T for Tom

First Kiss – A Short Story

Posted in Prose by johnsontoms on August 23, 2012

…The summer of 2005, and into the fall of the same year, will likely include some of the grandest and most outrageous moments of my entire life, surely. And through the summer they befell in a series of weeks, each one building to the next. And if the first, my high school graduation and first consumption of alcohol, could be considered “The Fastest Ways to Growing Old” or “Early Follies of a Foolish Man” or “Tinkering With the Unknown”, then this episode I’m about relate to you would be the third chapter of such a novel, titled “Surprises at Every Corner” or “He Grows Bold.”  Without relating to you the entire story to this point, I went from God-fearing Christian devoid of alcohol, drugs, or women, to a drinking, smoking, and fucking rampage within about six weeks. This story falls at week four.

First it was Jack Daniels. Two weeks later I was drinking beer when I couldn’t find my brother. “He’s upstairs smoking weed.” And so I went upstairs and smoked weed. For the next two weeks following that, every night of the week I went to a friend’s house, she was dating my friend Chris. We all lived just two blocks from each other and could walk to meet there at her place. She had an outdoor patio upstairs connected to her room that could only be reached by stairs, was surrounded on all sides by trees, and a deadbeat mother downstairs that was on enough drugs to never wake up if even a tornado rolled through. We met each night there following work, and set about smoking as much marijuana as we could get our hands on.

No one believes me, but if you go from never smoking anything at all to sucking up piles and piles of marijuana within a matter of days, it is enough to blow you clean over. Tolerance is a real thing, but at that rate no amount of tolerance will save you. During this stage I would smoke so much that I would literally just fall over on the patio and sit staring up at the stars for over an hour, laughing uncontrollably, unable to think, talk, or even move my arms and legs. Most people don’t start about smoking this much and have never experienced this, but it is true. There is photographic evidence.

It became a trio of sorts, Chris and Leslie and Tom, the three stooges of weed. Other friends would come and go on certain nights, but one in particular, a female named Casey began to hang out for more than a few nights in a row. By the end of the second week, when the weekend had rolled around, they had devised a plan to party a little harder. “We’re going to take Ambien.” By this point I no longer had any inhibitions and just wanted to try anything and everything, save for maybe heroine.

The idea, hatched as graduation approached, was that I needed levity with myself. There was a world out there that I had been sheltering myself from for too long. I didn’t know then that God didn’t exist, but I was learning from a detached view that his most ardent followers were fools, children at best, and incapable of any sincere thought, pious or otherwise. Their behavior was crippling to their growth and I wanted none of it any longer. Instead I waited patiently until I graduated high school (and could no longer be punished by the school system) to try everything.

I needed to know what the singers and painters and poets and authors and filmmakers were all talking about. I needed to know what this life had in store, and I needed to feel connected to everyone around me who was already doing these things. Be damned or not.
These things came on so fast one after the other that I didn’t have time to process that Ambien was in itself nothing I had ever thought to take, but when it was offered it was gobbled up as easily as the rest. Just do it, I said.

“We’re going to do Ambien,” they said. “It will be fun,” they said.

So I said, yes, of course. I didn’t know then that it was a plan hatched by the girls to get me to have sex with Casey. As I was to learn later, Ambien was “supposed to make you want to get naked.” But that’s at the end of the chapter.

The evening unfolded like the rest, I got off work from my café job at 2200, and Chris got off from the golf course at the same time – we both went home at the same time, ate, and arrived at Leslie’s place at the same time, about 2330. She had the bowl of weed loaded and ready to smoke every time. Except on this night, we knew we were going to do something different. Chris and I arrived separately (I walked, he drove, this fact is important later) to find the girls sitting on Leslie’s bed dividing up little pills. They each squared away two capsules in their hands, Leslie taking two and giving two to Chris, Casey doing the same for me.

