Gramercy, The Journey of Jack Lewis. Chapter 12

Chapter 12  I’m With The Band


The next morning they all awoke one by one at the early hour of dawn.  They all rubbed their twinging necks and backs and gave each other shit for being so stupid for sleeping sitting up on the couches, especially these couches which they found in a scrap heap, and had hints of scabies when they first got them and cleaned them.


They recovered from their twinges with whiskey and a hearty breakfast, as well as a hash pipe session that Seth was so kind to initiate.  Jack asked what the plans were and Conner responded, “Well, we have practice today at five to eight.  Before and after that we’re free, but before practice I’m gonna take a nap.”


“You know what we should do today,”  said Hal, “role a fat joint, and I mean cigar sized, and we go to the forrest, drink some beers and have some fun.”


After about forty five minutes of rolling joints, packing food, and arguing for shotgun, they shipped off in what was an hour long drive into where Jack had no idea, it was some transcendent place in the Cascades.   The more they went on these nameless freeways and roads that went deeper and deeper into the trees and fields the more Jack was getting lost in the awe of the sights before him.  With every turn, with every mile came more and more beautiful blue sky lines dotted with puffs of white and the ground was just a bloom with the most vibrant greens, browns, and reds.  The almost neon technicolor wildflowers sprung from the hills and dotted the green horizon.  Jack had never seen anything so beautiful, so worthy of awe, in his entire life.


They eventually reached some huge park that Jack had never heard of, it was a popular local spot.  After they parked the group carried their blankets, food, and drugs deep into the forest on some painful yet pristine path.  Eventually settling on a spot deep in the woods far away from everyone, right next to a small lake surrounded by a grove of trees like a white picket fence, protecting our friends from the harms of the outside world.


They began their day.  Joints were lit and the boys talked, some vented about their girl troubles, Hal went on tangents about the need for music and art in society, while Conner strummed a small acoustic guitar, and Jack just got high and listened.  He was paying attention to what his new friends were saying and taking all of their words and perspectives truly to heart.  However, he wasn’t in the conversation; he was not even looking at them when they passed him the joint.  He was still lost in the awe that was before him; the shimmer of the lake, and the shine of the sun with its sweet reflection on the clouds in the sky, along with the circle and the bounty of the trees before him.  Jack couldn’t help losing himself in it for some reason.


Jack was amazed and lost in the beauty before him.  It wasn’t until Hal said something that he was shaken out of his nature coma.


“JACK!”  yelped Hal with a smile.  “You good over there bro?  You haven’t said anything for a while.”


“I’m fine,” Jack replied.  “Just, you know…”  Jack was too stoned to think of an eloquent response.


“Just lost in the forest, huh?”  Hal completed with a smile and without hesitation.


Jack nodded, “Yeah.  I don’t know why, it’s just so..”


“I know why!” Hal interjected again.  “It’s because its’ the brain kicking in your natural instincts.  Our brains are so caught up in the artificial world we feel we need to survive we ignore the states of emotions we get just by coming out of the artificial.  Just by coming out here you’re just getting a taste of what prehistoric man saw and experienced.  You’re getting a taste of what the Natives saw before we stole their land and you’re feeling what the first pioneers must have felt when they saw the world beyond what they were used to.  Now anyone could say these aren’t natural instincts, these are romantic fairy tales, that being awe struck isn’t a natural instinct but just psychological romanticism.

“But they are wrong.  All our emotions, are somehow in-tuned to some animal instinct we have.  Our awe of nature is our instinct of reflection on the self and the world.  It’s through this reflection that we are able to see who and what we really are and can be the more wiser for it.

“It was the awe and beauty that ancient man felt that inspired him to create song and paint on walls, which are the things that make life worth living.  Now some say that still isn’t natural and we don’t need those things, but again they are wrong.  If it wasn’t for our songs and our art and these outlets, these entertainments, then we would be just like every other animal. That’s what makes humans so cool, we not only have animal instincts but our instincts also become both analytical and psychological while still standing in the romantic.”  Hal paused for a minute and tried to remember what he was originally talking about.  His speech returned to its normal speed when he said, “So I know why you felt awe struck.”


Jack didn’t say much in response.  he just smiled nodded, he said that it made sense, and passed Hal the joint.


The hours passed, Jack and the others had become incredibly stoned, they were blotchy and red from the sun, and were out of food.  As the sun slipped away and the sky began slipping to its tri-colored beautiful warning sign of the night, they shipped off and returned home.


Once back, Seth gathered his things and left to go back to his place.  He said his goodbyes to Conner, Hal, Jason, and Jack and promised to be back for practice the next day.  Jason left soon after.


Once Seth and Jason were gone, Conner got a big box of Pizza Bagels and heated them up while Hal put on a movie.  Conner then passed out beers and they sat and passed the hours of the night once again.


“When’s your guys gig?” asked Jack when he remembered.


“In two more days, at 10:30 at some house party.”  said Conner.  “It should be pretty awesome.  Tons of beer, tons of girls, you know just a fun time and a hopefully good show.”


“It will be good,” said Hal with his usual enthusiasm.  “We got lasers and bubbles!”


The days passed in the manner that Jack had become accustomed, in a smoke filled haze.  After hours and hours of pot smoking and cartoon watching, the day of the gig came.  They all left for the party, and Jack acted as sort of a roadie.  He helped them set up and enjoyed the benefits of telling the passers by at the party he was with the band.


The crowd grew and built in mass.  Soon the house was full to burst with people like a 19th century ship on the Atlantic filled with East European immigrants. Jack was front and center when the show began, first with a cover of the Red Hot Chili peppers’ “Can’t Stop.”  It was the minute the intro peaked with the guitar solo that she walked in.


Jack was frozen stiff.  Jack had never seen anyone so beautiful, so original, and so soft of an air.  Thanks to a stroke of luck, her eyes caught his, and both looked away with a smile, and both drifted closer and closer to each other as the band played their set.  Eventually they met, and Jack extended his hand.


“What’s your name?” he yelled over the deafening guitars and drums.


“Kate.”  She said with that sweet auburn smile that hypnotized Jack.


“I’m Jack,” he responded, searching for the next thing to say.


“You have a very strong grip.”  Kate said to him.  Both couldn’t help but giggle at how awkward and dorky the other felt.


The night carried on with the most minimal and awkward of back and forths between the two, but one thing was desperately obvious.  The two were already falling in love with each other.

Jack didn’t want to believe it, but he did.  He didn’t know what it was, but there was something about this girl.  The more time he spent next to Kate, dancing with her, talking with her, the more he couldn’t bare the idea of being apart from her.  He wished the music wouldn’t stop and that this party would never end.  Jack had never felt like this before in his life.  The warmth of her body as he held her close sent a sensational tingle up his spine.  He didn’t want her to leave, he did not want to let her go.

Soon the gig ended, and the party slowly dispersed, but they still held each other close and still talked.  On the surface it seemed like idle chit chat.  Yet Conner and Hal could see in Jack’s eyes that he was falling for Kate, and decided to help him seal the deal.


“Hey Jack,” said Hal, “I see you met our friend Kate.”


“I did.  She was telling me she’s learning to be a nurse.”  Jack replied.


“And I was about to ask Jack about his tattoo,” added Kate, much to Jack’s despair.


Kate saw the frozen look of despair on Jack’s face and she knew that it was her last comment that made it happen.  But it confused her to no end.


“What’s wrong?”  She asked.


“I didn’t want to tell you so soon.  The barcode is a prison tattoo.  They’re my numbers from when I was in Leavenworth.”  Jack, for the first time, felt pure unadulterated shame when he had to say that, the only thing Jack was ashamed of before this was trying to tell his dad he loved him when he was five, and his dad laughed and beat him and called him a faggot.


Jack couldn’t even look her in the eye when he said it.  Hal was so uncomfortable he just slipped away.  But Kate only smiled, she lifted Jack’s chin up with her fingers, and led his face toward hers.


They kissed, and for the first time in his whole life, Jack let his guard down, and he let the warmth of the woman he loved into his life.


The Burden of Empathy : Chapter 8

Chapter 8 

It was 7:45 when I woke up.  My tour of Humboldt state wasn’t until 11.  So I knew my parents wouldn’t be up until nine.  So I just lied on the bed trying to remember my dream as best as I could so I could interpret it.  First I thought of the beginning of my second dream.  How I was telling the girl I struck she should be with me.  I just shook my head and chalked it up to the drugs I was on the previous day.  Why would a sensible progressive guy like me be interested in a trendy shallow rich girl like that?   Maybe I wasn’t interested in her, but what she and the boy had that I didn’t.  

Then I thought about the first dream I had and just reveled in how awesome of a dream it had been at first and how it will never happen in real life.  Then I realized something.  I don’t know what it was but all of a sudden, I stopped doubting myself.  

I stopped questioning myself.  I stood up, looked in the mirror, and looked at myself as close as I could.  I realized I’m really not ugly, I don’t want to sound like a jerk and say I’m the best looking mother fucker  of all time, but I know there are people a lot uglier than me.  Hell, I thought, if it weren’t for the fact that I might be a killer, I could get any girl I wanted.  Hell, I could still get a hot girl now, some chicks dig criminals.  Who knows, this could actually turn out to be the best thing I’ve ever done.  The truth was I vented a lot of stored up anger on that guy, and though its debatable whether or not he deserved it, its damn well to say I got all of the frustration and rage I stored over the years from abuse and regret out of my system.  I don’t know how the dreams had led me to this realization, but I had accepted that it was all in the past and there is nothing left to do but move on and focus on the now.  

Hell, I realized the future isn’t even a real thing to worry about either and even if it was I shouldn’t be worried about getting caught or not, I should worry whether or not that the couple is alive and okay.  It was still heavy on my mind, but I had a tour of my potential future college, so everything else would have to wait.

Suddenly, inspiration struck.  I grabbed my pen and paper and scribbled this.

The system goes around in circles…

Everything is just a copy

Life’s laws scribbled on hypocritical neckties

One cannot teach character

Give them your money, they wouldn’t lie to us

We must hang on to innocence, We must preserve and protect

We will not accept mistakes

Innocence doesn’t exist past puberty

Those who cling don’t live

WE are all guilty

We are all responsible

We are a pack of pussies too afraid to think beyond our senses

Reach out and you might touch anything

Gasp in awe to the offensive sight

Go ahead and judge, you’ll never understand

Go ahead and fuck your propaganda

We will continue to destroy all that you love

My usual gibberish.  But the juices kept flowing.

Sirens rise from the earths cracks

In a fiery Brimstone haze

God sends his own muse to put them down

If you’re lucky enough to witness, ignore your phallic urges

Or ignorant customs

The goat I slaughtered will make a grand snack for this spectacle

Like a bag of Orville Redenbacher’s at the movies

Should we help the muse?

What!? And ruin the show and the new painting.

Greedy bastard

He sent the muse for you and you let her struggle

Insolent pig

Go fuck yourself

Yeah, just my usual gibberish.



My parents finally woke up at 8:45, and we just got breakfast out of the cooler.  At first I thought my parents were being cheap, but then I remembered the economy is in shambles and they need to save every penny they could since the state was going to cut my moms and other teachers pay.  I then felt guilty as to what a fool I’ve been.  I should be grateful for all my parents have done for me and I shouldn’t be bitching over the luxuriousness of my breakfast, hell it’s a privilege just to afford eating out every day.

“Have I ever thanked you guys for everything you’ve done for me and Jill?”  It was all I said, and all my parents said was, “Thank you,” they were truly touched though.  I just wanted to share a moment like this before I get taken away.  I was still a bit nervous about that, but I would just take it as it comes.  I still flinched at every siren within ear shot.

After a breakfast of old hard boiled eggs, yogurt, orange juice, and three mikes hard lemonades, a few lines of Vicodin, and another half gram of dope, we were off to Humboldt State.  

My parents as usual got into an argument whilst getting lost along the way.  Once we eventually found the place we found the roads for the most part to be closed off for construction.  So that added to the frustration when we had to take the long way to the admissions office, where we were to meet for our tour.  We had arrived at 10:45, and went to the front desk of the office where a woman handed me a folder and told me to wait outside with the rest of the group.

The rest of the group turned out to be just one other family, it was just an eighteen year old girl and her parents.  The girl was porcelain skinned, with beautiful brown eyes and hair, tight jeans and a gem nose piercing.  She had a perfect body.  I never learned what her name was, I didn’t try to hit on her because she didn’t seem very interested, she was hot though.

We waited out side for the tour guide while I flipped through the folder.  It held all the information about how Humboldt was the best school, and how it’s perfect for me, and all that usual bullshit a college throws at you when you see it for the first time.   Our tour guide eventually arrived, he was in a Hollister shirt, Humboldt State shorts, douchey DC sunglasses, and flip flops.  The modern beach boy/preppy hipster/douchbag look.  With the styled hair and highlights.  I wanted to punch him in his dick.  Hell, I could if I wanted to, I knew that, but I didn’t want to hurt anyone else.


After the other family berated the bastard with questions we finally began the tour.  We start by aimlessly wandering the campus as one does at these things.  First we checked out the science building, and its incredible conservatory.  Then the English department, and other lecture halls.  He went on about how constructive and supportive of a school it was, about how good it was for students and how it’s helped him.  He was preparing to become a teacher but he talked about how he constructed his schedule to avoid math or science.  Which according to my mom, a teacher for over twenty years, are essentials to become a good teacher, but I was more interested in the fact you can take conceptual classes where you take a science or physics with math completely taken out.  It’s perfect for me, I’m shit at math, and any way to avoid it is good for me.  I became enamored with how open and laid back the school was.  The phys ed department did make me worried that I would still have my run-ins with the “bro” jock mentality that I hate, but if it means going to the college where they grow the best dope, it’s worth it.  From time to time I would either listen to what the tour guide was saying or be checking out the other girl’s ass.  The more I saw and heard about the school the more I wanted to go.  The campus was beautiful, practically in a forest itself.  Plus from almost any class room and all over the campus, you had the most beautiful view, you had a choice of the lush red wood forests or the beautiful expansive beach, or both in the same picture. 


Once the tour finally ended I was relieved to be rid of the tour guide.  We talked more about Humboldt States sports than I wanted to hear, and he raved wonders about their phys ed department, all a big waste of time in my opinion.  

My parents and I caught lunch in the college’s town of Arcata.  A small town that seems as busy as any big town.  It had all the requirements of your standard old western town with architecture remnants of the 20s and 50s, but it had a totally different feel. I saw plenty of coffee shops, restaurants, and head shops in the town, even a large movie theatre.  It was an amazing town.  We caught lunch at a local pizza joint where I flirted a bit with the girl behind the counter, and my dad noticed, and immediately gave me shit about it.  Nothing mean, just good natured ribbing, you know dads going around to waitresses saying “my handsome boy” but it embarrassed me as intended.

As we ate we chatted about NPR, and things of that nature.  You know Liberal elitist conversations, where we talk about how much better we are than republicans because we actually care about other people.  This isn’t 100% not true.  Republicans do tend to be self centered assholes, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t met nice Republicans, I remember one girl at my school, who was a goddamn reactionary but was none the less nicer to me.  Or a blond, who was per batum the complete political opposite of me, but went so far as to call me her friend.


Once we had eaten, we decided to pay Jill another visit.  It would be a short one, seeing that she still had work, but we visited her and my father gave her a jar of pickled watermelon rinds.  My dad had made about twenty jars before our trip and was handing them out.  Jill loved them.  I hated them.  It was just vinegary, salty watermelon rind, which I consider uneatable.   It’s like chewing hardwood synthesized by Styrofoam.  But majority rules in this family and with it being 3-1 the pickled watermelon rinds have won a spot in the list of foods okay to eat.  

We hugged Jill and allowed her to return to work.  And we spent the rest of the day wandering Humboldt.  We returned to Arcata for a bit.  Then toured a creamery not far from Jill’s work.

