By my second week of classes I'd met dozens of new people and by the week after that, those people became my friends. All the skin deep differences paled in comparison to what I discovered underneath. I met kids with aspirations of becoming a lawyer, doctor, accountant or a psychiatrist. Some with ideas for the next New York Times Bestseller. Others still who had no idea where they were going, but they knew they were going to enjoy the ride. In a big school in the big apple, you meetallkinds of people.
Tia was my first girl friend. We shared a biology class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We were assigned lab partners the second week of class and she was mine. I was happy when I realized that she and I shared the extroverted personality trait. As we prepped for our first dissections, she merrily chattered away about her girlfriend, Melena. She and I were introduced the following week at some Freshman Mixer thing. Around the same time I met her friends Chase, Drake, Annabella and Travis. Turned out that I had history with Drake and hadn't even realized it. Probably due to the fact that the class washuge.
The first guy that I'd managed to meet all by myself was Chance. Chance Dermont. He sat a row behind me in Modern English with Prof. Callahan. Well, I'd be lying if I said I met him all on my own, because he was the one who introduced himself to me the third week of class.
"Hello." Someone to my left had said as I headed out of the class. Turning toward the voice, I saw the face of an angel incarnate.
"Hi." I smiled as warmth crawled up my neck.
"Oh, sorry, I'm Chance Dermont. I, uh, sit behind you in English."
"Yeah, I know." I smiled, letting myself fill with that warmth I'd starved myself of. I hadn't even looked at a boy since Arizona, let alone talked to one. Especially one as cute as Mr. Dermont, with his sandy blonde locks, glowing hazel eyes, beautiful tan and cute crooked smile. "I'm Violet. Violet Phillips."
"Well, it's very nice to meet you. Anyway, I couldn't help but notice that you're a writer and I wanted to know if you'd want to get a cup of coffee and chat sometime. I am a writer as well." I couldn't tell if it was pride or true happiness, but something made him smile. I smiled too, because I was old enough to tell when I was being asked on a date.
"Well, I can't right now, because I have class but maybe later or tomorrow?" My eyes met his for just a brief moment, before I broke the stare.
"If you don't want to, that's okay. I can handle rejection." His honesty surprised me and so did his lack of confidence. I laughed out loud.
"I really do." I smiled. "I also really have to go to class. Here." I grabbed his hand and scribbled down my name and number. "This is my cell, okay? Call me tomorrow and we'll grab a cup of coffee."
"Alright, I will." He smiled at me, happiness in his smile. I chuckled and waved before disappearing off to my next class.
Just as I had hoped, Chance called me the next morning and we grabbed some coffee. Conversation wasn't hard. Between two authors, words come easily.
Chance's background consisted of a military mom and a neo-hippie mother. Modern-day Romeo and Juliet, huh? The family moved around quite frequently because of dad's work, but after twenty years of location instability, Ava took her soon and divorced her husband. Chance and his mother moved to Illinois, which was where she was originally from, and Chance finished schooling. He said he'd always enjoyed moving, because the change was nice, but he'd spent plenty of nights wishing that they'd stay long enough for him to make friends that he could keep. He moved to New York the summer after he graduated, just like I had. He'd confessed that he used to smoke pot, but dropped the habit after a few months.
"They are healthier ways to spend time. As people like you and I know." Chance was of course referring to writers and creators. Often times he had separate, "people with the gift and curse of creativity," from the, "common folk". He'd say how we were blessed by the ability to think, feel and convey it by means of art, music or literature, yet we were cursed by a society of brain-dead morons. And no matter what, our jobs would end up depending on them and that meant we had to entertain, even if it meant selling our souls to the proverbial devil. The true battle for the starring creator lied in value vs venue. Selling out to get noticed or staying true to yourself and starving? The jury is still out. By mid-November. I was starting to seriously crush on my new guy friend. Yes, life was in fact continuing on.
