For those catching up here are the links for the rest:
Burns slid a small plastic bag across the dashboard toward me. Inside were a few small foil wrapped cubes. I didn’t have to ask, I knew exactly what it was; something we had talked about for a while. The four of us – me, Gabrielle, Burns, and his girlfriend of the moment Elizabeth.
LSD, or a lemon as we called it, was something that wasn’t too easily gotten where we live for some reason. You could find just about anything else, but psychedelics were hard to find, and good ones were nearly impossible.
“It’s clean,” he said, “my brother picked it up when he was in San Fran last weekend.” The thought of John Burns driving the six plus hours with these little beauties and god knows what else in the car with him made my stomach turn. Needless to say, the night just got a whole lot more interesting.
Not to say that my time spent with Gabby, my little pusher, was going to be anything but. It’s just that now we were going someplace else. Someplace weirder.
“Dude,” I said, “I…I need to use your phone call my old man.” Knowing full well there was no way I was going home frying on acid, I thought it best to tell him I was staying the night with Burns. Lucky for me, my mom answered the phone and I let her know what was going on.
My parents had been split up since I was eight until about two months earlier when, inexplicably, the reconciled their differences. I doubted it would last; they fought constantly already.
While I was using the phone, burns asked his mom if he could stay at my house. The classic flip flop, chances are we were sleeping in a field somewhere if we were sleeping at all.
Burns was your typical late 90’s teenage guy. His chestnut hair was pretty long, but shaved around the sides. He wore the uniform blue jeans of our generation, military style boots, and a trench coat full of all the things that a teenage delinquent like him would need.
“Is this what you wanna do tonight Burns?” There was a slight tremor in my voice as I spoke.
“You can have one,” Burns said, “but you’re going to have to jerk me off first.”
The corner of my mouth turned up in a grin as I go back in the car. “Mother fucker, I wouldn’t touch your dick with your hands.” Just that easy, my anxiety about the new prospect for adventure was gone. I put my car in drive we left at that with a laugh, enjoying the afternoon sunlight and the freedom to be young.
“What time can we pick up Liz,” I asked him as I looked around to the traffic as I pulled out onto the main road. “She won’t be ready until 7 . We have hours to kill.”
“We could always climb wrestler’s rock, did you bring any reefer?” I asked with a wry smile.
“No officer O’Malley I didn’t bring any reefer, but I do have the devil grass if you want to smoke it, you fucking weirdo.”
I watched reefer madness a week earlier, and thought it was really funny – the propaganda in that movie , so I tried to co-opt that title ever since. Burns was only mildly amused at first.
“Aww, come on Burnsy, you know refer’s the bees knees, the cat’s pajamas. Out of sight daddy-o!”
“Keep it up pal,” Burns said over a dry smile, “I’ll fuck Gabby just to spite you.”
“Oh yeah let’s not forget that I was the first one in Liz’s pants fucker.”
“Oh no,” he said, “fingers don’t count bitch.”
It was true, burns lost his virginity to my girlfriend , and earlier in the season , Liz and I sort of hooked up on a bus ride home for my marching competition. She was with another guy at the time – a douch bag skater guy named Travis who was no fan of me, even after she dumped him.
I have always been oblivious when it came to girls, and I had known Liz since we were both in elementary school. So I came as surprise when she put her hands down my pants on that ride home from Bakersfield. You’d be shocked to find what you can get away with on a school bus when you are covered in a blanket acting like you’re sleeping.
Truth be told, if I had known what I was in for, I would have been better off with liz . Before my addiction to Gabby started, our relationship was open, and I knew Gabrielle had a taste for females. It didn’t bother me, in fact being a hormonal male, I tried to capitalize on it whatever I got the chance, unsuccessfully.
When Elizabeth and I hooked up over the course of that next couple weeks I didn’t think it was a big deal . But of course, it was a big deal – at least it was to Gabrielle. She loved the idea of an open relationship as long of that left her free, but that had nothing to do with me.
She wanted me all to herself, which was obviously not fair in the scheme of things, but she was the drug, and I was hooked. Not to say though that I hadn’t been testing the issue early on, though I did not see it that way. Liz and I, well Liz and I could have been something. I didn’t see that then, but with the perfect hindsight of age and experience I see that now.
As we pulled up to wrestlers rock, Burns finished rolling our joint for the walk up and we had a few minutes to think.
“You bring any water,” he asked “I don’t think liquors going to cut it for hydration on this bad boy.”
“Yeah I got some,” I said as I reached in the back seat and pulled a gallon of water out. “Think this will be enough, you fucking camel?”
“Maybe, but what are you going to drink,” he said with no hint of humor in his voice which definitely meant he was trying to tell a good joke.