We eventually returned to our hotel room.  Once in, my mother grabbed the first shower ahead of me.  So while waiting I went into my room and flipped through the TV channels, eventually settling on the local news, figuring I’d be in for a good laugh when I shit talk the stupidity of the nature of the “news”, but I was caught completely off guard by the story.

“TEEN COUPLE ASSUALTED” was the headline under her obviously made up stage name, “Joy Wong.” 

“Strange events at a local Walgreens, where not just two days ago, a teenage couple was assaulted by an unknown assailant.  The Couple,” it switched to a picture of the two, smiling at some party, the kind of photo the news puts on to show the tragedy befallen on such beautiful people, “was Judy Pins and Jeffery Shoemaker, two seniors and top athletes at John Muir High School.”  I rolled my eyes at the mention of them being athletes, but I was glued to the story like it held my fate, like a man on death row waiting for the governor to call.

 “The couple had just met for their date and was on there way to a restaurant down the street where from around the corner of this Walgreens a man leaped out and assaulted the couple with a metal pipe.” 

It cut to the boy in his hospital bed, his left eye was bruised and swollen shut, and he had five stitches in the left corner of his lips and a huge red spot on his right check.  He had an arm in a sling, but no damage to his legs.

“I had just met my girlfriend, we walked past a homeless guy” he left out the fact he spat at him, “we walked down the street from one corner of the Walgreens to the other, and when we got to the other side, all off a sudden I get whacked with a metal pipe by some random dude, he just wails on me and I go down.  I saw him get my girl with it, but he just gave her one swing and knocked her out, then kept working on me.  He just came out of nowhere and got me so hard before I could get a clear view of him, I mean I described him as best I could, but it was Judy who got the good look at him.”

Joy’s voice came on.  “Judy Pins was released from the hospital that night with no real injuries at all except a mild concussion and small bump on the head.”

Judy came on, thank god, I was so happy to know she was alright, the guy could rot in the most painful and disgusting ring of hell for all I care, but the fact the girl was okay was all that mattered to me. “He just came out of no where,” she said with a beautiful voice “and he just wailed on Jeff, then knocked me out with one blow, then apparently returned to beating Jeff.”

“Do you know why he assaulted you?”  Joy asked off screen.

“Not really,” said Judy, “If I had to guess I’d say it was because my boyfriend was an ass to a homeless man.”

“What did he do?” Joy asked.

“He spat at some poor sweet old homeless man who just begged for change, it was so mean.  I was so pissed at him, I told him “What goes around comes around ass hole” and not to long after I said that, the bastard got beaten up with a pipe.”

You have no idea how happy this was making me.  Not only did she see her boyfriend for what he and his kind truly were, but she didn’t seem to be upset about the assault, hell she seemed happy I kicked the shit out of that guy.  She even called him a bastard on the “clean” local news.  Oh happy day!  

Then she went on, “I mean I probably should feel bad about dumping him the day after he gets beaten up, but the prick deserved it.”  That made all of my troubles just wash away, even if the pigs were coming after me, the fact she thinks he deserved it would make it worth being arrested.  So I kept watching the story to see if I was going to be arrested, but I don’t know if Ill get the answer or not from the story, as it cut back to the douche.  

“Do you think they’ll catch him?”  Joy asked off-screen once again.

“My guess would be no.  I hope so, but given the fact I doubt my own description of him just tells me he got away.”

It cut to Judy.  “No, Jeff cant remember what he looks like, I looked at him only for a few seconds, I’m sure if I saw him in a line up I could pick him but I don’t know what he really looks like.  All I remember was he was white and had long hair.”

It now cut to Joy standing in front of the Walgreens where the story began.  “Police and sheriffs say they are on the look out for the assailant.  He is said to be a caucasian male, with long brown hair, we do have composite sketch of the attacker by the police department, this supposedly from Judy and Jeff’s memory, is what he looks like.”  

It cut to a police sketch that looked nothing like me, it looked like the love child of Charles Manson and the Unabomber, it had Manson’s long hair, and for some reason the Unabomber’s hoodie and mustache.  It didn’t look a thing like me, the girl didn’t seem to care about the assault, I was in the clear! Unless a camera caught me running from the scene of the crime into the car and they trace the car to my parents I’m safe.  

I was home safe, in the clear, free from worry.  I wasn’t going to Jail!  I still accepted the fact I had anger issues to work on, but I knew my violent outbursts were over.  Once you go through a hell like I just did you make damned sure you don’t go through it again.  I felt a combination of relieved and invincible.  I felt I could face anything, over come anything.  Do anything.  I celebrated with my hash brownie, as many Coronas, Mickeys, and Mikes as my dad would let me have, some of the vicodin and Norco’s I brought, and as usual, as much weed as I could smoke.  I still saved as much of everything as I could, I wanted to have stuff to celebrate with and help me get through my trip home tomorrow, but today was a day of celebration.  I was free to enjoy the rest of my life with my family.  Which got me thinking about my dream, the part where I saw all the woman of my family, I realized how much I missed them, how little I’ve seen of them, I decided I would go see them as soon as I can, a trip to LA was in the works.  A little adventure, an experience for the sake of experience to go along with this one.   

I can’t stress to you the relief and joy I felt at that moment. First I thought I was a murderer, now I was just a source for that boy’s karma.  Don’t misunderstand, I don’t excuse myself from my violent misdeed,  I knew I’d get my karma for reacting violently as karma is simple physics, therefore inevitable.  I was free.  Free to enjoy my life again.

I was enjoying it so much, I passed out before sunset, even before I could get a shower in.  

The Burden of Empathy : Chapter 7

Chapter 7

I was so freaked out I couldn’t even get back to sleep.  It was still dark, around 4:30am, but for some reason I felt like I had to get out of the hotel room, I felt suffocated and I couldn’t understand why.

I knew I couldn’t go out the front door because I’d wake my parents.  So I opened the window and shimmed down to the ground, pajama bottoms with a sweatshirt in the dead of a mountain night.  Yet despite the cold I went walking.  

I went on the same route I took for my other walk, along the Eel River, but something was different about it now.  The whoosh of the wind in the brush, and the shapes of the trees are so menacing at night.  In the day there are the most beautiful things besides Her.  There wasn’t anything to be afraid of, it’s like my dad always told me,  “There is nothing out there at night, that isn’t out there during the day,”  And he was right.  The rapists and psychos out walking at night are probably doing the same during the day, most just like to use the night as a cover.

The only calming thing was the sound of the river.  Even though I couldn’t see the river, I could hear it, and when everything else was scaring me, that river returned my calm.

It was when I was focusing on the sounds of the river,  out of nowhere came two jock thugs who knocked me down, kicked my rib cage in constantly, and frisked my pockets, they took my wallet, my phone, and my iPod.  Thank god I left my weed in the hotel room.

Suddenly I felt my pajama bottoms being pulled down and I heard one say, “you believe this, the mother fucker isn’t fighting back.”  Why should I?  I knew I had this coming, I knew this was my karma for attacking the boy and the girl.  I deserved this, I deserved to be treated like a piece garbage.

First he pulled down my pants, then my boxers.  Then I heard him whip it out.  Just as he was about to go in, I woke up.

I can honestly say I have never come out of a dream more startled and relieved than at that moment.  The sun had risen, so I got up.  Out of paranoia, I checked my self in the mirror.  No bruises on my face and my ass felt untouched, but when I took my shirt off I saw the biggest bruise on my rib cage I had ever seen.

I hope you’re as freaked out as I was, but I wasn’t worried.  I knew if I kept my shirt on I could hide it from my parents.

The Burden of Empathy : Chapter 5 “I’ve just had 18 straight whiskies, I think that’s the record” Dylan Thomas’s last words.

Chapter 5 “I’ve just had 18 straight whiskies, I think that’s the record” Dylan Thomas’s last words.

That night, I had a dream. 

 The dream was about her.  

We fucked in my dream, we fucked in the hottest most passionate of ways, totally naked, arms and legs wrapped around each other and locked in the most perfect fashion.  I can’t remember what room we were fucking in, but it was on a bed.  And we were fucking to a song, it was “Low.” 

Suddenly I was in school, just hanging out at lunch, totally shirtless for some reason, bragging to my friends about fucking her.  

Suddenly I see her in front of me, and she slaps me as hard as she can and I start falling.  Just falling until I hit the bottom, which turns out to be my room at the hotel.  I’m sweating from every pore on my body so much my boxers were sticking to my ass.  I checked the time and it read 3:45, I smoked then went back to sleep.

The Burden of Empathy : Chapter 4

Chapter 4 

I woke up at about 7:30, and cursed at myself for not being able to sleep in more.  But I was up, so I leaped my torso forward and erected my position, and pushed down to get rid of my morning wood.  I was dreaming about her.  It wasn’t a sex dream, I can’t remember what the whole dream was about but I did remember it was about her.  

Once my hard on was limp again I got dressed in my Shins t-shirt and a new pair of jeans.  I then smoked a bowl and read one of my books.  When I was tired of reading it was 8:30, I was killing time until my parents got up so that I could get to the cooler without disturbing them.  So I smoked more and waited.  They said we’d meet Jill Around 11, so they would be up soon, and I figured since we are meeting early, we were probably eating out of the cooler for breakfast.  By nine I heard both my parents up.  So I waited a few more minutes so that I wouldn’t walk in on them dressing.  I just sat there, high as kite, in silence, and just trailed off into my thoughts.  Which started about me fantasizing about being a well liked and much desired playboy of the school.  But were shattered when I remembered the whole school is already aware of my nonexistence of confidence.  Which sort of goes hand in hand with my previous epiphany of just passing my problems off to other people.  

My thoughts were still stuck on my crimes of a violent nature which reminded me of all my other fuck ups, but it was now one of those pieces of guilt that you just push back into your mind and forget about for a short while, but every few minutes or hours or so, it just comes back to your mind screaming at you to confess.  But it was pushed back again when I was thinking about her, like I do every morning.

I realize I sound like a stalker, but I’m not.  I’m not a creeper when it comes to girls, I’m just the nervous dorky guy you see in 80’s movies, except my lack of confidence is more subtle, I should hope.

Finally I heard my mother call my name, I immediately entered there room, to see my mom getting her shoes on, and my dad I could hear was in the shower.

My mother looked at me and smiled, “Good Morning.”

“Good morning,” I replied.  After last night I decided to stop avoiding conversations with my mom.  My thinking was that, “I might go to jail for a long time, I better make sure my parents know how much I loved them, especially my mom.  I’ve been unfair to her for too long.”

I tried to think of something to talk about, so I picked a standard conversation starter, “So how did you sleep?”

“Not bad. Your father didn’t sleep well at all, just so you know,” she said, referring to his occasional temper. “We are probably gonna just get breakfast out of the cooler.”

“Yeah, that’s what I figured.”  I thought of another thing to say, as I sat in the chair adjacent to her.  “So we go see Jill at…”

“11, we’ll leave here around 10:45.”  She said.

“Cool.”  I said “So… It’ll be cool to see Jill.”

“Yeah, when I talked to her on the phone she seemed real excited.”  My mom said nothing while she thought for a minute.  Eventually she said, “You know, it makes me so happy that you two get along.”

“Now we get along,” I said with a smile.

“True, but you weren’t as bad as me and my brothers, trust me.  It was not fun growing up with siblings that hated each other.”

My mom was referring to being the youngest of three children, with two older brothers.  I knew they had their feuds and there would always be some unforgotten tension, but hate was a strong word.  She assured me she didn’t hate her brothers anymore, and that she loved them as one should love ones family.  But when someone is a dick to you, even just once, you never forget.

My father came out of the bathroom in nothing but his briefs and socks.  He pulled his long hair into a ponytail while walking out, he then put on jeans, his tai chi t shirt, a flannel coat, and his home made leather belt.  

“Good Morning Dad,”  I said with another smile.

“Good morning son.”  My dad said in his humbling monotone with a sigh.  “How are you today?”


“Good.” He breathed  two meditative breaths while putting on his boots, “So are you excited about seeing your sister?”

“Yeah.” I said.


I sat and chatted with my parents a short while longer about the whore John Mccain has become and how were all fucked if Obama loses.  I then returned to my room and got more stoned, flipping through Songs of the Doomed with the TV on UNDERCOVER BROTHER.  

I sat and daydreamed about a few of the chicks at my school, who I wouldn’t mind fucking, but then I end up thinking about her, and when I do I don’t think of her like I do the others.  She is so much, better.  Prettier, smarter, more mature and respectable.  She’s more than a piece of meat for fucking like the other girls at my school dress themselves up as.  She has class.

If that sounds sexist, trust me, I’m the farthest thing from sexist.  From what I have seen, teenage girls are some of the most annoying, stupidest, self centered bitches to live.  But her, Ill put it this way, and I hope it doesn’t sound lame but it probably will, the girls at my school are just that, they are girls. They may think they are young women, because they look like it, but they aren’t, they’re girls.  Her, she is a woman.  Maybe that’s why I have such trouble getting her, maybe I’m still a boy who just thinks he’s a man.

Well, now that I might be wanted for beating a rich kid to death and assaulting his girlfriend, I have no choice but to be a man.  A boy would tell his mom and dad so they could get a lawyer for him and they could share in the burden.  But I was the one who committed the crimes, not my parents, the burden was mine and mine alone.

By the time it came to go I was so high I wasn’t even thinking about the possibility that I could now be wanted by the Humboldt Sheriff’s department.  We got in the car and drove off.

I listened to my distraction brick while we drove up the free way.  Some Nirvana and some Foo fighters, and some Bob Dylan, and some Ludacris, some Rob Zombie, some Jimi Hendrix, some TV on the Radio and then finally we arrived at the place to pick up my sister.  

The group she works with as I mentioned before is a church organization called NSP or Native Service Project that acts as a camp were groups of teens from church youth groups and Sunday Schools agree to a week of hard labor to renovate worn houses on Native reservations.  They camp wherever available in the community, usually it’s a school cafeteria or dorm of some kind.  The staffers, such as my sister Jill, would sleep in an adjacent room separate from the campers.  The school was your standard single story elementary school, no real indoor halls and large concrete squares for play.  The front of the school was adorned with the most gorgeous bouquets of flowers.  

These deep purple and blue flowers which I had never see before, vibrant hydrangeas, and white roses.  Surrounded by the lush green grass.  

We parked in front of the flowers, got out of the car, and as we started our approach to the building, out the front of the cafeteria steps emerges a 5’7” girl with long brown hair, and amazingly fashionable hipster style.  It was in fact one of my best friends, my older sister Jillian.

She ran up and immediately hugged Mom, Dad, and myself.

“Hi,” she said in her perfectly feminine yet strong tone.  The tone which she shared with my mother. “How are you guys?”

“Hi Jill,” my mom spoke first. “So great to see you.”

“Hi dad,” She said to him, noticing his new cane.  “How’s your hip?”

“It’s fine, pains easing away, I just brought the cane to be careful.” He replied.

“And how are you, and…”She just noticed my hair was different, the last time she saw me I had dreadlocks. “Oh my god your hair looks so good.”

“Thank you,” I said. “I’m so happy to see you.”

“Me too. How are you?” She said.

“I’m great,”  I lied with a smile on.  “How are you?”

“Great, Just great, I’m having such a great time here,” she said with a real smile.

We walked to the car while passing stories back and forth.  She went on about how cooking for so many people was so much fun and how she buys everything in bulk, but it was difficult for me to pay attention.  I was listening to my sister, and was incredibly excited to see her, but I couldn’t help be reminded of my misdeed at the site of my sister.  The girl who was a second mother and best friend to me mixed into one.  I came to think that one day I might be thrown behind bars for life and never see her again.  And the site of her is a simple reminder of the fact I hit a woman.  Something that would be enough for her to never speak to me again.  The guilt was back in my mind again.  But I smiled and just pretended to pay attention to the conversations. Nobody noticed.  I don’t usually say much anyway.  

