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 16 is a damn fine age to be an over-active junkie. The average teenager never has quite the same adventures as the teen let loose on the streets of an urban wonderland with a head full of hallucinogens and veins pumped to the gills with various narcotic cocktails. The recount laid out below is a prime example. I've been told countless times that this is a story that needs to be written, so here it is. Although our perceptions were severely altered at the time, this is by far one of the most memorable days of my teenage life. It probably isn't quite what really happened, but this is how it was remembered through our haze of color streaks and melting faces.

 

   I'll reluctantly start this off with the cliché that this day took flight like any other for us. After another long 12-15 hour meth-binge induced night of dart matches, crosswords, PlayStation, and no blinking, the retina-searing sun was up once again. This was our bi-weekly special day though since my "business partner" and best friend (we'll call him Cannon for the sake of anonymity) and I both got paid from our shitty part-time jobs and our ritual on such an occasion was to pool our money together and buy as many drugs as we could find with the $500-$600 we'd have. Didn't matter what kind. This day's specials included, another 8-ball of the iciest of ice shards, two hits of double-stacked Ecstasy pills based with heroin, a quarter ounce of weed, a vial of liquid acid, and two 40-ounce bottles of the finest lager known to homeless men everywhere: 211 Steel Reserve. The only thing left was to figure out a mission. This was around the time that that uber-terrible Final Fantasy movie came out and, despite the fact that we both knew it looked awful, we figured that if we abused our brains enough with the smorgasbord of illicit chemicals in our pockets, it could at least be pretty to look at. The next part was to find out where it was playing. Was it at the Cinedome Theaters less than a mile away? Fuck no, it wasn't. It was playing at Sunrise Mall, which we later found out was between 7-8 miles away from our start-point. Fuck it. We had more than enough jet fuel to get us there on foot and since it was at a mall, we figured, why not drizzle half the acid on sticks of gum and sell it while we're there to get some of our money back? Brilliant. Mission accepted. With the juices in hand and an objective on the agenda, it was time to set our face-holes ablaze before beginning our strenuous trek.

 

"PREPARATIONS, PREPARATIONS, PREPARATIONS..."

 

  Just like Popeye is nothing without his spinach, there was no way we could start this grueling journey without an overdose of adrenaline and serotonin. Both our houses had parent infestations that morning, so, after dowsing a pack of Wrigley's in a half vial of acid, we had to find a new location to comfortably snort loudly with no interruptions, and what better place to set up a prep-station than the AC unit behind the church across the street from our high school? Perfect. For those that don't know, the come-down effect of a few days of sleepless meth binges is about the equivalent of being hit by a 16-ton Peterbilt of cranky sadness during a full-body ball-peen hammer massage, so we had to feed the demon again to ward off the evil. We crushed up a few more rails on the filthy rusted aluminum cube and got the sinus blizzards a'blowin. After the excruciating battery-acid fire fizzled down behind our eyeballs, we moved on to step 2. We each took an E pill, cut them into 2 pieces and smashed one half of each into more lines. (Again, for those unaware, if you pop ecstasy, you have to wait about 30 minutes to an hour before the effects even begin to hit you. If you snort it, then you're there in 2 minutes tops. SO, if you snort half and pop the rest, you get there with the quickness and still have even more to look forward to in the next hour.) We each bombarded the other halves of our noses with that gem and threw the other half of the cartoon-Christmas-tree-on-a-cupcake image down the ol' hatch. We then topped it off with 5 hits of acid each and then smoked a blunt of North Highland's finest to enhance the effects of all of the above. Oh, but wait, what's this? Wretched cottonmouth! Every stoner's arch nemesis! To alleviate such a vile affliction, we raced each other to the bottom of our 40-ouncers. I lost. Challenging a 300+lb Samoan to any kind of consumption race is always an automatic forfeit. No biggie. We smashed our bottles against the wall of the church and as the conversation started rambling into nonsensical nothingness and the vibrations started bouncing their way into our vision, we knew it was time to start the mission at hand.

 

"LET THE JOURNEY COMMENCE!"

 

  The time had come. We licked our fingers and smeared them across our prep station and sucked every grain of mind-altering, tongue-burning yumminess and dusty AC corrosion off of them, I linked arms with my quarter-ton gorilla, and merrily skipped across the street, giddy with anticipation to see what your world would become to us. As naive youths, instead of using the residential roads less travelled to attempt to hide our upcoming psychotic stupor, we decided that the straight shot would be the best bet so we headed toward Greenback (one of the busiest streets in the area) to get there without risk of confusion. Fear of confusion is what drove us, not the risk of literally thousands of possible cops, passersby, and witnessing eyes. Whatever. Fuck it.

  We passed the school with car after car speeding past us. No trails yet. That's ok. Be patient. I'm fuckin' spun out of my head. That's a good start. The visions will come soon enough. Another car. Damn, she was hot! Car behind that one? EVEN HOTTER! "Goddamn! You see her?"

  Cannon chimed in, "Fuck yeah, I saw her."

  And then car after car had a smokin' hot driver hotter than the last. Our jaws started getting the jitters as we batted horny comments back & forth, teeth tight & clenched in a serious focus as we power-walked up the block in the 113' weather.

  "What about that one?" I pointed out another.

  "Fuck yeah."

  "I'd fuck the shit outta that one too."

  "Fuck yeah. I'd smash them guts."

  "Let's see this next one...Fuck, she's hot."

  "Fuck yeah. I'd smash if my dick could work right now."

  "Yeah. Me too."

  "Fuck yeah."

  "There's no way this many hot chicks just drove past us."

  "Fuck no." He was a man of many words.

  "Some of them were really probably guys, huh?"

  "Damn. Fuck yeah. Probably."

  "...or old people."

  "Yup. Fuck yeah. I guess I'd fuck them too."

  "You feelin' it yet?"

  "Sounds like it. Fuck yeah, I'm feelin' it."

  "I guess this is the one time wanting to fuck a guy is a good sign, huh?"

  "Fuck yeah. I guess."

  "...or old people?"

  "Fuck yeah. I'll smash on an old bitch right now."

  "Good. No trails yet though."

  "Fuck no. Me neither."

  "That's gay."

  "Fuck yeah. Not seeing trails. That's what's really gay. Not thinking a guy is a hot chick and wanting to fuck him."

  "Yeah. I don't wanna do this if we're not trippin'."

  "Just be patient, faggot. We're talking about fucking men. I think we're trippin' just fine."

  "Oh, yeah. Ok. Let's go."

