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The Dope Show
Author's note: Title named after a Marilyn Manson song :)
The dreadful sound of crashing dinner plates awoke me from a deep, still sleep; Three in the morning and they were hard at it again, but I wasn't at all surprised. It was a nightly routine in our household, which is the main reason I chose to live all the way up in the small attic instead of in my old, spacious room downstairs. Some nights I couldn't hear a thing, and I honestly, deeply appreciated those nights. This night, however, the voices of my parents were quickly escalating and there was no way in hell I could sleep with them arguing at such an obnoxious level. I cursed at myself, staring up at the dark ceiling and waiting for the commotion downstairs to cease.
Mom screamed irritably at Dad, but her voice was no match against his loud, hostile tone. She wouldn't win this argument, I was very sure of it. There was no winning when you were up against an aggressive monster like Henry Scott, one of the best and most terrifyingly blunt businessmen in town. He could easily scare the s*** out of almost anyone without much effort, but not my mother. Not at all. She tried to fight with him, anyway, and I don't know what possessed her to do such a thing, but she fought as hard as she possibly could. And she would lose, because he had such a way with words that no one could ever match up with. I've known this my whole life, therefore I never raised my voice at him even when he raised his at me. It wasn't even worth trying, but I suppose Mom wanted to learn that herself, the hard way.
Dad was a closet alcoholic. Something he would never freely admit to anyone, but it was obvious, to me at least. I could hear it in his voice and even smell it on him sometimes, as if he bathes in liquor daily. I guess Mom didn't see the signs, but when it's your own father and you're forced to watch him throw his life away, things begin to look pretty clear. Over the years, it had taken a vast toll on his personality and transformed him into some fuming lunatic who constantly argued until he made a valid point. Even though he's been wrong many times, he's always right at the end of the argument, because by the time it's over and done with, you will have given up already.
I desperately wanted to go downstairs and tell them to stop fighting, for me, but I knew it wouldn't help anything now. Not after all this time. There was no saving them and that particularly worried me, because I knew that if it couldn't get any better, it could only get worse. I'm your average pessimist; The glass is half empty, and anyone with a true realistic mindset will tell you that. But what was there to be optimistic about, anyway? Things were already bad as it was and I was reaching a certain level of annoyance that I didn't even want to be in the same house as my own parents anymore. The pain of watching your family tear apart is ridiculously unbearable. Watching things change so quickly that eventually the normality of a real family becomes only a unfamiliar memory. I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone, but it happens. It's life, and life sucks.
"I'm sick of your s***, Henry. Sick of it!" Mom yelled.
She was serious, too. I knew when this woman was pissed off and she was far more than that. I could only imagine the look of absolute disgust on her face as she screamed irritably at him. Eyebrows furrowed, eyes squinted, scowling angrily at my father. She always made that face when she was really livid about something. I've seen it many times as a kid and it scared me more than anything, but now I'm accustomed to it and have gotten used to that expression. Another plate hit the wall. That was her signature way of dealing with anger; throwing plates at the wall. Soon, we wouldn't have any left.
"F*** it, then, Patricia. What do you want me to tell you? It's three in the damn morning, quit bullshittin' me so I can go to sleep. And quit throwing those damn plates, too. Those are expensive."
The business man clearly was not very professional outside of the workplace. Work was one of the many reasons the two of them fought in the first place; He was always working, and I don't mean typical overtime, either. My father went to work at eight in the morning and often didn't return until one or two o'clock at night, when he believed we were sound asleep. Usually Mom was passed out by then, but I was wide awake, wondering what he was actually up to. He had never worked this much before. He said it was a big time for the office, and that was his only reasoning as of why he was never home. It wasn't until my mother received a revealing phone call that she grew suspicious of his actions.
There was a woman, apparently. A beautiful woman. At least that's what I've gathered from the numerous wars my parents have had at night. A woman who he spent time with at the local bar, according to my mother's friend Helen who called months ago to regrettably inform her about it. I've never seen her so upset in my life, and it tore at her repeatedly. Since then, she couldn't let it go. Their entire relationship was on the rocks because of this mysterious lady, and there was nothing she could do about it.
Of course, Henry Scott denies any relations with her, but deep down he knows he screwed up pretty bad and still loves my mother with all of his heart. I could see it in his eyes, despite how hard he tried to act like he didn't care at all. No woman could be more beautiful than my mother. She was about five foot six with long black curls and glowing tan skin that was still smooth, even with age. Any man would kill for a chance with her. Dad and I both knew that, but clearly that didn't stop him from cheating on her. Don't get me wrong, there are times when they do get along, but those times only last for a short period of time before another argument quickly rises to the surface.
