Jeremy came to his front door, his eyelids at half mast. Jack stopped a moment to take in Lizzie’s neighbor’s dirty white wool poncho that gave way to a pair of Scooby Doo boxer shorts at his waistline. His unwashed brown hair stood up in various strands and locks. Combined with the cloud of cannabis smoke that habitually followed him around, he looked like a stoner version of Pigpen.
“Well hey man, what’s goin’ on?” he welcomed, each word drawling smoothly together with the same rehearsed quality of an answering machine; a greeting, though clearly there was no one home.
“Are you even trying to pretend you’re not a weed dealer anymore?” Jack replied.
“Nah. I’ve been calling the police with anonymous tips about ‘huge drug deals on the south end’, so they’re too busy chasing geese to give a shit about what I’m doing,” he explained with a self-satisfied chuckle.
“You mean you sent them on a wild goose chase?”
“Yeah, something like that, if geese still lived in the wild I guess. You wanna come inside?”
Jeremy pointed Jack down the short hallway leading to the living room and motioned for him to sit down. There was an open box of Crunch Berries on the coffee table and a paused episode of My Little Pony on the TV.
“You know man, I’m really glad you came by. You haven’t bought from me for, like, months. I was starting to miss getting baked and playing Street Fighter with you.”
“Jer, I’m sorry to say that I’m not here to buy or toke—”
“Not even a puff? Come on dude, I just got this crazy shit in, this past week. You have to.”
“No, really, I can’t—”
“Jackie. It’s called ‘Berserker’.”
“…as in a six-and-a-half-foot tall, axe-wielding maniac Norse warrior covered in wolf pelts?”
“I don’t know man. I guess, if you’re into that sort of thing.”
“Alright, fine. But do we really have to watch My Little Pony?”
“Yeah we really do.”
Jack looked over with a slight glare crossing his face.
“Dude, Jack, it’s chill. The purple pony brought this bug into Pony Village and then it multiplied and all the multiplied bugs started eating everything, so they cast a spell on them to make them stop eating shit but it backfired and now they’re eating even more shit and the pony in the cowboy hat can’t figure out how to get rid of them.” Jack raised a skeptical eyebrow. “It sounds pretty dense and complicated, but don’t worry; you’re a smart guy, you’ll catch up in no time. Now here, start catching up,” Jeremy implored, handing his beloved moss green glass bowl, “Toady”, to Jack.
Jack took a deep pull from the pipe, holding it in for a few seconds before breaking into an uncontrollable sputtering cough.
“Whoaaaaaaaaaaa, easy big guy. It really has been a while for you, hasn’t it?” Jeremy politely teased as he handed Jack a stale glass of water, just before taking a hit of his own. He then tried handing Toady back to Jack, who stifled a cough and waved it away. “Come on Jackie, it’s like they say: in for a penny, in for a gallon.”
Jack was grounded enough for him to notice that was not how the saying went, but already high enough for its logic to check out. He took a sip of water and nodded with reserved excitement.
After each had had four hits, the bowl was kicked. Jeremy resumed the episode of My Little Pony. Jack sank deep into the cushions of the couch, sticking to it as if the green suede had sprouted thousands of tiny hooks, velcroing him in place.
Episode after episode of My Little Pony galloped by, the two so absorbed by it that they didn’t really acknowledge each other until the end of the fourth episode.
“So…it just kinda hit me,” Jeremy began as he searched his DVR for the next episode to watch. “If you weren’t here for weed, why did you come over?”
“Do you want me to leave?”
“No, no, no. Stay as long as you want, man,” Jeremy backpedaled. “But when you came to the door you said you weren’t here for weed. What were you here for?”
Centuries passed inside of Jack’s labored “uh”s.
“Oh, right. I wanted to know what happened to me last night. After Lizzie’s.”
Jeremy burst out into giggles.
“Oh no. Jer. What did I do?” Jack pleaded, his worry more than palpable.
“No, nothing bad. Just funny,” Jeremy assured him, snickers punctuating almost every syllable.
“Duuuuuude, you’re freaking out. Calm down, it’s fine,” Jeremy cooed. Another chuckle crept out. “After you convinced me to help your prank and call those trannies I met in jail, we went to this house party in the North End.”
“Who do we know in the North End?”
“We…we don’t. I do though. Some rich kid from the university who buys from me invited me to some kid’s house, and you were in the mood to party, so I took you with me.”
“So what happened then?”
“It was a typical college house party. You know the deal, a couple of chill people and a bunch of underage morons.”