Wrestler’s rock was a small outcropping of hills just south of our high school. The wrestling team used it for conditioning, and could be seen most evenings running to the top. It was a sand color granite sparsely dappled with various weeds and native plants. Looking ahead of us, there was a network of dirt tributaries for foot traffic surrounding the entire hillside. We chose the path of least resistance and made our way to the top.
The afternoon sun cast long shadows, our own in the wake of our path. The climb to the top was relatively silent, I figure it was our way of being in that moment, one that we both enjoyed very much. Since it introduction of steady girlfriends, Burns and I didn’t spend a whole lot of time hanging out one on one , so we took this opportunity to just be. In years to come, I would miss moments like this, but who can see far enough ahead to save such things.
Once we made it to the top, we surveyed the Inland Empire basin looking out over the mass mechanical world, the populated suburb that we called home. You could see the smog where curling around and clinging to all the buildings, not quite reaching the peak of Mount Baldy.
Burns let the joint drawing in a large plume of smoke. “I guess it won’t hurt adding to air pollution, huh?” he said through held breath as he left the cloud of smoke exit his lungs. He passed it to me and I drew deep, savoring the earthy pine flavor of the pungent weed.
“Do you think the Donnas have sex with their groupies?” He said not at all jokingly, “Cuz I would group get the fuck out of The Donnas. I would be Penny Lane and that other one combined if they let me go on tour with them as a sex slave.”
The Donnas, was a southern California rock band formed by a group of beautiful young ladies. It was marketing dynamite, and we loved them. Hell, what was not to love.
I let out a throaty laugh, my reaction slowing as the weed coursed through my veins, and whatever problems I was having at the moment seems less important, drifting away with the exhaled smoke.
“Hey, do you think that Princess Leia was banging Harrison Ford real life?”
Burns looks stunned at me, as he tried to process this random question, his wheels turning.
“Nah,” he said, “I’m pretty sure she was banging Mark Hamill, and her name is Carrie Fisher dick nose.”
“Of course Mrs. Star Wars sorry to disrupt your kindly sensibilities when it comes to Carrie fucking Fisher. Anyway, you’re probably right. Harrison Ford was like a 179 at least.”
“Dude, don’t dis Indiana Jones that way bro.”
Our conversation continued that way for hours until the Sun started painting the sky in hues of orange, purple, and red; those all too familiar beams of light cut through the smog like knives casting their molten glow over everything they touched.
We made our way down from wrestler’s rock, the path becoming a little bit more treacherous as the sun and it’s helpful light vanished leaving us in the twilight of the day. Having made this walk several times, we were no stranger to the pit falls and despite twilight, we made it down with little effort just us last of the day’s light left our vision.
I got back into my car and immediately opened the console. Inside where we had left it was the bag containing the foil covered cubes of sugar. My stomach was in knots as I thought on what to do.
I stared at the plastic bag’s contents for a long moment thinking about what I would do with them when the time came.
“Is this the right we’re going tonight burns?” I could feel the pangs of anxiety in my stomach hot little needles thinking about the impending trip.
“It ain’t like that mandingo,” he said his lips quirked into a small grin “I just need to get that shit out of my house, they were hiding in my freezer and I’m just too paranoid to keep him there. My old man will skin me if he finds ’em.”
“Well don’t look at me man, no fucking way. My dad’s too paranoid. He searches the inside of electronics to figure out whether the government is spying on him through the VCR.” We both laughed a bit at that, Burns knew it was true. Last week my good ol’ dad took apart one of those Nikola Tesla type novelty lightening spheres to see if it was really a camera.
“Well, Gaby’s parents are preoccupied aren’t they? She can probably hide them in her fridge. It’s the best I can think of.”
He was right about that, Gabby’s parents we’re both bank managers in LA they commuted for hours to get to work an hours to get home they spent little time worrying about their precious little girl. That was fine for me, it gave me the freedom to be with her what I wanted.
“Well man, we can ask her. You know she’s paranoid too so, it’s really hard to tell what she’ll go for.”
A solution reached, I put it in drive and we left the rock to get to her. My stomach was still in knots, though it was not because of the acid this time. The rush of being near her had already begun.
By the time we got to her street, the sodium-vapors were already on, and she was standing on the corner bathed in that soft orange light, my drug, the only thing I could see in the wash of street lamp light. She was my pusher, and she had my number.
Gabrielle got in the front seat, just as soon as Burns jumped to the back. Her eyes were on fire as they met mine, her smile like a lit match, the flash so bright that it left the memory of it on your retena for moments later.
She looked at me for a long moment, and then she spoke in that soft purr that made me crazy. “Hello Clayton,” she grinned as she leaned in for a kiss. Her kiss was slow and deep, and as we separated, her teeth resisted that motion by holding on to my bottom lip. The pleasure and pain of it heady in the twilight, and all of a sudden Burns was gone, the street was gone, the world was gone. There was only her…and I was hooked.