Off and On the Road
How I Got Stoned and Became a Literary Junky
[Author’s note: this is an old piece, written about 7 years ago. I recently re-discovered it and decided to post it in its entirety, and unchanged, i.e. unrevised.]
Lee blew into his hands and rubbed them together, trying to breathe life into his fingers. Scrunching his shoulders, he pulled his coat collar up and squeezed the opening at the base of his throat, tightening the collar around his neck. A smile had attacked his face earlier and it refused to retreat, and he bared his teeth as breath escaped his nostrils and slipped out of his mouth. He looked beside him, at Ray, and his smile widened.
Ray had a way of smiling with his eyes that seemed to inform his entire way of thinking, his entire worldview, and when he smiled at Lee, grimacing without showing his teeth, his eyes curled upward and mimicked what his mouth would have done—should have done—if he wasn’t so self-conscious. Ray shiver-stomped and jogged in place, half warding off the wind, half dancing in anticipation. Then he glanced at me and laughed. I was standing between them—if viewed from above we would have formed an asymmetrical triangle—and crossed my arms at my chest, burying my hands in my armpits, struggling, fighting, praying for heat to engulf me, to inject colors other than red into my hands and face.
“Man,” Lee said, “this is going to be awesome.”
We stood between two houses, Lee’s and Ray’s, and looked to our right, toward the street, and to our left, toward the back alley. But no one showed up. (more…)