Monday, April 12, 2010


You have seen this car before. a 1982 two-door hatchback Ford Escort, hideous orange paint-job. Rust lined the bottom around the edges. The car sat low to the ground when it was full with Lucas and his friends, you'd think its guts were scraping the road anywhere it went. The inside of the car reeks of a hundred different bachelor scents, all masked by one pine-scented air-freshener hanging from the rear-view mirror. Crumbs from every snack ever enjoyed in the car litter the floor. The rear passenger seat had a sticky sludge from a Pepsi-can ashtray that had been spilled a few years ago. The syrup would not lift, and had become a sort of dunce-cap for your ass. You could judge your standing with Lucas and his crew by whether or not they made you sit in the goo.
There was a bong under a seat for emergencies. The water had never been properly emptied from the bong after use, and always seeped out onto the floor. Marijuana stems and seeds were scattered through-out. If marijuana was half the weed it was accused of being, it might have taken root and grown into full bushes in this car.
Lucas always drove, Scott always got the front-passenger seat, known to most as 'shotgun'. Scott never called'shotgun' anymore. The car was so infamous throughout this part of the state that you knew three things just by seeing it pull up: 1) Lucas driving. 2) Scott Shotgun and 3) If you hadn't been in it before, you got the sticky seat.

Today was no different. Lucas was driving, his seat as far back as it would go. Hie steered with a fore-arm as he hung one arm out the window and the other draped over the steering wheel, his driving hand tapping Led Zeppelin beats on the dash. Scott rolled joint after joint in the passenger seat, twisting up an entire ounce for the weekend trip. They always preferred to have their smoke rolled up upon purchase of a bag, partially for ease and mostly because they were convinced they would avoid an "intent to sell" charge by only carrying cigarette packs filled with joints. Not that they were ever pulled over. Somehow, though the cops in this town knew quite well the mischief that went on both in the car and wherever it went, they never once bothered to stop them.

They tore down the road, though Lucas was always good about maintaining the speed limit. There were two stops. The first stop picked up Jesse, who had all the air-rifles. Next they grabbed Mark, who brought all the camping gear. This left Tony, who was still another three miles down the road, but on the way to the park road they would take to the mountain. Tony, living the farthest away from Lucas' house, almost always ended up sitting on the fossilized soda spill, and today would be no exception.

They pulled in front of Tony's house and honked. Scott finished rolling the last of the bud just as they arrived, and with tradition, he lit the last joint he rolled as they waited for Tony to come outside.
Tony, though taking the better part of a half-an-hour despite the constant honking outside, stepped out of his house, and fell to his knees in the doorway, dropping his bag and covering his face. He had not really seen the sun yet that day, and it burned his eyes. He still felt quite terrible, and he was unsure how much of it was from his original condition or the vast quantity of pills he had taken throughout the morning. It had been a good while since he had last thrown-up, mostly because he was through trying to get anything down.
Scott had gotten out of the car to let Tony in, and Mark got out to make sure he didn't get pushed into the middle, the forsaken corn-syrup dungeon. The two of them stood outside the car watching Tony as the sun crippled him. The entire car shook with laughter. Lucas remembered how drunk Tony had been the night before, since he dropped him off after the party. Tony had been passed out the whole ride home, when he wasn't throwing up outside the window. He had been in some kind of fight and left a good stain of blood all over his seat, which Lucas would now keep preserved as a trophy.

"Man," Mark said as they helped him to his feet. "You really were fucked up last night, bro. You sure you wanna do this? The weekend planned ain't gonna make you feel any better, for real."

Tony didn't say anything. He snatched a pair of sunglasses right from Mark's face and put them on. Laughing, Scott helped him to the car. Tony felt like an old man being escorted to the car this way. Five people all packed in to the Escort, and it dragged off down the road.

They drove towards the highway, but took a turn shortly before onto the park road. The park road, Stonecreek Road, was the main entrance road to the State Park and Nature Preserve. About three miles in, you reached the actual State Park entrance, where a small gatehouse sat in the middle of the road.
Lucas stopped at the hut, where he gave his driver's license and the names of his passengers to a park ranger. The ranger took down the license plate number of the car. Handing Lucas his license back, the ranger asked, "Where are you boys headed today?"
Scott leaned over Lucas to answer. "We're staying the weekend at Flat Pond, doing the mountain on Sunday."
Lucas looked at Scott annoyed, but nodded at the ranger to confirm.
The ranger scribbled on his clipboard again, and gave them a half-sheet of paper to display on their dash, as well as a park map which included all of the hiking trails. "Be safe, drink plenty of water..." He said. Then, pointing in the back seat to Tony, "...and get this one some sleep."

