There’s a smiley face in the water of the magic fountain. But not really. The smiley face is just leaves, leaves that have been blown together in the vague shape of a mug that looks perpetually happy. And the fountain–if you can call the rusted brown wrought iron design that now holds a murky pool of algae and microorganisms–is not really magical. I was once told that it was. But that’s kid stuff. I’m 15 now.
“You gotta suck real hard,” Denise said. “Like real hard, like it’s a diabetes-in-a-cup shake from I, Scream. Then hold it in your lungs. It’s gonna burn for a bit, but my sister says that’s totally what is supposed to happen.”
“And then what?”
“And then you exhale, man. Then you’re hell of stoned, dude. Come on, Buchanan, you know you’re up for this, right?”
And then we go to jail, Denise, I think to say, but do not.
Denise is the new girl. Newer than me. I have a full two days on her at Clancy. And that makes me cooler than her. I keep telling myself that. I am cooler than her. It keeps me sane, especially when she talks about all the guys she’s gone to third base with, or showing me her tattoo or talking about her boyfriend in Madison who is totally in a band, like a real band. They’ve played in clubs on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.
Denise takes out the pipe. It looks like one of my dad’s old Grateful Dead shirts, but in glass form.
“Is it clean?” I ask. “Like, when was the last time your sister used it.”
“Jesus, Amy, what’re you afraid my sister’s got the herp or something? You trying to say something?”
“No! Fuck, I’m just… how do you even clean that shit anyway?”
Denise looks at me like I’m fucking retarded. “You just fuckin’ clean it, okay, with like chemicals and shit. You don’t put it in the dishwasher or anything. But it’s still clean.” Denise angles the pipe so that some sun glints off it. “Besides, I hear you can’t get anything off it. Weed is, like, a natural germ killer. Like Pine Sol.”
Denise takes out a small baggie, the kind that Ms. Wike gives us when our piercings go against dress code, which feels like they all do. She–Denise, not Ms. Wike–takes out a small ball of army-green stuff. It looks like a very miniature, kind of deformed rotten cabbage.
“You gotta crumble it first,” I say.
“Oh, shit, look at Buchanan. Stoner of the Year, yo!”
“Fuck you. I saw that shit on YouTube.”
“Really?” Denise asks. For half-a-second, I feel important.
“Yeah,” I say. “It, like, makes the flame spread easier or some shit. Fires need oxygen and shit to catch or whatever.”
It’s cold on this fucking fountain. Denise and I are both wearing in our winter clothes–her in a leather jacket that looks like someone took a baseball bat to it, and me in my dad’s old bomber fatigue, the one with a million pockets. I’ve got so many chap sticks in here it isn’t even funny. We’ve both got mittens on and we can feel the cold rusted fountain on our asses, even through our gap jeans.
Sticks her fingers in her mouth and rips off one of her gloves. She drops it into her lap and holds the tiny cabbage between her thumb and forefinger like my little brother holds marbles. She pinches it until it cracks and breaks and when half of the… stuff… falls to the leafy ground she yells “FUCKING SMEGMA LICKER” with enough force that some birds take flight.
“Fuck that shit,” she say as she jams the rest of the weed into the pipe. “Fuck that shit thoroughly.”
She stuffs the last of the green stuff like it’s last night math worksheets and offers it to me. “Let’s go, Buchanan. Time to party.”