Balls. As the bright blue and reds cruised behind me, waiting for me to pull over, all I thought about was how much my life sucked balls. I pulled over and waited for the cop to stroll over on his high horse, inform me of the crime I'd committed and swagger off with a smug smile.
"License and registration, pal." The policewoman said as I rolled down the window.
"What seems to be the problem, officer?" I asked, grabbing my wallet and popping open my glove compartment. Handing her the documents, I realized I had two ounces of weed in the middle compartment of my car. Shit, I hoped she didn't check it.
"You were going sixty-five in a thirty-five zone." She stared at me, giving back my license and registration.
"Just anxious to get home, I guess won't happen again." I chuckled, flashing her a smile. I figured there was no use in truing to be cute though. Between her tone and stance, I guessed that she preferred XX to XY.
"Damn Skippy." She flicked open her booklet, scribbling a few things down and ripped out my ticket. With a smile, she handed it to me.
"Don't let me see you speeding again." With that, she walked back to her car and drove off. I stared at my $150 fine, knowing Lana would be pissed when I got home, but first, I had a stop to make.
Parker's grave was in the back, where it was always muddy and all the bugs procreated. Unwelcoming as fuck, the back of the cemetery was where the cheapest holes were dug.
I stared at his grey headstone, re-reading the names and dates that I'd memorized, remembering the face of a happy free man with his whole life ahead of him. It'd been a while since I'd visited him. I'd told myself that I was busy and I'd visit soon, but I wasn't and I didn't. I'd been avoiding his grave because I didn't want to remember what led up to his death.
It'd been November, when shit began to hit the fan. Parker had convinced me to ditch my family and Vi's to go to a party for Thanksgiving. Boss Man had been benevolent enough to give both of us Friday and Saturday off, and a friend of Parker's was having a "little get together" Friday night. I'd accompanied Parker to another "get together" with his friends. They were anything but little and I'm sure most of them weren't normal. Realizing that Parker sometimes kept really strange company only made me admire him more.
So, what did I do? Of course, I called Vi and my parents, explained that I had to work all weekend. Parker's words, not mine. The whole lying thing was still pretty new to me, but I had to admit that the thrill of sneaking around was kinda freeing. So, we hung at all Friday and at six-thirty the two of us headed out, Parker's goal was, without a doubt, to score. Not only with at least one girl, but also with a drug dealer friend of his, guess what her name was? Yep, Lana. Life's funny, huh?
So at seven o' clock, we stepped through the front door of Alan's pad, I smiled. A nearly drunk kid stumbled over to us, hugging us before muttering, "Mi casa es su casa."
"Alan." Parker smiled, placing a hand on this guy's shoulder, "I'd like you to meet my friend, Brady."
"Herro, Bradeeeey." He smiled, drunkenly, whipping out his hand.
"My pleasure." I chuckled, shaking his hand.
"Booze, kitchen. Girls, living room. Drugs, everywhere else." He cackled like a hyena at a joke I apparently missed. He threw his hands in the air and disappeared into the mass of people bumping and grinding on each other to mediocre music.
"Wanna drink?" Parker asked, moving toward the kitchen. I wasn't really in the mood to drink, but there wasn't much else to do. Besides, a little liquid courage would help me more through the sea of unfamiliar faces.
"Why the hell not?" I chuckled, pushing through a few kids to get to the kitchen.
"Whaddya want?" Parker asked, smiling at the countertop covered in a hundred different bottles of alcohol. The possibilities were endless.
"Whatever." I chuckled. "Surprise me."
"Alrighty, kid." He laughed and started mixing shit together and trying it. He smiled as we poured two glasses of a clear mixture. Parker took a glass for himself and handed one to me.
"A toast." He proclaimed with a grin. "To getting fucked up and being free."
I just smiled and bumped my red plastic cup against his. I sipped my drink, letting the alcohol seep into my blood stream. For a few hours, I followed Parker around, letting him introduce me to his friends and stopped a few too many times to refill our concoctions. I'd gotten wasted off a drink that I didn't even know the name of. With every drink the music was sounding better, the girls were looking hotter and a thousand bad ideas seemed a lot harder to resist. Around eleven or twelve about half of the crowd had dissipated. By one, there were only about a dozen of us chillin' in Alan's basement. As we all laid around, ready to sleep off the booze, Lana spoke up.
