooden cabinet where they kept the liquor and carefully removed an almost full handle of Smirnoff vodka. The bottom banged against the top of another bottle, and heart in his throat, he closed the cabinet door and quick-stepped up the stairs back to his room.

Randy nodded approvingly. “Nice, kid.” Craig threw the bottle onto the bed and it bounced, sloshing.

“Want a Coke?”

A little while later, Craig had packed the bottle into a backpack with some clothes and his toiletry kit. On the way out, he told his mom that he’d probably be staying the night at Randy’s. “That’s fine, honey,” she said from her knitting. “Just be sure to be back in time for church tomorrow. I’ll send the car.” Craig noticed that Randy was staring at his mother. She wore a gray cashmere v-neck sweater with sensible pearl earrings, and black chinos that showed her figure. An hour of Pilates was part of her everyday morning routine, a small price to pay for her husband’s support, she thought. It was validating for her to capture the attention of her son’s friend. She thought she set a good example for what they should aspire to in a woman.

Climbing on to the scooter, Randy said, “Your mom’s kind of hot, you know.”

Craig told him to shut up and punched him in the arm as he sat on the back of the seat. On the way back to Randy’s, he stared at the back of Randy’s brown hair in need of a cut, and scrolled through the recipe for Texas Tea.


  1. Hi Roman,

    We got a snow day up here in Chicago – lab is closed, but our street isn’t plowed, so I couldn’t get to work even if it was open. Taking the opportunity to finally start reading your book.

    Don’t know if you want comments, but I’m going to give you a few anyways. Specifically on your science.

    Bud zero calorie will never exist, unless it is also non-alcoholic. Alcohol is caloric (~150 calories per ounce), which is why light beers never have as much alcohol as real beers, and ultra-light beers have less than 3% alcohol. The other flavors you can probably get no-cal versions of, but unless you have no alcohol, you will have calories. For reference, 12oz of 5% alcohol in water (nothing else with any calories besides alcohol) would have ~90 calories.

    I believe the implanted bluetooth and HUD on contacts will happen within our lifetime, possibly even autopilot on a car, but I think that this one little thing is impossible.

    I doubt projectors will be the way for TVs of the future. Projectors are still really expensive while flat screen prices are dropping rapidly. Currently there are two areas of research which could potentially change screen technology. The first is transparent conductors, which could enable screens like you see in the movie Minority Report (or the HUD on glasses or contacts). Many of my colleagues are working on transparent conductors, and I think we will see screens like that within our lifetime. The second is printable organic circuitry, which would enable you to print a screen on a piece of paper or cloth (or a transparency), roll it up, etc. Instead of projecting onto a wall, you could have bookcases or whatever else on the wall, and just unroll a screen in front of them, no projector necessary.

    Anyways, the writing is pretty good, definitely getting me interested. I also don’t know how much you want the science in your writing to be possible and how much it (especially the peripherals like no-cal beer) just need to make the point that there is scientific progress. So take my suggestions or leave them as you see fit.

    Comment by Jim — February 2, 2011 @ 11:01 am

  2. Jim these are awesome comments! Thank you so much!! Will talk soon. RS

    Comment by Roman — February 2, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

  3. some more comments, do you usually use brand names, copy right stuff like amex, strake, shiner? i think its bock beer, and usually the electrics are motors, unless its a hybrid engine setup?

    Comment by miser — February 5, 2011 @ 7:28 pm

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