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Friends

The weeks passed, and for a while everything remained the same…mostly. The leaves on the trees turned into brittle flakes of red and brown and flew away in the wind. The holidays were on their way. The rides to and from church each Sunday were now accompanied by Christmas carols on the satellite radio.

“Silent night, holy night…” It played and I watched the city flow by. Everything seemed to be moving on a conveyor belt all around me while I looked out of the mostly defrosted minivan window. Holy night? Why wasn’t the day that I or anyone else was born called a holy night?

I didn’t have a problem with Jesus. To me, he was an interesting pacifist philosopher with a significant God complex. What I didn’t understand was why people thought that a man was a god. That sounded like a cult. Furthermore, I wasn’t sure why I was being told to always ask “What Would Jesus Do?” when I was being told that it was a bad idea to grow my hair out and proclaim myself to be the son of God.

The dream-like buildings of the city monotonously floated by, while I watched from far away in the backseat of the minivan. Goddamn it. I’ve gotten myself trapped in a lifestyle. I was considered to be just as free as anyone else, yet out of all of the buildings we drove by that day we only went into two that were made for something other than serving food. One of those was a church, the other a bank. I wondered if I was the only one who thought this was a mind-numbing and tiresome routine. Was I the only one who complained?

The almighty digital clock determined when we ate, when we slept, and when we went to church. The almighty church determined what we were to do, who we were to love and hate, and who we were to avoid. This “Almighty God”, whether there was one or not, was just an excuse for the people who were obsessed with this slow death…justification for them to never have to break tradition.

At school I found that I was no longer the only kid sitting alone. Another boy, about the same age as me, was sitting in solitude at the table across from me. For some reason a feeling came over me and told me to walk over and say hello.

“Hello,” I said once I had walked over.

“What’s up, man?” ‘Twas a de ja vu yet again…did these people know any other greeting?

“Eating lunch in the cafeteria.”

“Fuck yeah!” He screamed loud enough to draw attention while Mrs. Stevens, the English teacher, was walking by. Hers was the attention that was drawn. Shit.

“Use that vile language once more and I shall promptly escort you to the dean’s office myself, young man! Do you understand?” The timing of this whole thing was really horrible.

“Yes,” he forced himself to say.

“Yes what?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I’m watching you too, boy.” M. glared at me suspiciously. Then she trotted away, her giant mass of hair bobbling up and down with each lumbering step. Her far-too-tight bejeweled top seemed as if it would be torn to shreds by her flabacious stomach. I could almost hear her gelatinous fat rolls flapping together. Flap. Flap. There was probably enough grease there to supply a McDonalds for a month.

“Hey, guess what,” I said.

“Yeah?”

“That bitch just transformed into the nasty hag that used to hold me down and beat me in the orphanage.”

“What the fuck, man?” Apparently that was a strange thing for me to say. He quickly burst into a fit of laughter. I guess it was kind of humorous to hear someone say a thing like that, but it wasn’t very fun to experience. “What are you on?”

“What do you mean?” I was confused.

“What drugs?” I had heard of drugs before, of course, but I didn’t know much about them. I knew only that they were ‘invented by Satan’. Cindy and Anthony never talked about drugs.

“Oh. Nothing, I’m not on anything.”

“Damn man, that’s intense.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you smoke weed?” He wasted no time arriving at the question.

“I never have.”

“What? Seriously? Wow. Do you want to?” I wasn’t really sure what weed did, but I remembered the pastor at the church talking about it. He said that it was bad and that Satan desperately wants us to smoke it as much as possible.

“Weed, weed, the Devil’s seed,” he said. Gay people, women’s rights, sexual freedom and scientists, all of which I found to be very good, were also on his shit list. With this in mind, I decided that weed was something I might appreciate too.

“Sure.”

“Okay, after school we’ll walk over from the busses.” The last class of the day was English with Mrs. Stevens. My new sort-of-friend made sure not to curse in class. There was a test today.

“This is really hard,” one of the other kids commented. Laughter erupted in the room. Today’s test covered a few of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, so I was sure that I would get an ‘A’. School soon ended for the day and I speedily traveled to the buses. I found my new friend standing with a few others who I didn’t recognize.