"Hey, Parker." Her voice was low and sultry, but still annoying as fuck. "Come here and give mama a little sugar. I'll give you that present you wanted."
"Lana, I'd hardly call my order, the one that I paid for, a present. But I'm too damn drunk to turn down a babe like you." He smiled, tripping over to her. Soon, I couldn't tell where one face ended and the other began. Those two were the only two people who I'd ever seen so closely resemble animals.
When they finished, Lana let out a satisfied sigh. "Here ya go, baby." She smiled, tossing a white baggie at him.
"Thank you, Lana." He smiled and stumbled over to me. I was too far gone to realize what was going on. Everyone's voices were distant and slurring together. I saw Parker's face, smiling at me like always.
"Yo, Alan, you got that fuckin' mirror around here?"
"It's over here." Alan raised his arm and pointed toward a wall. He was laying on a couch, face down, ready to pass out. The other couple of kids were already asleep, it was a miracle I'd lasted that long. It had to have been close to two am. A moment later, Parker returned and placed the mirror on Alan's coffee table.
"Shit," Parker smiled excitedly. "You ready, man?" He opened the bag and used his credit card to draw lines.
"Man, what the fuck are you talkin' about?" I chuckled, staring at him as the room spun.
"Come on, bud. You're gonna love this. It's good shit."
"Nah, I don't think –"
"Don't you trust me? It's good shit, I'm telling ya, you'll love it."
"Whatever, man." And just like that I was sold. It wasn't too hard to convince me to do something when I'd jumped off the cliff of sobriety and was so close to splattering into the black oblivion of unconsciousness. I don't know where it came from, but Parker suddenly had a small white tube. Like the expert he was, Parker smiled and shot two lines up his nose. He let out a sigh and handed me the tube. How bad could trying it be? I mean, it was just…what the fuck was it anyway? I'd never done drugs before, not hard drugs anyway.
"What is this shit, Parker?"
"Crystal fuckin' meth, dude. Now, come on and try it." He slapped my shoulder and laughed.
I put the tube up my nose, pushed the other nostril shut and drug the tube across the line, inhaling hard. My blurry vision was sharpened and the sluggish drunk state I'd been in was long gone. I felt my heart fighting to beat its way out of my chest.
"Wow." I breathed.
"Let's do another line." Parker laughed. He cut it again and switched nostrils. From that moment on, I was hooked and I knew my life would be forever altered. I knew I'd be fucked when Saturday afternoon rolled around, and I couldn't have cared any less.
A month of using later, Parker and I returned to Alan's and met up with Lana. It was a repeat of the first time, except it was on fast forward. It seemed like it'd been five minutes before our usual group ended up in the basement, doing lines and getting fucked up.
Lana gave Parker a little extra, 'cause she thought he was cute. Always had, Parker had told me, but he didn't wanna mix business with pleasure. At least not too frequently. As much as he liked Lana, he wasn't a serious-relationship kind of guy.
"Let's do this, buddy." He chuckled, pouring out half the bag. He began cutting lines, when nature called.
"Shit, man, I gotta take a piss." I rushed up the stairs and tripped over shit, until I stumbled into the bathroom. Just as I began to relieve myself, my phone rang. I pulled out the phone and the ID read "Violet".
"Fuck." What the hell was she still doing up? I finished pissing, just in time to answer the phone.
"Hey, baby." I said, washing my hands. Even a druggie needed to be clean.
"Hey." She sounded sad or disappointed.
"I thought you were going to come over after work. I thought maybe something was wrong, so I called to see if you were alright."
Fuckin' tits. I knew I'd forgotten something on the way over. It was damn lucky that I had Parker drive separately.
"Oh, yeah, yeah. I had to stay and take care of a few things." Jesus Christ.