  As we trekked on further, I was growing more & more impatient with the drugs. Why the fuck aren't I seeing anything yet except for a myriad of potentially homosexual mistakes? We reached the intersection of Garfield and Greenback. After we cross this street, our journey has officially begun and I wasn't going another step until something weird happened. The meth was definitely working fine though and I was spittin' out a thousand words a minute and flailin' my arms around like a furious fuhrer, complaining about my lack of trip. "I'M NOT GONNA FUCKING DO THIS IN THIS HOT ASS FUCKING WEATHER IF I'M NOT GONNA BE SEEING SHIT! I'M SWEATIN' MY FUCKIN' NUTSACK OFF OVER HERE! GODDAMMIT, MAN! THAT MOTHERFUCKER SOLD US SOME BUNK SHIT! HIS HOUSE! THAT'S WHERE WE SHOULD BE WALKING TO! FUCK THIS GAY ASS MOVIE & THIS WHOLE FAGGOT ASS SCENE, MAN!! I'M PISSED! ARE YOU PISSED?? I'M FUCKING PISSED! YOU SHOULD KICK HIS FUCKIN' ASS, MAN!! BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH...."

  Cannon hit me in the chest with his Geo Metro-sized fist, "Shut the fuck up, bitch. Just give it a little longer."

  "FUCK THAT SHIT, MAN! THIS SHIT IS FUCKIN' BULLSHIT, MAN!! BLAHBLAHBLAHBLAH...."

  And then it happened. Again, if you don't know, trippy drugs like acid, shroom, mescaline, etc., and some X usually have the effect of having their hallucinations creep up on you slowly before reaching your peak. You feel it in your skin, muscles, and bones, then weird shit starts creeping its way into your vision, and then it all hits you full blast at once before slowly drifting away. It's usually a process that takes a couple hours, on average, to reach its full potential. This was not the fucking case this time.

  Our crosswalk finally beckoned us, and we started off across the 6 lanes packed with cars waiting to go and about halfway across, my incessant ramblings were finally put to an end by my head spontaneously cocking back with a violent spasm in my neck, a quick nano-second blackout, and a sound that I can only put into words as a soft but loud "WHOMP" in my ears...and there it was. No warning. No creep-up. Everything that I had put into my face-holes that morning had all hit me at once and they fucking hit hard!

  I stopped dead in my tracks. For a few long seconds I had no clue where I was or what the fuck was going on. There I stood, in the middle of this busy intersection, just looking around at I don't know what. Normally, you'll see colorful streaks trailing behind moving objects, but not this time. Red car goes by...ZOOM! Solid red stripe. Never went away. Just stayed there long after the car had passed. Blue car. Blue stripe and so on. Like thick, shiny birthday ribbons wrapping the surrounding area. The people in their cars lined up at the crosswalk waiting for their green light looked like they were under a strobe. Although their heads were moving along with their speech, all I saw was a series of various freeze-framed faces on the same head. Face!...Face!...Face!...like they were going through some kind of horrifying B-movie metamorphosis.

  Cannon noticed that I wasn't at his side anymore and came back, "You good, man? What the fuck are you doin’'?"

  "Holy sh-shit, man!! Oh, f-f-f-f-FUUUCK!!!" I clutched onto his big ass arm like a terrified Kim Bassinger in Batman.

  "Hahahaha What the fuck, man? You cool?"

  "WHAT THE FUCK IS COOL????"

  "Quit bein' a faggot. C'mon."

  I did as the behemoth said and followed him along down the shady sidewalk across the street from the East Lawn cemetery where the sea of spread out headstones and tiny bouquets of multi-colored mini-explosions of flowers freely floated about in my peripheral like an unorganized army of gravity-defying dominoes. The only time they'd stay still is if I were to look directly at them, but once I averted my vision just a little bit, those tricky fucks would get to dancin' around in the air again. Whatever. Gotta keep goin'.

  Shortly thereafter, Cannon got smacked with the vision too. We would stop at every tree we saw, examining the bark flowing down the trunk like some kind of god's diarrhea.

  I couldn't help but wonder, "How many ants do you think are on this tree, man?"

  "I dunno....like....fuckin' numbers, dude."

"More than the leaves?"

  "That's how many people are on the planet."

  "Yeah, but what's a planet, man?"

  "Fuck yeah."

  "You feel me?"

  Cannon looked up from the ant he was fingering. "Right now? Nuh-uhh. Should I? Are you sweaty?"

  "Fuck yeah, man. I'm hella sweaty, but I meant, you know what I mean?"

  "Oh yeah. It probably makes no sense, but I know exactly what you mean, man."

  Unison: "Fag."

  I felt overwhelmed with indescribable emotions. Words seriously have not been invented to describe these feelings that overcame me. Happiness ain't got shit on the jittery, giddy glee exploding inside me. I felt like nothing could hurt me. I could do no wrong. The world loved me. I loved the world, "Wow. We're like brothers or something. I don't have a brother, but I bet I love you like I would love a brother. I mean like a brother that's not a sister, not 'brother' like a black guy. I'd love my brother if he was a black guy though too....I mean, if I had a brother."

  "Yeah, I have brothers. I love you like them. We're in brother-love. I wouldn't fuck you though."

  "Aww, fuck no, man. That's gay. I don't want to have sex with you either. You're the only guy I've seen today that isn't a pretty lady."

  "Yeah, me too. I love you."

  "Yeah, I love you too.....Am I a pretty lady?"

  "No."

  "Oh. Oh, ok." I wasn't really sure how that made me feel. "Good! I'm thirsty!"

  "We should drink our sweat."

  "What? No. Look! Taco Bell!"

  "I like burritos."

  "Yuck. I wanna vomit. Wait...do I feel like throwing up?"

  "I dunno."

  "Me neither. I want Sprite. Mmmmm...Yeah, Sprite."

  "Yeah. I like burritos too."

  "What? Do I have to throw up? I don't want to cry."

  "Yeah, let's go to Taco Bell."

 

"I WOULD LIKE YOU TO ACCOMPANY ME...TO TACO BELL"

 

  I feel I should preface this by explaining that I'm not sure what sparked my reaction to this particular place, but my only guess is that it was the mild shock my body went through from going from a 113' degree outdoor furnace into an air-conditioned building that was probably chilled to a low 70. Whatever it was, Taco Bell freaked me the motherfuck out!

