Hello! I’ve been mostly posting poetry here lately. The winter gloom has fucking worn me down, and a few lines at a time have mostly been what I could focus on for the past month or two. I managed to make some progress on a as yet untitled book I’ve been working on about rural punks in the nineties for the past year this weekend, and I’m going to post a segment of it here. I’m not sure if this will make the final draft, but I’m pretty proud of it regardless. Some names were changed to protect the anonymity of those involved in this story.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you for reading.
Take care of yourselves, take care of one another. ❤
We sold weed sometimes too. Weed was never a huge part of my life. I had had a brief infatuation with it that previous winter, but it cooled quickly when some of the kids I smoked up with moved onto shooting dope. Dylan and James smoked it when they could. Skinhead Jimmy smoked sometimes, but mostly liked to drink. I had been sober since spring, taking the lyrics of that Minor Threat cassette Forrest loaned me to heart. I just had no interest in, (and far too many opinionated teenage judgements about) drugs. However, I had no qualms whatsoever about selling weed to Kenny, who lived down the street.
Kenny was one of those dudes who was born to spend his life in Southern York County, loud, entitled, and dumb as all hell. He was the kind of douche who made those “Looney Tunes wearing generic hip hop clothing” t-shirts so popular in small towns in the early 90’s. We had been friends a few years back; back before my dad died, but that might as well have been a lifetime ago. We’d have sleepovers and late night wrestling matches often went on just a tad too long, and ended up with him pushing his ass back against me and breathing heavily until it got awkward. We would never talk about it in the morning. We drifted apart before middle school was even over. The irony of his referring to me as “faggot” when he passed in the hall once we hit ninth grade was secretly delicious.
Faggots or not, we still wanted his money. He would show up at the front door of Dylan’s dad’s house and start pounding on it.
“Dylan! Open up! I wanna buy weed!”
Dylan and I would share a look.
Fucking idiot. He’s going to get us all goddamn busted. Luckily Kenny was never dumb enough to show up knocking the door down on a night when Dylan wasn’t home. The presence of Dylan’s not conspicuous at all Chrysler Cordoba was telling like that.
This particular night, it was just Dylan, Skinhead Jimmy and I watching some long forgotten zombie movie in the living room, waiting for Dylan senior to drink enough cheap wine to pass out. We’d hit the streets and wreak whatever havoc we could after that.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
It was Kenny and his neighbor. They were drunk on rum they had stolen from Kenny’s parents and swaying. They wanted to buy enough weed to go smoke a joint on the baseball field. Kenny shot me a look through the door. I did my best to shoot one back that said: “You talk tough now, motherfucker. I know how much you wanted my cock in your ass just a few short years ago.” I don’t know if it translated. Dylan told them to wait outside and he would go see what he had.
Dylan, Jimmy and I practically raced one another to the kitchen. The act of summoning dimbebag out of kitchen spices to sell to Kenny and his friends was a tried and true routine between Dylan and Jimmy, and one I took much delight in observing. Dylan stepped into his room, and returned with a baggie full of green leaf and some Elmer’s glue, the exact same kind I used to spike up my ‘hawk. Jimmy rifled through the spice cabinet. There it was. Oregano. This would be hilarious. Since time immemorial, many a burnout in this town were known to shuffle through the halls of our high school selling dimebags or oregano. We were not original in this endeavor.
I liked to imagine that none of them took as much malicious amusement in selling bogus weed as we did though. The vein that bulged in the shape of an X in Dylan’s forehead when he laughed was practically jumping out of his skull as he sprinkled some weed on the counter to mix with the oregano in Jimmy’s hand. Jimmy in turn, was giggling viciously and muttering under his breath.
“Fucking idiot. I can’t believe he keeps coming back.” Jimmy said.
I had to cover my mouth for fear of Kenny hearing my laughter outside. I watched with amusement that bordered on amazement as Dylan and Jimmy poured some shake into a baggie and then poured oregano in after it. My amazement turned to sheer awe as I watched them roll some oregano and shake together with Elmer’s Glue, and then jab a stem into the whole semi dried mess in order to make a fairly convincing bud.
Kenny was known to brag to anyone who would listen how fucked up the weed he bought from us always got him. I didn’t know the chemical make up of Elmer’s Glue, but I wondered if he wasn’t getting at least a little buzzed from smoking it. I imagined sticky brown residue filling his lungs and killing his brain cells all at once. I couldn’t convince myself to feel particularly guilty either way. He was after all, such a little asshole.
Dylan and Jimmy took their crafted dimebag back to the front door where Kenny and is friend were waiting eagerly. Kenny was leaning against a post on the front porch for support, eyes half closed and grinning. I hated him in that moment. I hated him for the ease with which he walked the through the world, like it owed him something. I hated him because of the stories I had heard about how he acted around girls at parties. I hated his douchebag swagger, and the way he tried to make his voice sound deeper than it was when he spoke. I hated him for convincingly playing the part of mommy and daddy’s good little Christian boy and then being such a piece of shit as soon as he was out of their sight.
Dylan palmed him the bag of mostly fake weed.
“Ten bucks” He said flatly.
Kenny laughed easily and pulled out his wallet.
“Here you are, my man. My dude here and I sure do appreciate it.” Kenny slurred.
“This shit got me so fucked up last time. Goddamn.”
Kenny’s friend did his best to look hard. I wondered if it was his first drug deal, and he was going off what he had seen in the movies or some shit. I mean, I guess Jimmy with his shaved head, boots and braces was an intimidating sight, but we weren’t in one of those movies these sheltered ass small town white kids were always emulating to try and act hard. That reality would have eaten them alive.
Whatever. We took their money and sent them to smoke their dirt weed, oregano and glue combo at the baseball field. Ten bucks would mostly fill up the Cordoba and we had the satisfaction of ripping off someone we all thought was an asshole. The three of us busted out laughing almost as soon as Dylan shut the door behind him.
The ten dollars we made from poor Kenny took us no farther than driving aimless circles around Shrewsbury all night. It was enough. Dylan and Jimmy in the front seat, and me stretched out in the back. The windows rolled all the way down and the AM summer air mixing with a tape of Subhumans Time Flies, But Aeroplanes Crash EP playing on the stereo. The speakers sounded just fucking awful and perfect all at once.
I thought about Kenny, all those years ago writhing beneath me in his underwear, neither of us ever quite brave enough for what came next. I thought about my boys in the front seat. I loved them both as bravely as I knew how. I loved them both in a way Kenny in all his stumble, swagger and posturing would never understand. Jimmy and Dylan were both laughing freely. Jimmy launched an empty glass bottle carelessly out the window to hear the sound of it smashing on country blacktop receding in the distance.
I imagined all the lights that small town streetlights flickering to the south of us. I imagined those lights leading our way to everywhere else, giving way to the lights of all the cities I couldn’t wait to see. Five miles to the south of us lay the Pennsylvania state line. Another forty miles of rural highway and you were in Baltimore County. Those exit routes counted for something. In that moment I knew all of us would make it out of this place and might even have a chance of growing into the people we always wanted to be.
This tiny, shitty world we were stuck in for at least another few years may cater to Kenny and all the other thoughtless Neanderthals just like him, but tonight we had gotten his money and converted it to just enough gas for a brief respite. With the music and our laughter cascading out the windows and into the summer air, we knew some things they would never know. We went south on main, towards the Getty to turn right on constitution and creep the long way home through New Freedom, the threat of boredom and entropy vanquished for another night.