September Salt

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A Toast to Hedonism

Chapter Six: A Toast to Hedonism

JOEY

Ryan was my best friend.

The only person I’d known longer than I had him was my mum, and it had been through her that we had originally met.

At the time she’d been working three jobs; a part-time cleaner for a hotel and our local Laundromat, and a receptionist at a veterinary centre. We were both about four when she ran into Ryan’s mum, Claire, who’d been dropping off one of their cats (Blue, may he rest in peace). They become firm friends in what must have been fifteen minutes, and before she knew it, she’d offered to have Ryan over that Sunday; see if we’d get along.

Which we did.

My earliest memory with Ryan is probably the two of us sat on one of those play mats as we made plastic trains talk to each other. His hair had become a sandy brown as he grew older, but it had been such a platinum blonde before, and I remember being pretty fascinated by that when he’d face downwards to smash his train into mine or whatever. His grey-green eyes were a great deal bigger, too, but even then there was a flash of mischief, telling of what would inevitably come.

After my father’s death when I was seven, he seemed to get a little protective over me. We were really close by then though we were going to different schools at the time—I was having no luck at mine, but I remember him being fairly popular. Mum had quit her job at the Laundromat and started unofficially taking kids in when their parents were busy, but I never jelled with any of the others like I had done with Ryan. Every day that I would come home from school I would get jealous that there were other kids under my mum’s care. I’d throw some tantrum or another until she invited Ryan over or I was permitted to go over to his.

I still don’t know what he saw in me. Far as I was concerned, he was confident, and funny, and interesting—even then. But me, on the other hand... I was some short, wimpy blonde kid with ears that stuck out, skin that bruised easily and gross liquid permanently trickling out of my nose that I always wiped away with my tongue. My head was humorously round and far too big for the rest of my body.

When we finally became big boys and moved up into secondary school, I moved to the one he was going to even though there was a school only a ten minutes’ walk from my house. It was probably a little sickening how desperately I’d followed him through the years, but he hadn’t noticed anything, and I wasn’t going to be the one to point it out.

He was my best friend, though, had been for about thirteen years, and oddly enough, I was his. But fuck, if I didn’t just want to punch him right in the mouth sometimes.

When I’d arrived home, he hadn’t arrived yet, or so I thought, because there’d been no one waiting outside. Stepping in, I’d heard the sounds in the kitchen and, thinking mum simply hadn’t left for the salsa classes she attended with Ryan’s mum yet, I had yelled out to her that I was home as I headed over.

“Hey, hun, how was school?”

He was standing in front of my open fridge with nothing but blue boxers on, and even those were riding low. He’d sent me the brightest guilt-free grin possible when I’d stepped into the kitchen, but then turned back to face the food before him. “I thought you guys had those ready-made burgers...”

“How the hell did you get in?” I groaned, dropping my backpack as I slouched over the table and collapsed there. I propped my elbow up on the surface of it and my chin on my palm then stared at him through lidded eyes.

“Your mum gave me a key over summer, remember?”

“Yeah, and you fucking lost it at Kelsey’s. I’m telling you, if she ever finds it and uses it to get in here, you’re dead.”

“As if she’d want to get into your house—and do what? All she ever wants from the male species is sex.”

I decided not to comment on the fact that it was likewise for him, but with the opposite gender. He’d probably try to challenge that, and I really couldn’t be bothered to argue it out.

Ryan didn’t seem fazed by my lack of reply and brought out some eggs. He regarded them for a while, as if every recipe they contributed to was being filtered into his mind from that determined stare alone. “Should we, like, make the hugest sandwich this side of China? I’m thinking bacon, eggs, ham... Tomatoes and Lettuce, and mayo—God, yes. Fuck, what else do you have?” and he delved a little deeper in there, impossible though I’d have thought it to have been.

“Ryan...”

“Fuck, where is your bacon?” he asked, replacing the eggs. He opened the freezer briefly, but the cold made him cower, and he quickly shut it again, pouting in annoyance.

“How’d you get in?”

“Met your mum on the way out.” He brought out the milk. “Wanna just have some cereal?”

“Yeah,” I said. Ryan placed the milk in front of me then padded over to the cupboard we kept our bowls. He crouched down, and I immediately groaned again, squeezing my eyes shut and clawing at them with my fingers. “And pull your damn boxers up!”


I never smoked cigarettes, and I didn’t often smoke marijuana. Honestly speaking, it was less due to having morality issues with them and more to do with the fact that I always choked when I inhaled. So, when Ryan asked if we could roll up and smoke in my room, I’d initially said no. Told him mum would be home at nine.

“She never gives a shit anyway,” he protested. I shifted from my place on the bed, trying to correct the position of the pillow under my head as I kept reading the Philosophy sheets. I was finding it hard to grasp my head around the idea that being a human and being a person could be two completely different things, as well as trying to argue my point to a best friend who could not listen to reason.

“Yeah, if I smoke it outside so the whole damn house doesn’t stink-”

Ryan gasped as if I’d offended him. “Of the sweetest plant our earth has ever produced. And, anyway, we’ll shut your door and open the windows.” And then he went about doing that. Not a minute later, the Philosophy papers were suddenly smacked out of my hands and Ryan was stood, still in his boxers, with his hands on his hips looking down at me where I lay. “I just want to fucking watch porn high, is that so wrong?” I couldn’t help bursting out laughing, then, and yielding to his plea.