  We tried counting our money before entering as to not draw suspicion to our inability to understand numbers. We tried, but it was just a bunch of papers with different designs in the corners. Big funny faces. Ugly fucking faces. Whatever. Like I said before, we put our money together and designated Cannon to be the one to hold it since he was able to compose himself under other-worldly conditions a whole lot better than I could. We didn't know the exact amount of funny paper we had, but we knew we had enough for what we wanted so we proceeded inside.

  As soon as we got inside, my body went into a full-tilt panic. I was terrified and had no idea why. The place was empty except for an obese couple sitting quietly at a table in the far corner. I knew it was the drugs causing my unnecessary fear. I knew it, but it didn't help. There was no leashing the sheer terror that fell over me upon entering that refried chamber of dreadful trepidation. I turned my back to the counter and leaned in close to my companion, "We gotta get the fuck out of here," I said in a tone that I thought was a whisper.

  "Calm down! What's your problem?"

  "I don't fuckin' know, man, but we have to fucking leave like right fucking now!"

  "Stop yelling, stupid! We're fine. Go sit down, shut the fuck up, & I'll try to order. Sprite? You want Sprite, right? You should eat. You wanna eat? I'm gonna get you something to eat."

  "Fuck no, I don't wanna eat! I THINK I'M GONNA THROW UP AND I FEEL LIKE I'M GONNA CRY!! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE, MAN!!"

  His gigantic hand landed onto my tiny bone-framed shoulder, shoved me into a sticky seated booth, & he said in a low clenched-tooth fury, "Please stop. You're fuckin' freakin' me out. I'm gonna go order. I don't wanna hit you, man."

  "Yeah, ok. Sprite. I'll have Sprite. Get me a Sprite please." I said in a quiet panic as I stared at my finger bouncing up and down off the table a million times per second. I don't know how long it took. I never even glanced over at the counter. I was far too scared. I looked out the window maybe once, but that wasn't any less scary. The thing that kept re-attracting my attention was that fucking fat couple in the corner. Were those fat fuckers looking at me? I couldn't tell. My eyes were vibrating too hard to focus. Maybe they didn't look at me a single time while Cannon was ordering. I sure as shit was convinced that they were though.

  "Here, drink this. I got you some soft tacos too. That guy was talking funny. I think he was Chinese or insane or something. Fuckin crazy, man!"

  "You're insane, dumbfuck. You ready to go? I wanna go. You wanna eat those on the way? I don't want mine. You want mine? You eating? You should take those with us. We gotta go. Fuck this fuckin' place, man. Get your shit. We're leaving."

  He looked up at me with I don't know how many burritos awkwardly stuffed in both arms, "Fuckin' calm down, dipshit. Chill. It's hot outside. Relax. Let me eat a few of these and then we'll go. Just relax, man."

  "How the fuck can I relax? I can't relax!!"

  "Why not? What happened?" he seemed empathetic to my angst.

  "I DON'T FUCKIN' KNOW, MAN!! WE JUST GOTTA FUCKIN' GO! THIS PLACE IS NOT GOOD! I DON'T LIKE THIS PLACE! I'M FUCKIN' FREAKIN' OUT," I jumped up out of my seat, pointed across the room, and continued shouting in horror, "AND I GOT THIS FAT FUCKING COUPLE OVER HERE THAT WON'T STOP FUCKING STARING AT ME AND I KNOW THEY FUCKIN' KNOW AND THEY DON'T KNOW THAT I FUCKIN' KNOW THAT THEY'VE BEEN FUCKING STARING AT ME THIS WHOLE FUCKING TIME! YEAH, YOU TWO! I FUCKIN' KNOW!" I looked over at the staff gathered behind the counter watching the psycho lose his shit. "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKING AT??? OH, FUCK! THEY KNOW NOW TOO, MAN!!!"

  Cannon shoved the rest of the burrito he was devouring into his mouth and shoved all the other tortilla-wrapped goodies into his pockets, grabbed my Sprite, and guided me to the exit with a giant arm around my neck, apologizing for me to everyone in a really weird, shaky tone. As soon as we got back out to the awful, sweltering blaze of the sun, I let out the biggest sigh of relief I've ever let out. It felt like I was waking up from the worst nightmare you've ever had and realizing that it's all over now.

  "Aaaaaah! Oh, my fucking god, dude. Thank you so much!" Grateful hugs followed a quasi-homo shower of gratitude.

  "Hahaha Fuck yeah, man. We're in brother-love. I couldn't let you be that way....Plus, I'm pretty sure the cops are coming."

  "Pheww! I fuckin' love you, man. Let's get the fuck out of here. Mmmm....Sprite."

 

"FUCKIN' ELEPHANT FARTS, MAN!"

 

  We staggered out across the parking lot in our psychotic bewilderment. My magical soda singing an icy sweet melody throughout my innards. My chest feeling like a hollowed out 20-inch sub-woofer packed with butterflies bangin' at full blast. Eyeballs shaking faster than that magic wand in the bottom your mom's sock drawer. Undeterred by the 6 or so remaining miles between us and our destination, I realized that we were on the wrong side of the street and would eventually need to cross to get to the mall.

  "We gotta cross," I murmured in a serious, focused tone through locked teeth as I stepped off from the curb without a second thought.

  "WHOA, DUMMY!" I heard before my armpits got a tight feeling and my feet mysteriously left the ground.

  ZOOOM!

  A Hummer-sized dark grey blur blocked out the sun, invaded my vision from all fronts, and blew the hottest, nastiest, heaviest gusts of oven-like air all around me.

  "UGH! Fuckin' elephant farts, man! What the FUCK?!"

  Luckily, I had my gorilla there to lift me to safety as I aimlessly walked out into traffic without hesitating.

  "You're a fuckin' idiot, fool! Get your dumbass back on the sidewalk. You're fuckin' freakin' me out."

  We somehow managed to understand what the little white guy on the crosswalk meant and made our way across the suddenly still hustle of traffic and decided to sit for a while on the bus stop across the street from Hollywood Video to take in the sights. I vividly remember an old homeless black man creeping along the sidewalk on the opposite side by said video store in an excruciating hunched-over posture and, despite the fact that there was probably about 50 endless yards of ongoing streams of different colored birthday ribbons continuously wrapping themselves around the city leaving various rainbows of steaming elephant farts in their wake between us, I could practically taste the ash sprinkling off of him like Pigpen from Peanuts. As he inched along he seemed to give a big "Fuck you" to the laws of gravity, as he climbed up and down 5-foot high sets of invisible stairs, freely floating up and down above the sidewalk. My episode of enraptured captivation with the dusty dark pixie holding my attention was then suddenly interrupted by the biggest bus ever pulling up right in front of me.