We stopped in one of the many small Humboldt towns and got lunch at a café.  My Mom and Dad were at the counter ordering, while my sister and I got a table out on the front patio.

“So how are you?” She asked noticing I was staring into space not saying a word.

“I’m fine,” I said.

“Good. I’m really glad to see you,” she said.

“I am too.”

“So how long ago did you take out your dreads?” She asked.

“About a month, I took them out sometime in July.”

“Well, you’re hair looks really good now,  I mean not like it didn’t before but now you look much more…”

“Clean?” I said.

“Well, I don’t want to say…”

“It’s okay that’s what everyone else has been saying.  I think it goes with the fact I’m shaving more often now also.”

“Probably,”  she said.

“Neck beard and dreads don’t attract girls,” I joked, but not actually kidding.

“Yeah,” she now said shamelessly, but still smiling.

“So you showed Flight of the Conchords to your other staff members?” I asked amused.

“Yeah.” Her eyes grew exceedingly wide at the mention of Flight.  For those of you who don’t know, Flight of the Conchords was a show on HBO.  If you haven’t seen it, go rent it, it’s the funniest show from HBO next to Bored to Death.  And those who have seen it, congratulations you’ll understand the rest of this conversation while others remain outside of the joke.  

“We flip the bird constantly,” she said and we both laughed.  It’s like I said above…

We were silent for about five seconds, and then Jill asked, “How mean was I to you when we were younger?” Another one of Jill’s questions she throws out of nowhere constantly in order to gain a better perspective of herself.  

Now this is the kind of situation where someone asks a question and they want you to give them a certain answer, just because they want to hear it said, even if it isn’t the truth, and most people would just lie in this situation. ‘Oh never Jill, you were always an angel and you just shove that little thought into the dark realms of your mind.’  Not me, I’m all about the truth, I’m too lazy to come up with a lie.

“Well when we were younger you were awesome, but when you were in middle school, you were kind of a bitch.” I said.

“Really…” she honestly looked hurt at what I said, but after about two minutes of silence, she returned to her chipper self. “ I’m sorry, for anything mean I did.”

“It’s past, and the past doesn’t truly exist, time is simultaneous, past present and future are the same thing, the now is both a past and present, it’s even a future.  All that is past and in the future makes up who you are.  So take in the good with the bad and learn from them. They are the same thing.  In other words, we’re cool.”  I felt like Alan Watts, or A Zen master, or Dr. Manhattan after I said that.  

“I love you, and I’m proud of you.  You’ve really grown up.”  She smiled her overly photogenic smile.

My parents approached the table carrying their drinks in there hands, iced green tea for dad, hot nonfat latte for mom, juice for Jill, and a smoothie for me.  Now that my Mom was here my sister and she got into a conversation whilst my father and I just sat quietly and randomly gave our input on a topic.  Jill raved about the new Batman movie out, and talked about work and so forth.  She went on with all of my moms questions, talking about the different work sites and campers and so forth.  Then she talked up the other staffers, and as they went on I was lost on two things.  My misdeed and her.  Now I knew I could never be with her, because she would never go for a guy like me,  a potential murderer and a, god forbid, woman beater.  

I only hit the girl once, but she didn’t do anything wrong to my knowledge.

 I couldn’t believe I did this.  I would never do something like this, but I did.  I just wanted to beg and cry, “Jill, Mom, Please help me!”  But I didn’t.  I didn’t want them to think of me that way.  

Our food arrived, so we ate and carried out the conversation.  Jill remarked on how much weight I had lost, and I credited it to my summer school PE.  We skipped from topic to topic until it was time to leave and walk around the town.  We wandered down the streets past stores and shops, then returned to our van and proceeded down the scenic beauty towards the Humboldt beach, which sits on the edge of its lush redwoods or beautiful cliffs and bluffs.  We came to the beach, talked about how beautiful the beach was and blah blah blah… I wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying, I was busy just valuing the very sight of the beach and my family.  The sight of my long haired and bearded father, who is so zen its scary.  My anxious yet always loving and concerned red-haired and freckled mother.  My porcelain skinned brunette sister, smart loving and one of my best friends.  Here we are together for what could be the last time.  All because of my fuck up.  I was on the verge of tears.   The very thought of being locked away from this beautiful place and from some of the only people who cared about me, it was enough to make me want to kill myself.  But that was the cowards way out, and this would be how I’ll prove I am no coward.

After we got our fill from the beach, Jill got to drive the van back to the school.  As she was speeding 20 miles per hour over the limit, we swung by the reservation she was working on.  It was by far the tiniest reservation I have ever been on.  It couldn’t have been more than 100 – 200 yards long.  With only a few houses, a play ground, and a community center.  Yet it was in one of the most beautiful places, a lush green cliff side just outside the redwoods right next to the shore with a beautiful view out towards the ocean and the trees.  Jill went on about the alcoholism of the tribe and how they had suffered.

“What had happened was that most of the eldest natives, long ago, were savagely murdered, so the population was basically wiped except for the youngest ones who were to young to remember the language, so the language is basically dead, and most who grow up here generally leave.”  My sister told us while driving.

“So this is the entire reservation?” my mom asked.

“Yeah,” said Jill, “Then those who do stay generally are drinkers.”

“So how do the locals feel about you guys helping them?” My mom asked.

“Well, everyone on the reservation loves us,” she said. “But a lot of the locals aren’t happy with us being here outside the reservation.  Because a lot, not all, are still anti Indian, but they don’t have real reasons for tension its just..”

“They are just supposed to hate them because they always have?”  My mom said completing Jill’s sentence.

“Yes, just because it’s always been like that, they have no idea why,” Jill said.

Goddamn rednecks, I thought. What the fuck is the point of hating something and you don’t know why?  Goddamn white wastes of space, they probably voted for McCain.  

After Jill’s break we returned her to her work place.  We met her other staff members, they were all very friendly and nice.  But the only name I remember is Andrew.    

We then said our goodbyes and promised to be back for dinner, as we had been invited to dine with her and the campers and staff.

So we returned to our hotel room and waited out the three hours until we would go to eat.  My parents were in their room, my mom on her lap top, my dad working on his leather craft.  I sat in my room getting stoned and watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on my portable DVD player.  After that I just smoked and read until it was time to go.  

When packing my third bowl, I noticed something odd in my stash, there a was an odd, round nugget stuck with and unusual black resin.  I assumed it was just a mild hash of some kind.  So I packed the nugget and smoked it, but my first time hitting it, I was caught off guard, and my lungs were in stung by the harshness of the hit and out went the smoke from my coughing, drooling mouth.

“Dear god,” I thought, “what kind of a resign is on this thing.”  It was so harsh I didn’t even care if my parents smelled my hit which was wafting towards the door.  Normal people would have stopped smoking at this point, but I was dedicated to getting a serious case of the munchies for dinner.  

After I had finished the bowl I noticed something was different about my high.  I felt sluggish and slow in a completely different way.  I checked my eyes in the mirror to find them not glassy and blood shot, but ice white with pin sized pupils.  My skin was also pale white, and doughy.  I felt warm and languid, untouchable in a way.  Weed had never done this to me before but suddenly one of my memories that had been hidden in my mind decided to come roaring forward, it was when I was leaving Raymond, Eric, and Mad Dog.  

“Care, f..  There… Opium…” was what I heard, now I realized he must have said, “careful bro, there might be a little opium in there.” 

 Goddamn it, that fucking bum snuck me opium, that bum!  I couldn’t believe it, but then I realized that once again this was no ones responsibility but my own, had I listened I could have taken the opium out before hand.  But low and behold, here I was about to go have dinner with a Christian charity camp, with my parents, high on opium.  It made sense, I had all the symptoms, tiny pupils, pale skin, a self proclaimed aura of untouchability, as if I could make sense of them all.  I noticed this when I flipped though channels when I was done critiquing Fear and Loathing, I usually talk to the screen when I’m by myself, but the opium had left me with a need for little or no words, as they were coming out mangled and slow any how.  Then came my parents beacon, it was time to go.  I put on my glasses hoping they would distract from my tiny pupils. 

 I pulled myself together, and walked as normally as I could out the door towards them.  My dad sniffed the room loudly so I could notice it, he looked at me through his glasses and said nothing, as far as they could tell I was normal, but walking without swinging around or struggling was taking all my strength.  I did my best to avoid conversing with my parents, fearing my words would reveal my true self.  

“Have you been smoking in there?” my father asked me, off guard.

“No!” I replied in an offended tone, hoping going on the offensive rather than defensive to truly portray I have no idea what he’s taking about even though I damn well do. “Why?”  I asked, playing the fool.

“Because it smells like smoke in there!” He replied, almost furious.  I wondered if he was going to hit me.  He doesn’t do it often, he hasn’t done it for years, but he has done it.

“Dad, do you think I’m stupid!?” I asked. Yes! Brilliant, take offense, make him the one at fault in the situation.  “You know I’m responsible, I wouldn’t do something like that.”

“Okay,” he said, reluctantly believing me. “Because you know it’s a 500 dollar fine if you do that in a hotel.”

“I know,” I said, offended believing my own lie, “I’m not stupid.”

“The smoke is pretty stale,” my mom put in, “some one before us probably did it, this IS Humboldt.”

“Exactly,” I said, relieved, with her believing me it didn’t matter what my dad thought, I was off the hook.  I love how this part of the story makes me look like a good person.  Said the narrator with sarcastic overtones.

All my dad could say after that was, “Okay,” sigh, “okay.”

The upset blew over as we drove to the camp, or school, or whatever the fuck you want to call it.  This is the mentality of opiates, “Fuck it! I cant move a muscle, so what can I do about it but sit and observe.”

I was relieved I was able to talk my way out of trouble.  I found it so hard to talk, I could move my mouth but I couldn’t properly construct the words.  The fact I was able to plea to my parents in such a normal tone was amazing.  This would be one thing that relieved me of the stress of going to a Christian summer camp dinner, stoned and high on opium.  I’m normally shy and quiet in new situations, so the fact I wouldn’t be talking much wasn’t a problem.  However the pin sized pupils, and lethargic attitude would be a problem.  

We arrived at the site, what was once an almost empty school was now bustling with teen bopper Methodist charity campers.  A mix of Hannah Montana innocents, reformed junkies, and trapped & confused wayward youth.  We walked into the cafeteria/ sleeping quarters, which was now bustling with hormonal Christian youths and the odd characters who volunteered to escort them.  

The age range of the youth was from 14-18.  So every teen age drama possible would be assured to happen at least once with the entirety of groups.  As we made our way in, a fat girl of about 14, with spiky hair and a bullring nose piercing came walked past and stared at us.  The stare that says, “Who the fuck are you people?”  So immediately, to reassure the girl my mother told her, “We’re Jill’s family.”  She immediately understood smiled at us and walked away.  Though you could tell she was still confused as to why we were here.   I could tell by looking at her she was either on of the progressive liberal Christians or one of the former wayward youth getting their life back on track with a Christian youth group to distract them from the evil temptations of the drug and alcohol lifestyle.   Liberalism but with god not pot.  Or both, to each their own right?

I remember being one of those youths when I was in the camp the summers before and after my freshman year.  My first year was after I took LSD for the first time, and I had just started to smoke weed, plus I was already drinking.   Sure enough, I found myself in this group, by my own choice for some reason, to show off how I was a lost cause.  No matter how liberal, or progressive the church may be, I just couldn’t be tamed.  Now matter how much they tried to instigate new age practices to widen the market I was still coming to youth meetings high and drunk.  Hell, my first year I snuck in a flask and water bottle full of rum.  My next year I brought 2 grams of hash, and a fifth of jack I snuck in coke bottles.  No one caught me, not even once.  

Then when I had just started my sophomore year, I quit the church.  I couldn’t handle the faith in god, or the hostile youth anymore.  I was the only one of my kind in this youth group, the older cooler youth who were my sister’s friends were gone, and most of them hated me anyway.  They were just afraid of me, afraid of the beer on my breath and the skunky aroma from my left pocket.  

 Her friends on the other hand, were not the kind of people to accept me.  I was everything their parents told them to stay away from, and since their parents where the volunteers and therefore overseers of the youth group, I was either approached as a kid in need of help, or a rebel dooming himself to a life without god.  All I can say is that I didn’t need help, so I just walked away from the church one day, vowing to never return and my mom supported my decision and accepted that her son was a blasphemizing stoner leaving behind a whole group of church goers who watched him grow up, and she tried to hide that she was just a little proud of it.  

I’m sure she was upset when I decided to leave the youth group, but she understood, and through that understanding she came to agree with my decision, and although the church I just left behind was a very open, freethinking, and charitable church, I had to accept the fact that this isn’t the true face of Christianity.  Most Christianity isn’t founded on pragmatic practices, reconciling a congregation to ban homophobia as a church practice, or on practices welcoming people of other faiths without threat of conversion.  Most Christianity was the opposite of that, but the church me my sister, and my mother grew up with, and my grandma is a frontrunner for, was this type of church, and that was this type of group.  And I was damned lucky to be come from this church instead of some Neo Nazi psycho one.  Hell, at least at this one there were a few people in favor of legalization.

Jill waved at us from the kitchen, and told us to wait outside because they were about to, “Circle up.”  So we waited out side.  Eventually the entire group, adult escorts and youth and all came out of the building as the site manager or lead staff member called out “Circle up!”  He then gave his nightly announcements. “Okay so tonight we have our nature walk, which will be after song time.” He then pointed at us, “This is Jill’s family, they will be eating dinner with us tonight.  Please be courteous and kind to our guests, and make good examples of our campers.”  He then looked to one of the campers “You wanted to do the super man prayer?” The camper, a blond girl with the most lopsided breasts I have ever seen, became ecstatic and jumped up and down clapping “Yeah.”   Everyone went quite as she lead them in a campy prayer, sung to the tune of the Superman theme music, all of which I have forgotten because of my brain cell slaughtering habits.

Finally after watching the entire group pray, which was like torture to me, the group filed in to get their food.  As courtesy for welcoming us we waited at the very end of the line.  Finally we moved up to receive a plate of spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread with a drink of water to wash it down.  We then sat at a table near the end and were eventually joined by Jill and twelve others.  

“I’m so glad you guys could make it,” she said with a smile ear to ear.

“We wouldn’t miss any opportunity to see you,” my father said, dead serious.

“So how are you really?” My sister said to me.  I should have known she’d try to get me to talking, she hadn’t seen me in while, and I said very little to her when I saw her earlier. 

“I’m great,” I lied.  “Couldn’t be better, I’m here in a new place, on a new adventure, I get to see you, and get a free dinner out of it.”  I was amazed I said this without stumbling into inaudible mumbles because I was so drowsy.  But my sister laughed and went on.

 Then all of sudden, when I looked at one of the staffers caring a bucket of water to the kitchen, but all of a sudden the bottom of the bucket broke, and the water spilled all over the floor.  And then, when I saw that, for no apparent reason, I felt something never felt before.  I felt a sense of knowing because I was so lost in not knowing, and I felt joy because I was so lost in my suffering and the suffering I caused.  There is no way I can explain what I felt in words, ecstasy is too extreme and to call it a mere epiphany would be an insult. 

 She went on to talk to my parents about the different campers, such as the one with aspburgers, or the parent escort who was a reformed drug addict, and I was there laying out my life in perspective.  I was so caught up in my revelations I didn’t even get up for seconds.    I realized, somehow, that I was the only thing keeping me from talking to her, and I wasn’t going to hold my self back anymore, then I remembered that I committed a possible murder, and I realized  that was a more important thing to think about than a high school social life.   Yet I had realized high school is only four years of my life, so fuck it.  Just hold your breath for two more years and don’t beat people anymore, it should be smooth sailing.

As we finished our meals we gave them our dishes to do, then spent a little more time with Jill in the staff quarters.  Where Jill showed us what she had learned on the guitar here, 3 chords.  Then I showed her up by playing “Jumping Jack Flash,”  and I taught her “Smoke on the Water.”  We then embraced and said our goodbyes, promising to come by again before we leave.

