Hello hello hello
Let’s talk a bit about piracy, and whether or not you should worry about it. No. The answer is no. Listen on and I’ll explain why.
Brian scrubbed cheese from a dirty plate before placing it in the dishwasher. Alex, on the couch, had not offered to help with the dishes. His eyes were directed at the television, with a bong fashioned from a used Honey Bear bottle in one hand, and a lighter in the other. In front of him sat four empty beer bottles. He had been sitting paralyzed for five minutes or so without moving, or hardly even blinking. Brian only knew Alex still drew breath by the rise and fall of his chest.
Brian tossed a pointed sigh at his roommate. They had barely spoken in days. “Do you think you can help me with the dishes, or vacuum, or at least do something productive? People are going be here in an hour.”
“What do you care, dude? It’s just your dipshit friends. I don’t give a fuck if our house is dirty. That’s just how normal people live.”
“I care because I want it to be clean. I met a girl a couple weeks ago, and she’s coming over. You may be okay with it, but I at least want her to think we’ve got our crap together.”
Alex perked up at this news. “Get the fuck out. You’re actually bringing some trim over to our place?”
“Yeah, I am.” Brian said.
“You’ve gotta be shitting me.”
“Seriously, she’s in my Ethics class. Hot as hell, too.”
“Then I wish I could be here to see it, but I’m afraid I have other…” Alex trailed off as he looked around the room with childlike wonder, seemingly entangled in a world he had never seen before. Finally, he finished: “…plans.”
That was weird. What’s he on?
“I’m going to meet up with Kenny and then go over to Dave’s,” Alex said. “Hey, you know what? I’ve been thinking lately about moving to Portland. Just seems like the place to be. Boulder sucks, I’m ready to leave.”
“Oh, you think it’s that easy? Smoking weed in the living room of an apartment in Portland is probably about the same as doing it in Boulder,” Brian said.
Alex pointed at the TV and started chuckling. “Fucking shit, dude. Look at that guy.”
“What guy? What are you talking about?”
Alex closed his eyes and emitted a low, humming sound. This went on for ten or fifteen seconds, then he opened his eyes and said “Justin Reider. That jock douchebag from the dorm. Remember when me and Kenny stuck all the pennies in between the door to his room, and the… what do you call it? The door jam.”
Alex referred to what they used to call “pennying” back in the dorm days. Against a shut door, you pushed to create some space between the door and door jam, and then crammed as many pennies in the space as would fit. When you released the door, the pennies created so much pressure against the deadbolt that it became impossible to open the door from the inside.
“No doubt, I remember. I had to call campus security down to take out all those pennies. They had to bring the handyman. Justin was not happy about that at all, so it’s a good thing he never figured out that was you. I think he probably would have beat your ass.”
“I’da smacked that bitch all up and down that floor. Anyway, that dude on the TV looks like Justin. Fucking douchebag with a unibrow. Get that caterpillar off your face!” Alex laughed so hard he tipped the bong and spilled some muddy brown water on his shirt. Leaning forward, he set the bong and the lighter on the table. He started to shake, his breath coming in shallow gasps.
“Alex, are you okay?”
Alex leaned back, pushing his body into the couch, his eyes rolling back in his head. “Here… it… comes,” he said as a grin washed over his face. He collapsed into a puddle as if his bones had been removed, and then he sat upright and squirmed in place, rubbing his hands up and down his chest.
Now Brian understood. “You’re rolling? After drinking all those beers? Do you know how stupid that is?”
“Not rolling,” Alex said as he began to regain his composure. He laughed as his eyelids fluttered. “Candy flipping.”
“Are you insane or just stupid? You dropped Ecstasy and acid and now you’re drinking beer?”
Alex waved a hand over the empty bottles on the table. “It’s just a few dead soldiers. Never hurt anybody. I don’t see what the big deal is.”
“Don’t you know that’s how River Phoenix died?”
“Naw, dude, River was on coke and heroin,” Alex said in a leisurely voice. “Nasty stuff, that heroin. I’d never touch it. That’s for drug addicts and shit.” Alex chuckled.
“This is not cool, Alex.”