  "Mershy mush muhlicknick jang? ...BAH!" The driver called out.

  I turned to Cannon, "Do YOU know him?"

  He yelled back to the driver, "We don't know what you're saying! Please leave! Umm...Yeah!"

  Then, out came this chick with coke-bottle glasses, fuckin' palsy or somethin', those weird arm-brace crutches extending her wrists to the ground, and if that wasn't enough to overload our impairments, to top it all off, she had a crazy scrunchie-wrapped Kelly Kapowski sideways ponytail. Craziest shit I've ever seen. Insensitive? Sure, but you really had to see this bitch through our goggles at the time to fully grasp it. Anyway, she comes struggling to get down the stairs of the bus and then comes stilting along past me like a daddy long-legs and takes a seat down on the other side of Cannon. From where I sat, the two of them seemed to be settled deeply in some enthralling banter like two scholars discussing philosophical opinions on topics way above anything that I was psychologically equipped for. Over the roar of the gift wrapping ribbons steadily blowing hot farts in my face, I couldn't hear a damn thing either one of them were saying, but goddammit, it looked fascinating...and that face! The way that woman's face twisted into different bizarre expressions when it wasn't melting off of her skull as she waited for her turn to speak again was beyond extraordinary. This back & forth between them went on for minutes exceeding my counting capabilities before she leaned over, groaned some indecipherable moaning at me, waved, and slowly clickety-clacked her way up the street.

  "Holy shit! What the fuck were you guys talking about? What was her story? Was she nice?" I had to know everything.

  "What? She asked how our day was, I said it was fine, she asked how you were, and you just stared at her like a fuckin psycho until she finally left, fool."

  "Oh! So she's not our friend? Should I go say something to her?"

  "What? No, fool! You want her to call the cops too, idiot? You're fuckin' scary, Adam. Don't talk to anybody. She was fuckin' crazy lookin' though, huh?"

  "Yeah. Giant Runaway Spider-Bot. Weird. Wait...Weird....weird? Is that a word? Weeee-errrrd."

  "Yeah, it's a fuckin word, idiot. Spider-what? You're fuckin bananas. Hahaha Bananas. Buh-Nah-Nuuuuhs huhuhuhuh. Let's go see who else we can meet! I need some gum. I'm gonna have some a'this gum. Want some a'this gum?"

 

"FEED ME, SEYMOUR...FEED ME!"

 

  When you're wandering around with a head full of chemically induced psychotropic hallucinations, you'll find that, from time to time, you'll suddenly run into windows of perfectly clear sanity. Don't let these windows fool you. They will trick you into believing that your drugs have worn off. This is a lie. These windows only last for about 30 seconds to a minute, but that's more than enough time for you to fall for their clever ruse, reach into your pocket, and pump another dose of your selected poison back into your face. Shortly thereafter, you may find that this was a terrible mistake.

  "Ummmm....yeah. Gimme some a'that gum, man," I decided after taking inner inventory of my perceptions and understandings, "Actually, dude, come to think....I know that dude over there ain't really floatin', I know these pretty streaks are just my eyes adjusting to fast movin' things or somethin', and even though it feels like my head is somehow freely hovering above my shoulders without attachment, I KNOW my neck is really there, right?"

  "You're fuckin trippin'. You don't need no gum, fool."

  "Nah, man...What I'm sayin' is that since I know all this shit isn't real, that must mean I got my wits about me, right? I'm sayin' gimme a few sticks of that shit, man. I think my trip's wearin' off."

  "Son, you look fuckin' bananas, fool.....huhuhuhuh bananas....and the shit you're sayin' sounds crazy as fuck. I'll give you one stick. We gotta make our money back and we're not even at the mall yet."

  "FUCK THAT SHIT, MAN! I FUCKIN' PAID FOR THAT SHIT TOO! GIMME HALF THAT SHIT RIGHT NOW!!! TRY AND FUCK ME?!?! FUCK YOU, MAN!! GIMME MY GODDAMN SHIT RIGHT NOW!"

  "Damn, psycho! Alright, here. Take 3 for now, fool. See how you feel again in an hour. Get loud like that with me again and I'm gonna fuck you up, nutcase."

  "Mmmm! Fuck yeah! Thanks, fool. I fuckin' love you, man."

  "Shut the fuck up, bitch....I love you too."

  Unison: "Fuckin faggot."

  We shoved the minty LSD-drenched sticks into our faces and continued down our noisy blistering path of fart blowing color streams. Shirts fucking drenched. Scrotums chafing our thighs to a raw level of nearly exposed muscle...well, at least mine was. That motherfucker was huge. I can only imagine his being in a worse condition than my petite little sucked-up junkie figure. It only took a few minutes of chewing that sticky mistake to realize that waiting would've been a better idea.

  "Fuck, man," the inside of my head felt incredibly hollow, yet overflowing with activity, "I don't think I needed those last few gum hits, man. I feel fuckin crazy. I hope I don't, like, ya' know, die or something."

  "I fuckin' told you, fool, but you had to get into psycho-killer mode and shit!"

  "Should I spit it out? I don't wanna die."

  "Sure, if you wanna waste your fuckin' money. You're chewin' on like $15 right there."

  "Oh yeah. Fuck that shit. I feel fuckin CRAZY! How you feelin', Cannon? Big Can-dawg....big Can-o-ram-o-dingdong. Huh? You trippin'?"

  "Fuck yeah. I only took one extra though. You're probably gonna die, fool!"

  "Hahahaha....wait...really? Whatever. I don't even know what that means! Dead? What the fuck is that? I don't know. Is that bad? Dead....dead....dead. Died...wait...what? Is died a word? Died....died...DIE!!!" I threw my arms in the sky and screamed to the world, "I'M GONNA FUCKIN DIE!!! FUCKIN DEAD!!!"

  "Shut up, fool!"

  "Hahahaha Is that the mall up there?"

  "Fuck yeah, it is! You ready? Good movie. Make money. Money. Movie. Weird. Whatever. YOU READY, NIGGA?" he crashed his 5-ton meat puppet into my chest, spinning my frail frame around.

  "Oh, shit! Is that Mick back there?"

  Our buddy Mickey was what some would refer to as a "wigger." I know it's an awful term, but it got the image in your head, right? It had purpose. Sorry. Anyway, he was a skinnier pasty kid who always wore jerseys, baggy jeans, Jordans, and usually kept his hair buzzed to the skin. It was quite a distance, maybe a half a block or so, but I knew my peoples when I saw them.