"I'll quit when you tell me what was so special about that woman. What's her name, Henry? At least have the courtesy to tell me that. I can't believe you thought you'd get away with this." Mom shouted. "After all I've done for you!"
I laid motionless in my bed, wondering if they knew I could hear every single word being said, or if they even cared. I was almost positive that they didn't. Maybe if they realized I still existed, they would come to their senses and stop fighting. They would realize how it affected me, their only son. But I was sure that those things wouldn't cross their mind, not even once. It wasn't like we were close, anyway. Conversation with them wasn't something that happened on a daily basis anymore. I was lucky to even hold a two minute conversation with one of them, let alone get the three of us in a room together. We used to be a happy family, but things change. Things change pretty fast, and I really don't have a logical explanation for that.
It was quiet down there now, and I imagined Dad standing there running his hand through his slightly graying brown hair, running a list of excuses through his mind in attempt to pick the best one. He was pathetic for that. Pathetic for stepping out on his own wife. But then again, what did I know? I was only a seventeen year old boy. For all I knew, maybe he really wasn't cheating. Maybe he really was working late at the office.
Nothing was said for a few minutes, at least. I heard Dad clear his throat, but nothing even slightly important came out. Not an alibi. Not an apology, either, when it was clear that my mother deserved one. Just a mumble of sounds that had no significant meaning. And certainly not an answer to the question.
"Well?" Mom said impatiently.
"Her name is Joanna, but we're just friends. She's a coworker's wife. I told you that thousands of times."
"Bull. Did you think that up in your head just now?" My mother was raging at that point, huffing and puffing about the woman and threatening to throw another plate. Three forty-five in the morning and they were still going at it like the rest of our neighborhood wasn't asleep. I was sure our neighbors were all wide awake now, if they hadn't woken up a half an hour before. My parents were noisy enough to wake the whole block. I sighed heavily, pulling my navy blue cotton blanket over my head, hoping to block out the argument.
I remember when they used to be happy together, but those times were long, long gone. Marriages these days don't always last forever, and it's unfortunate how terribly they end. Even though my parents have been together for over twenty years, all of us knew the end was considerably near. It was pretty evident when Mom started telling him to sleep on the couch in the living room, instead of in their bed with her. Things just went downhill after that. It was irreparable damage and Dad couldn't fix what he had done to the family.
Their ruined, pathetic excuse of a relationship put a damper on my life, despite the fact that I didn't really have the kind of life other teenagers my age had. I was just another face at Stonebrook High; The only loyal friend I had was Christopher Lawrence, a skinny, tall, awkward boy I've known since the kindergarten days. And if I wasn't over his house playing video games, I was stuck at home, which was honestly the last place I ever wanted to be.
"You don't have to fucking believe me, but I'm going to bed and that's the end of it. Sleep upstairs and cry yourself to sleep, I don't care anymore." he said.
With those words, he automatically won the battle. He had hit Mom's soft spot. She wouldn't have much to say after that, but what could she say, honestly? Everything that was going to be said was already out there in the open. He wasn't going to confess to cheating on her with this Joanna woman, and Mom certainly wasn't going to press him any more about it tonight. Instead, she would go upstairs and cry herself to sleep, like he said. But before that, she would tell him to go f*** himself, pretending to be tough.
Pretending wasn't going to do much. The look in her eyes would give away the hurt and betrayal she truly felt. Maybe Dad didn't care after all. If he did, maybe he'd comfort her. Maybe he would try to convince her he was telling the truth, or that he loved no other woman but her. But he didn't. He didn't try at all.
I laid patiently, staring at my window, trying to fight back the heavy tears I could feel clouding up my eyes. They were tears of anger and sadness, two emotions that should never go hand-in-hand. I was pissed off at the world, and I had a right to be pissed. Who wouldn't be? I lived in a house with two people who thrived off of their own pit of hateful words and arguments. Two people who didn't realize just how much it affected their child.
The moment I felt myself getting out of bed and slipping my beat up off-white Nikes on, I wasn't even quite sure of what I was doing. My body was taking over before my mind even had a chance to think about it. By the time I escaped out of the attic window and scrambled down the old maple tree in the backyard, I still didn't know what I was about to do. I had absolutely no clue, but I needed to get away. I didn't know where I was going, or how long I'd be gone for. I just wanted to leave. Get some fresh air. Enjoy the night. But at the time, I just didn't know how insane that night would turn out to be.