My friend had long dirty brown hair that came down past his shoulders, and bright light skin like mine. He was wearing a grey beanie, a plain white T-shirt, and some baggy grey jeans…nothing special. Next there was another guy and two girls, and I thought one of the girls looked far superior to the other. He had on a band tee, Avenged Sevenfold, and blue jeans. His hair covered most of his tan face, which was adorned with an incredibly smug expression.

Oh, great, this guy thinks he’s hot shit. I assumed that one of the girls was his girlfriend, mainly because the two of them were locked in a heated match of tongue wrestling. She was wearing a pink Hello Kitty top, a plaid skirt and white stockings. It was a typical schoolgirl outfit, but she pulled it off well and I liked the Hello Kitty. Maybe she was wearing all of it at Smug’s request. Her long goldeny-brown hair fell down and brushed against the blue leather book bag that she held just above her waist.

“Damn, bitch. Get it!” The second girl cheered. This girl’s hair was short, black, and matched her tight black jeans. Her shirt, which was much too large for her, was green and looked like the face of a frog with X’s for eyes. Its tongue was poking out like it was giving us a raspberry. This girl had my attention. The other girl, the preoccupied one, responded with her middle finger.

“Hey man,” the friend-ish person from earlier said. “What’s your name?”

“Tristan.” I had forgotten to ask for his name too. I guess I had been okay with just calling him ‘friend’ for the time being.

“I’m Marcus.”

“Ahoy, Sir Boy,” the girl with the frog shirt said. I cocked my head sideways.

“Goodafternevening, mademoiselle.” I wasn’t quite sure where that came from. She looked at me for a moment, blink-blinking her eyes. Blink-blink.

“Ribbit,” she said. “I’m a fuckin’ frog. That’s my face.” She pointed at the frog on her shirt. “I gave my face an upgrade.” She held her hands in front of her actual face, hiding like a babysitter playing peekaboo with a baby…or the baby’s dad.

“No, it’s a downgrade!” Marcus vigorously interjected. What the hell? Smooth, Marcus. Smooth. I had trouble holding myself together, but somehow I managed.

“Weed.” She indicated that it was time to press on with the day’s activities. This got the attention of the other two and we began to walk away from the school. “My name’s Veia. You’re Tristan, and you’ve never done this before. We’ll have loads of fun. Fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun, bitch!” It was actually kind of cloudy outside. The sun was obscured by a family of puffy clouds. I think I could be feeling the feeling of starting to like someone. I wondered what Marcus would have to say about that.

“Then let’s be sure that it’s done,” I answered.

“Ribbit! Good job.” No one else seemed to notice the rhyme…our secret world was taking shape already. The happy couple walked a little bit ahead of us. They seemed to be totally unaware of our existence.

“Almost there,” Marcus said after we crossed a street leading away from the school. Only two cars drove past us. This was not a busy street at all. We quickly arrived at a very dilapidated looking building; some of the windows had been smashed into bits. It looked like no one was inside. It was old, forgotten. “This used to be a school; I think an elementary school,” he declared. “It hasn’t been used in a long time, or at least it looks that way.” We followed the others around the back of the building. I began to wonder if they really wanted us to be following them at all. Neither of them had said anything to me.

“Ooh, what do we have here?” Veia fluttered ahead of us to a patch of grass that wasn’t grassy enough to cover all of the dirt and sand underneath it. Something was lying there, and I couldn’t tell what it was. “Poor friend got a case of the bad days.” She picked the thing up and brought it back over to us.

“Wow, you picked that up.” Marcus laughed. ‘Twas a dead bird. It’s red and brown feathers now lay motionless in her hands. Maybe it was a robin.

“For you, missure.” She handed the bird to me. “Have a new pet!”

“Damn, how did you know? I’ve always wanted one of these”

“I don’t get to have it?” Marcus was getting angry…angry about not getting to hold a dead bird? No, it was more than that, but his unbecoming reaction was lowering his chances of ever getting what he wanted. Was he incapable of understanding that?

“No, no, no! It’s his. Maybe there will be a present for you inside. Places like this are full of treasure.” He didn’t seem pleased by her answer. She looked back over at the bird, and then at me. “Mortimer. That’s his name.”