  Cannon cupped his hand over his mouth and tucked his face down into his shoulder. "Pshhh! That's a big 10-4. Affirmative ID on the Mickster. Over. Pshhh!"

  I joined in without hesitation and mimicked his actions, "Pshh. Over & out or something. Mickster's a bogey on our tail & shit. Definitely the Mickster. Definitely over. Psshhh. On my tail."

  "Pshhh! You sound like fuckin Rain Man, retard. Over. Psshh!"

  "Pshhh! The Mickster's almost at our clock or something. I'm not retarded. Over. Pshhh! Don't make fun of me. Pshhh!"

  This banter went on for a long time with us going back & forth through imaginary walkie-talkies in low serious tones without laughing or anything. The closer he got, the less we looked back. He finally approached and Cannon bumped into him, "Pshhh! What's up, faggot? Over. Psh....Oh. What?"

  The jersey jockin' "wigger" I described above had somehow transformed into some dark skinned native or Mexican or something with waist-length black hair and a long-sleeved Marilyn Manson shirt.

  "Ummm...He's not Mickey anymore. Over. Pshhh..."

  Cannon got right back into character, "Pshhh! Fuck no. Fuckin shapeshiftin' bastard. Over. Pshhh!"

  "Why do we keep talking like this?"

  "Pshhh! I don't know. Over. Pshhh! ....Pshhh! Cuz I think it feels right. I like it. Can we keep talking like this for the rest of the day? It makes me feel good. Over. Pshhh!"

  "No, man. I don't really want to. It's freakin' me out. Look what we did to Mickey, man! We turned him into a goth fag cuz we wanted to talk funny or somethin'."

  Cannon put his hand down and gave me a serious stare of remorseful disdain. Without saying anything further about it, the walkie game had ended in memory of the Mickey we once knew.

 

"RITUAL SUICIDE? No, you idiot! THE FUCKING MALL!!"

 

  We made it. We actually fucking made it! There it was...The fucking mall!

  "What time does the movie start again?" I had no clue how these sounds were leaving my face, but they sure looked funny.

  "I don't fuckin' know, fool! What the fuck is time? Ask the sun! It's not night yet. Must be day."

  "Time? What the fuck is time anyway? What time is it? Am I saying that right? What tiiiime is it?"

  "I dunno. I think you're dumb. No, you're not dumb. I love you, fool. You're kinda dumb. I dunno, fool. We should eat more gum!"

  "I'm still chewing the last pieces you gave me. Should I swallow them? What takes seven years? Wait...Don't swallow gum because seven years of bad luck makes mirrors break. Is that it? I don't want broken mirrors! What should I do? What if I didn't get all the acid out? Yeah, we should eat more to make this make sense." I knew something about this was supposed to scare me.

  "Yeah, fuckin swallow it, fool. I don't know what the fuck you're talking about. Fucking psycho, man. Here, eat this one and let's go. I'll do the talking. You scare people."

  "Fuck yeah. What about selling?"

  "After the movie."

  "Fuck yeah."

  By this time, my quarter-ton gorilla had developed a walk like a baby just learning to stand on two feet. His arms swung madly about with a look on his face scribbled with awe and curiosity. I had no idea how I looked. Pretty crazy from what I hear, but I was purposely avoiding reflections to keep myself out of their grasp. Mirrors had a way of kidnapping my attention for hours on end in states like this.

  We didn't even let the noisy colors or brightly lit sounds of each passing store distract us from our path. We bee-lined straight to the theater and my bumbling mammoth barreled up to the ticket booth as I kept my distance as not to frighten any of the locals with my unbalanced disposition. Throwing every ounce of my being into an awful attempt to look nonchalant, I stood there, frantically chewing my gum, that had now become a mushy glob of disintegrating paper mache clinging to my cheeks and teeth, and desperately avoiding eye-contact with the endless sea of different faces surrounding my every thought and move. Black faces with giant features and loud, scary voices. Brown faces with hairy lips and sounds that made no sense. White, pink-speckled awkward faces with shiny metal squares on their over-biting teeth. Miniature people in wheeled mangers making high-pitched squeals that made my senses hurt and my chest float.

  "I got 'em, fool!" Cannon's excited outburst butt into my terrifying study of the creatures around us. "Which one do you want? You ready to trip out on this fucking movie, man?"

  "Fuck. I don't know which one I want? Is one of them better? Just give them both to that guy," I raised my eyes and a pointing finger to the man at the podium who I suddenly noticed had a fixed gaze set on me that was either scribbled with intensely curious confusion or utter disgust. Maybe a little of both. The realization startled me. I jumped back and shoved my ticket back into Cannon's plump beef paw. "Oh, my god! You give it to him," I lowered my tone to a loud whisper, "I think that guy hates me!"

  "Be quiet, fool. I'll handle this!" He trotted up to the vested hate-monger with a sloppy Baby Huey-like bounce, "HERE YOU GO, MY GOOD MAN! CAN YOU PLEASE DIRECT ME & MY FRIEND TO OUR FINAL FANTASY PLEASE? THANK YOU!" He screamed. I was frozen in fear. What the fuck was happening? I had no idea. Why was he yelling? Were we in a danger that I was unaware of? The man mumbled a stuttered remark back at Cannon and I followed the lumbering beast through the glass doors to the snack bar.

  "What should we get, fool?!?" the monster turned and asked me. "We have this number of money," he extended a clenched fist with sweaty green paper shooting out of every slit between his fingers, "We should share a giant soda and popcorn!"

  It wasn't until then that I realized that my Sprite was gone, "Wait! What happened to my refreshing beverage?"

  "What? Your Sprite? It's gone, dummy! You drank the last drop and threw it at a house, fool!"

  "What? When did that happen? I don't remember that!"

  "Three weeks ago or something. I dunno...last year. How the fuck should I know? What drink should I get?"

  "I wish I still had mine. That was a good one. I dunno, man. Surprise me. Do brothers surprise each other? I don't have a real brother, remember? I don't know."

  "Fuck yeah! Brothers surprise each other all the time! Paul made me bacon once. I loved it!"

  "Mmmm...Bacon. Surprise me then. Surprise me with a Sprite!"