The only thing I was one hundred percent sure of was that I'd be much happier anywhere else but home. Anywhere but stuck in that house with them; I didn't belong there, it seemed, and it didn't feel like they cared enough about me to acknowledge my presence to begin with. Of course, that's how most parents are when they're in that extra sensitive pre-divorce stage, but I don't know why and I don't think I ever want to figure it out for myself. I suppose my parents think they're the only ones involved. If they knew how much it affected me as well, maybe Dad would have a sudden change of heart and attempt to put the family back together, but that wasn't likely to happen. He'd only go right back to his bottle to drown his problems once again. The day I first caught on to his drinking problem was one of the worst days of my life, and unfortunately I can still remember the details more clear than I personally would like to. If anyone in your family has had a problem like this, then you might know exactly what this feels like for me. If you don't, then I'm not sure if you will ever understand why I am the way I am, but I'm going to do my best to explain those things to you. He staggered through the door early one Sunday morning as I was watching Ren and Stimpy, my favorite television show as a kid in the 90's. Mumbled something brief to me, but I couldn't comprehend the vague slur of words. I was only seven at the time, a little boy who had absolutely no idea what alcohol was or what it could do to you. But I knew something was wrong as he sat down next to me on the couch and I couldn't bear the musky smell of him. I couldn't understand anything he was saying to me, and I didn't know why he smelled so bad, because he had never smelled anything like that before. Then he kissed me on the cheek and told me he loved me, but all I could feel was the painful scruff of his chin hair against my face. That was the last time I ever heard him say those words to me. Unquestionably, things were fucked up, and that was ten years ago. Ten years since the last "I love you", the phrase I have longed to hear every day since then. I'll probably never hear it again, but I'm content with the fact that sometimes love just isn't enough to get you by. Then all of a sudden, here I was. A seventeen year old hermit sneaking out of my house in the middle of the night to go who knows where. I was nervous about curfew, though I really had no reason to be, because police didn't come around this area too often. Stonebrook was almost unbearably peaceful, full of beautiful and wealthy families who enjoyed pretending they were one hundred and fifty percent better than everyone else in the neighborhood. What a complete joke. In reality, the residents of our town were more f*ed up than you would ever believe. A bunch of devious, fraudulent, insincere people, but they'll never admit that. Not in this neighborhood. The Williams family, the very tip-top of Stonebrook, was a prime example of that. Their daughter Nicole, a Junior I somewhat knew from school, was a straight-A student and in every way what people describe as "perfect", despite the fact that nothing is ever quite as flawless as it seems. Her parents showed her off like a trophy, bragging about all of the advanced classes she was in and how she was asked to homecoming by the "ridiculously handsome" Jon Ruggerio. Apparently all of the girls at school craved his attention, but Nicole was the luckiest of all, according to her mother. I'm not sure what her definition of lucky is, but it's certainly not the same as mine. I laughed when I found out Jon drunkenly knocked her up that night. Yeah, she was real lucky, wasn't she? Pregnant at sixteen, that was an excellent story for the headlines. Nicole and her family denied it repetitively, but I knew it was true when a family friend told Mom that Mr. and Mrs. Williams forced Nicole to get an abortion to protect the family's sacred name. Cruel, but things like that are expected from people here. You get used to it. And truthfully, it doesn't matter how messed up the situation is. They don't want to ruin their precious little image, so they simply erase the evidence. Eventually, we became just like every other family here. F*ed up. It wasn't unusual, honestly, but it was a bit upsetting to realize how similar we actually were. We were becoming clones at a sickening rate. Actors. No one in this world can say that they haven't pretended to be something they aren't; Everyone pretends, because even though nobody wants to openly admit it, we all want to be something that we just can't be. So we tell false stories of false hopes, false dreams, and false personalities. Living one big lie to save our own asses from the real world, whatever that may be. That's why Dad's a big bad, successful business man, and Mom puts on a fake smile to go dilly-dally with her friends for lunch. Both actors, trying to cover up the fact that neither of them are really happy at all. Rochester Street began to get darker and darker as I walked further away from my home. It wasn't an unfamiliar area, but I definitely hadn't been there too many times that I could recall. The street lights flickered, temporarily leaving me in the gloomy shadows, and I almost wanted to turn around and go right back home. If I were anyone else in the world, I wouldn't have been such a puss. But