“What if it’s a girl?”

“I saw his bird dick. It’s far above average length and it’s stiff as fuck.” She was perfect.

“Yeah, I guess rigor mortis will do that.” I suddenly felt strange.

“Bones, bonezie bones.” It was the low voice again. We walked over to a broken window in the back of the old school, and I imagined what it would have been like before it was left to decay. Children running, playing, fighting, biting. Did I wish that my childhood had been like that? I didn’t know, but I felt like that’s what I was supposed to wish for.

First Marcus went in, climbing carefully through the used-to-be window to keep avoid being cut by the broken glass. Next went Veia, and then me. The other two were already inside. Papers and unwanted odds and ends were strewn all throughout the abandoned rooms and hallways. No one had been in of here for a while.

“Can you see it?” Veia asked.

“See what?” Marcus wondered.

“Little girls and little boys.”

“What? What do you mean?” He couldn’t see them, but I could.

“Now pay attention, children! Boys, stop that!” An angry teacher bickered. The boys continued fighting over a red crayon.

“Ha-ha, yes!” I said. “The teacher is angry. The boys won’t stop fighting. The red crayon is just too magnificent of a prize.” I could see it unfolding in my imagination.

“Ooh, the red crayon. Anger, passion…even the little ones have something to prove,” she replied. Marcus seemed both dumbfounded and increasingly angered by all of this. I wondered how he could possibly be confused, considering that he was the one who told us that this had been an elementary school in the first place. Did Veia feel like the red crayon? We walked down a dark hallway in which light only came from random little holes and gaps in the dated ceiling.

We came to an opening that led into a small classroom. There were still a few leftover chairs and a teacher’s desk inside, and the two people that had gone missing from our group…or perhaps had removed us from theirs. She was sitting on the desk and he was standing. They were buried in each other’s faces just as they had been before. I wondered if they would ever need to come up for air.

“Do you think they want us to go in there?” I thought they might not.

“Yeah.” Marcus walked into the room. “Come on, man,” he said to the immersed boy. “You can fuck after we smoke. It’s time to get high.” The boy turned around, paying attention to us for the first time.

“Damn, you’re so pushy,” he began. “Yeah, after this we’re going to go fuck somewhere else, and you’re going to go home and do the same thing to your bong.” He paused to laugh for a second. I had to admit, it was a fairly entertaining visual. “Don’t you smoke like fifty bowls a day?”

“Nah, I cut it down to forty-five last week,” Marcus countered. Then they each pulled a small bag from their pockets. The five of us moved some of the chairs around in a circle, like the five points on a star…or a pentagram. Marcus pulled out a small glass pipe that had yellow, red and green wisps swirling around inside it. He then filled it with what he had inside of his bag after breaking it apart with his hands.

It was hard and greenish-brown, and looked to me like smashed-together grass. He brought the pipe up to his mouth, lit the weed with a lighter that said ‘420’ on it, and sucked in with all of his might. This was followed by a fit of coughing. He paused for a moment. He was trying to decide whether to pass the pipe to Veia on his right or to the guy, whose name I still didn’t know, on his left.

My prediction was correct. Veia brought it up to her lips and took the next hit. While still holding the pipe, she flipped it around and stared at the swirling colors in the glass. She rolled her eyes around in a trance-like circle. Then she turned around and looked at me, motioning with her finger for me to come closer.

As I leaned in, confused but willing, she tilted her head. Was she going to kiss me? I certainly wouldn’t have been opposed to it. How would this affect our group? I could only imagine. Poor Marcus. I didn’t care. I closed my eyes, bursting with anticipation. Her lips pressed slowly against mine. Magic flowed into my lips and down to my chest as a puff of smoke came out of her mouth, flying down into my lungs. My eyes opened wide. I held the smoke in and my lungs began to burn. Veia giggled at me.

“That’s called a shotgun, sir.” I blew the smoke out, coughing heavily for a few seconds. I wondered if she knew I didn’t realize it wasn’t a kiss until the smoke bombarded me. She was still looking at me; she must have known.

