…Your friend asks you to meet him at a culvert everyone knows isn’t very safe. How do you get out of the house? What happens when you get there?
I creep through the dark house on the balls of my feet. Each step is strategically placed to minimize any noise. I know where every creak is and bypass them with the skill of a master ninja. Finally, I reach the door with shoes in hand and I silently slip out into the night. I ignore the pain of pebbles stabbing at the soles of my feet, not wanting to stop to put my shoes on until I safely tucked away in the shadows.
Once I feel I’m far enough away, I put on my shoes and start the 30 minute walk to the edge of town where the culvert is. It’s dead quiet, being a Sunday, and I don’t see anyone on the roads except for a single cop car. I duck into an alleyway until he passes before moving on, checking over my shoulder occasionally to make sure it doesn’t turn back for me.
As I reach the dirt road bordering the town, I slip down a ditch and follow it to the culvert. I see my Brian’s silhouette just inside the large metal tube, his face illuminated by the blazing cherry of his cigarette. He smiles as he sees me approach. “Took you long enough.” He says as he tosses his pack to me.
“Dad was up late. Took him forever to get to sleep.” I reply as I pluck out a smoke and screw it to my lips. “Light?”
Brian snorts through his nose, blowing out a puff of smoke, as he flicks his bic lighter at me. I barely catch it, almost sending it tumbling on to the black ground before getting my fingers around it. I flick it once, twice. Third time, I manage to get the flame to ignite and light up the tip of the smoke.
I take a few moments, enjoying a puff or two of sweet nicotine, before I ask, “So what’s up? You got something?”
Brian grins widely, fishing out a baggy from his pocket. I can see something in the bag, “I got something.”
“Any good?” I ask, my interest piqued.
“Rob said it’s the best he’s had so far.”
“Rob’s an idiot.” I retort. I never cared for Rob. One of those guys who always acts like he knows more about everything than everyone in the room even though it’s clear that they’re filled with crap.
Brian shrugs as he opens the bag, the sickly sharp smell of weed wafting up. “He knows something about this.” He says with a hint of defensiveness in his voice. Rob and him had always been close. Even though Brian knew Rob was a dumbass, he still didn’t want to admit it.
“Whatever. Let’s spark it up and find out.” I urge him on, handing him back the lighter.
“Alright!” Brian said, lightening up with a big smile. He pulled out one of the joints from the bag and baptized it before sticking it between his lips. Just as he lifted the flame to the tip however, we were both blinded by a sudden blast of light that shone down at us from top of the embankment.
“Freeze right there!” A deep voice hollered down with deliberate authority.
Brian and I looked at each other, unsure what to do. We’d never dealt with the police before and didn’t know if we should run or do as we were told. So we just stood there as the light came down towards us, blinding us more. “What the hell do you think you’re doing down here?” The voice demanded of us.
I began to answer when I noticed that the joint and baggy had suddenly disappeared from Brian’s hands. “Uh…nothing. Just…smoking.” I lifted up my smoke to show off the cigarette between my fingers.
“That it?” The voice asks, shining the light right into Brian’s face. “Just a little underaged smoking?”
Brian didn’t say anything, but managed to nod his head vigorously. Despite the cool air, he was beginning to sweat a lot. I could feel beads forming on my own head and could just pray that the officer didn’t notice.
The light lowered down at our feet, “What’s that?”
Both of us looked down to see Brian had dropped the joint. Brian let out a groan of despair. Desperately, I tried to think of some excuse. “That? That uh…that was there when we got here. I don’t even know what that is. Honest.”
The man bent down and picked it up, inspecting it. “You don’t know what this is?” He asks, sticking the light and joint in my face. “You sure about that.”
I nod as I swallow hard, convinced I could pull it off. “Yeah, it’s just a smoke, right? A rolly?”
The officer chuckles, “I can tell you what it is.” He pulls the light back and shines it up beneath his face, revealing himself at last. Kyle’s smirking face appears out of the darkness as he hollers out, “Busted! That’s what it is!”
Relief and dread play tug of war inside of me as I realize that it’s not a cop after all but my older brother instead. Still, this wasn’t good news at all. “Now, this would just break mom and dad’s heart if they knew about this, wouldn’t it?” He says in a conversational tone, “A shame if they found out somehow…” His hand came out with unsaid expectation.
I looked at Brian who shook his head. I grimaced at him, implying a threat against him if Kyle got me into trouble, and Brian finally relented, fishing out the baggy from his pocket and handing it over to Kyle. “A pleasure doing business, ladies.” Kyle laughed as he shone the light in our eyes one more time before marching back up the hills. “See you at grandma’s birthday tomorrow, buttmunch.”
We stand there in silence as we watch the light disappear over the top before I start cursing. Brian just stood there as I called my brother every filthy name I could think of, even making up a few new ones. Finally, I calm a bit down and look at Brian, who just has this strange look on his face. “What?”
A smile spreads across his lips as he pulls out another baggy from his pocket. “Oops.” He says.
I frown in confusion as I take the baggy from him, “What did you give him?”
His smile goes wicked, made even more so by the orange glow of his cigarette. “Some catnip joints I made up to sell at the junior high tomorrow.” The revelation sinks in and we both start laughing as I pass the bag back to him. Oh, what a night it turned out to be.
Behind the Random: I had no idea what the hell a culvert was until today. So, at the very least, I can say that I’ve learned a thing or two in the past 641 days doing these posts. In case you, like me, have no idea, a culvert is a large metal pipe used in irrigation ditches by farms. Fascinating, no?