when you're me, and you're living life as a loner, you don't take risks like this very often. You don't do anything, because you're lost and confused and empty. I had to remind myself every few seconds that I was only being paranoid and had to keep going. And I did, because I didn't want to go back to that house and hear my mother cry in her room all night. Minutes later, I was blocks away, where the houses weren't as massive and perfect as the ones on my street. These were what my side of town called the "average" houses. Otherwise known as West Stonebrook, where it was okay to be normal and mediocre. The rich didn't like the average too much, because they weren't nearly good enough to be a part of Stonebrook. They didn't make nearly as much money and they weren't admirable lawyers or doctors or CEOs of major companies like everyone else was, and apparently that was a problem. None of the wealthy families wanted anything to do with them, simply because they weren't average themselves, and they didn't know what it was like to live paycheck to paycheck working a normal job. I didn't give a damn about money or popularity or perfection, even though I sometimes pretend that I do. It's more that I'm expected to care, because I come from a successful family growing up in an exceptionally expensive home. Chris lived in West Stonebrook all of his life and his family was doing just fine. Fine, however, was considered terrible to everyone else. Everything had to be absolutely outstanding, and I hated that more than anything. One f*** up and you're shunned from living the good life. It all gets taken away from you in the blink of an eye. One split second. That's probably one of the reasons Dad won't admit he's a drunk. He's had one of the top positions in his office building for the past thirteen years, and there's no way in hell he would ever let it slip away just for a drink. Ever. Truthfully, I'd rather live the normal life than be the lonely son of another failed corporate drone couple. I imagine there are plenty other people out there like Dad, and even kids out there like myself. People who are afraid to admit their faults, or even talk about them at all. I guess I'm like that in a way, when Chris asks me what's wrong and I say nothing instead of telling him how I think my parents are going to get a divorce or that I'm scared Dad is going to hurt himself or someone else if he keeps drinking so much. But maybe it's best to have secrets. Some things are meant to stay to yourself, aren't they? Noise at the end of Fifth Avenue startled me. Everything that could possibly go wrong was running through my mind all at the same time, and I couldn't help but think that I was f*ed and that the police were coming to arrest me for curfew. Then I heard voices, ones that I had never heard before in my life. I opened my eyes, unaware that I had them shut in the first place, and stared straight ahead, wondering who in the world was awake so late at night besides myself. Two people appeared in the front yard of one of the houses. Teenagers. I don't know why, but I didn't turn around and walk home. I didn't even consider it. Not even when the random strangers called me over to talk to them.
They didn't call me by name, of course. I didn't expect them to, because no one actually knew who I was around here, anyway. I wasn't important. Just a random face. A nobody, according to Stonebrook's unfortunate social standards. Instead, they called me "Blue", the color of the hoodie I was wearing. I'm not sure what possessed me to go talk to these people. I didn't know them. Hell, they might have been very troublesome kids, but that thought didn't stop me from walking down the dark, lonely street to where they were standing. It probably wasn't the smartest idea, but it was the last of my worries. I had nothing to lose. My mind was already f*ed for the night. Why not f*** it a little harder? I could smell the strong, familiar scent of alcohol on her breath when she asked me what my name was. I simply told her that it was Gavin. Nothing more, nothing less. She said she preferred to call me Blue, because it was easy and cool. I smirked at that. Me, cool? How ironic. 'She' was Brooklyn Quinn. Long, chestnut hair. Baby blue eyes. Phenomenally long eyelashes. I recognized her from school, where she was often roaming the halls when I used the bathroom pass during Calculus or Trigonometry, which were the most boring classes in the world, even for a guy like me. Her friend, a bald boy she introduced as Noah, looked somewhat intimidating in all black and piercing blue eyes. I had never seen him before this night, and I was honestly a little frightened to talk to him, or even say hello. He was one of those guys you look at and instantly wonder what the hell is going through their head and if they have a bad home life and if they're going to pummel you straight into the ground for even looking in their direction. For a moment I believed it would happen, but my fears subsided when he looked at me and smiled slightly. I breathed in relief. "Sup' dude?" he asked, nodding his head. Okay, I suppose he didn't seem so bad after all. Maybe he was one of those "teddy bear" types. Chris's nineteen year old sister Charlotte said that those are the best kinds of men out there, and that we should learn how to be like that if we ever want to impress a