  This seemed like a good choice to the gentle giant as he turned and charged his way across the lobby and up to the cube of glowing candy encased in glass. My attention was then spontaneously redirected to the maroon colored floor covered in fluttering confetti designs and ever-growing vine-like shapes interweaving themselves in and out of the multi-colored dancing triangles and back into themselves and I wondered what fucking sick bastard would imagine such a mind-blowing experience and who the sadist was who decided to put it on a carpet to strike fear into the hearts of others in my condition who would have to bury their feet in this mess in order to reach their desired film. This thought angered me. I was offended. Was this personal? I felt that it might be.

  "Here take this!" My conspiracy hatchings were suddenly forgotten as a gallon-sized container of soda and the biggest fucking bucket of popcorn I had ever seen were forced into my arms.

  "What's this?" I asked before filling my mouth with the icy liquid that I felt tasted like flashing lights.

  "Soda & popcorn, fool! I gotta piss!" He said before slogging off and disappearing behind the corner of the lobby. I took another sip and imagined little germ-sized devils dancing around my tongue with their pitchforks & shooting fireworks off at the roof of my mouth. Imagined? Hell, I knew that's what was going on in there. My eyes wandered the confetti & vine infested Jumanji-like lobby until they finally met up with what I had dreaded seeing the most. I wanted to look away, but it had happened. My eyes were locked on and it was too late to do otherwise. I hadn't noticed until that moment that the entire wall behind the snack bar counter....was a MIRROR! I found my own reflection at the point of no return. I studied myself standing there, slowly lifting my gargantuan drink up to my face by its bucket handle, carefully burying my face into the pail of popcorn to let foam-like colonels stick to my protruding tongue, all the while never letting my eyes leave my own intent stare. I was, by far, the most fascinating creature that I had ever come across. I wondered what "alternative-me" thought about my appearance. Was he okay with how I dressed him this morning? I hoped he was. Alt-me stood there in the mirror, doing as I was doing, popcorn sticking to his tongue as I felt it cling to mine, staring back at me with a longing gaze. This was not a staring contest that I was going to lose! Fuck no, it wasn't. But something in my peripheral snuck its way into the moment that Alt-me and I were sharing and drew away my glare. "AAAH!" I choked on a little soda as I saw a group of bow-tie wearing zit-faces huddled together with the same weird look that the podium man had colored all over their faces. I stood there, not knowing what to do with myself, and glanced over at Alt-me for advice. He just shrugged back. I was on my own. That bastard! The bow-ties were sharing whispered snickers now. At my expense no less!

  "What the fuck are you doin', fool?? Don't look at the mirror!" Cannon shoved me from the side into the direction of our movie.

  "Oh! I'm not, man! I don't think those people like me!"

  "What? Who, them?? FUCK THEM!!" He pointed one of his enormous bratwurst digits at the cluster of pus-factories and changed to a tight-jawed serious tone, "Hey! You! Fuck you! We don't like you either! Okay? How's that? Let's go watch a goddamn movie, fool."

  "Wow. Thanks, man!"

 

"FINAL FAGGOTRY: THE LAMENESS WITHIN"

 

  Cannon stomped on up to the large set of double doors to our designated auditorium and slammed them both open with a might far exceeding my own. He let me pass through first since I was shleppin' the refreshments with all of the hands I had. The room was long and narrow. Crimson curtains lining the wall flowed like gorgeous hair in the breeze all the way down to the screen perched up on the opposite wall which stood miles ahead of us. Every seat in there was empty except for one way down in the front which was occupied by a single, solitary bald head reflecting the glare of the house lights back at us like the North star. All the chairs ahead of us seemed to freely float like the gravestones at the beginning of our journey had. Shuffling themselves about, like a busy beehive of activity, except for one chair. Every chair had its own purpose in this random tango of movement except for that one chair containing that glistening bald head. That glittery dome was the only stationary object in the entire theater. Among shuffling chairs, beautifully flowing drapes, and a giant pulsating screen that may or may not have been breathing, this shimmering beacon of flesh colored light managed to somehow hold its ground as the only thing that could be used as a focal point that I could see.

  "Oh, damn. Where should we sit, fool?" Cannon seemed to be seeing the same things I was as he flopped what felt like a warm blown-up surgical glove full of ground pork on my back.

  "I don't know, man." I looked around. Would we have to catch some of these dastardly tricksters in order to sit? The weight of the decision sat heavy on my shoulders until I looked at the chairs lined up alongside me, "This row doesn't seem to be dancing. Let's get 'em before they leave."

  "What, fool? hahahaha You okay?"

  "What? I'm fine. Are you okay? How's your mom doing? Hurry up, man!"

  "You're a nut. I think you're freakin' me out."

  We entered about 4 rows from the back wall and side-stepped along a floor that didn't seem to want to let us go. Gripping onto our soles with every step.

  "Don't sit next to me, faggot!"

  "I'M NOT!" I snapped back. How offensive. Why, I never, "Wait...do brothers sit next to each other?"

  "Fuck no, homo!"

  "Well, I didn't know! Inquiring minds, bitch."

  We sat down and I stared at that shining head down in front for I don't know how long before the lights finally dimmed.

  "We should go sit with that guy. It's only the three of us," I whispered awkwardly.

  "He might be getting his dick sucked. Leave him alone," Cannon hissed back.

  "Eww! Gross....I think. Right? Gross?"

  "SHHHH!"

  "Ok."

  Trailer after trailer played before us. I had no clue what any of them were about or what they were trying to say. I attempted to follow the first one, but that head...that head would not let go of me. It was changing colors now with the different frames up on the screen. Fuck the trailers. I could see this motherfucker's thoughts or something. The opening credits started coming up at the beginning of the movie after the terrifying candy danced around in a fast-paced musical begging us to visit the concession stand so they could eat us. As the movie began, a flood of light washed into the room from the back. The doors had opened. The interest in what was coming through them was overwhelming. Who was it? Did I know them? I hope they like me! It was a teenage couple who staggered in wrapped up in each other. They hovered through and down the row to sit RIGHT BEHIND ME! I was drowning in unbearable excitement! My skin was jumping around and dancing about my girlish frame! What would they do next? Should I talk to them? No, Adam. Let them come to you. Don't come off as desperate. They might think you're weird. So I tried to ignore them. I stared at the colorful screen, but it had no chance of holding my attention. Every part of my brain was focused on that couple, listening to every move they made, imagining visuals to match the sounds. I couldn't take it anymore. WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY DOING? I slowly spun around in my seat as to not draw suspicion. They were making out. Furiously too. Pawing at each other like a couple of epileptics trying to share a bowl of noodles with their bare hands. My heart erupted into a white-hot burst of exploding humming birds. This was the most astonishing thing I had ever witnessed. Before I knew it, I was sitting backwards on my knees studying their every movement. The bottom half of my face hidden behind the back of my seat as I peered over the top until I finally stood on high at full attention. They were far too involved in one another to notice the complete psychopath hovering over them in their moment of blind lust. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I felt like the guy from Wild Kingdom. Should I commentate the happenings here for the viewers at home?