With my parents back on the road, this time I decided to keep my ear plugs out, and I just listened to the sound of my parents searching for topics to discuss and the sounds of the highway.  Playing every event back in my head, the trip so far in its entirety, which only had two more days left.  Tomorrow we were scheduled to tour Humboldt state, then the next day early morning we were due to ship home.

We came back to the hotel room and returned to the same routine.  My parents turned on the television and their laptops, while I went to the shower.  Sitting under the waters, just meditating, trying to make sense of it all.  Why had I done what I did?  Why was my life filled with all these complications which make no sense?  Why Am I so scrambled? What the fuck is wrong with me?  Is their anything wrong with me?  All these questions and all the possible answers swam in my head, and then I remembered I’m insane.  People were never hesitant to remind me I was crazy, the people who knew me best didn’t tell me I was crazy though it was obvious they knew.  The people who watched me from a far could automatically tell I was to.

“Why?” you might ask.  Well, simply because I had everything they had.  I lived in the suburbs, I had middle age parents who paid for everything, yet I didn’t want to fit in.  I didn’t want to be one of the standard middle and upper class teens in high school who shops at Pac Sun or Abercrombie. I wanted to be something all my own, and then I had to complicate the whole thing by feeling like a reject.  Well fuck it!  If they cant accept me that’s their problem, because I’m here to stay.  And if they want to call me a fag for wearing blue or purple round shades with a tie dye shirt, to hell with them.  Hell, I just beat a man to death so I knew I was capable of it, and at least this way I wouldn’t physically hurt any one.  Something I truly never wanted or expected myself to do.  But I made my decisions, so it was time to live with them.  So I carry on.  I felt invigorated by my new acceptance and remembrance of my insanity, but still forever nervous that I was going to jail.  Every time I turned my back, I would turn around again because I would hallucinate a cop walking towards me.  

The shower helped me sweat out some of the opium, and the effects had begun to wear off.  But the comedown off opiates is always a hellish ride, filled with sweat, anxiety, and a nervous twitch, all of which were roaring at me at 100 miles per hour.  I returned to my bedroom where I just sat smoking in order to alleviate the withdrawal.  Soon the anxiety began to dissipate, and I became very calm, very drowsy.  Eventually, I would just fall back and pass out on my bed, I didn’t even check to see what time it was when I fell asleep.  I had no more energy, it was already a huge drag on me to tolerate prayer and dinner with a religious organization, but top it off with bad memories from youth group and dealing with it all on opium I didn’t even want to take, I simply couldn’t go on.

The Burden of Empathy : Chapter 3

Chapter 3 

I awoke around 8:10.  When you’re a stoner you sleep incredibly well,  but the morning after you go to sleep high is always a sluggish one, which I have every day.  I awake feeling languid but with out the euphoria, your muscles are also tense and achy from a lack of changing positions while asleep, and your stomach is achy and you suffer numerous “fake pukes.” I don’t credit this entirely to the weed though, my stomach problems have hurt me my whole life, and weed actually kills my aches and pains.  I pushed down on my morning wood to get it back to normal size. Yes I had dreamt about her, which is not important at this moment. 

  I got dressed in a pair of jeans, a blue flannel and a Beck t shirt.  I brushed my teeth and hair and opened the door.  The light from outside and the sound of the door opening awoke my mother.

“I’m going to go check out the breakfast,” I said

She said, “Okay,” and rolled over to sleep in a few extra moments.  Before I left I grabbed a book from my bag.  I then left the room and snuck behind a wall to smoke a few bowls.  I then crossed the parking lot and ate the mediocre free breakfast of a bagel, a bowl of Rice Krispies and cranberry juice.  The coffee tasted like crap and I didn’t even bother to finish it.   I then sat there and read my book.  It was Songs of the Doomed by my hero Hunter S Thompson.  I also brought Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palinuck and Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut.  After I was finished I decided that the dining room/buffet/lobby of a Best Western that’s packed with a family of loud rednecks isn’t the most enjoyable place to read essays about LSD and the Hell’s Angels.  So I went outside and smoked two more bowls and put in some visine. I then returned to our room.

When I entered the blinds had been open to emit light into the room, and my parents were out of bed, fully dressed and putting on their shoes.

“How was the breakfast?” My mother enquired seeing if she should even bother with the predictable continental breakfast  or just grab something at Starbucks.

“It was alright, not a lot you guys would like just bagels and cereal, no fruit for some reason, and the coffee sucks.”  The mention of crappy coffee was enough for my mother to seek elsewhere, she only drinks what she considers to be the best coffee.  

“Well, we’ll see what’s there and if there’s nothing we’ll stop at the Safeway, there’s a Starbucks there.”  I wasn’t surprised by her answer.

They left so I flipped on the TV, and it was my source of news, none other that the most trusted anchor of my generation, Mr. Jon Stewart, who knew that a comedian on basic cable would replace the “news” stations as the truly investigative and expositional journalists?  Before they had Cronkite and Brokaw, now we had Stewart and Colbert.  Who knew that CNN, Fox news, MSNBC, and CSNBC would all turn out to be evil?  I did.  They would be too cowardly to shock the masses out of complacency but what they forget about was their roots, about how the original twentieth century journalists exposed evils in child labor and nativism.  The modern press is nothing but nativists.  Who knew that it would be this funny man on the screen who would take down the bubble economy blowing pigs of CSNBC?  Cable news is pure propaganda, and Jon Stewart thwarts this evil day after day by simply showing each channel talking about the same fucking issue twenty times in a day, and he’d show the stupid shit those “journalists” say.  Journalists are supposed to be the people who expose people saying stupid shit, now they say the stupid shit.  Now because their viewers mistake their stupid shit for news, we have a population of people who are stupid shit and they do anything a commercial tells them.  The fact we think we are immune to propaganda unlike the people of WW I or Nazi Germany is bullshit.  If you look at our reaction to 9/11 you see we buy up propaganda in a nut shell.  That’s how Bush played his evil games, fear and propaganda.  Eventually the fear went away, but the propaganda didn’t.

I smoked a little bit more then snuck a few beers. I pulled out my note pad, expecting inspiration to strike and I’d spill out one of my poems or one of my essays which are in truth just “arty” versions of my lectures and rants which is in a sense this entire book.  Peace and love, enlightenment, materialism, suffering, you know real angst filled shit.  Shit like that is what I usually write about, but nothing was flowing at the moment.  So I read more of the books I had brought.  I then was given a boost when I started to feel the alcohol.

Inspiration struck and I wrote the following, it’s a poem or a lyrical rant, I couldn’t think of a good title so I settled on the generic and already used “America.” 


America, Heed my warning

Do not cast this aside as the ravings of a heretic

Please take this into consideration

End this fear of wisdom of across the sea

Indulge in the addiction of literacy

Cast aside your lonely heavenly pages

Embrace the gifts at hand

look forward

End this attachment to green papers

Share your dollars with those who have none

Take the words of the teachers

Be meek

Love thy neighbor

No Matter what robed man guides you 

You have no excuse for hate

Love is not just for the bedroom or the marketing executive

What could be more beautiful a sight than that of love?

The poem was not my best work, and I would later throw this poem away when I discovered one of my heroes, Allen Ginsberg, already wrote a poem similar to this with the same title. But the juices kept flowing, and I then created the next piece, I decided to write a poem about high school, I haven’t settled on a title, so I guess it could just be “Cold Shoulder Bitches.”


Cold Shoulder Bitches

Ego maniacal Gladiators march with a short term pride

Psychotic housewives get their training 

Extortionists, Racists, Prostitutes, all getting their fix

      In the prime of Life

All at the taxpayers expense

Jizz and painkillers stick to toilet seats

Plastic water bottles of moonshine

Ecstasy in pills and cum

Sweet vapors, harsh stenches

Broken bottles, crushed cans, used rubbers

Youthful innocent bloodshot eyes

Halls of bureaucrats who weep over the approaching reaper

Reality is too dark a room to live

But the room has a window to open light

Yet night lingers, always

Glass chambers of sweet vapors Break the dawn

Broken bottles and sweet vapors help to cope 

Even the bureaucrats do

Not bad I thought, but I could do better.   Just your average stream of consciousness.  Then came the next work, this is just a satirical venting of all my pubescent insecurities.


I am your typical teenage boy

I have no talent, smart or skill

I can’t play sports, I’m not a musician

I’m not fit, and I aint good looking

I can’t talk to girls, I never go to parties

I’m never happy, I can’t get laid

I’m hairy dirty smelly and ugly as Fuck

I have no self esteem

I abuse Drugs

I masturbate nightly

I hate my zits

I never do anything right

I love a girl I’ll never get

I disappoint my parents

And I hate high school

I’m your typical teenage boy.

I found this poem funny, my confidence is at its lowest point at this time in my life.  Once I got it written down, I felt a little better about myself, because when I read the poem I realized most of those things weren’t true.  I do have some talents I just need to find them, and I would eventually become invited to parties.  The whole thing about girls is fairly true, I thought I made that obvious with the fact all I do is fantasize about her.  I also cherish every small tiny insignificant conversation I have with her, no matter how much I embarrassed myself, or how little she says back.  I worry this is stalker status, but I always look myself in the mirror and remind myself she has never showed interest and probably would never go out with me.  So I don’t bother pursuing her.  I’m no sick stalker.  Just a lonely teenager.

After I had gotten three poems out of my system, I got rid of the bottles and chewed a stick of gum.  I then sat and watched TV.  My parents finally returned.  They were laughing and chuckling but I could tell they hadn’t eaten anything.

“So…” I said anticipating a response.

“Yeah, we’ll stop at the Safeway on the way out and pick up something,”  said my mother.  “We’ll have a little picnic somewhere.”  She said attempting to still her laughter.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

My dad looked at my mom, that look you give when you’re asking “Please?” Without saying it.

“You can go ahead and tell him, I know you’re dying to.” She said.

“We’ll okay.”  My dad prepared to tell a little story. He looked at me with an amused grin.  “Well we were looking at the breakfast and I was saying, ‘Theres nothing here lets head out,’ we headed for the door when suddenly,” he was stuck in a moment reliving hilarity, “Do you remember all the fat people we saw at the McDonalds in Idaho?”

“Ha, yeah,” I said remembering the funny yet hideous site of a three hundred pound white guy in a Bush/Cheney shirt putting multiple mayo pacs on a Big Mac.

“Well, that doesn’t even compare to the people at the breakfast down stairs.” He said chuckling.

“How bad are we talking?” I asked. “I mean I know the Mickey Dee’s was pig town USA, but how hideous are we talking?”

“Well, as I said,” he continued, “We were leaving and two of the fattest families I’ve ever seen walk in the door.  I mean these were REAL wide loads, the biggest lards I’ve seen in my life.”

“And that’s saying a lot,” my mom butted in, “because you are so old.” She said with a sarcastic laugh.

“Thank you dear,” my father said sarcastically thanking for my mothers contribution to the story. “Any way, eight of the fattest shits I’ve ever seen walked in, and the thing was the two families weren’t even related.”

“So for no reason two super fat families just conglomerated in the lobby out of nowhere. How could you tell they weren’t related?”  I asked.

“Because they entered behind one another and one was white and the other black.  Both had two fat ass kids to that I think were about your age, 16 or 17, and let me tell you they were dressed so trashy. Ghetto trash and trailer trash.  Both ladies showing off their cleavage, the white guy was in a wife beater.  Skin tight, every one had their cracks out.” He shook his head in disgust, “It was bad.”

I shared a chuckle with my dad.  We then packed the car, and drove down the street to the Safeway.  I left my parents to do their shopping, medications and nasal strips and ear plugs, my dad snores like a fucking fog horn and my parents picked up fruits sodas and butter croissants.  I picked up a copy of Rolling Stone and roamed the aisles waiting for my parents to finish; I put in my ear phones and blasted The Black Keys.  As I wandered I went down the aisle with the condoms, and I can honestly say this Safeway had the largest selection of rubbers and KY I’ve ever seen in a grocery store.  I already had a rubber in my wallet because of my fathers insistence, and I knew I wouldn’t need more, I knew I wasn’t going to get laid on this trip.  

We got in the car and were off on the high way which doubled as a scenic route through the forests and led through the national park.  After forty five minutes we pulled into the information building of the park, the museum of all the stuffed animals of the area and info about the hike trails, shit like that.  My parents got in the information line for directions and a map of the park so they could drive through and get back on the highway.  While they were there I snuck off to the restroom to have a toke.  It was one of those concrete single person toilets, the ones that remind you of a prison cell without a bed. I locked the door and smoked a joint of hash and weed.  In an instance of stupidity I decided to exhale my hits and hot box the bathroom.  If you don’t know, hot boxing is when you smoke weed in a closed off area where the smoke can’t escape, like a car, you exhale and fill the space with smoke and inhale the  smoke settled in the room and you get higher.  I realized the stupidity of this idea and paranoia started to settle in, so I decided to leave.  As I opened the door and the biggest cloud of skunky smoke burst out of the door as I was still inhaling the joint was a six foot tall, beefy, with a crew cut, Humboldt county sheriff.  

He looked like an extra from Reno 911 who moonlights as a body builder.  I was frozen in panic.  I was fucked.  The pig caught me red handed and there was no escape, not when your leaving a smoky bathroom with a burning joint in your hands and eyes so red they look like every blood vessel in your skull had burst.  I knew I would be hauled to off jail where I would become Bubba’s plaything, and I was about to humiliate my parents  and be in more trouble than ever because I broke my promise, I got caught.   

I just stood frozen while the cop looked at me, then at the j in my hand. 

“You going to give me that, right?” he asked pointing to the j.

I immediately handed it over to him, and he took the longest drag I’ve ever seen and coughed like a mother fucker.  I don’t think he was expecting the hash which made it pretty harsh on the lungs.  He looked at me still hitting it, “I’m going to keep this.  You run along now.”

I didn’t waste any time.  I sprinted to the car, opened the door and slumped in the seat hiding under the windows.  As my paranoia passed, I had come to the realization I just got jacked by a cop.  But I let it go, what could I do, report him for doing drugs after he just caught me doing drugs?  Forget it. Besides, I forgot all about it when I saw my parents come to the car.   I rushed to get the Visine in before they got back.

They spread out the map and started driving up the road.  The forests of Humboldt look like Jurassic Park and the forest moon of Endor.  These trees were taller than some skyscrapers, all along a beautiful coast hidden behind the trees and hills.  After a drive we decided to check out the “drive through tree.”  

We paid the extortionist price of eight dollars and drove down a massive hill.  Finally we arrived at the tree, and wouldn’t you know, the goddamn car wouldn’t fit through the tunnel in the tree trunk.  The entire base of the redwood was scoped out into an arch, the car was only 6’-8’ and no Toyota sienna or Suburban or any car a “real” American drives was going to fit through that fucking tree.

So we parked by the redwood benches near a wide open field, a short meadow with a pond in between the vast clusters of redwoods.  My parents pulled out the back pack cooler and began to eat fruit and drink Cokes for my mothers caffeine fix. I stood by the bench and ate an orange as my dad stood a few feet away and took pictures of the tree.  

“That things rotting,” he said.  He pointed to the top of the tree revealing the space where a large branch had just broken off and a dark brown and gray patch had filled the gap.  

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad.”  I noticed.

“A complete tourist trap, look at the gift shop right by the tree.  Eight bucks and we could not even drive through the fucking tree.”

“Pure extortion,” I replied.

“Damn right,” he said.  “Eight bucks to see a rotting fucking tree.”