lady. Apparently, girls like intimidating assholes, as long as they're sweet and sensitive on the inside. I never understood how that worked. Why couldn't girls like guys who were nice all the time and didn't have to act tough? I asked Charlotte this question, and her answer was, "Because those guys are gay." I didn't know how to respond to that, because I'm not an asshole, and I'm certainly not gay, either. "Hi." I said awkwardly, not sure what else I was supposed to say. I didn't really know how to make conversation, due to the fact I rarely talked to anyone but Chris, and when we talked it was only about things like Gears of War and Call of Duty. Brooklyn ran her hands through her soft, silky mass of hair. It was long and wavy, like the hair in shampoo commercials on TV. I never believed hair could look that perfect, but when I stood in front of this girl, my mind was blown. She stared at me, and I panicked just a little bit, wondering if she realized that I was staring at her. "You look kinda familiar." she said, eyes squinted in tiny slits. Well, at least someone knew who I was. My face, anyway. That was enough recognition for me to not be a total loser, at least in my own head. I always figured I was invisible everywhere I went, therefore it was shocking to hear that somebody actually recognized me. But I didn't want to seem too excited, so I shrugged, playing it cool. Because playing it cool was a hell of a lot better than being a loser, and pretending was a hell of a lot better than letting them know the real Gavin. "Yeah? I think I've seen you once or twice." I stated plainly. Another boy appeared about ten feet from us, standing in the doorway of the house holding a half empty bottle of something, presumably alcohol, in his right hand and leaning against the wooden door frame carelessly. He was a tall guy, with shoulder length brown hair and the kind of facial expression that just screams rebel. In other words, this kid looked like he didn't give a s*** about anything, at all. I envied him for that. "What's goin' on out here? Come in and get skeed. Who's the new kid?" he asked, shifting his gaze towards me. His lean figure slouched there drunkenly. I wondered if this is what they did every weekend. Noah nodded again, as if it was some kind of code. "Kid's name is Gavin. We call him Blue." He glanced at my clothes and smirked. It was only a hint of a smirk, but I could clearly see it was there and I didn't know what to make of it. I've never been too great at reading people, either. But then again, there are a lot of things I'm not too good at. The other boy looked at me and shrugged lightly, not seeming to give a damn who I was, anyway. Not like anybody really did, but I've already accepted that. He just wanted to go and do whatever they had been doing before, which was apparently a lot more fun than standing there making conversation with us. "Ha, Blue." he laughed. "Seems convenient, I guess. Come back in, guys. Bring em' if ya wanna, I don't care as long as he's cool. We're lighting up in the dungeon and it wouldn't be cool to leave you guys chillin' out here by yourselves." he said, then went back inside the house, shutting the door behind him. "Who's that?" I heard myself ask no one in particular. "Cooper Braddock. This is his house." Brooklyn smiled. All I could really say was Oh. I didn't even know what else to say. Just a simple Oh. And when the two of them started walking towards the front door, I didn't stay behind. Maybe I should have, but it's too late now. Things were definitely about to change forever. And now it's too late to change anything.
The dungeon, as Cooped proudly called it, was their official hangout spot located in his cramped little basement. Their own private sanctuary, Noah explained as we headed down the stairs. I didn't expect there to be so many people down there, but as we grew closer and closer to that room, more and more voices came to the surface, and I realized exactly what was actually happening. It was a party. Something I've never been to in my life. Not a party like this, at least. A few birthday parties here and there, with bright colors and party hats and balloons and pinatas, but those parties nothing compared to Cooper's, and none of those items were anywhere to be found.
The first thing that caught my eye were the blood red walls, decorated with fascinating yet complex paintings by people I've never even heard of. Then, I saw the flush of random people, strewn out all over the room, sitting comfortably on the couches or on the floor, some laying wherever there was a free spot available. They all looked at me simultaneously, making me feel a little more insecure than usual, and shot a curiously paranoid look at Cooper.
He noticed them, right after taking a heartily swig from his bottle of 100 proof Nikolai Vodka (I could recognize the label from Dad's secret bottle hidden in his end table drawer, though I guess it's not really a secret anymore), and chuckled. "Guys, it's cool." Cooper said after another gulp. Maybe he was an alcoholic, too. Him and my father would get along quite well. I smirked at the thought of it. "He's new. Brooklyn and Noah recruited him outside, I guess. Name's Blue." he smiled. Everyone gave me a nod and a quick "What's up?", then went back to their previous conversations, except for one pudgy kid sitting in the corner.