As they left the gate behind them, they all agreed that Tony looked like shit. Scott had the medicine. "That motherfucker needs to hit this joint.
Tony lifted his head up, which went from its lowered, hanging position, to straight back, resting on the seat-back behind him. He peered through his eyelids, which were too heavy to move. Looking down his cheeks through the crack of light just under the sunglasses, he tried to tell Scott what a fantastic idea he had, but he couldn't get any words out. All that came out was a garbled moan, which made him feel like an asshole. He lifted his arm, very slowly, and held out his hand, which told Scott enough.

Bringing the joint to his face took almost every bit of strength Tony felt he had left. The last bit went towards filling his lungs with the smoke. He held his hit for a long time, his hand falling down to his leg, bouncing the half-joint up into the air, then to the floor of the car somewhere. Scott lit another joint. There was not enough room for people to move and look for the renegade spliff, and of course Tony didn't react at all. Jesse and Mark weren't sure he ever let that hit go.
Tony completely lost himself again as the THC spread. He felt himself unable to control his body at all, though he seemed to remain conscious. He could hear Jesse's panic and see Mark waving hands in front of him. He could not hear anything they were saying, but soon Mark was pounding on his chest. They had pulled the sunglasses off him, and Scott was turned around now, prying one of Tony's eyes open. Tony could see them doing all of this, but he could not feel a thing.

Lucas was pulling the car to the side of the road. Tony was reminded of the very second time he ever smoked the herb. He blacked out then for twenty minutes, give or take. They had been on their way back to school from a drive out to a scrap-yard, and Tony remembered none of the ride back. He hadn't really felt much of anything the first time he smoked, but after the blackout, his second was standard: Giggles, munchies, the lot.
He thought of this moment as the same sort of thing, except there was no blackout, he was aware of his surroundings, though blurry. He had somehow lost his hearing and feeling throughout his body, as well as his ability to speak. He was suffering some sort of tunnel-vision but he could see. He wondered how his sense of smell was. It was when he attempted to taste the air that he realized he had not been breathing.

Breathing is supposed to just happen. Tony had some how forgotten, and for almost a half-hour he hadn't taken a breath. After taking that last toke, it never came to him to exhale. He never consciously made an effort to breathe, and in this case, it therefore never happened. When he finally did exhale, a cloud of smoke filled the car and clouded his vision almost entirely, but not before he saw each of the other passengers erupt into hilarious laughter. He laughed himself, but again only a moan leaked out.
Lucas pulled the car back onto the road and resumed the trip. Scott lit another joint. Jesse was a bit weirded out by Tony, and shuffled himself closer to the window. Mark was still laughing, unable to move on, already retelling the tale of when Tony stopped breathing for nearly thirty minutes. It was a great story, and Mark's impression of Jesse's hysteria had them all laughing soon. All of them except for Jesse, who stared out the window and never passed the joint again after he was handed it, and of course Tony, who actually was laughing somewhere inside, but only grumbled and moaned occasionally.

The rest of the ride they told jokes and smoked joints and shortly before they would get out and start walking trails, they passed the first vehicle since entering the park. A full-size, black school bus was parked in the road, leaving barely any room for the car to get through. That anyone had made it even this far through these roads with a bus, was very impressive, but they had clearly given up at this point and left it.

After passing the bus, they also passed nine people all buried underneath tremendous backpacks, walking the side of the road. Some of them carried walking sticks. There were a couple with hand drums tied to their waists. A cloud of smoke followed closely behind them. One of them was strumming an acoustic guitar while walking, and singing. Almost all of them had nappy, dirty dreadlocks, male or female. Some of the men were wearing skirts. One of the women was wearing nothing, but her long, straight hair covered her breasts. They marched in a line, slowly, dragging sandals and flip-flops or bare-feet through the dirt, singing lyrics to a Grateful Dead song, "Dire Wolf".

"Fucking hippies," Lucas sighed.


1 comment:

  1. Love, love, lovelovelove. It was even better than I expected from your description.