With two weeks remaining before I left for college again, I started to plan out my time more carefully. The summer months had crept past without my even noticing, and the hours I thought I couldn’t fill were, before I could realize it, devoted and gone.
Towards the end of that summer, seeing Macon sort of fell into routine. I’d take a train into the city around twice a week and the two of us would find something to do. I hadn’t realized how close we’d become until the thought dawned on me that, once in Pennsylvania again for school, I wouldn’t see him at all. I figured since I’d internally established that nothing could be done without Macon there—and I think he sensed that, too—we would have to do something momentous before I took off.
I told Macon to clear his schedule for the next several days, which worked out conveniently as he’d just taken his week-long summer vacation from the bakery, anyhow. Macon took the train into Long Island on a Monday morning. I picked him up in my old Taurus and we made our way towards the nearest movie rental place in pursuit of objective number nine.
We hunted down each film off of the “Ten Greatest American Movies of All Time” list, ranked by the American Film Institute. Finally, after almost forty-five minutes of scanning the store and harassing the employees, Macon and I approached the counter and set down a stack composed of the following DVDs:
1. Citizen Kane
3. The Godfather
4. Gone with the Wind
5. Lawrence of Arabia
6. The Wizard of Oz
7. The Graduate
8. On the Waterfront
9. Schindler’s List
10. Singin’ in the Rain
For the next two days, we sat in front of my television screen, nearly sickened with our surroundings by the time we finished the first six movies. On Wednesday morning, Macon had some errands to run. He dragged me into the Bronx with him and I waited on the couch of his apartment. He’d given me the remote for the television, but I didn’t think I could stomach looking at a screen any longer than I had to. I did nothing more than sit there for a few hours and stare at the wall, but I didn’t particularly mind; I was happy for the change of environment. When he got back, a box of pizza in hand, he showered and then sat down next to me so we could watch the next two movies on the list.
By Thursday afternoon, my legs were bouncy and restless and my eyes were bloodshot and I wanted nothing more than to never touch another remote control again. We had come back to my house for the last two films. The light played on the ceiling and dialogue sounded from the speakers, but my eyes were focused out the window rather than on the television screen. It was starting to get dark earlier now, I noticed.
I had my legs thrown over the armrest of the couch and my head rested on a pillow on Macon’s lap. I assumed he was as restless as I was, because I could feel the constant movement of his foot tapping against the rug. The only thing that kept me semi-conscious was the AC unit that persistently spit out sixty-degree air. I’d set it down that low for that exact reason.
Over the noise of Schindler’s List, I heard my cell phone ringing. Ecstatic for any kind of distraction at all, I grabbed the old piece of plastic off the coffee table. It was Will.
“Andy?” He spoke as soon as I’d pressed it to my ear.
There was a pause on the other end of the phone. Then, speaking slowly, he asked, “I need to ask you something. Do you ever wonder why time isn’t always all consistent? I mean, why is that?”
“What?” I asked. I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him right over the blare of the television. Macon was looking down at me now, his eyebrow raised in a questioning manner.
“I wanted to know if you ever wonder why time isn’t consistent. Like, I’ve been lying here for about an hour, but it feels like fucking decades. I think it’s because I keep getting these really messed up thoughts, you know? I can’t get rid of them.”
“Will. What is wrong with you?” I reached for the remote and paused the movie on the screen. It stopped directly in between frames and the pictures flashed back and forth at a seizure-inducing speed. “Are you on something?”
“Yeah, I think.”
“You think?” I pushed myself to a seated position on the couch and shoved my hair out of my face.
“William,” I demanded. “What did you take?”
“Shrooms, I think.”
“You think,” I repeated. I let out a groan and rubbed my forehead with the tips of my fingers. “Who gave you shrooms, Will?”
“Is Phil on shrooms, too, Will?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know where he is,” he told me. Then, pensively, “I don’t know where I am.”
“Wonderful.” My stomach suddenly felt heavy. Will was known for wandering into the most inconvenient of places while he was sober—nevermind when he did shit like this. “Look, dude. We’re coming to find you, okay?”
“Alright. I really don’t know what’s going on, though.” Then, his tone changing instantly, he said, “I feel so alone in the world, Andy.” Had I not been so vexed, I would’ve laughed at the terror in his voice.
“I need you to tell me where you are.” I annunciated each word as it left my mouth.
“I don’t know,” he said again.
I shot a helpless glance in Macon’s direction. He didn’t look like he knew what to say. “Well, what are you looking at right now?” I decided.
“Whose ceiling?” I asked patiently.
“Well, it has all my posters on it and stuff.”
“Would that mean that it’s your ceiling, Will?” Getting information out of him right now was like pulling teeth from a mule.
“Maybe,” he said. “Unless…” Then Will gasped and I heard shuffling, as if his sudden realization had forced him to sit up. “Unless someone cloned my bedroom!”
“Oh my God,” I murmured. I pinched the bridge of my nose, trying desperately hard not to lose my composure.
“Will, listen to me, alright? Stay put, okay? Don’t get up and start wandering around.”
“Okay, Andy.” Will’s shock had apparently worn off because he was now humming to himself on the other end. In a matter of seconds, though, his peaceful frame of mind was shattered. He gasped again and declared, “Andy is a boy’s name!”
“My name’s Andrea, Will. Don’t you know that?”
“Oh. Oh yeah.” Then he started giggling like a schoolgirl on crack.
“Will, please listen to me.” I held the phone between my shoulder and my jaw as I slipped my shoes on.
“Your voice sounds cool. Like you’re a sovereign yelling from a mountain top.”
I ignored whatever the hell he was talking about and repeated, “I need you to stay put, Will.”
“Okay, okay. I will. Jeez, you’re like, fucking Mao Zedong.”
“We’ll be there soon, okay?” I said, stretching out my words as though I was speaking to a kindergartener. “What’s your address, Will?”
He let out a monotonous uhhh sound that lasted a full twenty seconds. “I don’t know,” Will decided.
“You can’t tell me where your own house is?”
Will laughed again. “I don’t know,” he repeated. His entire vocabulary was slowly being taken over by that phrase.
I shut my eyes tight, letting my head loll in the direction of the floor. “Think, dude. Really, really hard.”
“I think,” he began.
“Yes?” I asked. Then, when no answer came, I prodded, “You think?”
“I think I want a muffin.”
Despite the constriction of my lungs, I forced a sigh. “Stay put. I’m going to try to find you.”
“Yep.” Then I heard a click on the other end of the line. Flustered, I wrung my hands out and ripped the room apart looking for my keys.
“What’s going on?” Macon asked, getting to his feet. “He’s tripping?”
“Yeah, apparently,” I replied. My legs had lost all trace of restlessness and were currently heavy as a block of lead. I finally found my keys underneath the couch cushion and Macon followed me as I headed for the door. “We need to go find him before he does something completely moronic.”