She passed me the pipe and I thought about what Marcus was probably thinking. I strongly doubted that he would still be my friend once this trip was over, but it was now my turn to take a hit from the pipe. Veia handed it to me and instructed me to place a finger over a small hole on the left side of the bowl while smoking it. I did this and brought it up to my mouth.

The glass was chilly on my lips. It gave me chillylips…lillychips…I sucked in, coughed a lot more. I handed it over to the anonymous girl. I didn’t feel much of anything yet. I began to wonder if all of the hype surrounding this was really justified. Veia was staring off into space, so it must have been doing something for her. Eventually it came back around to me. I wasn’t sure how much time had gone by, but it mustn’t have been more than a few minutes.

“Do you feel anything?” Veia asked.

“A little…I’m just a bit more relaxed, that’s all.”

“That’ll change now.” She laughed again and handed me the pipe. The weed inside of it looked much different now. It looked softer and stickier and was covered in little orange fibers.

“What is this?” Was it still weed?

“O.G., man,” the ‘cool’ guy said. His voice sounded funnier than I remembered it being.

“It’s better weed,” she whispered to me.

“Okay.” I took another hit. This time it tasted different and scorched my lungs intensely. I started hacking violently after holding the smoke in for just a few seconds. My head immediately started to feel funny. I passed to the right. If that was the wrong way for me to pass it then they could sort it out themselves, for I was on my way to Jamaica.

Somewhere in the room a small girl, no more than eight or nine years old, jumped up. She had been sitting at a lonely desk in the back of the room. She must have been there the whole time. She ran past me, laughing all along the way, her long dark hair floating in the cold air behind her. I looked intently at her face as she ran past. It seemed like she had three faces, one solid and two transparent, one on each side of the first. The room wobbled slowly like a river stream, and she vanished behind the corner that leading back into the hallway.

“Pick it up, Tristan.” I shivered both in fear and excitement. The low voice had returned. I wondered what it was talking about. Pick up what? Then I remembered Mortimer, the ‘big-dicked’ robin carcass (though I didn’t see a dick anywhere on him and neither did she). I had put him under my chair before I sat down. I reached down and felt around on the floor. There he was, feathery, squishy and cold.

“Mortimer, you’ve returned!” Veia exclaimed as I lifted him up.

“Why the fuck do you have that? That’s sick! You’re fucked up,” the girl shouted. I still didn’t know her name. That was the first time I had ever heard her say anything.

“Quiet. We don’t want anyone to hear us,” her probably boyfriend cautioned. “But yeah man, that’s weird…” He stopped to take another hit off of the pipe. Smoke filled the air once again, and added onto the cloudy fog that now filled the entire room. “…throw that shit away.” They didn’t like Mortimer and Marcus didn’t like Mortimer. I could tell by the increasingly angered expression on his face. But I was almost sure that Marcus would’ve had a much different opinion of him if had he received him instead.

“He will not be thrown away, thank you very much!” Veia’s arms crossed. “Mortimer is a fine feathered gentleman indeed!”

“He will soon be reanimated into a zombird and will vomit fiery zombird acidpuke onto the unsuspecting masses.” I painted the picture nicely. Veia thought this was hilarious, perhaps brilliantly so, but the others still didn’t think that me flinging a dead bird around was very funny. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something moving near the teacher’s desk behind me. I turned around just as large shadowy figure darted out from behind the desk. It was the silhouette of Mrs. M…or maybe mother. Maybe both, if that was possible.

“Come back here, you little shit!” She bellowed before running out into the hallway, undoubtedly chasing the little girl. I wondered if anyone else was noticing this. Maybe they were too high to realize what was going on.

“Go after them.” It was the thing again, the voice. I walked toward the doorway as the green, yellow and red swirls from the bowl of the glass pipe encircled the room, twisting and twirling up and down and all around the walls.

“Where are you going?” Veia and Marcus asked at the same time, but certainly for different reasons.

“I saw something.” I was almost out of the room now.

“Ooh, hooray! A chase begins!” Veia exclaimed.

“You’re just going?” Marcus asked.

“Yes, I must go to see what has beckoned me.” Then off to see what had beckoned me I went.

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