We were bouldering on the tall, sharp, granite blobs of the Pollen Grains when he walked up. He wore a t-shirt with an ornate dragon, his hair was cut freshly in a handsome way, and his tan pants matched his brown shirt. He walked past Charlie, Dominick and I, and strode towards Jessica; he probably saw her bright orange hair.
"Hi," he said with the confidence of an old friend. I assumed he knew her but my head tilted looking at him. He blended in too well and my spider senses tingled.
Jessica smiled. She had left the small town of Leavenworth for a month long road trip. In between Washington and Bishop she had dyed her hair bright orange. By the end of the trip her body ached and she was not climbing well. She had met a boy on the trip and had gotten worked over.
“He played games with me,” Jessica told me. Her turmoil went beyond just her body. Jessica often dreamt of Lynn Hill. Usually Lynn gave her things but lately the strong climber woman had been very mean. Jessica had a couple more vacation days before she returned to work so she came to Bishop to rest and recoup before heading home to Washington. She needed to be around a few friends.
Jessica said returned his greeting and went back to climbing with me. We tossed around on the boulders until we were worked and then we headed over to watch join Dominick and watch Charlie on his project.
Charlie stood under the Spectre boulder, grabbing the holds of the sickness, planking his body, and ripping through the moves. A crowd had gathered.
With all the people around, I wondered if Charlie could really concentrate.
“It’s time for some Jedi training Charlie,” I said.
Charlie tilted his head at me as I grabbed a few small pebbles. As Charlie gripped the beginning holds, I nailed him with a rock.
“Focus Charlie.” I said and I beaned him in the back.
“You’re throwing rocks at me! How am I supposed to focus?” Charlie fell off the problem, furrowed his brow and stared at me.
“I don’t know Charile. There’s all these people around. I am throwing rocks at you. You are trying to climb. Why can’t you focus?” I asked. Charlie tried again and made it a little further before he stalled and got nailed with a rock.
"Shit, there he is again," Dominick said, turning our attention away from Charlie's Jedi training and towards a man surrounded by a group of boulderers.
"Who's that?" I asked.
"The porn star. That's Jared Diamond coming over. He's a nominee for the Adult Film Award's best up and coming actor."
The perfectly kempt Jared strut to the group, nodded at Jessica, and ripped off his shirt. It was the guy who had flirted with Jessica.
“Do you know him?” I quietly asked Jessica.
“I just met him a few minutes ago,” she whispered back.
"A little cold out.” I said loudly. In between burns, Charlie wore his oversized black parka. Dominick paced the base of the boulder to stay warm, and I pulled my red knit cap tight around my ears. “Maybe too cold to be walking around with your shirt off."
"I know,” Jared smiled. “Check out these diamond cutters," he grazed his hand over his erect nipples and stared at Jessica.
I rolled my eyes, wondering if the sleaze ball was gonna start licking his lips and grabbing his crotch too.
Eventually, Charlie stopped making progress and I stopped throwing rocks at him. We headed back to camp and crashed for the evening.
The next day, Charlie, Dominick, and I decided to have some fun with al;l the Buttermilk Boulderers. we started the People Enlightening No-one, PEN, group as a joke. We wrote the group initial's on the backs of our hand along with the our membership number. Dominick was Pen 12. Charlie was Pen 13. I was Pen 14. And we spent the day trying to recruit a 15th member.
At the Buttermilks, we howled like monkeys swimming in bananas. We had three PEN15 victims and it was before noon. It was a mean and immature joke but who said we were grown-up? Besides, it was outlandishly funny. Our momentum for the prank was peaking when the porn star strolled by.
"You should join the PEN club." I blurted as Jarod sashayed towards us.
"What do I have to do to join?" He asked.
"Well, to join the People Enlightening No-one club, you have to be bad ass." I said.
"I am definitely that." Jarod flexed his pectoral muscles so they danced under his overly tight shirt.
"And you have to write PEN on your hand with your recruitment number. I am PEN 14," I showed him my hand.
"I am PEN 13." Charlie thrust out his hand.
"I am PEN 12." Dominick showed his hand.
"You can be our 15th." I said.
Jarod stared for a moment.
"Listen, we're raising money for testicular cancer. If twenty people join our group Charlie is going to donate a hundred dollars to the American Testicular Foundation," Dominick said.
"I want people to know I care about their balls." Jared smiled. "Do not just write it on my hand. Print it real big across my shoulders but be careful. You know what I do for a living?"
I grabbed the pen and I wrote across his back. On everyone else, I had laughed while I wrote. The joke’s punch line came when I started writing. I had tricked them and the writing was a mere formality. This time was different.
"You know what I do for a living right? Make sure to keep it small."
"The ink washes off easily,” I said remembering that he fucked people for a living. The ink stalled coming out of the pen. I scribbled on my on hand and shook the pen to help the ink flow better. As I finished writing PEN, the ink ran out.
“Does someone have another pen?” I asked.
Charlie dashed over with his own pen and I finished writing PEN15 on the porn star’s back.
“There you go,” I said. “I hope you like it.”
Jarod beamed and grabbed his camera so he could see the tattoo we had given him. He tried taking a few pictures of his own back before someone walked over and offered to take a picture of it for him. They snapped the photo and handed the camera.
"Oh,” he stared at the tiny display screen on the camera.
“PENIS. I get it. I knew it all along," he lied. That’s when we started laughing.
Just before dusk, Jessica waited for me in her truck. We were planning on going to watch Charlie try another one of his projects. Charlie needed lots of pads, a bunch of spotters, and obviously, more Jedi training. Jarod swaggered to Jessica’s car.
"I hear you are from Leavenworth." He put his forearm on the open window of her truck. His eyes batted.
"I am waiting for a friend. Are you heading to Charlie's junk show? Maybe I will see you up there." She said, waving him off. She had heard we had labeled him as what he was...a penis.