"You ain't a cop, right? Or the son of a cop? Related to a cop at all?" he shouted over the mix of talking and heavy rock music. He squinted at me suspiciously, and I lost his eyes in the midst of his chubby cheeks.
"Umm, no.. I'm not any of those." I said.
Frankly, I didn't like police myself, but I'm almost positive that there isn't a teenager in this world who really does. I guess we're all stupid for that, because even though cops can be a bunch of ignorant assholes most of the time, who do we call when something bad happens? The cops. It's ironic, but that's the way it goes.
"Don't pay attention to him," Brooklyn said from behind me. I felt her hand grab mine and pull me over to the couch to sit with her. I looked into her bright blue eyes, and she smiled, tilting her head lightly towards the boy. "That's Cody. He's always worried someone's gonna rat us out. You won't do that, will you?"
"Rat you out? For what?" Confusion took over.
Cody butted in, this time from the other side of Brooklyn. He had gotten up from the floor so he could sit next to her, too. I assumed he had a little crush on her from the way his body language suggested, but that wasn't a surprise. She was definitely stunning enough to attract the attention of any man with a normal sex drive. "All the s*** we do. We can't be gettin' caught, kid. I got a good record and I'm not gonna screw it up because of some dumb f*** who tattles to the pigs. You blaze?"
"Blaze?" Confused, again. A couple of kids within earshot collectively shook their heads in obvious disgust. Whispers managed to find their way around the room, and soon, everyone was looking at me like I was completely and utterly insane.
Brooklyn stared at me, eyes wide in shock. "You don't know what blazing is? You don't smoke weed?"
Truthfully, I had never even seen real marijuana in my life, and smoking it was the last thing on my mind. Sure, I've seen pictures online before, but I didn't go out and search for it or anything like that. I hadn't even thought about it, because getting high wasn't something I ever wanted to do. I knew plenty of potheads from school, and weed had taken over their lives. Didn't seem like too good of a time to me.
"Um, I've never tried." I shrugged. That false side of me was taking over again, and I was trying to impress them, so I quickly added, "I've been offered plenty of times but I've always been too drunk to want to." Two big bullshit lies in one sentence.
People were staring at me as if I was growing a second head straight out of my neck. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, so I looked down into my lap, hoping it would help, but I could still feel the eyes burning deeply into my skin. I wanted to get up and go home right then, but I was already digging myself a deeper hole by the second. I was already enough of a loser, anyway. Leaving would just make things worse. I'd be the very bottom of the food chain. A wimp. A coward. A pussy. And I didn't want any of those things, despite how little I cared about popularity. I just didn't want to look like an idiot in front of Brooklyn and her friends.
Cooper chuckled, obviously piss drunk. Another feeling I had never felt before. Honestly, I've never actually tried alcohol at this point in my life, which goes to show just how much people really do pretend. But I wasn't in a rush to try it, either, especially after seeing what it had done to my father. What a jackass. "You've gotta be kidding me! Well, c'mon kid. You might as well try it now. We've got plenty to go around." Cooper said, pulling something from his pocket.
In his hand was a little baggie, containing the pungent plant itself, broken up into little buds. I had never smelled something quite like this one. Marijuana, I mean. Or weed, if that's what people refer to it as.
"Okay.. how do we do this? I'm not an expert. Always too drunk, you know." I laughed nervously.
I could sense the look of amusement in Cooper's eyes, and I feared that he could tell everything I was saying was a load of crap. He was enjoying the simple fact that he was corrupting me, an innocent boy. Clearly, I was new to this situation, but if it wasn't for the pretty girl sitting next to me, I probably would have gotten up and walked home right then. But I could feel her warm breath on my neck, tantalizing me to stay longer, and I couldn't oblige because nights like these just didn't happen to people like me.
"Here," Brooklyn reached over me to retrieve a pipe from Cooper, who was a little too under the influence to handle things himself. He did, however, take a seat on the floor in front of us and proceed to break the potent drug into little pieces. "We'll smoke out of this." she said. I watched how she and Cooper handled things. How he handed her bits of green and she placed them inside the pipe. I've seen old television shows where old, rugged Italian men smoked out of pipes, but they didn't look anything like this one.
Cooper's pipe was deep red with orange flames. It reminded me of everything that's supposed to be bad in the world, like Hell and the Devil and things you aren't supposed to talk about but do anyway when your parents aren't around. It was nothing like any of the pipes I've seen before, that's for sure. They told me not to call it that, because where we're from people refer to them as "bowls" instead of pipes, but I didn't understand why that was and I probably never will.