  "Whoa."

  Shit! That word just left my face without any form of permission! Son of a bitch! My number was up. The unnerving sound of my heavy-breathed voice broke their trance and they turned to me in unison sharing the same look of scared confusion in the glowing lavender light of the playing film. Startled, I turned to Cannon for guidance. Fuck! His seat was empty! Where did that fucker go?? I was panicked! I was all alone and panicked. Fuck! Then I saw an oversized hand shoot up from the floor and twist something small around in the light. "What the fuck are you doing, man??" I cried out in desperation. I needed to be saved!

  My enlarged pupils finally adjusted to looking down into the darkness and saw Cannon on all fours picking up small items, inspecting each one in the light and then throwing them back down in what seemed like a disappointed fit of anger.

  My question was met with a furious glare from the floor, "I don't fuckin know. What the fuck are you doing?"

  "I don't fuckin know, man. Do you like this movie?"

  "I don't know. Do you?"

  "I think this movie might be lame. I dunno."

  He jumped up from the floor, smacked the back of one of the seats with a 1-ton blow, and cried out, "FUCK YEAH! THIS MOVIE FUCKIN' SUCKS, FOOL!!"

  I turned to the new objects of my affection and apologized. For what exactly? That was never established. My sorries were only answered by nervous stares like those of cowering pups. I tailed my beefy buddy back out into the lobby that had frightened me so just moments before.

  "THAT MOVIE FUCKING SUCKS!!!" He roared at the bow-ties behind the counter, swinging his arms wildly about, "FAGGOTS!!"

  They responded with speechless mouths agape. Who were these two psychotic scoundrels, what were they up to, and why did they choose today to come watch only a few minutes of a shitty cartoon? Their questions would never be answered.

  "Yeah, faggots!" I echoed in a less intimidating tone as we neared the exit.

 

"ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF SAID DESIGNATED SQUARE IS CONSIDERED AN AUTONOMOUS UNIT FOR MID MALL SNACKING."

 

  We wandered out into the main corridor of the mall, hearts on the verge of arrest, breath short and rapid, eyeballs dangerously close to falling out of their sockets.

  "Wanna go and slang summa these yumyums, nigga?" I tried sounding normal. I failed.

  "Hahaha You're gonna get beat up, fool, and I'm not gonna help you."

  "What? Why not? I'll calm down. Help me?"

  "With what? You're not getting beaten up yet, idiot! hahaha"

  "Oh, ok. Good thing. So should we sell this gum now? You should do the talking. Crazy isn't as creepy when it's bigger than you. I'm petite and greasy."

  "Fuck yeah, fool! Let's go to the food court."

  "K. Where's that?"

  "Fuck if I know, but we've been there before so I think we can find it. Take my hand, boss."

  I took his hand in mine.

  "Ewww! FAGGOT! Let go, homo! It's The Green Mile, gayness."

  "Oh. I was joking too."

  "No, you weren't, faggot."

  "Oh. I meant to be."

  We travelled on. Passing shop after shop. My main focus was to find the food court while trying to dodge my reflection in the countless store windows and avoid eye contact with any of the million faces spinning around my own. Cannon was babbling about something that I couldn't follow. I was too occupied with walking in a straight line, trying to keep my gaze dedicated to the floor before me. My focus was broken when his actions snapped from what had become the norm and he stopped walking to look at something behind us. The look on his face excited me, but I didn't dare turn to see what he was looking at with an expression of furious glee and giddy rage all over his face. If that makes sense. That's what it was though.

  "What do you see, man?" I was desperate to know what was behind us, "Please! Fucking tell me, man! Oh, my fucking god. WHAT IS IT?" I didn't know if I was frightened or eager or what, but I was literally shaking with hysterical anticipation to find out what the fuck was back there and this brick wall of a dipshit wasn't fucking answering me in the slightest.

  "Well, look at that!" He said in an over joyous voice.

  "WHAT?? WHAT THE FUCK IS IT, MAN? PLEASE TELL ME!"

  "Turn and look, you fuckin mummalard!" He grabbed my shoulder and spun me around against my will. I shut my eyes tightly. Why? I don't have a clue, but I knew my heart couldn't afford any more excitement. Before I knew it, something was squeezing the whole upper half of my body, something smooth and soft brushing along the side of my face. Still slightly afraid, I told myself that this was a nice feeling and begged my eyes to do me the favor of opening just to see what was out there beyond my darkened lids. They granted me my wish and what I saw did to my heart exactly what I didn't want it to do. The sight I was seeing was glorious! The softest skin I had ever seen pressed against the side of my face. I could see every perfect pore and fuzzy little cilia all the way back to the flowing streaks of gold and brown curls. It could have been a baby seal or a bean bag chair for all I knew. I didn't care. Turns out it was another human being. Weird.

  "OH, MY GOD! How are you guys?" The voice against my ear asked.

  "Fine," I let out in a gruff breath.

  "Eww! You guys don't have A/C in the car, or what?" The face backed up into my vision. It was my good lady friend Des, the black-Korean mixed Beyoncé look-alike from school and her freckle speckled sidekick, Danni. This excited me even more. I knew this person. Even better, I knew this person liked me. No disgusted gazes from strange faces here!

  "We walked!" I announced proudly, smile stretching far behind my head.

  "What?? Why??" She backed up and her expression changed as she lunged back into my bubble and grabbed my face, "Holy fuck! What's wrong with your eyes?"

  "What? I dunno. Are they prettier than normal," an extremely creepy giggle of overwhelming joy escaped my lips.

  "Whoa...What the fuck are you guys on?"

  Confusion draped over me as if I forgot that I was on half the drugs known to man, "Us? Nothing! Why do you ask? Do you want some?"

  "No. Maybe your pupils are just perma-fucked from trippin all the time."

  "C'mon, Des, let's go," her impatient friend seemed to grow uncomfortable with our unhitched behavior.

  "Alright," the soft skinned femme replied, "Well, are you guys gonna be here for a while? Maybe we'll see you again!"

  "OK!" I was overly-enthusiastic. Fuckin' dork.