We walked back over to my mom, and we got into a conversation about my usual pet peeves and interests, I elaborated my hatred for capitalism and the pointlessness of looking to the future, and why we should live in the moment, that the past is past and the future is now.  My parents understood, and agreed at points, but capitalism is something my father and me can’t see eye to eye on, he maintains it provides food for us since we own a store.  I maintain if you properly mix capitalism and communism in a fair balance, nationalize banks, energy and phone service providers, the rates would be regulated and fucks like AIG could be kept under control.  If the Iraq war and Bushes war crimes weren’t enough for a populist uprising, the way he fucked our economy in the ass to the point of depression from a large surplus and made the minority rich, should be reason enough.   We need to destroy Wall Street and nationalize banks and insurance to regulate profit and keep these fucks under check.  All this is a perfect excuse for a populist uprising.  I maintained the point that an uprising would be a good thing.  A little revolution every now and again is a good thing, provided the motivation of the revolution is a wholesome one and driven by education and love.  

My parents agreed with a lot of what I said, and they understood where I was coming from.  They knew I hated the rich, I hate money.  Money is the most pointless invention known to man.  It’s not necessary.  I mean, if you were stranded in the middle of the forest with nothing but a wad of cash, that cash isn’t good for anything except a fire.  I just don’t see why people are driven by money, because if you work and make a lot of cash what are you going to do with that money?  Buy a bunch of shit you don’t need.  We work jobs we hate to buy shit we don’t need so we can raise our kids to go to school so they can be made fun of and be told what to think and how to feel.  We forget we can be guided but the answer ultimately has to come from with in, we can be taught a lesson but it’s up to us to comprehend it.  We are a community of individuals, we all perceive a different reality but we all live in the same world, because we are all one being, the division we see isn’t real, and since we are all alive in the same world we might as well get along.  

I explained this to my parents, they agreed for the most part, and with what they didn’t they at least understood.  I was lucky to have a good relationship with my parents.

I finished eating and left my parents to one of their conversations.  I wandered over to the tree, to look into the tunnel and numerous tags and initials that had been carved into the inside of the tunnel, hearts circling a couples initials things like that, so I pulled out my knife and in huge letters I carved my own message, I wanted something shocking yet bizarre, confusing in a way.  So in large capital letters each at least a foot large I carved the words “CASH KILLS!”  I decided to top it off with a shock value piece.  So I carved a bold sickle and hammer under it.

We got rid of our trash and returned to our scenic route.  After my lecture to my parents, I began to become enraged as I thought about what I said and the rip off that was this tree.  It was a double whammy.  Not only did the assholes who own this place exploit nature to fatten their wallets and extort our money, but they were putting lives in danger at the same time.  Just like the government and companies that run this country.  Despite the way-out and weird antics of Humboldt and its ever impressive openness, it still was not free from the stranglehold of commercial capitalism.  The evil which tricks us into paying bills and working for cash just to survive.  When did life receive a price tag?

 This idea infuriated me temporarily but it past within minutes.  I has too high to be mad, and if you cant change something you shouldn’t bother getting mad.  But I like to think the fact I get angry shows I care.

I sat in the back seat once more, high as a kite, this time listening to TV on the Radio and Jimi Hendrix.  We drove by more of the Humboldt tourist traps as we drove up through the prehistoric redwood forests.  




We finally came to our hotel.  A Best Western on the outskirts of some small Humboldt town called Fortuna, right by the Eel River .  We were on the second floor across the parking lot from the lobby in the far corner.  We unpacked, my parents slept in the bed in the front room, and I had my own bedroom in the back corner near the bathroom, so I was assured plenty of privacy which meant plenty of pot smoking.  

I got my over the shoulder bag with Chap Stick, my weed paraphernalia, and a book.  I told my parents I was going for a walk to find a place to go read.  I walked out the room into the harsh Pacific North coast wind, which despite the sun and the fact it was summer, made the place fucking freezing.  I walked out to a path sided with reeds on the side of a cliff at the river, I stayed on the path until it went down a large hill which lead to a spacious faux-beach by the river, vast gray sand and yellow reeds in a dark river.  

I checked my stash, I had plenty of weed to last the trip, but lucky me, as I walked right there on the ground was at least a gram of the most crystal coated weed ever.  I knew that since I was in California’s capital of weed I could buy a sack fairly easily, but Fucking Christ I never knew the weed would be as free as air.  This was the socialism I always fantasized about.  Free weed!

I picked up the smoke and packed a bowl in the pipe, then mixed it with the stash I brought.  I sat and smoked then pulled out my notepad, because I was thinking about her so much, I just had to write something, hoping this wouldn’t sound stalkerish.  

This poem is called “My League”


Her beautiful glow taunts and teases me

Tempting me while casting me away

She is the world while I am the devil

The peasant to the royals

Forbidden from her courts

Why can’t I be happy in my sphere?

Would I be happier in her sphere?

No, I belong in no spheres.

What is my place?

I’m I valid or Insane

History shows the line is thin.

It felt like gibberish. Just more cliché angst shit, I hate cliché angst shit and I hate this poem, and I hate myself for not being confident enough to be with a girl like her. And   It didn’t rhyme! It doesn’t matter my stuff never rhymes anyway.

Every time I think of her my mind goes off in a thousand directions.  I fantasize what it would be like to be her boyfriend, what it would be like for her to meet my family, what it would be like to fuck her.  It’s always very passionate hot fucking, like in a movie, not like a pig-fucking/fake cumming porno.  And not just sex for the sake of sex, sex for the sake of love. It would be an amazing experience.

After I was completed with the poem, I decided to return to the hotel, the wind was too harsh and my long hair looks like crap in the wind.  So I started walking back to the hotel.  The resistance of the wind pushed me back, and added five minutes to what should have been a ten minute walk.  Yet despite the efforts of Mother Nature I returned to the hotel room.  I found my mother and father on their lap tops doing some work.  I could see we would be getting very cozy in the suite.  “Well some vacation” I thought.  But I realized we would be leaving soon because we had yet to eat since eight this morning and it was now 2:30.  My whole family has a low tolerance for hunger.   I suspected we would be eating at the pub and microbrewery, my father had connections with the owner and it was the only other restaurant within walking distance that wasn’t a fast food joint or a Denny’s.  Plus I knew my parents couldn’t resist the pull of micro brewed beer.  If you are a tea totaler and you don’t know why this is significant, it usually means the beer is much fresher and tastier.  If you’re one of those people who don’t taste the difference, and to you beer is just beer, well fuck you.  Beer is an art, and it isn’t mastered by Miller or Bud.  My father is the brew master of the Sacramento Valley.  People travel for miles to come to his store and seek his endless wisdom on home brewing, and every year we get a fridge stocked with a shitload of micro and home brewed beer.  God bless you daddy.  You’ll never know how much I, and what few friends I had, loved that fridge.

Sure enough they asked me to get ready to go to lunch.  It was in fact going to be at the pub.  I looked forward to eating, I had the munchies pretty bad.  I went into my room and put my bag on the bed, I then emptied the unnecessary out of my pocket, my iPod, pencil, mini notebook, all the stuff I wouldn’t need at the restaurant.  Just my wallet and phone.  I then checked to be sure I had nothing in my front pockets, and sure enough, I had two dime bags in the front pocket of my flannel.  One held two large Vicodon and three Norco’s, which are the more intense Vicodin.  The other was little bit of already crushed Vicodin.  I set the pills in my bag for later, I forgot that I stashed my pills in my front pockets when the shirts were in my closet.  It was a smart hiding place, until you actually wear the shirt.  But no matter, I didn’t mind having a few left over opiates.  This was the genius of the pharmaceutical game, they still peddle us drugs like heroin and amphetamines, but they just tone down the intensity, still keep it as addictive, and slap a new funny name on it, like Vicodin or Ritalin.  By keeping it addictive and less intense than the pure drug, they keep it legal and make a huge profit off of us.  

These medicines should be free to the public.  I never understood the issues with universal healthcare, or anything truly nationalized so long as it wasn’t intruding in peoples lives. Why not just pay for everything in our taxes?  The way I see it, rather than pay monthly bills for everything and go through the stress every month of the year, just pay for it all in one big bill and only be stressed for a part of the year and just sit back the rest of the year free form the fear of bills penetrating your mailbox.  

You can obviously tell from the above passage that I’m fairly lazy.  My critics will no doubt use this against me when they attack this book.  But understand I try to be responsibly lazy.  I try to get my work out of the way first hand, so I can have the rest of my time to be free to be lazy.  And yet again I have skewed so far to the left from the topic.  

We finally left for the pub at three.  We sat in the middle of the restaurant, in between the bar and the kitchen, looking out the window into the large garden.  It was beautiful with a polished gazebo, yet no one was outside.

My father ordered a sampler of the microbrews, and my mother ordered a tall hefevizen, and I ordered lemonade.  Once again I feel like a pussy ordering that despite my age.  Christ!  I’m sixteen at this time and I can hold my booze better than some forty year old alcoholics I meet at the parties my parents have dragged me to.  It was even more embarrassing when I was ordering it from a cute waitress who was eyeballing me a little.

My parents got into conversations about the beer, and my father forced my mother to taste each of his samples.  I trailed off looking around the restaurant pretending not to care I couldn’t drink.  I saw it randomly decorated with ribbons it won for the beer.  It held a few deer heads, and a burlap bag labeled, PURE HOME GROWN MARIJUANA.  This is my kind of place, you’d never see that in a restaurant in Sacramento.  I enjoy the openness of the county, there were positive vibrations all around me, but I could still sense there was a bit of the infestation I have to deal with at home.

My mother ordered a patty melt, my father a Rueben, and I ordered a veggie burger.  We then returned to idol conversations and I spaced out randomly as usual.  I think about her, and my self, I wonder what it would be like to kiss her beautiful, cherry toned lips; it would probably be like tasting a cherry flavored tootsie pop for the first time.  I apologize for the cliche love simile.  

  After a few minutes, a tall wide and thick set man entered the restaurant, this was the owner Ted, the man who knew my father.  The man came to the table and shook my father’s hand thunderously.

“How are you buddy?” Ted said with an equally thunderous voice.

“I’m doing pretty well,” my father said.

“How’s the hip?” Ted spurred.

“It’s good,” My father replied, “It’s moving a lot better, hurts a lot less to walk and drive.  My other ones starting to go, so it’s going to have to be replaced to.”  My dad clearly wanted to change the subject.  He pointed to mom and me.  “You remember my wife Wendy, and this is my son.”

“Hello,” I said.

“Hey there,” he shook my hand enthusiastically.  His hand was almost twice the size of mine. 

“We brought him to take a look at Humboldt State.” My mother decided to put into the conversation.

“Oh Yeah,” Ted said. “Well I recommend it I love it here, I came to Humboldt when I was about twenty, haven’t left since.”

“Cool,” I said, hoping wasn’t appearing off-putting as I usually do.  

“Yeah, he’s perfect for here, he has the Humboldt mindset,” my mother said as everyone enjoyed a mild chuckle.

“Oh yeah?” Ted said jokingly, “Well you probably wouldn’t like me then” he said with a smile. “I make Rush Limbaugh seem liberal.”

I thought of a witty reply, “It’s alright, I make Michael Moore look conservative.”

  We all shared another hackie social chuckle.  

Ted promised my father a tour of the brewery after our meal and he left to return to work.  Our food then arrived and my parents returned to an idol conversation.  And his mention of Rush Limbaugh infuriated me.  What he said was funny, I’m not mad at Ted.  I just hate Rush Limbaugh more than any living thing on the face of the earth, besides frat boys but that’s a tangent for another time.  The man was a pure piece of shit, but that’s a rant for later also.    We enjoyed our meal, my mother and I returned to the hotel and my father went with Ted to the brewery.  

Once back in the hotel room I confined myself to my bedroom.  I turned on the TV for background noise and sat on the bed.  I decided to smoke in my private quarters.  I did the same thing I did before except this time I blew the smoke out the window threw a towel to absorb the smell and smoke.  I didn’t want my parents to get fined for my psychoactive substance use.  The TV was on GoldMember.  So I just got baked and lied on the bed giggling at the jokes and obvious Pepsi product placements.  After the scene with Britney Spears’ head blowing up, a coincidental preamble to her rise and fall.  It was a commercial.  First it was some clip promoting the Twilight movie.  That’s right, its time for the Twilight rant.

Twilight was ruining our youth hand in hand with High School Musical, the Jonas Brothers, in a narcissistic orgy of Christian teasing sex appeal with purity rings and vampire books whose series is a metaphor for chastity (Thank you Rolling Stone issue 1067).  Stephanie Meyer is corrupting our youth with this abstinent series.  Teenage years should be fueled by sex, booze, drugs and raising hell.  Because this is the only time in life where such behavior is acceptable, until you finish college.  The Jonas brothers and Twilight were ruining this.  

Perhaps I’m being a bit too judgmental, it is one of my biggest faults.  In truth, I have no problem if people like these things, I’m not ordering every Twilight book burned and The entire Disney Channel lynched, not a bad idea for Rush and Fox News though.  We have the privilege, or at least should, to do whatever the fuck we want as long as you’re not hurting other people.  If you want to read Twilight go to it, I wont stop you, I’ll just disapprove.  I just think people shouldn’t be wasting their time on fluff like that, or if they do at least admit its corporate mass produced fluff and not to take it seriously.  Absorb it as entertainment, not a way of life.

Now that I think about it, by giving money to enjoy things like Disney, you’re giving your money and time to big corporations who feed off the proletariat to make their profits, which they waste on their personal want and not the common good.  Also by purchasing any of the mentioned bullshit, you are hurting yourself by binding yourself to consumer culture and material possessions.  Corporations are very sneaky about making us not think twice about what were doing by giving them our money.  We are blind sided by their perks and conveniences, I have no problem with people making a profit so long as they share their excess as much as possible.  But no, they pocket it and shun the “losers”, real laisez faire Social Darwinist bullshit.  The truth is you need everyone in the world, because the useless give you someone to look down upon.    These corporations keep you blind by doing everything for you, they prepare your food make your clothes and even does your charity work for you.  With all the good they do for you, it’s easy to forget the third world children who sewed the clothes and it’s easy to forget the chemicals and preservatives in our food are giving people cancer by the millions. I heard my father return, as I continued my pondering and giggling at Mike Myers funny accent.

Inspiration struck, and I grabbed my notepad, this poem is called The Guilty Innocent.


The Hierarchy of the human race

Forever ranks the tortured soul among the scum and filth

No matter what the opposition says, they know it true

The innocent know and preach for good

But act for nothing

And solve the problem of which hole 

To burn in the pocket first

The starving lie with the criminals

As the soldiers lie on the couch

Talking the talk

Not walking the walk.

This was for all the teachers and students and parents who accept the fact “life isn’t fair.”  Life isn’t fair because we accept that it’s not fair.  We are all equals in this world, we all hold a spot in the cycle of the environment, we are all a part of the chain.  But we buy into the dog eat dog bullshit of capital driven culture.  Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who realizes this, and I wonder why I can’t just keep my mouth shut and do what I’m supposed to.  The simple answer is that Im crazy.  As humans that’s all we ever want, simple fucking answers.

Forgive my tangent babbling.  

As I watched the movie remnant of the 2000’s, the age of crappy alt rock and pop, the climactic years of the TRL and Jackass,  I smoked more weed and decided to flip through my Rolling stone.  It was the year’s summer double issue with Barack Obama on the front.  The man is without a doubt one of the most impressive men to be elected since FDR.  

Yes I’m not afraid to show my evil liberal bias, yes I hate this country and I want to destroy everything society holds dear. As does the Black Muslim socialist man who will dismantle the evils of Bush, the cocaine filled interior department or the justice departments hiring standards which were worse than oaths of allegiance during the Cold War.  These were not fun times.

The magazine also updated me on approaching albums and went into detail about a festival I would have killed to go to, Bonnaroo, I’d kill to go to any music festival, and I’d especially do it to see My morning Jacket, Kings of Leon,  whatever band Jack White is in at the time, and my other favorites.  Rolling Stone is a good magazine, it sees through the bullshit I try to get people to see, we probably have Dr. Thompson to thank for that. RS hasn’t been the same since the Doctor died, he was the only journalist in the world to admit with out fear that it was all bullshit.  