We didn’t have any weed because we didn’t need any, and as I would learn, no one is ever to smoke while on Ambien. But the things don’t kick in until about 30 minutes to an hour later. “Just wait,” they said. “You’ll know.”
“Know what?”
“Look, just don’t fall asleep.” Leslie said she usually paced back and forth to stay on her feet, and Casey joined her outside to do just that. I went out for a cigarette and laughed at them, surely telling some story. After about 30 minutes they went in for a beer and forgot to come back out. That left Chris and I outside, laughing at each other.
“So what happens again?” I asked.
“Everything just starts to change,” Chris said. “It’s different every time I’ve done it, but it can be hilarious.”
“What’s the danger again?”
“Everything. You’re brain won’t be working, so try not to do anything stupid.”
“I have a feeling we’ll need to look after each other for that one.”
I was right.  After smoking another cigarette for five minutes, it happened.
“Look!” I said to Chris.
“What, where?”
I grabbed him by the arm and led him to the side of the patio, looking toward the neighbor’s home. Through the pine trees the exterior light from their yard, bright and white, was pouring through the trees and leaving a contrast of only two items to be seen – what is black and what is white. “Everything is drifting so far away, I see only a thick of trees and black all around.”
“You’re crazy,” said Chris.
“No, there!” I pointed.
“What, what?!” he cried.
The trees were moving, and growing taller like Jack’s bean stalk, each of them bore from a white light that stuck high into the sky. Everything else was still black and felt like a sea below, as if a swamp forest lay before us. “We’ve got to go out there!” And I started down the staircase into the swamp, jumping the last half of the stairs as if to swim below. I ran out down the driveway hoping to look up at the trees high in the sky still growing before me, but I stopped halfway – somewhere I had gotten lost in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory on the way.

Now nearer to the ground I could see the pine needles along the ground glowing orange and brown, softly and serenely, like a floor of chocolate grass. The light still beamed through and all I could see were petunias and roses and daisies of white and brown, spouting out of the ground. I ran back for Chris. “It’s Willy Wonka’s Factory out there!”
“Whhhaaaaattt…..” I could see Chris was joining me, though not in the factory directly.  I managed to get him this time down to the ground so he could swim with me in the chocolate, and as we ran I got sick. Sick to my stomach. The trees were swaying now, and we rocked back and forth amongst the light like a ship lost at sea. I vomited.  I knew very little about pharmacology but I knew enough about vomiting to think that I had lost the pills in the spew.  “Shit!” I cried.  I ran upstairs to find Leslie and Casey sitting in front of the TV, staring straight forward with an unopened beer can in their hands.
“I need more!” I yelled. I explained to them that I got lost in Wonka’s Factory and vomited, but they only laughed.
“This is my prescription, you know, I can’t give them all away,” said Leslie.
“But I threw them up, this is terrible!”
She handed me two more and I swallowed them swiftly.

…Here now I was with four Ambiens running through my system. They say one is enough, two if you’re feeling dicey, and I was double that and up the river. In a strange way the thought of it connected slowly, and I was glad. To hell and back, every time, the first time.  I stayed inside to talk to the girls for a minute, but they mostly said they were good by themselves. I didn’t understand it, but then I didn’t understand many things. I got a beer out of it and went outside to rejoin Chris.
“Atticus and Kyle are at the park and ride, and we’re going to meet them,” Chris said.
“Let me get my shoes on,” I said.  I raced inside to grab my shoes and put them on. From where I sat on the floor struggling to tie the laces I could see Chris’s headlights turn on and spin out. He was leaving without me.