Next thing I knew, my laptop was on my lap, and Ryan was crawling over me to sit in between the wall and I, his rolling equipment in hand. “Fuck this, too close,” and he moved away from me a little, shuffling around so that he was facing the door and his feet could lie over mine and hang off the side of my bed, back against the wall. He said, “Find a video.”

I choked on another laugh. “What?”

He had already ground out a joints worth, and he set about carefully sprinkling them into the paper in his hands. “Find a video. I’m a tits man, myself, but I’ll leave it up to you, this time around.”

“You can be so disgusting,” I grinned, rolling my eyes as I attempted to push the laptop off.

“Joey, watch it!”

“Shit—sorry.” He’d barely managed to keep the baccy and buds cradled in the paper as he caught the roach before it fell, and then rolled it all up safe as it should have been. I liked to watch as Ryan rolled. He seemed to have mastered the art of creating a perfect joint with deft fingers that knew the steps inside and out. Watched as he brought it to his lips to lick-and-stick, and then he twirled it slowly around his fingers to examine his work. He smiled, so it was good.

Ryan gave the joint to me to hold as he rolled two more, and then took the laptop. “Don’t say I didn’t give you the chance.” I held onto it with one hand and retrieved my philosophy work with the other, adamant that I would not take part in the watching of porn. And I didn’t—

For all of five minutes.

As I read of the rationality of the human mind and the belief in deities, the awful sound quality that accompanied every single pornographic video I had ever seen faded in and Ryan, again, smacked the sheets out of my hand.

“Don’t be a douche. You take the first hit,” he said. I shook my head and shrugged, so he took the joint from me with a scoff and settled it in between his lips, then he picked up the lighter and flicked. Once, twice, and the roll caught fire. He inhaled long and slow, then again, and he smiled and did it another few times as I wondered how he did it, then he passed it on to me. I could already hear the Latino mistress giggling as her Big Daddy inspected her chest for this, that or the other (my bet was on the other), and I brought it up. Sucked in. Choked. Ryan placed a hand on my shoulder. “Slow,” he murmured, “Slowly.”

The haze that idly swirled about us followed his advice like I did. The more I smoked, the easier it was, and the more light-headed I grew. The more light-headed I grew, the hornier I realised I was, and the easier it was to laugh. Ryan’s hands were in his boxer shorts after the first joint, and the lethargic way in which he stroked as he watched my laptop’s screen through lidded eyes made me all too aware of the uncomfortable strain in my jeans.

Ye—eass!

Fuck—

Hard—er--

Shit—!

She was screaming, now, and Big Daddy was putting something or other into every orifice. The video was beyond unattractive, but closing my eyes and listening to the sound seemed to be doing wonders. Ryan glanced over to me and a lazy lift of the corner of his lips showed me that he found my attempts at unbuttoning my trousers as hilarious as he could while doped up and horny. I was finding it difficult to swallow as I groaned, far too hard to open my eyes again after blinking, and stupid fucking butterflies started emerging from cocoons somewhere in my gut, fucking me off. Ryan reached a hand over and laughed when my hips bucked.

“Fuck off, Ry—ah, shit.”

I wiggled, the buttons finally undone, and kicked my jeans off, getting twisted and landing heavily on my best friend’s shoulder.

It was funny how aware of the fact that I should have been, but was definitely not, embarrassed, slipping my right hand under my waistband and reaching to touch myself as I watched porn with my best friend while, also, slumped against him. I shifted to get comfortable, tugging and pumping up and down faster. We let out a moan at the same time as Bid Daddy did, straining to hold out. “Shit.” I opened my eyes only to see Ryan with his own tightly closed, biting down on his bottom lip. “Fuck,” he whispered, and I sighed, feeling my heartbeat increase, screaming as it raced against a limit that wasn’t there. “Get the fuck off me,” Ryan said, laughing weakly in between each word, but as he tried to shake me off his left shoulder, he came with a pant and slumped, instead, against me. He skin was hot—or was that mine?

I quickened the movements of my hand until I felt the build, the pressure. Felt my tongue flick out and my spine struggle to straighten before I, too, filled my underwear with spunk.


“That was fucking gay,” Ryan murmured from my bed.

Twenty minutes later, I was lying on my stomach on the floor. I grazed my chin on the carpet as I moved my head from right to left and looked up at him. He was lying on his back on my bed, head and left arm hanging off the side. I hadn’t known what to reply to that. His eyes were still red as fuck, though. He was still stoned. I shrugged from my position on the floor.

“So are you.”

He started laughing, then, and I felt my lips draw into a smile, but it was growing too wide. I felt like—like if I didn’t stop soon, I’d become a Cheshire cat, of sorts, but when I tried I felt like I was frowning too much, and that was no good either. And then, I thought, I might have kissed Ryan’s shoulder, but I couldn’t have because he was all the way over where he was, and I was where I lay.

“But not as gay as you,” he joked, eyes drifting to the ceiling. He let out a giggle, and I laughed louder, snorted, at the uncharacteristic sound. “Nowhere near as gay as you.”

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