The smell of marijuana filled my nostrils and my brain immediately registered that they had began to smoke already. It was Brooklyn's turn, and I watched as a cloud of hazy smoke released from her mouth and floated into the atmosphere. Almost heaven-like, and I know that sounds weird to say about something like this, but that's exactly what it looked like. I almost became lost in that moment, forgetting that I was still just a naive rookie compared to these veterans of the party world.
She handed me the bowl and taught me how to hold it and explained the point of the "choke", which was a funny name for a small hole that you kept your thumb on while taking a hit in order for it to burn correctly. "Go on, now." Brooklyn's soft voice whispered into my ear. I was beyond nervous and I could feel the goosebumps appearing all over my pasty white skin, but I sucked it up quickly and fumbled around with Cooper's lighter as everyone watched me take my very first hit.
I guess when you're as inexperienced at me, your first time smoking weed hits you like a ton of bricks. I could feel something strange ... I didn't know what it was, but it was something. I tried to explain it to Brooklyn and she giggled for a few seconds at my dumb remarks, her perfect white teeth glistening behind her red lips. The feeling was called being "high", she described it as she walked me down the street when it started to get light outside. I told her I knew about that already, even though I really didn't know anything about it at all. She said she's been high many, many times, and that I wouldn't understand the full potential of weed until I've smoked it more. That's when she invited me to hang out with her that next Wednesday. And I knew exactly what we were going to be doing, even though no words were exchanged about it.
"Thanks for tonight." I said when we reached the other end of Fifth Avenue. That was the farthest I'd let her walk me, for I didn't want her or any of the others to know I lived in the upskirts of Stonebrook. I knew for a fact they wouldn't take too kindly to that. After all, I was just another spoiled ass rich kid, in reality, and everyone knows that kids like me make fun of kids like them. But when you live my life and you only have one friend who's just as much of a loser as you are, you tend to make friends with anyone who shows an interest.
Brooklyn smiled, and I cannot even begin to tell you how attractive that smile is, because there simply aren't words good enough to describe it. "What is there to be thankful for? Just a bunch of kids having a good time, that's all." Little did she know, it was the first time I've hung out with anyone other than Chris in years. I didn't exactly know what a good time was outside of playing video games.
"I know, but I'm a polite guy." I told her, trying my best to sound like I knew what I was talking about. Charlotte's voice popped into my head, and I smiled, reminding myself of what she had said. "Sometimes." I added.
"Oh," A giggle escaped from her lips. "Well in that case, if you're ever feeling polite again after tonight, maybe you can show us just how hard you party wherever you're from.. Where are you from, anyway?" This question was one that required a quick answer. One that I didn't want to give, but I had already lied about the other things, therefore one more couldn't hurt.
"A few streets over, on Winslow." I said. I overheard in many conversations at school that Winslow Street was the place to be; The parties there were the biggest and best there's been in a long time, even though there was a high bust rate and plenty of pissed off parents who were more pissed off at the fact their children went to West Stonebrook than the fact they were all charged with underage drinking fines. Typical Stonebrook families.
Brooklyn seemed to like this, and of course, I wasn't surprised. She was the life of the party, and the funny thing was, she really believed that I was, too. And I had to keep pretending that I was some cool, outrageous party god, or she probably wouldn't want to hang out with me at all. It crossed my mind that she might ask someone at school about me, and their response would most likely be, "Gavin? Gavin Scott? You mean that loser who hangs out with that weird, skinny kid? Why the f*** are you friends with him?"
But I didn't worry about that, because Brooklyn would probably tell them all about how I get drunk all the time and smoked weed with her and her friends. She'd tell them that I lived on the ultimate party street in West Stonebrook, even though I didn't live on that street at all, nor did I even live on that side of town. She'd tell them how cool and smooth and polite and funny I am, and then maybe everyone else would believe it, too. If only it were the truth. If only I could believe it myself. I'm not any of those things, to be honest with you. I'm nothing. Nothing at all.
Her smile turned into a grin, radiating brighter than the sun itself. "Well, well, well.. You're definitely something, aren't you?" she said.
No. Nothing. Nothing at all. If anything, I'm barely definitely something. I'm a piece of s*** liar, that's what I am. Guess I take after my father. Mom wouldn't approve.
"Maybe," I shrugged. "Or maybe not."