Frantically I went outside, one shoe on and one shoe off, to see if it were true. He indeed was leaving, had already pulled out of the driveway and was turning around. But I wasn’t defeated.
Leslie’s home was in a cul-de-sac, and to get back toward the gate of the community one had to drive away from her house and make two hard right turns, effectively putting the driver at an intersection just a few meters from her backyard, even though to drive there meant going way around the front. A sort of U-turn really drawn out. If I cut through the backyard directly to the intersection I could meet Chris in the road. Surely he would see me, I thought.
I slipped on my second shoe and jumped off the balcony, from ten feet up. Landing in the crab grass I raised to my feet and took off sprinting through the yards and into the next road once I emerged. Thinking I was safe I had forgotten how fast Chris’s Lexus could go. I didn’t miss him by much, but he missed me by a lot. Flying as fast as he was, and in his condition, it came as no surprise that he didn’t stop.  And so there I stood in the road, without a plan. It takes a little understanding on this small community to grasp what happens next.
The community, Hideaway Lake, was about 2500 in population, but was merely a gated community. Two exits, and only one was open at night, “guarded” by hired security who of course had no weapons. The entire community was made up mostly of retired citizens, 55+ years of age, and centered around three lakes and a golf course. No school, no post office, no grocery. Just homes. Because of this, anything went. Or at least for the children. If we wanted to run naked through the streets almost nothing was stopping anyone, in so far as the security didn’t show up. No one ever called the cops and no one ever got busted for anything major so long as there was a benefit of the doubt. So I started walking the 2km toward the gate on foot. It just came naturally to me.

Not long into the walk and shortly after passing my own home, the houses lining the road stopped having lights. The walk became slower and darker with each step, and the pills were kicking in. I took a turn and a curve a little ways and was making my way when I started to hear them. It sounded at first just like leaves rustling, but there was no wind blowing. Then I heard the whine of a coyote, or so I told myself. It was normal to hear coyotes around here, they whine frequently. It’s a high-pitched yelp almost, “YE-OW YE-OW” it sounded. But this was not what I heard.
At first it was just one. But got closer and more rapid. “Yoooooowwwwwwwwwww” of the wolf. At first one and then more. I stopped to turn around and that’s when I heard the clicking of their paws on the street, coming for me. I turned and bolted straight forward, running without end.
The sound of my breathing ruptured my brain and was all I could hear until I emerged about 1km up the street, out of breath, and I hoped out of the wolves’ way. As I stood there to breath, I didn’t hear the wolves anymore. But I did hear my name.

“Tommy, I thought you wouldn’t make it,” the voice said.
It couldn’t be Chris. I was only a little over halfway there, but maybe he had picked them up and was on his way back. This thought raced through my head before I even caught my breath and looked up.  I was about 1km from the gate, still in the darkness, and next to the golf course. A pond was just off the side of the road, but the fountain that runs water in it was turned off at this time of night. There were no lights, and no one standing near me.
“Won’t you come for a swim,” the voice said.
I stood there looking out, confused. I turned to walk back toward the voice, but I remembered the wolves and was afraid to take a step in my previous direction.
“The water’s nice this time of night,” said the voice again. “We won’t CHIRP bother you CHIRP.”
At that time a flock of about a dozen birds came swooping downward from the tops of the pine trees around me, stopping slowly in the air around me to float around me, flapping their wings.

“Please come swimming with us,” they begged. “It’s such a wonderful bath.”
At first, and I don’t know, I took two steps toward the pond. I have no idea why. It just seemed right, they were so polite. But after those two steps, I snapped – what the fuck am I about to do? I told myself. When it occurred to me again that I was about to go swimming with the birds in the pond on the golf course, I freaked. I need to find Chris now, or someone, before I go mad.  I started running again. The final kilometer was mostly uphill, and there were no houses or lights until I reached the gate.  That’s where I stopped.