“So what was so funny about that?”
Jeremy started packing a second bowl.
“You really don’t remember any of this?” Jack shook his head, Jeremy took a hit from the refreshed Toady. “Alright. This is how I remember it.
“We showed up…I don’t know. Let’s sayyyyy 9:30? Yeah. 9:30. So we get there and almost immediately some chubby 19-year-old latches onto you and you two start making out. So you sat on the couch and did that for a while.”
“A chubby girl?”
“Dude it’s not like she was the Michelin Tire Man. I’m a better wingman than that.”
“Okay, then what?”
“Oh. Right. Where was I?”
“Word. Okay, so you were probably macking on that girl for like…a half hour, when all of a sudden this kinda beefy-looking guy and some chick started going at it in the kitchen.”
“Nah man, fighting. After some shouting, he ended up hitting her pretty hard. You must have heard it or seen it out of the corner of your eye or something, but you shoved the chubby girl off of you and stormed into the kitchen and separated them and started having words with the guy.”
“Yeah, really. I’ve never seen you like that man, it was so weird. But it’s not even done getting weird. Not even done.
“You start getting into it with this guy. And you are really giving him the business. Like there was some insult you used on him that somehow combined references to OJ Simpson and Spongebob Squarepants. I don’t even know. It was like watching a star explode. You were out of your mind.
“Eventually he comes at you, and out of nowhere you cold-cocked him with a bottle of Newcastle.”
“I shit you not; you knocked this guy’s fucking lights out with an empty beer bottle,” he confirmed, with a note of rising excitement in his voice. “I don’t even know where you got that beer bottle. It was nuts. Everyone was just sort of standing there shocked as hell, and you wiped the prints off the bottle neck and put it in the guy’s hand, as if he’d done it himself. Like anyone would believe he’d done it to himself.
“Then you grabbed that chick by the shoulders, shook her and said something insane, like…” Jeremy took another hit and coaxed forth his best Jack impression. “‘Run! Flee from this place! Spread your wings and fly into the inky purple night! Head for the stars my angel!’” He shouted, sounding more like Jack doing an impression of Jeremy doing an impression of John Cleese before deteriorating into raucous laughter.
“Okay now you’re just making shit up.”
Jeremy composed himself just enough to answer. “Mostly. I don’t know. I’m like…paraphrasing. Or alterna-phrasing. Or something-phrasing. I don’t know, you said some kind of nutty ‘knight in shining armor’ bullshit.”
“Alright, what next?”
“You can’t guess? Someone called the cops. I got you the fuck out of there.”
“Where did we go?”
“We started walking downtown. You said you wanted to follow that girl and see if she was okay.”
“Really? Did I know her or something?”
“Before you gave her boyfriend a concussion? I don’t think so. Actually from what I could gather, no one did. I think they were crashers or something.”
“What did she look like?”
“I don’t really remember. White girl. Brown hair.”
Despite the description’s vagueness, Jack managed to peel himself up from the back cushion of the couch. “Was she wearing a weird jacket?”
Jeremy raised an eyebrow. “Yeah, she was wearing this dumb, like…marching band uniform jacket or something. I thought you said you didn’t remember anything!”
“I don’t, but Cliff said that girl walked out of my bedroom this morning!”
“Dude! You smashed that!? No way!”
“Yeah way!” he affirmed as they shared a rubber-armed high five. “That’s why I’m asking about last night. Why do you sound so surprised?”
“Because we never found her. We ended up walking around downtown and I got a call from Lizzie about those hookers. I turned my back for about a second, and when I got off the phone you were gone. So instead of running after you, I blamed you for the hookers and I took a five minute cab ride back here so I could help her get rid of them.”
“So I ended up downtown?”
“And you’re sure you don’t know anything else?”
“Yeah. I guess you should head downtown if you’re gonna keep trying to figure that shit out and find out who that girl you banged is.”
“Aw, man, this is so great. Thanks. Then that’s where I’m headed. It has been an enlightening visit, Jer, as per usual,” Jack said as he tried to get up. His equilibrium was a little more than off, so he quickly sank back down onto the couch. “Actually I’m just gonna stay riiiight here for a little longer. That cool?”
“Yeah man. We still have half a season of My Little Pony to crank through.”
“Hey, wait, you pinned the whole drag queen stunt on me?”
“Why wouldn’t I? All I did was give you a phone number. I just left that part out so she’d continue tolerating me as a neighbor.”
“Okay. That’s reasonable. I get that. Pass me the Crunch Berries.”