"Looks like I'll have to find out." Brooklyn stated. "See you Wednesday, okay? Find me in the parking lot after school." I thought about this, and wondered what people were going to think when they saw me meeting up with a girl like her. Rumors would be flying all over the place, you know how high school is. And if you don't, consider yourself lucky. It's one big s*** hole no one should ever have to deal with.
"Okay. Wednesday. Nice meeting you, Brooklyn." I said, and turned to start my walk back home to Wealthy Wonderland.
"Oh, and Blue?"
I turned around. She was staring at me in an odd sort of way, and my stomach did an arrangement of flips for who knows what reason. But she walked closer to me, so close that the flips my stomach was doing started turning into crazy, complicated twists and turns. Her face was right in front of mine, except maybe a few inches below due to the height difference, and I could see every bit of color in her eyes. They were the prettiest shade of blue with specks of gray and yellow, things I hadn't noticed when I looked at her before.
She was uncomfortably close at this point, her lips tantalizingly close to my own, and I could feel her breath on me as she spoke the words I certainly wasn't expecting to hear.
"It was really nice to meet you, too." And those words stuck with me forever.
"Where were you last night?"
Mom was sitting on our living room couch when I arrived at home, absently staring at the wall. It was vacant for the most part, aside from our family picture, taken quite a few years ago. The picture, perfectly centered on the wall above the fireplace, was an unfortunate reminder of what once was. A souvenir from when we were happy and had our lives together. The three of us, smiling cheerfully, staring into the camera lens of some well-paid photographer who probably didn't care about us at all as long as we were paying him a few hundred bucks.
I was a little taken aback by my mother's presence just then. It was very early in the morning, and the sun hadn't completely risen yet, which meant she should have still been asleep. She normally didn't wake up until the bright shine of the sun's rays hit her through the curtains. But then again, she was probably up all night contemplating the argument between her and her husband. Crying, of course, because she was noticeably still upset. That explained the faint mascara stains beneath her eyes.
"I went to Chris's. I couldn't get much sleep with you and Dad down here yelling." I said, lying out of my ass, but she wouldn't know any better. Mom knew he was my best and only friend, as sad as it is to admit that. She would never suspect me of being anywhere else, especially not hanging out with Brooklyn's crowd in West Stonebrook, where I was only permitted to go if I was hanging out with Chris.
She wiped her eyes. "You heard?"
I opened my mouth, but she didn't give me time to respond. "God, he's such an asshole. I should have known not to marry someone like him." She raised her hand to dab her eyes with a mostly black tissue.
I knew she didn't mean that, because she loved him more than life itself, especially with the many years they had spent together. My father wasn't always this way. An asshole, I mean. He was a kind-hearted man once. A man who went on camping trips with me when I joined the Cub Scouts, and cooked dinner for Mom and I if he got home from work early enough. That was the man she fell in love with, and we both missed him, wherever he was. The guy who replaced him wasn't my father, and he certainly wasn't her husband, either. I didn't know who he was. A stranger. He looked like Dad, and he had his voice, but his personality was nowhere to be found.
"Where is he now?" I asked.
"Work, I guess. Who knows? He's probably out with that woman again." Mom sighed heavily, resting her chin in the palms of her hands. "Where have I failed him that he had to find someone else? We could have worked it out. I'm not that bad of a wife, am I?"
"No, of course not. But maybe he really didn't cheat, have you considered that?" I questioned her, though I was mainly questioning myself. I wanted to have faith in him, but I wasn't entirely sure if he deserved it. Mom was right; He was an asshole.
"Gavin, honey, I would love to believe that your father is innocent, but I just can't. When a woman has a gut feeling about something, it's usually right. You'll understand someday when you have a wife of your own."
Unlikely. I couldn't imagine myself having a girlfriend, let alone being married. Being around my parents didn't help things much, either. They scared me away from marriage, if anything. If this was what it was going to be like, I didn't want to experience it. I was far better off.
I didn't understand how Dad could pull this off the way that he was, married to one woman and seeing another. If I was my mother, his ass would have been kicked to the curb a long time ago, but I'm not my mother and unfortunately she doesn't think the way that I do, although I sometimes think she'd feel a lot better if she did. I'm pretty logical when it comes to life, even though I haven't been in any situations quite like this one.
I've never kissed a girl before, which most people already know about me. You know your life sucks when you're seventeen and still haven't had your first kiss, but maybe I'm not the only one. Maybe there's someone else like me out there who hasn't kissed anyone yet, either. I feel bad for them, and I feel bad for myself, too, until I look at my parents and realize this "love" thing really isn't all that great, anyway.