  You have figured out what bullshit Im talking about now I’m sure. Anti drug and alcohol ads, faith in institutions, (jail, schools, religion) war, and overall everything that “America stands for.”    Rather than put faith in a system which merely symbolizes human decency but offers only punishment as retribution, one should actually just be the best person they can be.  You do so by doing all the things you’re taught in preschool, share, don’t do anything to others that you wouldn’t want to be done to you. 

Society can’t be perfect but it would be a lot less complicated if you just see it’s all about love.  Love your environment, love your neighbors, where one does nothing but good one feels nothing but good.

This is all I want people to understand, if people would just take the time to converse and at least attempt to understand my ideas, then maybe I wouldn’t hate school so much, maybe I’d feel a little more confident, in both myself and the potential in our uprising.  But I guess I’m just a selfish whinney baby.  Other people who feel this way have God and Jesus and shit like that to turn to, but I don’t.  I  believe that there is no God, that there isn’t really a purpose for anything, I truly believe everything is the product of both random events, but still the karmic wheel.  I believe there isn’t a meaning for when something unfair happens and there isn’t really some big plan for us humans, the fundamental establishment of my beliefs on the nature of the reason for just about everything, is shit happens.  Shit happens, we can control the actions and movements but in the long run the outcome is always out of our control, and its also out of the control of everything else, except karma.  But karma isn’t controlled by some invisible force, it’s just the product of your conscience and your perception of reality.  This wasn’t going through my head while I was reading the magazine, I just thought I should further explain why I feel like I’m crazy.  

The magazine had interesting stories, but it had no news about any of my musical interests.  No new CDs or reviews, except for the fact My Morning Jacket was now on the top 40.  I then set aside the magazine and just watched tv.  It was a commercial so I decided to see what mediocre channels this hotel would provide.  After about five sports channels, C-SPAN, HBO, Disney, and last the ultimate evil Fox News, and who’s show was on but the most despicable man on the face of the earth next to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity.  The moron who actually convinced his base that Barack Obama was a secret Muslim, that “socialism doesn’t work” and any one who opposes the Bush doctrine hates freedom which is just an oxymoron.  He is a blind loyalist who will say anything that pops into his down syndrome stricken little mind.  He blindly clings to patriotism, calling this “the greatest nation on earth” the fact is the USA is only a few hundred years old, the Chinese, Egyptians, Indians, Greeks and Romans have had incredible national cultures for thousands of years. In those thousands of years these nations gave us paper, written languages, stories, and the foundations of modern society.  Yet in the 200 years that America had to be “the greatest nation on earth,” we have created monster trucks, the Big Mac, Cable news, and a long list of other useless crap that raped our earth, blocked the path to enlightenment, and have turned the world into a bunch of corporate dependent bastards who get their news from sources owned by the same companies tending to their whims.   

This is why the media never goes into the real issues.  The companies that make life so much easier for all of us buy the media and put what we want to hear on the TV, not what we need to hear.  So this is how a retarded American dream Reagan humping loyalist got a show.  Where he bullied the little nerd.  It was like watching a grown man act like a jockish high school bully. Sean Hannity is a prick, as is his leader Rush.  After Obama gets elected Rush’s petty ass publicly cries for Obama’s failure merely for the success of his party, he ignores that Obama’s success will affect the success of the whole country, the world for that matter.  The entire Fox News and Rush radio crew and every other talking head on cable news who thinks their opinion matters can’t accept the fact that the entire crisis is bigger than them.  

Its funny, Fox News was completely lenient when there messiah was raping our rights and giving them tax cuts, but the minute a black man gets in office Fox all of a sudden cranks up the “investigative journalism,” but a clip show on the O’Reilly Factor called “Best Ambush Interviews” isn’t high quality investigative journalism.  

I take back my earlier statement, Sean Hannity isn’t the worst man to show his face on Fox News, Ann Coulter is.  

I’m simply going to break down the top five evils now, Sean Hannity is a greedy bully, who only fears socialism because he fears a loss of his own money, he completely ignores the down trodden and he blames everything on 9/11, and he clings to the patriotic nature of the event.  Has he donated a dollar of aid to help the health of the volunteers who are now dying of asbestos and other complications from helping on that day out of patriotism?  

So Sean Hannity, if you want to be real patriot and do the public a true public service. Shut the Fuck Up, you are an idiot.  

Ann coulter, you’re a moronic bitch who will say anything to get on TV.  You cling to right wing Christian bullshit that doesn’t even make sense, you are a racist homophobic bitch and you know nothing about the liberal agenda which you shit talk about constantly.  You’re just some hag blond who grew up masturbating to Reagan’s speeches while using the crucifix as a dildo.  You know nothing about the Christian agenda either.  “Jesus had more leadership skills than Obama” that would make sense because Jesus was the FUCKING SON OF GOD, and Obama is just an elected public servant.  It makes sense the son of God was a better leader.  But Jesus didn’t preach war, hatred ,and the rest of the shit that comes out of that anorexic bitches bony orifice.  

Bill O Reilly, you’re simply a new money Irish boy who clings to his blue collar roots and values out fear of being mixed with the very elite he hates.  But you can’t see you are mixed in, you are the elitist!  

Glenn Beck, you’re a whore for a camera and you’ll say anything that pops into that turkey neck head of yours.  Fuck you.   

And Rush Limbaugh, you’re a fat self centered attention grubbing pill popping hypocritical man angry at the fact the world doesn’t always go your way so you bitch and moan and blindly blame liberals for everything.  You are without a doubt the worst human being to have lived in the public eye in the early 21st century.  I hope you all die an early death, so that I can by a 40oz beer and roll a fat joint and party on your grave.  Mark my words, I try not to be petty and I will only do this once, but the day you people die I will be dancing on your graves with a beer and a joint.  Or maybe to avoid legal troubles Ill just hack a fat luggy on your graves.  Who knows?    

All this rushed in my mind from just a five second clip of Fox News, I didn’t even hear what they were taking about, I immediately flipped back to the movie.  I had to calm myself, I must remember that they are a minority of people trying to brain wash the majority with this crap, and it’s obviously out dated.  Will someone tell these fuckers its not 2002 any more, and 9/11 is long gone and no longer exploitable?  Tell Cheney to, that bastard just wont go away, the Bush administration and their true believers are like herpes in the Obama generation, touch them once and they are around forever.

My parents called me into the next room, in a rush of panic I checked my eyes, which were not in the least bit bloodshot.   So I entered the room and found my parents sitting on the bed.

“We are going to go drive around and check the place out and look for something to eat maybe,” my mom said.

“Cool, when?” I asked.

“In about thirty minutes,” she replied.

I returned to my room and put on my converse, thirty minutes was plenty of time to smoke more weed and get nice and fucked up for the drive around.  It was planned we would tour this town then make the drive and explore Eureka.  A small town which is the big city of the area.  I got more baked while I watched the 2002 artifact on the screen. 

 It was 6 when it came time to go.  I got back in my usual seat behind the driver.  I was so high I couldn’t keep my head up so I just leaned it back on the head rest for the duration of the trip and lived in my world where Flight of the Conchords, the Flaming Lips, and Cypress Hill play to block out my parent’s conversation, and to block out the douche bag blasting “Low” by Flo Rida on his speakers in the Lincoln next to us.  We finally made it to Eureka, circling the blocks looking at the stores and restaurants for potential stops.  I noticed the city had the look of an old small western town which had been modernized.  Historic buildings mixed with remnants of 50’s, 70’s, and modern architecture.  

The streets were fairly empty and the stores were mostly closed.  I passed by the occasional gaggle of night owls getting started on the approaching night, the occasional bum limping to his spot, and the occasional middle white class American on their way home from selling out to the establishment.  

I was in a fairly strong daze, I felt like my head was floating.  I had decided earlier that I would ask around to find a place to buy weed, but the town’s population was so underestimated, plus my natural shyness kicked in and I was too nervous to ask.  I could have easily just asked one of the homeless people myself and I probably would have found a great hook, but no, I couldn’t decide “Is it worth it?”  

Finally I noticed a skinny Asian boy about my age.  He was in a Volcom shirt and designer jeans, with spiked hair and a Rasta tri colored sweat band on his wrist.  The Rasta colors where an instant flag, “He can guide me to weed!”  So I called out to him.

“Hey!” I bellowed.  When I got his attention I nodded and he came over and started walking with me slowly down the street.  “Hey bro you know where I could score some trees?”  

He went from a look of hopeful optimism to sudden disappointment.  “No man, I was kinda hoping you’d have some.”  He then followed with a forced laugh.  

“Damn. Well what now?” I asked rhetorically.

“You wanna go looking for some?” he replied to my surprise.

When ever someone presents me with a potential social situation, I’m usually inclined to say no.  Simply because I over think the possibility of me embarrassing myself by going on one of my long winded rants and having nobody care.  But I was hoping to buy some weed and I knew this would probably be the most time I could actually get away from my parents to do so.  So I said yes, and off we were to search the town.

“So what’s your name?” I decided to use this to get the conversation going.

“Eric,” he said.

I told him my name, I could see he was waiting for me to say the next thing again.  “So do you live around here?”

“Yeah,” I could see he wasn’t aware I was from out of town.  In a sense I don’t see how he would.  I’m one of the common sites in Humboldt.  Acne cursed young adult with shaggy hair and scruffy neck beards in tye die and flannel. “You don’t?” he followed.

“No.  I’m from Sacramento.”  I replied.

“Oh, that’s pretty tight!”  I thought he was just being polite, but I could clearly see he really thought Sacramento was cooler than Humboldt.  I thought vice versa.

“It’s really not,”  I said with the awkward laugh you get when watching The Office.

“Really?”  I could see I was disillusioning him, and his hopes of the potential of life beyond Humboldt.  I  had just met him and already I’m changing his perceptions, I’m sort of a dick I guess.  

“But it’s the capital?”  He pleaded.

“Well, It has a few cool things,”  I could see he wouldn’t let go of the possibility that Sacramento would be cooler than Eureka so I decided to acknowledge my town’s short list of pros before I begin the long list of cons. “I’m mean it’s cool because there’s like, tons of good weed and lots of stoners there, but there isn’t like, any really cool places to hang out, at most we have the river.  I mean here you got forests, the beach, and all these shops that you can just walk to.  It’s cool.  Where I live I  got to drive ten minutes minimum to get anywhere cool, and that sucks because I don’t have my license yet.”  All of which was true, and valid.  Sac-town does have its ups but “My big problem is the people, they’re a bunch of preppy assholes and rednecks mixed with pretentious elitists and hipsters. Like there’s rednecks, preps, hipsters, and stoners in Sacramento, that’s it.”

“Well you think it’s any better here?”  he said  “It’s nothing but hippies and rednecks in these mountains.”

“But I’m a hippie,” I said, “and in Sacramento there aren’t that many hippies except the phony rich ones, I need to be around more real hippies.”  I was super into superficial labels back then.  People still think of me as a hippie, but the truth is, I’m nothing.  I’m just a part of the illusion.

He nodded and we agreed to disagree, even though I didn’t think this was that big of a disagreement.  I realized that even though I was walking with this kid I didn’t even know where the fuck we were going, we just continued in the direction we met in.  

“So where could we go around here to get trees?”  I asked.

He held an ear bud in one hand and pointed towards the ocean with the other.  “We might be able to find some at the Boardwalk. There’s usually a bunch of bums up there.”  My sense of political correctness made my spine curl at the use of the word “bum” as it does for all other epithets.  “That’s the thing about Humboldt, you gotta smoke with the homeless.”

“I don’t mind,” I replied “I enjoy smoking with anyone, just so that I can have stories to tell.”

He nodded as if to say, “I’ve never thought about it like that.”

We finally reached the boardwalk.  Just a sidewalk along the coast held up from the water by wooden poles.  The place was almost as bare as the city.  Where the sidewalk ends an endless sea of water spans out as far as the eye can see only to meet with the falling sun on a distant unreachable line of blue and red.   The sight was blocked by the occasional bum, we asked around for pot but all denied they had any, and one person we didn’t ask because he seemed fairly busy with his conversation with the devil.   

“Damn,” I said “Where da bud at?” I then followed with a forced chuckle, as did my new friend.  The polite chuckle that says, “That wasn’t really funny, but your cool so whatever.”  I then decided to cap it off with “I thought everybody smoked up here?”

“Yeah,” He blurted out, almost sounding like he was offended. “This is Humboldt.”

“Yeah, so let’s just keep looking,”  I said.  We turned the corner and walked back in the direction we came, this time walking on the real side walk on the edge of the town and docks.  I decided to keep the conversation going.  “So what grade are you in?”


“Freshman going on Sophomore, or eighth going on Freshmen?”  This would be sort of weak if I was looking for weed with a Freshman, but weed is weed.  So I wasn’t bothered when he said the second one.  But I did decide to fuck with his head a little.  I thought, “What the hell, this guy will never see me again.”

“So do they, like, haze freshmen here?” I asked and observed his reply, he only gave a confused look to say, “What the fuck does Haze mean?” I wanted a stunned wide eyed look that would say “Jesus Christ I sure hope not!”

“Like… you mean those things you do to get into clicks and frat houses?”

I nodded.  

“I don’t know, do they do that in your town?” He said.

“Well, I can’t speak for the entire city, but at my school, yeah there is a little bit of hazing from time to time again.”  I said, hoping the preposition ‘I Cant speak for the entire city’ would ease his fears and let him know I didn’t really know for sure.  

“Like what do they do?”  He begged in fear.

“Well at my school we can people. Well not We, I myself would never do it because I try to be a pacifist as much as possible, but a few freshmen have been canned.  Some as retribution and some as just joking among friends.” I then started fingering my front pockets to see if I had a joint somewhere. 

 I could see I was really raising his fears about going to a new school, I wanted to fuck with the kid’s head a little bit, but I began to feel guilty, fortunately I found a slightly pregnant j in my front pocket which could make up for my mean prank.  I whipped it out and showed it to my friend.  He immediately forgot what we were talking about.

“Damn fool, that’s fat!”

“I just remembered I had this, I still want to find a sac, but we can smoke this in the process.” So I sparked the j, took a fat hit, and passed it to my eager new friend, who hit it happily.  Weed is always better when you don’t have to pay for it.   We passed it back and forth as we walked down the street, until we heard someone call out.

“Hey!” an unseen man barked.  My friend and I turned or heads and across the street were two homeless men, one nodding for the two of us to come over.  I recognized them, we had passed each bum individually on the boardwalk and now they became a pair probably for their safety.  When you’re homeless it’s better to stay close to other people in the biggest groups possible, people are less likely to fuck with you if you got a mob to back you up.  Safety is in numbers.

The man had nodded us over so we approached.  It seems our quest had ended, we finished the joint but I had a roach that was big enough for a full bowl in a pipe. If they didn’t have enough to sell, maybe they had enough to match.

Both men were dirty, needless to say, but they were not repulsive.  One looked 40 and had only a t shirt and cargo pants on.  The other was over 20 but younger than 35,  he had a beanie, a windbreaker, jeans, and a goatee.  The one without a beanie had called us over.  

“You dudes still looking for smoke?”  He asked.

“Yeah, I’ll buy some and smoke a bowl with some match bro.”  I replied.

“It’s just some shake,” he said as he pulled an Altoids tin from his pocket.  Opened it at it was filled with shake AND THE FIVE STICKIEST SWEETEST NUGGETS OF WEED I’VE SEEN IN MY FUCKING LIFE! “I figured ten bucks.”

I gave him the cash, and he gave me the tin.  On the condition we smoke a few bowls with them.  I felt guilty, like I was ripping them off, but then I realized if he can sell that for ten I don’t want to even imagine what he gets for ten.  Shit.  Why are these dudes homeless, they could be selling weed and getting off the streets?  Probably got a drinking problem or something.  

That’s judgmental, I shouldn’t say that, I apologize.  