  We wandered further until the giant Burger King logo hovered its way into our line of sight. We stumbled up to a table in front of the Steak Escape with a look of empty wide-eyed wonder all over our grease-glazed faces.

  "Who should we sell gum to? Her, maybe?" I pointed to an older woman struggling to fit her Hot Dog On A Stick into her withered face.

  "Her?? No." He leaned toward the woman, "Hey, old bitch, wanna buy some gum?"

  She paused mid-bite with a look that said she had no idea how to respond.

  "See, dummy?" He flopped back into his chair, "That bitch don't know nothin' about gum!"

  "If we eat more. It'll help us think more clearly!"

  "Booyah."

  We each gobbled down a few more sticks.

  "We only have a little bit left now. I don't think I wanna get rid of it. It's a long walk. We're gonna need to eat more along the way." The brute's logic made more sense than anything I had ever heard.

  "You're right. I don't know how to read my watch. Maybe we should go. How long do you think we've been here?"

  "How the fuck should I know? An hour? Three days? What fuckin year is this?"

  The man raised some amazing questions. I had no clue what the answer to any of them was. What the fuck was time anyway? "Fucking crazy, man! I have no idea! How would anyone know?" My mind was blown.

  Cannon leaned back over toward the woman wrestling her mouth around the corndog that had no interest in buying our gum, "Hey, old bitch! What time is it? How long have we been here?"

  She responded with numbers that we would never know the true meaning of and followed it up with, "How...how long have you been where? Leave me alone."

  "How the fuck would I know?!?" He challenged back, "How can we still see the sun out there?"

  The bewildered patron glared back at him with a look of agitated shock with her food, again, suspended in mid chew for a duration that could have lasted anywhere from a few seconds to a couple hours before dropping the skewered wiener down onto her tray in what may have been disgust, she collected her things, and scurried off without another word.

  "Bitch." We would never find the answers to these scheduling mysteries that vexed our every thought.

  "Damn! You guys are still here? What the fuck are you weirdoes doing?" The familiar sound of a magically angelic voice made my feelings of a failing erection build as much as my anticipation for her eyes meeting mine. I couldn't speak. My jaw was jittering as quickly as my chemically-overloaded heart that was literally on the verge of bursting.

  Cannon was quick to answer, "We're talking with this lady about how long we've been here," he pointed to the empty table.

  "What lady?"

  "Oh," he seemed to forget that the woman had fled in fear of being raped by junkies, "I think she went to go find someone to help with the answer."

  "Ok, seriously...What the fuck are you guys on?"

  It was then that I noticed an older man who looked like he was maybe pushin' 112 years sitting behind Cannon, his wrinkled skin rippling away from eye-sockets like stones had been hurled into the bulbous marble-like lakes that were the eyes bulging out of his face like a Simpsons character as my ape was eager to fill the beauty in on what we had done to ourselves.

  "We're on CRANK, booze," he counted each poison off on each of his kielbasa-sized pointers, "Acid, ecstasy, and some of the finest weed you'll never know!"

  I could see the old centurion behind Cannon lean toward us and the sight of his bizarre marbles growing larger out of the landscape of countless multiplying skin folds draping his face began to frighten me in ways I could never describe.

  "Are you fucking kidding me?" Des' jaw hung low in shock with what I interpreted as a certain sense of excitement in her voice.

  "You want some?" I was willing to share. The thought of having girls accompany us made my chest flutter.

  "Ummm..." She looked at her friend for approval. Her friend had none to give. "No, I think we're ok. We have a lot to do."

  Damn those shuffling freckles! They had buttfucked my chances of trying to have the one pretty lady I had seen that day, who was actually a pretty lady and not an old person or a dude, touch my flaccid, greasy member. In hindsight, I'm sure it never would have happened, but a person with my experience at the time knew better than to underestimate the power of a good girl with a head full of acid and aside from that, a person in our current condition would never even think to have any shame in anything. Trying to use a penis incapable of working would have just proven to be another fascinating venture. Oh well.

  My attention was redirected to the pleat-faced geezer who now had seemed to have taken quite an interest in the foul hooligans announcing the terrifying chemical cocktails swirling around in their wide-eyed skulls.

  "We'll see you guys on Monday. Don't worry." The little giggle she let out as she spoke caused my legs to catapult me out of my chair.

  "Hugs?" I let out in a breath of unnecessary desperation like a retard being introduced to new toys.

  My wish was granted despite my clothes being wetter than a load fresh out of the wash. The corners of my mouth extended to the top of my head as I watched them walk away. They turned to non-existence as they disappeared out of the food court and I turned to my gorilla, who had found strange interest in some old steak fries on the floor underneath our table.

  "Shall we, my good man?" I called out in an English accent. The sound of it confusing me. I wasn't English! What the fuck? Weird.

  He jumped up like a performing dolphin and we sashayed on out of that busy ant-farm of screeching dwarves and drooping faces of melting creases.

 

"LONG WAY HOME...JUST ONE MORE STOP: THE ARAB"

 

  We hoofed it out across the parking lot into the scolding stare of the setting ball of fire resting on the tree tops with nonsensical conversations and drones of brother-love ramblings flowing like wine. We had eight pieces of magic left in the pack and a long trek ahead of us. We decided to save it for the half-way point. I don't recall who brought it up, but the sudden urge for Black & Mild cigars came over us with an unforgiving drive. We had to get them. The steady stream of wrapping ribbon racing itself around the black trails of asphalt became normal and was no longer a distraction as we worked our way toward the nearest store. We chose not to cross the street out of fear of the unknown, so the next store was a lot further than it had to be.

  "Blacks are $2.50. How much do we got?" The fact that I knew this without confusion or wonder surprised me.

  "We have...." he paused to dig through his pockets. "Nothing!"

  We shared a stare of disappointed defeat. This was devastating!

  "No Blacks?" I whimpered.

  "We'll figure it out, fool! We're pimps, remember?"

  The next mile or two involved a lot of silence. The exciting rush of the trip had worn off as we became used to the new world that our brains had created. We would stop at the occasional tree to inspect the ants & discuss how the bark felt, waxing philosophically on everything as if the theories we were exchanging, not only made sense, but were also the deepest thoughts ever said aloud. None of this was true, but we saw each other as a pair of modern Socrates-like supreme thinkers. This went on for a length of time neither one of us could calculate.

  Miles of this hullabaloo went on until we came to a house, about half-way home, with an open garage door. Inside was the most beautiful machine we could have ever

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