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BAS Fiction– Them SpaceCrafts: Part 3

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Them SpaceCrafts: Part 3

by Devin Holt

 

Missed part 2? Read it here.

I knew what to do as soon as I saw that map. The SpaceCraft Nikes were legendary. Word on Instagram was they only made 50 pairs, in a cross-promotion with Mistah F.A.B., the Warriors, and Google. They could tie themselves, and had some kind of internal mechanism that was supposed to guide your feet in competitions. Damone would definitely ride with me to find a pair. And he would know how to sell them — if that’s what we decided to do.

“You sure it’s for real?” Damone said, when I told him about the shoes were stuck in Santa Rosa.

Damone looked fly as ever. He had a new piercing in his left ear. His jeans were dark, blue, and tight, and his shoes were scrubbed solid white. He wore a stitched Warriors jacket with a yellow collar, that made a nice contrast with his smooth, dark skin.

“My cousin told me,” I said. “She from there.”

I pulled out my phone and showed him an Instagram post of SpaceCrafts on a dresser. The post was by Isabella Morales with the caption, “Can’t beliv I lef dem #SpaceCrafts in Rosa!!” Isabella was my other Instagram account. The one that liked all my posts. The picture came from the official SpaceCraft Facebook page. I pulled it from the bottom so Damone wouldn’t recognize it. His lips curled into a cute half-smile when he saw the post.

“We gotta save them,” he said.

We. That’s what I wanted to hear. Damone and I had never hung out. We had drum group together, but he was always leaving with Cindy, or his boys: Julio, Key, and Trey. This was more like a mission than a hookup, but still. And if we did grab those SpaceCrafts, we would start kicking it for sure.

When we got to Bush and Montgomery, the 76X pulled up right away, like it was on a schedule to meet us. Me and Damone sat up front, close enough that our hips touched. Damone pulled out his phone and put his arm around me. That sent shivers through my chest. I scooted closer, but real slow-like so it wasn’t obvious. I don’t what he does with Cindy, I thought, but I’m gonna make it better. Yeah, I know all about that stuff.

“Let’s Gram this,” Damone said. “Make a sick story if we nab SpaceCrafts.”

Damone hit record with his thumb, but the screen went dark, then showed a blast of static, like on an old TV. Damone pulled his arm from my shoulder and hunched over the phone.

“What the fuck?” he said.

Just then, a moldy, rotten-egg tang filled my throat — it was sewer juice, of course.

“That stuff don’t work in here,” he said, then looked at me. “You oughtta know that, chica.”

I hate when people call me that but didn’t say anything. What’s the point? Damone barely looked up. The sewer juice man reached deep into his pocket and extracted a short, brown stick. It looked kind of like a blunt. It was a blunt. He jerked a thumb at the driver.

“Let’s celebrate his last run of the day,” he said.

I wasn’t trying to touch anything that came from sewer juice. But Damone was down. He looked up from his phone — finally — and gave one of those cute half-smiles. The sewer juice man lit the blunt, took a long drag, and passed it to Damone. Damone puffed, then reached toward me. I looked at the driver, then past Damone to the back of the bus. I definitely wasn’t smoking no weed in front of Mom.

“You don’t want none?” Damone said.

“Nobody here but us,” the sewer juice man said.

I took the blunt and sucked hard. I didn’t want Damone to think I was weak. We hit the rainbow tunnel right when I blew the smoke out, and everything changed again, but way worse. My body got like 50 pounds lighter, and we kind of floated off the seats. The bus went dark for a second, and then light blasted back in as we came out the tunnel, but we didn’t slow down this time. The hills, twists, and turns passed by like a sped-up video.

The driver pivoted the wheel onto 101 North. We careened frantically past Mill Valley, San Rafael, and all of Marin. In Sonoma County, you could actually see the trees burning, with huge ripples of smoke floating up. My cheeks felt hot when the bus pulled off the freeway, like I stuck my face in an oven. I tried to grab Damone but couldn’t really form a grip. His face stayed neutral, but his eyes were bugging. His lips shaped the words, “What the fuck?” No sound came out.

The sewer juice man was smiling, one hand on the blunt and the other on a Muni pole.

“That’s some pretty good weed, huh?” he said. “Having second thoughts yet?”

I was, but didn’t get a chance to respond. The bus hit a nasty bump. Damone and I fell to the floor, then slid to the front. The driver yelled “last stop.” A loud, repetitive beep blared as the wheelchair lift carried me and Damone out the door. It dumped us on the sidewalk, and the door closed. The 76X sign rolled through a few other routes, then settled on Garage, and the bus drove away.

We were in a big yard in some kind of subdivision. The house had three stories and white columns. The left side was on fire.

“What do we do?” Damone said.

His face was twisted into a grimace and he clutched his stomach, like someone who was about to throw up. I tried to think. The air felt like a bag of hot needles in your lungs. Sirens wailed in the distance.