As I’ve said, nothing ever happens in this community. But that’s also because it’s so removed from everything else. The highway is just outside the gate, but nothing else save for a gas station. To get anywhere one must drive, and that’s why there was an empty parking lot just outside the gate to be utilized for passenger pickups. Also for these reasons, no one just walks in or out of the gate. And I was supposed to do just that?
The idea came about because it surely wasn’t illegal to use my own legs. No, I was 18, a grown man. But at 0130 in the morning, no one just walks out the gate. It doesn’t happen. If I were to just walk by the guard and turn around to wave, in my condition, I would’ve been carted off to jail then and there. I had all of these thoughts as I stood there in the middle of the road under the only light there by the gate. Luckily the direction of the gate guard faced outward, in the opposite direction of where I stood, and this perhaps afforded me the time I needed to process exactly what I had done.  I never came to a conclusion. It felt like only a few seconds, but it could have been a minute, five, ten minutes, an hour. I kept telling myself “come up with something, come up with something,” but I couldn’t think of anything. I didn’t have the power to create options. I wasn’t going to turn around and erase my progress but I was empty. Couldn’t think of a damn thing.

Another five or ten minutes passed and thankfully nothing had happened, or no one drove by. Finally a car came up to the gate to pull in and drive my direction. I should’ve freaked out, but I thought I recognized it. Before the warm feeling could register in my mind, the car was up next to me and the window was rolling down.
“Tommy, what are you doing!?” asked the voice.
I bent down to look inside the coupe and saw two faces I recognized. Joe and Jessica. I knew they had been dating for a while and it didn’t shock me to see Joe driving Jessica’s car. Before I could answer all I could think was “I’m standing in the middle of the road because I’m on a lot of drugs I’ve never taken before and walked after Chris. We’re supposed to meet Atticus and Kyle at the Park & Ride but I’m not sure how to just walk out the gate.” The next thing I knew I was standing in the Park & Ride parking lot as Joe drove off in Jessica’s car. I must have spoken my thoughts out loud, and without knowing it got crammed into the back of that two-seater coupe. I was thanking God they were nice enough, or scared enough, to do anything more with me. To this point neither of them knew I had so much as ever even drank a beer, much less hopped myself up on pills. They were probably more scared than I was.
Before I could finish praising their God I saw before me a white four-door sport utility vehicle. It was Kyle’s. The door opened and Chris hopped out. As he was pushing me in Kyle yelled from the front seat, “Jesus, you scared the shit of me. Jessica just called us and said you were fucked up.”
“Yes, yes I am.”
“Fuck it, let’s go get high.”
To my utter and complete shock, we drove right back in the gate where I had come from. We didn’t head back to Leslie’s but instead drove near to the back of the community and emerged on the other side of the lake, parked outside a dark house I had only seen a few times and didn’t recognize as any of our friends’ homes.
“Louis’s family is renovating it,” Chris said as we got out of the car. “He’s got the car, we’re just going to smoke inside.”  And we continued to walk downhill in the driveway until going through the front door and into a completely dark home without furniture.

The next few minutes went by so quickly it seemed as if on fast-forward. Without any of the lights on and no inhabitants there, it was like trying to remember a dream that hadn’t happened yet.
When the dream ended (or started, I wasn’t sure) I was standing in front of a large mirror, in the bathroom I could only guess, with a single light on blaring into my eyes. I was holding a large water pipe, and was sucking out the last bit of smoke from the marijuana. (Remind you, smoking on Ambien is a terrible idea) but that hadn’t occurred to my drug soaked brain. I passed the pipe to a pair of arms that stood outstretched next to me. I couldn’t see anything else, and turned back toward the mirror.
Here, I saw the future. Before, in movies, in books, in stories, from friends, in songs, I had heard that staring into a mirror was a bad way to forge the steels of your soul. I never knew what it meant, this fear of seeing oneself in the mirror. I understood now.
Before me was a monster, staring back.
The monster stood about six feet tall, had blonde hair, blue eyes, was wearing my clothes and didn’t blink, neither did I blink. We stared at each other for what seemed like hours, and the monster stared right back. After a long trance like time, the monster spoke to me, telepathically. “That’s you, YOU FREAK!” It shouted in my head.
The monster now felt real. It still was disconnected, the body and the flesh I saw did not seem to be connected to my physicality, but the thing looked, breathed, and moved like me, and I realized it must be me.
What kept me disconnected from this life-life twin of mine, was that I knew we had separate minds. In the mirror and in life it was me, it represented me, it looked exactly like me, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t stare back at me exactly like myself, but I knew, just knew, that we had separate minds, separate souls. And that’s when I knew the future. These things would continue, they would get worse, and that person, that monster that was staring at me, was my future.  Who I was now was just the beginning. I was frightened at this thought.
To have a full glimpse of the days that hadn’t passed, to see before me my own flesh and blood, moving exactly like me but knowing that it’s mind was separate, divided, grown and lived of a different life, was utterly terrifying.
Who was that person? I thought to myself. How could that person be, and is that person really me? Am I doing these things, or are they fake? Real? What have I become, and where will I go?  What did it mean that it would get worse? Is the monster, that thing, just me?