"Brady, it's eleven o' clock."
"I know, I didn't get off until nine tonight anyway. And then boss made Parker and I had to stay, and then I had to take him home. I know I should've called, but I'm leaving right now." Shit. Shit. Shit.
"I thought you said you were getting off at seven tonight?"
"Someone took off halfway through their shift. I had to cover for them. I'm sorry. Do you still want me to come over?" Fuck.
"If you want to. I don't wanna make you come see me."
I needed to go be with her. I'd fucked up really bad and lied my ass off to not seem like a shitty boyfriend. But I was pretty positive that the whole situation made me shitty person.
"I want to see you, baby. I really do. I'm on my way okay?"
"Alright." Disappointment continued to ring out of her sigh.
"I love you." I said, grasping at straws.
"I love you too."
Closing the phone, I raced downstairs and saw that Lana and Parker has started the party without me.
"Holy shit, man. Thought you fell in." Parker laughed. "Come on, do a line." The white powder was calling me, smiling at me and begging for me to snort it. I stared for a moment, but ignored the plea. I was so busted if I did another line. The two Parker and I did at the end of our shift was still electrifying each of my nerves.
"Nah, man. I gotta jet. I told Vi that I'd stop by after work, but I totally forgot. She just called and reminded me."
"Aw, shit, man. You better run and do some major damage control. I'll see you later." He smiled.
I waved, but he and Lana had already bent over, ready to do some more lines. I raced back upstairs and out to my car. I'd have to do some major ass-kissing to make up for how badly I fucked up, but all I could worry about was whether or not I smelled like booze and cigarettes.
Turned out that everything was fine. Violet's discontentment melted at my arrival and she was just happy to see me. We made up almost instantly, and I swore I'd never forget to call again. I think she noticed that I smelled like a bar ashtray, but thankfully, she ignored it.
Unfortunately, when I woke up next to her in the morning, my phone was blinking with one new voice mail message. I rolled over and pressed one, letting the phone dial the voicemail.
A familiar female voice jumped out of the phone. "Shit, Brady," Lana's recording said frantically. "Shit. Shit. Shit. After you left, Alan, me and Parker did some more lines and Alan and I were so wired that we went upstairs and screwed around for a while. Not my finest hour, I'll admit, but damn was it fun. Anyway, we were so fucked up that when we came back downstairs, we didn't realize that Parker wasn't moving anymore. Fuck, Brady, he's – he's fuckin' dead. I think he OD'd. What the fuck do I do?" She nearly cried, "Call me back, please."
I closed the phone, as my jaw fell. How? Why? Parker was an expert. He always knew when to stop himself and when to stop me. Fuck, how did it happen? There was no way that I was calling that bitch back. It was all her fault.
Then, a warm hand grabbed my shoulder and my angel's voice swam through the room. "Baby, what's up?"
"Parker's dead." I sighed, rolling over to admire her face. The only thing that stopped me from drinking, smoking or snorting was the fact that she was laying next to me.
"What?" She sounded shocked.
"He overdosed last night. A friend of his just called me. Fuck." Tears began to cloud my eyes, but I didn't wanna cry. I wanted to go get fucked up, and forget that I'd lost my best friend.
"I'm so sorry. I know you two were close." She ran a hand through my hair, smiling at me. She pulled me close, kissing me lightly. A small tear ran down my cheek, but it melted in the comforting passion of our kiss.
"Thank you." I sighed when I pulled back.
"You'll be alright." She said, holding me close to her. I pressed my head against her chest, letting the beats of our hearts sync up. Wrapped in Vi's warmth, I thought about how Parker's heart would never beat again.
On my way back to the trailer. I realized that crystal meth had been the reason behind losing the two people that I cared most about. Also, it contributed to losing my job, getting my ass kicked out my parents house and being totally cut off sometime between Vi's graduation and the beginning of Autumn. After a while, times and days lose their meaning. It all becomes one crystal-induced blur of consciousness.