Alex tried to appear composed and rational. “I’m fine, Brian. Really, nothing to worry about. I feel great. Nothing to worry about. It’s just a matter of getting the cocktail right, and I have totally perfected it.”
Brian shook his head, not wanting to discuss it further. Tonight was supposed to be about his date, not arguing with his roommate. Alex shrugged it off, and dumped some yellow powder from a little packet onto the back of his hand. He raked his face across it, snorting up the dust.
Brian threw the dish sponge on the floor. “Meth, too? What the hell is wrong with you? Are you trying to kill yourself?”
“Why don’t you mind your own business, dude? Christ, it’s just a little powder. I told you, I’m fine. I thought you were busy getting ready for your new girlfriend, anyway.”
Despite his wish to be non-confrontational, Brian had reached his limit. “I’ve had this whole conversation before, I’m not going through it with you too.”
“Going through what? Letting me have a good time? I know how to handle my shit. I’m not an amateur. You don’t need to watch over me.” Alex got to his feet, swaying back and forth, and made a slow, uneven march towards the bathroom.
Brian’s cell phone rang just as a screech followed by several metallic plink sounds came from the bathroom. Brian had to choose between answering the phone, and checking on Alex, and Brian grudgingly decided to let Alex be, for now.
“Is this Brian? I got your number from Charlie. He told me that you know where to hook on some go-fast.”
“Who is this? How did you get my number?”
“Sorry, bro, this is Tim. I got your number from Charlie, he’s friends with Derek Wiles. You know me, we had English Comp One class together freshman year. It’s Tim.”
Brian did not remember Tim from Comp One class, but Wiles often sent random people his way. “Yeah, yeah, Tim,” he said. “It’s not really a good time right now, but I’m guessing you called me to get something. What do you need?”
“Just a sixteenth, no big deal.”
“Okay, Tim, meet me at the east end of the parking lot of NCAR in twenty minutes. I’ll be in a Honda Prelude. Don’t be late because I have somewhere to be after that. You know where NCAR is, right?”
“The weather research building complex thing at the end of Table Mesa street?”
“Yep, that one,” Brian said.
“No problem, bro. I’ll be there.”
Brian hung up the phone while Alex meandered out of the bathroom, as though nothing had happened. He wiped his hands on his jeans and announced, “thank God for that shower curtain. I almost fell on my ass. Well, I’ve got some shit to do, so I’m going to get out of here. If you actually bang this super-hot Ethics class girl, be sure to tell me about it later. Pictures would be better, though.”
“Alex, come on. Don’t be stupid. You can’t drive. You can barely stand up straight.”
Alex waved a sluggish hand through the air. “Whatever, I’m okay. I don’t know how many times I have to tell you. Where are my keys?” He surveyed the room, as did Brian. The keys sat on top the TV, and they both detected them at the same time. Brian looked at Alex, who appeared tentative, as if anticipating Brian’s next move. Although Brian was closer to the keys, he had no desire to engage in some wild west showdown. He opened his mouth with the intention of trying again to reason with Alex, but before he could say anything, Alex made a mad dash towards the television. He bumped into the couch, throwing him off course, and so Brian seized the opportunity. He ran through the kitchen archway to the living room, cutting Alex off and snatching the keys. He extended his arm high, holding the keys out of reach like a child playing keep-away.
Alex balled his fists.
“Damn it, man, think about this,” Brian said. “Have somebody come pick you up if you need to go. You don’t need to be driving right now. Or I’ll drop you off anywhere you want. I have to go run an errand in a minute anyway.”
“I’m not going to stand in your shadow anymore.”
“What does that mean, ‘my shadow’? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Alex pushed Brian in the chest, knocking him back into the wall, and the impact forced Brian to drop the keys. Alex swiped them, and leapt back out of Brian’s range. Off balance, he fell backwards to the floor but then raised the keys in victory.
Brian pushed himself back up against the wall, panting. “Please, don’t do this. It’s a terrible idea.”
Alex pocketed the keys and pulled his sagging jeans up onto his increasingly slim hips. “You don’t tell me what to do anymore,” he said, and slammed the door behind him.