“Find the SpaceCrafts,” I said. “They gotta be here.”

Damone pointed. At the top of the house, just under a window on the right side, someone had tagged a SpaceCraft logo with a green marker. I took off at a sprint. Inside, the house was thick with smoke and hot as fuck. I swear the walls made noise. It sounded like a slow crunch, with an occasional pop, like the whole place would collapse.

I don’t know who lived there, but it must have been a big family, because they had photos with hella kids everywhere. I felt bad for them. It sucks to lose your place in a fire. I ran up the stairs, and followed the photos to a door. It came open with one swift kick. Sure enough, them SpaceCrafts was on the dresser, right below a poster of Kevin Durant in mid-jump.

I yanked my Vans off, and shoved my feet in the SpaceCrafts. They tied themselves. I went to the window and just straight jumped — didn’t even look down. My stomach yelped but I landed perfect. I found Damone on his side in the yard. I kicked off the SpaceCrafts and sat down to tie my vans.

“Put these on,” I told him.

Damone opened one eye. It had gone mad red.

“The SpaceCrafts,” I said. “Put them on, quick. We gotta get outta here. Shit is burning.”

That woke him a little. He took his Keaks off and I slid the SpaceCrafts on for him, then grabbed his hand — his hand!

“Run toward the sirens,” I said.

We ran in the middle of the street, past houses, cars, and garages as they burned. Poles and power lines zigged everywhere. Mangled chunks of metal hung from trees, the wind blew ashes and burning leaves all over. It was horrific. Really just horrific. I couldn’t believe Papi had been up there all this time. And Mom… There’s nothing worse than fire. I really, really hate it.

We ran to a Sonoma County Sheriff car. The woman driving demanded we get inside. She put us in the back where there are no door handles. Damone collapsed in my lap.

“What the hell?” she said. “You two must be in a first place stupid competition.”

When I told her Papi was a firefighter from Santa Rosa, she said he would be hella pissed we were out there. She was right. Papi hugged me at first — he smelled like three-day-old sweat and burnt toast — but he was mad. He paced back and forth in the shelter parking lot, saying “you could have burned” over and over.

The accident finally snapped him out of it. A hoarse, gravelly voice came on over his walkie-talkie.

“Andrew, you know that run with Terrance?”

“Yeah, I was supposed to be on it,” Papi said, with a cold stare at me. “Got stuck here.”

“Well, they just flipped the truck,” the voice said.

The guy was in the hospital, and it was pretty bad. Papi looked freaked about the timing. I wasn’t surprised, though. I knew it was Mom — we kept him off that truck together.

We stayed in a hotel room for firefighters that night. Papi took a cot and gave me and Damone the bed. I slept so good, the world looked different in the morning. Food tasted better, sounds and colors came through clearer, like I’d finally taken a pillowcase off my head. Papi was still mad, but it was a lighter mad. I could tell because he put Tom Petty on the stereo. That was our road trip music. We used to sing to it when I was a kid. Mom always laughed at us — she called it “classic white rock.” I was so happy, I didn’t notice until we were in the truck on 101 that Damone wasn’t there. I hadn’t seen him, or the SpaceCrafts, all morning.

“Papi, where’s Damone?” I asked.

“Who?”

“Damone,” I said. “My friend, from last night.”

Papi was quiet for like a whole minute. His head kind of turned sideways. Huge clouds of smoke still filled the sky outside of the window.

“Sorry, B, but I don’t know what you’re talking about. You feeling OK?”

I remembered what Aunt Tina said after that first bus ride: “They don’t run no 76X on weekdays.”

“Papi, you know that warehouse next door?”

“Cellspace.”

“Huh?”

“It was called Cellspace.”

“Right, that one,” I said. “What happened to it?”

“You don’t remember?” Papi asked.

“No.”

“They tore it down last week,” he said. “I was pretty bummed. That’s where I met your Mom.”

“Yeah, right,” I said. “I remember that part now.”

I reached for the stereo and turned up the volume.

Photo credit: Shannon Clark

*

For a while I wasn’t sure what really happened. Was it real? A crazy dream? Did I just paint — and then paint over — that map on my door? But I got my answer at the Dia de los Muertos procession. I was in my costume with drum group. Everybody knew my Mom died in a fire, so we stopped at her altar first. As I watched the candles flicker to the drumbeat, I realized Damone was next to me. I was surprised to see him. He’d been out sick ever since the fires. Damone winked through the skull painted on his face, then pointed toward his feet with a drumstick. That’s when I knew that, somehow, it was all real. Damone was wearing them SpaceCrafts.


 

Devin Holt has been a lot of things: A wayward street-corner youth, a circus performer, and a farm boy loading firewood into the family pick up truck. Now, he writes.

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