So we smoked four bowls and just chatted.  Talked about how good the weed was and how the pipe was really cool.  I asked what their names were.

“Raymond,” said the one in the beanie.

“Mad Dog,” replied the other enthusiastically.  Mad Dog, yes, his name was Mad Dog, like the cheap booze.

It may seem weird to you, but I love crazy and eccentric people.  So I gave a light chuckle. “That’s tight dude,” and I legitimately think that is cool.  I think it’s the coolest thing in the world when you just do what the fuck you want just to raise a few eyebrows.  

The time to say my goodbyes came, I was due to meet my parents soon, so I bid my new friends, “So long, and thanks for all the weed.” A Douglas Adams reference that no one got which made me feel like a bad comedian.  I then turned my back and left, knowing I would most likely never see them again.

 But in the distance, I heard Mad Dog call out to me, I couldn’t tell what he said, it went sort of in an out, but what I heard was.

“Care, f..  There… Opium…”  Something about opium, but I just turned back smiled, and gave a final wave goodbye, playing like I heard him clearly.  They all just stared at me which made me feel nervous so I immediately turned away awkwardly.

I wandered around streets, looking for the square I was supposed to meet my parents at.  I hadn’t realized how turned around I got with my friend looking for dope.  

 I turned one corner which turned out to be some sort of back alley parking lot.  All that was there were two blank walls that stretched to the end of the short street, in the middle of them was an empty one way street, and beyond the to walls was a half empty parking lot.  

This is what infuriated me, the only decoration adorned on either of these walls, was a giant, Hitler-esque, Jonas Brothers propaganda poster.  Under the poster, in sloppy black graffiti, the words “SENIORS CLASS of 2008,” and “GO WILDCATS!” were dawned.  I didn’t mind the sloppy tags on the building, they are a standard though pointless part of the essential shallow high school experience.  But the site of a 5’x5’ poster of those soulless fucks, and the fact that no one bothered to remove the horrid propaganda, filled me with a rage so huge, I decided to commit arson, and that the victim would be the poster.  

I pulled out my lighter, and sparked a corner of the poster that had peeled of the wall, the fire spread out across the chemically coated page giving it a haunting blue and green glow.   The flames slowly creeped up the poster, eating away at the bodies of abstinent, Christian, and Disney evil.  

The fire evaporated the glue, and the poster fell off the wall, floating down in the breeze, still aflame, the remains of the poster landed in the gutter and the flame swallowed the face of the lead Jonas, whatever the fuck his name is.  What a fitting parallel for these boys future.  We all know how stage children turn out, they either become psychos like MJ  or Britney or Kirk Cameron, or they become either junkies or coke heads.

After I stomped out the final ember, I continued my search for my parents meeting place, I still had plenty of time.  But finding your way around an unfamiliar town while high as shit isn’t easy.

Eventually I found our meeting spot, I was early so I waited and decided to just idle at the weed I just bought for a bargain.  Not only did I score 1 free gram, but I got at least 5 grams for 10 dollars,  I had plenty of weed for the trip, and enough to bring back to show my friends.

Eventually my parents arrived.  We walked back to the car and drove off.  We stopped at a near by Walgreens, my parents went inside and I waited in the car.

Now to anyone who hasn’t liked my story so far, for everyone who believe this tale is just angsty bullshit or just some pimply teen whining about his depression and his confidence issues, or thinks it is just plain boring, keep reading.  This is where it gets interesting.

I was sitting in the back, listening to Santana, looking out the windows, when I saw a homeless man sitting on the wall twenty feet from the front door, he just sat there, with a sad lonely look, and a cup in his hand.

When I looked out the window of the opposite side, I saw a car with three teenage girls in it, they were typical blonde preppy looking girls, driving a new Mustang they obviously didn’t buy themselves, a complete cliché. Two of them walked in the store, while one waited by the car, about five seconds later, a guy about her age walks out of the store, she walks up to him, and they embrace each other.  Which almost got me to fantasize about her, but I was too busy immediately despising these two to think about anyone else.  They started walking, and eventually passed the homeless man, I saw him ask the couple politely for change and he held out his cup.  What happened next truly filled me with an indescribable rage, more than the site of Sean Hannity or the poster, or even W and Cheney combined.

The fucking boy, the piece of shit who already has a hot girl friend and has enough to the point where I’m sure he could do without a little change or a few dollars, spits in his cup.  And I don’t mean a small squirt of saliva, the bastard stopped, snorted and hacked, full phlegm, right into the poor man’s cup.   I want the reader to be assured, I’m almost never violent, I occasionally have violent thoughts, but I never act violently, even all the times where I got called “fag” or “loser” or whatever, I could take that.  It might have been my hatred of rich undeserving trust fund kids, or my hatred of fiscal conservatism that drove me to it. Or the fact it was happening to someone else and not me, but this time unlike all the others, I reacted.  Because I was never more pissed off than I was at that second.

I got out of the car, and ran around the opposite side of the building, to meet them at the corner.  While I ran I passed a pile of metal pipes lying in the alley by the trash, I picked one up. 

 I then hid behind the corner and waited.  

I heard them approach. 

 I couldn’t hear what they were talking about, but I could hear the bastard chuckle, now I anticipated their arrival.  

They walked past, and I approached from behind, and slammed the pipe as hard as I could across his lower back.  

As she screamed at the site of his fall I slammed the pipe on his rib cage.  She screamed even louder so I gave her one good hit on the head with the bottom of the pipe, just enough to send her to the ground, to get her worried about herself and to stop worrying about the bastard.  

She was out cold with one blow.

The fucker was down on his belly moaning and groaning in a pain so pathetic, it made him look like a whinny child.  But even then, I was not done. 

I pinned my knee on his chest to keep him down, and just wailed on him, punch after punch.  My hands were getting red and sore, but I didn’t care.  I just kept pummeling him.  He’d spit out teeth and blood on the concrete, and I still kept hitting him.  I broke his nose, and possibly fractured his skull, and I kept hitting him.  Until finally his pathetic whining stopped, and the sight of him no longer enraged me but horrified me.

 I was so horrified, I just ran way.  It was all I could think to do.  Now I was the pathetic child, I was crying and begging for some one to make it go away.  “Im sorry I don’t know what came over me” is no excuse.  You have no idea how much the guilt and fear hurt at that moment.  I had gone against everything I believed in, and hurt two living things.  I ran into the car panting, and just hid, relieved no one saw, and paranoid about the potential of cameras.    While I waited, I just stared at my hands.  The hands that might have just killed a man.  When I saw I had stains of blood on my left knuckles, I wiped it has best as I could with a paper towel.  And while I did, I swore never again to raise my hands in violence against any living thing.  

This was the moment my childhood ended, granted I was 16 at the time so it should have ended technically by now.  But at that moment I realized I was no longer the child my mother saw me as or as the capable young adult they bragged about me being.  Now I saw who I was, a violent and mad maniac.

I just sat in the car, freaking out.  Now this here can be considered as the sum of my problems, this is the burden of empathy, the problem with caring about other people.  That’s my problem, if I had just not felt bad for the homeless man, I wouldn’t have beat the rich kid.  If I had just not cared about the man, like everyone else, I couldn’t have this problem.  If I just stop caring about others, I wouldn’t  be so pissed off at the world.  

Finally my parents returned with the purchased items.  Without consulting me, they decided to just crash at the hotel room for the rest of the night, “Because we have enough food in the coolers.” My mom said.

Normally I would be frustrated, I always depend on my parents to go out for meals so I get the satisfaction of a big free meal, but I was in no position to complain, I wasn’t even paying for my dinner and I was still paranoid about the fact I might  have committed double homicide.

No, impossible!  I couldn’t have killed the girl. I know she was breathing when I left, but that boy was motionless.  I had to stop thinking about it, so I pulled out my iPod and looked for a good song to settle my nerves, I started with The Black Keys, and then listened to the fluff rap coming from the cars next to us, one was playing Low By Flo Rider, the other Soulja Boy.  I choose Low over that.  Soulja boy is the most talentless rapper to live since Vanilla Ice, and the biggest bitch to exist in rap EVER.  That doesn’t mean I like Flo Rida, but I can admit Low or Right Round are catchy songs.  As you can tell the music was working a little bit.  I was becoming more relaxed, but the incident just replayed in my head over and over again.  I was keeping the guy pinned with one knee, One fucking knee!  And I could have beaten him to death with my own two hands, and…

FUCK! A massive flow of paranoia hit me as I realized I left the pipe there, and I wasn’t wearing gloves.  MY FINGER PRINTS ARE ALL OVER THE FUCKING PIPE.  Then I remembered I had dropped it in the pile where I picked it up from as I ran back to the van, I hate it when you think you forget something you did and you freak out about only to realize you didn’t have to freak.  I sighed and was mildly relieved, even if they dust those pipes for prints, I’m safe, because all of those pipes are identical, you can’t pick out which one I had used, plus there were probably a million other peoples prints on all those pipes.  I felt slightly relieved, but still on the verge of a mental breakdown.  I was on the verge of tears, I thought of just confessing it all to my parents right then and there, but I didn’t.  I couldn’t disappoint them like that.  Nothing hurts me more than when I disappoint my parents.  It’s a very clever way of controlling your kids.  Trust them.  Trust them their entire lives, and I promise you they will never do a fucking thing out of the fear of looking you in the eyes and lying.

We finally got to the hotel.  I rushed in and caught the shower, I then washed my self and my hair, then sat in the fetal position, rocking back and fourth, crying.  Crying for the pain I had just delivered.  Crying for the fact I didn’t know what to do, I just wanted to go tell my mom so she could make it go away like usual.  But suddenly a moment of clarity happened in that shower.  

I stopped crying and became thrilled at my epiphany.  I got out of the shower looked my self in the mirror, and said to my reflection, “You are legally almost a man.  If you are going to be a man, you have to deal with this yourself, you cant put your burdens on other people any more.  Lazy days are over.”  So I swore never to tell my parents.  The guilt and pain I felt from my regretful deeds was all my own, not my parents, but mine.  So I have to face it on my own, besides, now I have no choice but to conquer fear, which had been ruling my life like an oppressive dictator.

I dried, put my pants back on, and walked out of the shower, feeling mentally refreshed and reborn as one does after an epiphany, but physically I was tired, strained, and my knuckles where still red and swollen.  How my parents didn’t see them Ill never know.  Maybe they did and just never said anything.

I then proceeded to the cooler to get out some fruit and yogurt and a hard boiled egg for my dinner, and a coke to wash it down with.  As I fumbled through the stacks of Ziploc and prepackaged food, my dad called to from lying a top of his sheets, while he does his Sudoku puzzles.  

“You know if you want a mikes or a beer or something, there in the small cooler,” he said.

“Okay, thanks dad.” I replied

“You’re welcome.”  I then proceeded to the second cooler, then with my mother noticing, I grabbed two hard ciders.  Although dad technically dad said I could only have one, he caught me with them both but said nothing.  He just looked at me from across the bed and winked when he saw I had two.  I smiled back, and he smiled to me.  The smug smile that means “We now have a secret together, so we’re bonding.”

I returned to my room and shut the door. I flicked on the television, looking for more to distract me from my current anguish. The alcohol helped.  When the TV came on it was GoldMember again, they were playing a “Marathon of spy comedies” which really means, “since we already used all our reruns from the regular season, we’ll play movies on a loop for filler.”  I smoked about four bowls in a row so that I could forget the pain.  By the time they got to the Silence of the Lambs parody with Austin and Dr. Evil, I was so baked I almost didn’t care about the fact I just mercilessly assaulted two people and might have committed murder.  I was lost in my state of higher consciousness and distracted by the idiot box playing a flashback to the beginning of the decade.

I watched all the movies, Austin Powers, Undercover Brother, and Spy Hard.  I then smoked two more bowls and flicked off the TV and crashed on the bed, the time red 10:30, so I closed my eyes and passed out.

The Burden of Empathy : Chapter 2

Chapter 2 

It all began in the summer of 2008.  My older sister Jill got a job at a charity summer camp as a cook.  My sister said she could have visitors, I had just completed summer school, and the time was perfect for my parents to get away on a trip and Jill would be their excuse.  How lucky was it for my stoned ass that it happened to be in a Mecca for potheads?

So there I was in my bedroom preparing for the trip.  I packed my bags while smoking Orange Kush out of my red plastic bong with the tiny metal bowl piece that gets too hot to touch.  I packed three medium band shirts; The Shins, Jimi Hendrix, and Beck, 2 flannel shirts, 2 tie die t shirts, four pairs of jeans and a coat.  I packed my brand new blue and purple pipe, three grams of weed, and a gram or so of hash.  I had a full ounce of pot I had bought from a friend at summer school that I could have taken, but I wanted to sample that Humboldt bud, so I brought a small stash.    

After I was packed, I smoked out of my bubbler and watched Goodfellas waiting for the time to go.  “Three o’clock,” my parents said.  It was still 2:30.  So I smoked another bowl.  Sacramento to Humboldt was at least an eight hour trip but I knew we were going to take two days going up and a day coming back, we always do that on these sorts of trips.  By the time it was 2:45, I thought Id smoke a bowl of hash to be extremely high for most of the day’s trip.  After the hash I put in Visine and chewed gum.  I heard my dad call, threw my stuff in the back of our 2000 Toyota Sienna, and we drove off by 3:15.  

I sat behind the driver’s seat, my father drove with my mother in the passenger’s seat, they promised to switch eventually.  The driving hurt my dad’s hip but my mom can’t drive at night because of her eye sight.

My parents are fairly short people, both are 5’5.”  My mother is redheaded with somewhat pale very freckly skin.  My father is so tan he looks Mexican, the black beard and ponytail both contribute to the illusion as well.  Let it be known my dad is white, at most he could be called a Jew, he is ¼ Jewish.  His full black beard and hair is sprinkled with random grays. His tan came from his growing up as a beach bum in LA during the 60’s.  An aging hippie from the love era, who had to put down the j’s when he started a family and had to switch to the blood of the suburbs unless you’re a Mormon or a pussy, alcohol.  My mother was a 70’s hippie and a college anarchist who read Marx.  My parents drank, they drank for the “health” of it, but you could tell when they were going to make me or my sister drive home. 

We eventually got onto the freeway out of Sacramento, as we were passing the bridge and the river my parents got into a discussion about the approaching presidential debate. They weren’t so much talking about the debate itself rather than just shit talking McCain.  Since I agreed with everything my parents were saying I felt no need to contribute to the conversation.  Plus I was so baked I probably would have just made it obvious that I was stoned.  So I pulled out my “cut-out-the-outside-world device,” better known as an “IPod”, and played MGMT’s “Time to Pretend,” on a loop.  As I meditated to the synthesizers I was so stoned I completely lost track of time, when it was four it felt only 20 minutes had gone by.  After my meditation I changed the track to my new album, My Morning Jacket’s EVIL URGES.  A group of white boy hippies who sound like Prince.   I then trailed of into my thoughts as we drove along.  I began to fantasize.  I day dreamed what would I be like if I was a musician?  What would my sound be?  Acoustic electric rock of some kind, probably a hip-hop rock/reggae/blues mix, and indie of course.  What would my look be?  I’d wear tie dye, flannel or random thrift shirts, with worn jeans handed down from my dad, and a blazer with a torn shoulder.  My fantasies took me into my concerts where I cover songs, and it’s always the song I’m listening to at the moment.  

I had put it now on “Charmer” by Kings of Leon.  The song reminded me of someone at my hellhole, I mean high school.  She was indeed a charmer, always looking at me, never trying to flirt or seduce, but always succeeding.  My thoughts always dwell on her but I wish they wouldn’t.  My brain hates me, it reminds me “You’re not good enough for her.  She is perfect, has friends and isn’t an addict, and you’re just a wasted loner.”  Just like I wasn’t good enough in Elementary school to play any sports or at middle school where I wasn’t good enough for friends and “fag”  became my nickname. 

