The weekend after I saw Miss Nicks dance, Debbie and Wendy picked me up at Paw Paw’s and took me for a drive. The new phone books had come out and were piled so deeply in Debbie’s car that I had to sit on Wendy’s lap until we had delivered enough for me to have room in the back seat. It was always fun with them, they laughed and joked and never asked me what I did on my other weekends, so I never had to think hard around them.
When all of the books were gone, we stopped in a park in Zachary and Wendy pulled out a joint. They were rolled well, uniformly cylindrical like a packaged cigarette, so I knew she hadn’t rolled them. Her boyfriend probably did. He was a one armed drug dealer named Brian who looked and sounded remarkably like the artist on television, Bob Ross, the hippie with an afro who painted happy trees apparently while high like Bryan.
Bryan lived in a trailer under a lot of trees, and could roll a joint with only one hand better than I could, even after all my practice. He always remembered my name, and would sit me on top of his motorcyle and say, “Jason, we’re all in control of our happiness.” He’d put his joint in his mouth and show me what he was inventing so he could ride his motorcycle again. He was cool. That’s why I was slightly disappointed that Wendy already had a joint; we wouldn’t see Brian that weekend.
Wendy took a hit from the immaculately rolled joint and passed it to Debbie, and she rolled down her window and asked me what I was doing in school. I thought about that for a few moments, and said I was enjoying art. Good! Debbie said as she exhaled smoke out the window. She said she’d like to see it, and I said I didn’t have my art but I had the award I received in my backpack. I fished it out and she passed the joint to Wendy and carefully took my award in her hands, handling it as delicately as such a treasure deserved.
She said she was proud of me, and that she did art, too. She pulled a string around her neck and showed me the necklace that had been hidden under her shirt, and said she had made it. It was gorgeous! It was a clear piece of rock, almost like a Coke bottle shard, wrapped in wire. I didn’t know art could be more than drawing, and I was enthralled. I stared at it covetingly. She took a hit off the joint and held her breath and watched me transfixed on her necklace, and laughed smoke into the car and took off her necklace and gave it to me. I instantly draped it over my neck, but kept it outside of my shirt and showed it to Wendy.
Wendy said it was nice, and asked what I should say. I said “Thank you,” to Debbie, and Wendy said that’s right, and smiled and said, “Thank you,” when Debbie passed her the half-smoked joint.
I studied my necklace while they passed the joint back and forth until it was a roach. Debbie pulled out a roach clip – I’d later be told in a hospital, awkwardly, that it was a hemostat, not a roach clip – and clipped the roach so they could finish it without burning their fingers like my dad seemed to always do.
When they finished, we played on the swings in Zachary park and walked to the 7-11 to buy Slushies. I got a blue one, and Wendy and Debbie both got Coke flavored ones. We at them on the way back to the car, and when we got there, Debbie asked me to show her my tongue, She laughed, and told me to look in the side mirror. My tongue was bright blue. I loved it! I tried to show Wendy, but she had already sat down in the car and put her Slushie in the drink holder, and was nodding off. Debbie said to let her sleep, and we stood outside sticking our tongues out at each other. When we finished the Slushies, she held my necklace and told me it was magical and said that she’d show me how to make my own the next time she saw me. I thought that sounded like fun, and I told her thank you, and she knelt down and said she loved me and held out her arms for a hug, and I rushed into her arms and told her I loved her too. We got in her car, and found our way to the interstate to go home.
I always crashed after a sugar rush, which was part of the fun, and I fell asleep in the back seat and didn’t wake up until I heard Debbie curse and Wendy gasp, and then I heard the unmistakable sound of a siren, though I couldn’t tell if it were police or an ambulance. Debbie slowed down and pulled over onto the shoulder, and I looked back and saw the police car and its rotating blue and red lights pull behind us. I stood up on my knees and saw the officer get out of his car and walk towards us. He peered in Debbie’s window, and she and Wendy started speaking at the same time and he had to ask them to slow down, and to tell him why they were speeding. Wendy reached back and pulled me forward and said her little brother was sick from too much candy – just look at his tongue! Debbie caught on and said she was scared and knew I’d be fine but wanted to get me home to my parents as quickly as possible, just in case. The officer smiled and told me I’d be fine, and asked them to drive more safely. They assured him they would, and we went back to Paw Paw’s.
Wendy told me not to tell Paw Paw what had happened, and that she’d see me tomorrow. They’d pick up more phone books from him, and take me to deliver them. I asked if we could get Slushies again, and she laughed and said of course, and I ran inside to see if I had time to go fishing before Maw Maw had dinner ready. She asked how my day was, and I showed her my tongue and necklace and said I had fun and would get to do it again tomorrow. Paw Paw wasn’t back from work yet, but I went to the carport and caught a Mason jar full of crickets from their cage while Maw Maw made dinner. I hoped there would be chocolate chip cookies, and I hoped I’d catch the Big Bass that Paw Paw claimed lived in our pond.
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