Check which is the shallow end and note the point where you will be out of your depth.
Who: Troy James Weaver
Where: Wichita, Kansas
We were at a club called the Leviathan waiting for the heat from the drugs to recede. Cody overdid it, to say the least, but Samantha and I maintained our business-as-usual cool while dancing through the night. When it came to molly, we were gurus of the genre. Guess Cody snuck off to the bathroom at some point, crushed five of the fuckers up on a toilet seat and snorted them. He was out of his mind feeling good. When you have a schnozz like an aardvark and the courage to die, guess you get to feeling like Superman or something. An hour or two later, he was looking pretty gross, kind of hunkered against a wall, vomit on his shoes, and we knew it was over, Clark Kent had arrived and he was just as weak and human as anybody.
“What a waste,” I said. “You two still owe me, too. Forty-five per.”
“Fuck that shit,” said Samantha. “Those’re Shkreli prices.”
“For you, thirty,” I said. “But him, we’ll talk about that later, you know, if he doesn’t die on us.”
Samantha didn’t say anything, just smiled.
My phone buzzed, a text from Jared: I think you’re so beautiful. Please, please, please consider what we talked about yesterday, k? Luv u.
I put the phone back in my pocket without reply. Jared was a guy from Jersey who thought I was a girl named Amber from Kansas. We were kind of dating, I guess, even though I’m from Dallas, my name’s Aaron, and I have absolutely zero interest in fucking guys. Not saying Jared did, either, or even that there’s anything wrong with that—I’m just saying he didn’t know I was a guy and I did.
“Come on,” said Samantha. “We could wait all night trying to get him right.”
I agreed, so we hopped in my car and drove back to the suburbs, where our parents slept comfortably in their beds, all snuggled away with the idea they’d been right about keeping us as white and guarded from the real world as they possibly could. They snored as if they were already dead. We were young, dumb—still felt like we were awake to the possibilities of life, cliché as that sounds.
We pulled into the driveway and cut the headlights. Cody fell and hit the concrete with a thud—sounded like a hotdog smacked a butt cheek. We each grabbed an arm and hoisted him to walk.
“Ah, fuck, what the, what’s that smell?” said Samantha. “Cody? You alive, man? You smell like shit.”
“Shut your mouth, bitch,” he said through quivering lips.
“Come on, guys,” I said. “Not too loud.”
My phone vibrated in my pocket. I thought maybe it was Jared, but that was just me being hopeful. It just as easily could have been Marcus, Marie, or Darius. It turned out to be my dad: you coming home tonight? I only saw this an hour later, after we successfully got Cody covered up and hydrated and asleep. I didn’t reply. Instead I texted Jared: I know it’s late, but can you talk?
“New Order or The Smiths?” asked Samantha.
I was staring at my phone, waiting for a text to appear.
“You could at least tell me to fuck off or something,” she said.
“You want to be like that? Fuck off, then,” I said.
She picked The Smiths.
I settled back in a beanbag chair, waiting. Occasionally I’d look up to see if Cody was still breathing, every now and then look at Samantha. She was pretty. She had this black hair and pale skin, was a little bigger than other girls, but not by much, and had a bit of a crooked smile. I found it endearing. She was dancing while sitting on the floor, rather writhing, shaking her head—I don’t know how to explain it. We all were in our own little separate worlds and those worlds were crammed into this world. It was stuffy, you know. We liked the company, yet other times we wanted those other worlds to be crushed by meteors or asteroids, just like how the dinosaurs supposedly died. It couldn’t hurt much, right?
Wouldn’t even see it coming.
You don’t feel anything when you’re glued to a screen, even when you’re up late cooking up extinction theories.
Finally Jared texted: I’m half sleep. Can we talk tomorrow?
Tomorrow? Fuck tomorrow.
I typed: it’s just really…really? my bestie od’d n is in the icu and u wanna talk tomorrow?
Jared texted: So sorry, babe. I didn’t know. I hope shes ok? she gonna make it? u holding up?
I didn’t reply.
One minute later, he texted: hello? for real, tho, forgive me? please, baby, I dind’t kno. love you.
“Whatever, fucking asshole.”
“Who’re you talking to?” asked Samantha.
“Fuck you,” I said to my phone as I turned it off. “Nobody, nobody, just reading some shit about the asshole we voted into office.”
She was still doing her amazing dances. I studied her in the mild light, and said, “You know, I think I’d rather listen to Joy Division, if you’re cool with that.”
“People who hang themselves after watching Herzog films probably actually aren’t that rare,” said Samantha.
“That’s how I’d do it—right after Fitzcarraldo,” I said, yawning.
We listened to Ian Curtis and his depressing baritone for a while, not talking to each other.
I was losing steam, finally told Samantha I was going to call it a night and go to sleep.
“Think I’ll stay up for a bit longer, make sure he makes it, you know,” she said. “Oh, and don’t forget, we have to be on campus by eight-thirty at the absolute latest—test starts at eight-forty-five.”
I nodded, slid back into the beanbag chair, covered myself with a sheet, and closed my eyes. They weren’t closed all that long before I heard Cody grunt and start flopping around on the bed.
Then I heard Samantha, “You all right, Cody? You need anything?”
Then I heard him whisper, “Yeah.”
“What do you need? Water?” she asked.
“Wake me up if I sleep through the fire?” he said.
“Of course,” she said. “Don’t worry about that.”
“Thanks,” he said, flopping, going back to sleep.
I finally fell asleep to his snoring, then her snoring, too, thinking stupid things, the fact of their lives lulling me into a dream where houses never burned and people never died.
Troy James Weaver lives in Wichita, Kansas. His writing has appeared in Everyday Genius , Vol. 1 Brooklyn , and Hobart . He is also the author of Witchita Stories (Future Tense Books)Visions (Broken River Books) and Marigold (King Shot Press).
Image from Wikimedia Commons