 The fact is I’m just not very popular.  I wish it didn’t sound like a line from a John Hughes movie, but it’s the truth.  No matter how much we won’t admit it, no matter how much we like to think that times have changed, they haven’t.  High school is still the same bullshit world it always has been.  Popularity is power, most (not all) teachers don’t give a shit about you and no matter what, everything is always your fault.  But I take solace in the fact when high school is the best time of your life how pathetic the rest of your life must be. 

 High school is full of self entitled immature brats, who have orgies known as “Dances”, pretend to be from Compton by smoking dope that should be reserved for only true stoners such as your’s truly, then they play the puppy dog eyed innocent every time they get caught.  High school sucks when you’re a logical person.  I’m not arrogant,  I don’t think I’m better than these people, if I did I wouldn’t feel like a reject just because I’m never invited anywhere by anyone, ever.   But I can’t help but think maybe the reason I’m so miserable is because I’m just seeing things they aren’t.  Maybe I’m just a little ahead of the curb, waiting for the others to catch up.  Or maybe I’m catching up to them.  But I’m sure my first guess is the right one, I’m just crazy.

The reason she was out of my reach was simply popularity.  I was one of the stoners, and she was one of the trendy well liked kids.  It was like Romeo and Juliet.  Except Juliet is a gorgeous redhead with a perfectly shaped  figure and long waving hair and Romeo is a lonely stoner who doesn’t shave, has shaggy hair, and talks like a mix of  James Franco in Pineapple Express, Tommy Chong, and a wanna be Hunter S Thompson.  All Juliet knows about Romeo is his name and the fact he’s always high.  Romeo can only admire her from afar because he’s too much of a pussy to even talk to her. 

 This is why I’m crazy.  If I could only silence the voice in my head that says “I can’t,” I could be free.  Weed frees me temporarily, but I can’t afford to smoke that much.  I would if I had enough money but there is no point in living in a fantasy, and there is also no point in liking a girl who doesn’t even know you exist, because that basically makes you a stalker.  I always told myself to move on because she was out of reach, but I couldn’t.  Once she was on my mind it would take something good to get me to move on.

I fantasized the sight of us kissing in the halls, of the two of us as a couple and what we look like as a couple.  How she would respond when I whisper I love you into her ear and actually mean it, unlike all the dudes who actually get laid in high school.  

As my mind reminded me I wasn’t good enough for her, I put on Nirvana.  Kurt Cobain was a hero to me, his music opened the emotions of a generation.  It’s just a shame that capitalism caught his work, and drove him to the grave.  Nirvana’s music summed up the angst I felt in whole, it’s no wonder Nirvana has such large appeal.  Its just a shame someone always has to make a profit and art cant just be available for the sake of art.  I dwelled on this to help get my mind off of her.  

I checked the time and it was 4:45.  After I was done listening to Bleach and Nevermind, I switched from Nirvana to shuffle. Then after skipping six songs I settled on Beck’s classic “Loser” another anthem of my life.  I, like the rest of my generation have several anthems set to a soundtrack only I hear.  We call these soundtracks “playlists.”

As I slapped my song and bobbed back and forth letting the tingle of the high flow throughout my body, I watched the passing forests and trees grow thicker.  We were approaching the Pacific Northwest, and the Mecca of potheads, Humboldt County.  Humboldt is a beautiful place, the redwood forests of Return of the Jedi next to beaches that look like Monterey. It is a beautiful place.

We stopped at a rest stop and my parents switched places.  As I listened to Vampire Weekend and MgmT more, I began to think about how our generation failed to peak, how the decade went without the revolution it deserved.  Bush was a Nazi, and he is guilty of war crimes and incompetence for his reactions to the attacks of September 11th.  Yet the people somehow never showed him their pitchforks.  He then exploited the horrific date and carved it into our minds.  Now the day of tragedy is associated with patriotism and an unspoken hatred for the freedom loathing brown people to psycho nationalists.  We failed to reach the peak that we envied of the sixties and this is how tie dye went from a symbol of the acid culture, to a school spirit dress day theme for squeaky voiced preppy girls masturbating to Zach Effron.

 When it comes to 9/11, the truth is 9/11 was a wake up call to Americans.  We went years thinking we could be free from fear, free from worry.   It was a pipe dream, a load of shit.  There is never a guarantee of safety and that is the price of a free society.  The belief we were immune to attack simply because we were the USA is simply egomaniacal.  The truth is when it comes 9/11 the nation needs to get the fuck over it.  Don’t call me insensitive, I’m not.  If you lost any one you loved or cared for in the attacks, or if you survived the attacks, you have a reason to feel strongly.  TO those who cling to their patriotism so they can have an identity, WELCOME TO THE REAL FUCKING WORLD!  Does the USA have to deal with suicide bombers, racial cleansing, drug cartel decapitations every single day?  No.  9/11 is a day that without a doubt stung, but we cannot cling to the past.  The same goes for the present and the future.  When you think about it time is nothing but a mirage.  It is completely relative to perception.  The moment we’re in is always infinite.  Time has no beginning and no end.  It’s simultaneous. 

This hung in my mind until around 6.   We pulled into another rest stop were I pissed and washed my face.  I did my best not to touch anything, these stops always remind me of dirty prison cells.   My weed was wearing off, but the hash was holding on.  I couldn’t help but wonder how obvious it was that I was high.  I didn’t have red eyes thanks to the Visine but I always peaked at my self in the rear view mirror.  My appearance had all the symptoms, eyes half closed, pointless grinning, senseless giggles, paleness thanks to lowered circulation, and the obvious sluggishness.  Yet I went unnoticed, and I enjoyed beautiful sights, songs, and thoughts. 

 We pulled back on to the road.

I could tell we were increasing in elevation as my ears felt swollen, so I began to chew gum.  The thickness of the forests grew as we drove up the road.  We approached a small town called Willits, and we pulled into a Best Western, it was 6:34.  We pulled out our bags, my parent’s laptops, the backpack cooler and the roller cooler up to the room.  My parents never pack light.  We settled our stuff, and used the toilet.  After we had relaxed and gotten the tension of the road out of us, my mom told me;

“We asked the lady upfront for a good place to eat, and she recommended a place called The Purple Thistle.  It’s supposed to be all organic and vegan friendly.”

“Sounds Good,” I replied.  I’m not a vegan I’m a vegetarian, but I got her point.

 I then snuck in to the toilet and smoked a bowl, I then rejoined my parents and we were off.

We got in the car and drove down the street for three minutes until we passed the Purple thistle, we turned around and parked on the street.  As we walked to the restaurant an old lady drove by who was so old and bony it looked like death was driving the car and I was so high that for a moment I actually thought it was death.  To this day despite my firm disbelief in the after life, I am not quite sure about who was driving that day.

The restaurant was small, it had few tables and limited space on the inside, but the back had a large porch with plenty of space but still few tables.  We decided that it was too cold for us to eat outside, the North is much colder than the valley.  So we ate inside the crowded restaurant, despite my mother’s claustrophobia which didn’t seem active.  

My parents ordered wine immediately.  I ordered an iced tea.  My parents then got into a conversation about traffic on the way up, and how tasty the merlot was, the conversation became more relaxed to the point my mother sought to include me in it.  

“So do you have any summer work for…” she paused searching for the words “school next year?”

“A little,” I replied hoping she didn’t see my dilated pupils, “I have a few essays for English, and I have to read The Crucible, which I already did.”

My mother nodded and sipped the wine.  “What did you think of The Crucible?”

I thought for a few seconds for the right answer, “I agreed with the anti McCarthyism of the book, but Miller is just a little to dry for me.”

“Yeah. I thought so to,” She said nodding.  “I haven’t read The Crucible in a long time though so I really can’t say.  What are your essays about?”

“Two are responses to The Crucible, and for the other I need to write my definition of the American Dream.”

“And you are going to write…”  I knew she was expecting something offensive, outlandish, or simply something one doesn’t expect an Honors English student to say.

“I’m going to write…that it is a pure bullshit illusionary anomaly created in order to establish a false sense of security in the public in order to encourage consumption and prevent upheaval.” At this point in my life, my mother had given up on trying to get me to stop cussing.

“Ah,” she nodded and cracked her trademark smile, a smile that always said “I’m Proud you’re my son but to be a good mom I can’t say I support the crazy shit you say even though I do.”  It could have been the weed making me paranoid, who knows.

My father was simply nodding, looking at me through his square glasses on the end of his nose with the stern look he gives, almost always by accident.  

My parents went off into another idol conversation, so I trailed off into my thoughts.  This, always when unguided, circled around to her.  Her just looking at me, the charmer Kings of Leon sang about, “She’s always looking at me.” Every time I look at her we catch each others glances and awkwardly look away within a second, as if we weren’t looking at each other at all.  

  Her look just hypnotizes me, but she isn’t trying to hypnotize me so I try to break the trance.  I pictured her walking up to my car in the parking lot, and we’d hug and grope, and kiss just like all the other couples in high school.  I pictured us cuddling after sex, her slim body holding my average torso and me stroking her back, gently clutching her perfectly sculpted ass.

The waitress taking our order snapped me out of my trance.  My parents each ordered the chicken, I ordered the Cajun prawns.  I still ate fish.  The waitress then gave me a refill, and then my dad made some embarrassing joke about how she was checking me out when she left.  I just replied by giving the standard teen “tsh.”  A sound that could be a laugh or a grunt.  Then my mom assured me of how handsome I was and my father agreed.  It’s weird how when your mom gives you a sincere compliment you feel like it’s an insult.  I was such a jerk, I’m so sorry mom.

 Then my parents and I returned to our activities.  I then decided to absorb my surroundings as I always do.   The street outside the window resembled that of a small forest town,  store fronts and wooden and brick buildings with a background of skyscraping redwoods.  Yet the neighboring shops ,“MAD ABOUT TYE DYE” and the head shop “PIPE WORKS” were  two shops you would never spot in Sarah Palin’s Wasilla Main Street, unless the pipe shop was specializing in meth.  Can I get a “Hi! – OH!” (Rest in peace Carson and McMahon, You would not believe how many people my age don’t know who they are, comic legends.  So many people I know don’t even know who the Marx Brothers are, the fucking Marx Brothers!  The inventors of all modern comedy.  My generation sucks.  Except the Pacific Northwest scene is jamming.  Oh shit, I’m rambling again, sorry, I’m high.)  Any way…

Near the window by the table next to us was a woman in her mid twenties or early thirties eating with four other gentlemen around the same age range.  They were all dressed very trendy and all very effeminate, lots of tight jeans and sequins.  I overheard them talking about Gossip Girl and a concert of some kind.  I think they said Madonna.  Behind us was an elderly man and woman, and the man was recounting of his confrontations with intolerance, apparently he was a homosexual.  With the young gays to my right and the older gay to my left, I could see this place held true small town values.  I hope you catch the sarcastic overtones of that sentence.

  It was a very open and accepting place.  The truth is at my school, and not quite all of Sacramento, but these guys would have to be deep in the closet.  At my school there were only a few out loud and proud men and woman.  And the fact I was in a tolerant environment was a breath of fresh air to me, I m usually in intolerant self-centered surroundings. Finally to be out of the jockish rich kid hipster prison hell that was my school was a relief no word could describe.  This place has the sense of community I didn’t have access to at this point in my life.  This place was the scene I was looking for.   This place got it.  It simply understood that a revolt was due.  We failed to achieve it, but this place was trying.

That thought began to weigh heavy on my mind again, how had this generation failed to reach the peak of revolution that came during my parent’s time.  I didn’t understand why we failed to achieve a revolution, we had more excuses than the 60’s could have begged for.  The Iraq War was more financially crippling than any other battle and Bush and his crony’s were all pure white collar criminals.  Hypocrites, liars, and exploitationists that put Nixon to shame.  Yet thanks to their reactionary incompetence, we saw the election of the first black president which was long overdue.  Perhaps the change we begged for so much will come, and perhaps that change will welcome the social revolution we failed to insight.  The end of a long streak of conformity and create a sense of community.  Maybe Obama’s election was our first step towards that revolution.  ‘The Times they are a changing,” as Bob Dylan said.  Of course none of this went through my mind at this time, Barack hadnt even been elected yet.  He also hadn’t broken our hearts yet.

After a forty five minute wait our food arrived, we were irritated but the food was so goddamn good we were in absolutely no position to complain.  I began to talk about the election with my parents.  It was the same old shit, we agreed prop 8 was outrageous and shouldn’t even be on the ballot.  Then we talked about the possibilities of McCain or Obama winning.  We painted the portrait of the hellscape our country would be if McCain won.  Four more years of white collar crime.  McCain could have won if he hadn’t sacrificed his integrity, he sold out his entire set of beliefs merely for the sake of winning.  He was a whore, a bigger whore than Bristol and Sarah mixed into one.  I take that back, Bristol is less of a whore, she didn’t give in to her shotgun marriage and she had the composure to admit abstinence for teens is not realistic.  But Sarah is the biggest whore on earth.  She exploited her baby’s syndrome and all of the rest of her family’s tribulations, they all should be indicted and hung, and except Bristol cause she looks like a good lay.  I’m sixteen at the time so I think with my dick.  Plus how could she be off serving the public and take care of her disabled child herself.  My mother is a REAL feminist, and even she admits a mother with a baby with down syndrome shouldn’t be off in the public eye but at home caring for the child, because a disabled child takes a lot of attention and care, she ran a state into the ground with lies and corruption due to an addiction to vanity and attention left over from peek years on the runway, and the state was to stupid to realize it.  Jesus, another rant!  I’m sorry I really am trying not to do that so much.

My parents conversation had shifted from the election to the whole point of the trip, visiting my sister Jill. 

“So it will be nice to see Jill.”  My mother decreed.

“Yeah, it will be,” was my father’s only response because that’s all that was needed.

My mother turned to me, expecting a reply. “Yeah I’m Excited,” I said without true emphasis, but I truly was excited.

I began to worry my mom knew I was stoned because I ate my entire dinner of cajun prawns without blinking, and she gave me that look parents give when they know your stoned but they’re lingering suppressed Suburban instincts prevent them from talking about it at the dinner table.  My mother attempts to avoid any notions of my smoking, she’s torn between her beliefs of legalization and the risk of her child getting arrested.  She essentially trusts me to just not get in trouble, she sweeps conversations of my pot use under the rug as do her middle class counterparts, but unlike them she lets me toke.  My parents are probably the only truly understanding parents.  This is the benefit of being the products of hippies who in my opinion actually would smoke if it wasn’t illegal and if it was socially acceptable for parents to smoke.  But they are understanding, when Cheech and Chong reunited my dad took me to a show where he rolled the fattest j I ever saw and made me promise to never tell mom.  Then mom bought me booze and made me promise never to tell dad.  Parents are funny sometimes.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how she does at her job,” my father said.  He was referring to our scheduled dinner with Jill.  We would be having dinner with her liberal Christian campers who were constructing houses for impoverished Native American reservations.  She would be cooking for us and all of them.  It was to be an interesting experience, although I support the organizations deeds I have a difficult time dealing with organized religion.  But I was damned proud to have a sister working a job this noble.  And I have no problem with people having beliefs just so long as they are subtle, humane, and reasonable.

My dad paid our bill and we returned to the hotel.   This room wasn’t a suite, so we shared it.  I had the bed closest to the TV, which to entertain my parents and myself, I put on Futurama.  My father laughed vibrantly at the jokes as he swigged the Mickey’s and ciders from the cooler, my mother had a Mike’s Lemonade, while I snuck a Mikes Lime and a Mickey’s.  I snuck another toke in the bathroom by ghosting my hits, which means to hold your breath until there isn’t anymore smoke, and I hid the side stream smoke by covering the bowl with my hand.  If my parents can’t smell it they can’t complain.

I returned to watch more TV, I then got under the sheets and I looked at the clock and it read 10:15.  This was the last thing I saw before I passed out.