I woke up with Casey on top of me, she wasn’t wearing a bra.

“How did I get here?” I asked.
“You asked me to roll over here,” she said. “I was sleeping on the floor next to you.”
“No, here, in the house,” I said. “When did I get here?”
“You showed up with Chris, a while ago.”
“And I guess I fell asleep.”
“Yes, I made us a bed but you just hit the floor and didn’t move. I’m glad you woke up though, and asked me to sit here.”
She smiled, and I was starting to get the drift, if the breasts in front of me didn’t say enough already.
“Don’t you want to take your shirt off?” she asked. She started to lean forward, and I knew what was going on, or had been going on. I met her halfway and we kissed. I’m sure I did terribly, but the motion seemed slow, natural. It wasn’t rushed and our lips moved together in unison. There was no way I was any good at this, but she was on enough drugs also to not know better.
I picked her up by her ass and rolled her onto her back until I was hunched over her, her legs straddling me around the waist. We kissed again, slower. I could see that her eyes were closed tight, and she began to breathe more deeply.
“Do you know how long I’ve waited for this,” she said again.

A thousand things ran through my head all at once. Drink, smoke, sex, pills, drugs, rock’n’roll, sex, beer, liquor, Jack Daniels, fucking, remember, don’t remember, weed, drink, whatisallthisandwhyisithappeningsofast?
In a weird way it didn’t surprise me that she said that, now, or at all, whether she was under me or not. I could sense it in the previous nights before as we smoked our life away on the patio, or just had a drink. Things were happening for me, and all the people that knew me before were starting to let me in their lives, if only I played along with their bad habits. But really, they were dying to have me all along, or so I was learning.  I was their little pet, something they thought funny to laugh at while I caught up to their years of imbibing, but really they were only catching up to me. I knew it all before me, and I knew this wasn’t the way. I knew also that these things worked best in steps, and wasn’t going to now go any further with something that could’ve killed me. The sour taste in my mind wouldn’t go away.  I kissed her again and pulled away.
“You’re not going to take your clothes off?” she asked, almost begged. Her voice was slow, still from the drugs I imagined.
“No, why would I?”
“Ambien makes everyone want to get naked,” she said. “It always works on me.”
“It must be because I fell asleep and have woken up now.”
“But you don’t still feel it?” She was still speaking slowly.
“Not the way I did.”
“But you don’t want to have sex with me?”
“I’ve only just now received my first kiss.”
“I know. Let’s keep going.” She tried to pull me in and reached for my cock. After a tight squeeze I pulled her hand away.
I wasn’t thinking of God, but it had only been a few weeks since the last time I did. And this wasn’t going to happen.
“Maybe soon, Casey. But I just can’t now. I need to wait a little longer.”
“So you’re still waiting?”
“Yes.” It was enough to put it to an end. She let out an “awww” and rolled over onto my side. I’m not sure what she was thinking, and didn’t care.
I was glad to finally sleep for good, even though it was there on the bare carpet, with only a single pillow and blanket to share between myself and this girl, who I barely knew.
But I got to sleep.

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