The rain fell in intermittent mists from opaque skies while Mick and Reece sat on their skateboards behind their primary school For Mick, it was a momentous day, but Reece was at ease with his experience. The single-speaker boombox sat in front of them, spraying Cheap Trick songs from the new Heaven Tonight album.
Each of them had their favorites from the album, and they took turns being lead singer while the other played air guitar or waved their arms in an imaginary drum riff.
“Are you scared?” Reece asked.
“No,” said Mick. “Not scared.”
“It’s gonna be fine,” continued Reece. “Don’t worry. I was ten when I first tried it.”
“I know. Well, I’m only twelve, so it’s not that much later”
“But you're the last person in our class to do it, so you can’t back out now.”
“I didn’t say I was backing out. I just don’t know if I should do it right now.”
Reece sighed. “Well my sister’s gonna be here any minute.”
Mick stayed quiet, singing the lyrics to ‘Surrender’ under his breath. “Mommy’s alright. Daddy’s alright. They just seem a little weird. I think this song is about my parents,” he told Reece.
“No, my parents,” said Reece.
Mick chuckled, “Luce and Kent? They’re not weird."
“Maybe not weird, just assholes,” replied Reece. They both laughed.
“At least they keep the liquor cabinet full for us.”
“True. After this we’ll go back to my house and have some Smirnoff. My mom just bought a new bottle.”
“Radical!” said Mick.
The wind was pushing the rain under the eaves that protected them, so they sought cover in the hallway in front of their homeroom. Peering through the glass, they could see the cubby holes where they kept their books and lunch.
“Look at Jenny Haden’s box,” said Mick. “It’s so neat. Look! She has a Scott Baio pencil case. What a loser.”
“Totally,” replied Reece . “Remember when you put the caterpillar in her hair?”
“Yes. It got stuck in her brush!”
The two laughed and high-fived, but Mick felt uneasy with the notion of Reece’s sister arriving and not knowing exactly what would happen or how it would make him feel. His parents have drilled into his brain that it was not okay to do it and that any kid who did, ended up as bad adults. But Mick didn’t care. He had to adhere to the status quo of his seventh grade peers or face ridicule and shame.
“What’s taking her so long?” he asked Reece, who looked at his new LED watch.
“It’s only 3:45. She said she’d be here around four. She’ll come, don’t worry. Let’s go check behind the library to see if Shelly stashed any more bottles.”
The two knew of a bush behind the portable library under which a boy up the street would hide bottles of liquor he’d steal from his parents. Having been shown this spot by Shelly, the duo regularly checked it, taking liberties with the libations whenever possible. Often there was Creme de Menthe or Creme de Cacao, always the sweet and nasty ones, never the bourbon or gin that the boys took from Reece’s parents, but they’d make due with what they could get.
On this day they found a very tall and slender bottle of Galliano. Mick recognised the bottle as the liqueur his mother used in a cake she’d often make. Yellow in colour with a vanilla taste, it would suit the boys just fine on this occasion.
“Tastes like the frosting,” said Reece.
“I know,” Mick answered after wiping his mouth. “But the cake’s better.”
“Yeah,” said Reece.“Do you think it’ll get us drunk? It’s only 40 proof.”
“The cake never does.”
“But this is straight.”
“Let’s just keep drinking it and see,” suggested Mick.
When four o’ clock hit, the boys had drunk a third of the bottle with no effect.
“This stuff sucks,” said Reece. “Let’s go back.”
Mick felt his stomach tingle as he answered in a wavering voice, “Okay.”
Grabbing the boom box, they skated back to the pre-arranged meeting spot, and within minutes, Reece’s sister strutted up in her tight, red, Ditto Jeans and puffy, down jacket. She was 13 years old and the most popular eighth grader in the school with watermelon lip gloss and brown, shoulder-length hair perfectly parted in the middle.
“See,” said Reece, “I told you she’d be here.”
With a nervous trepidation, Mick replied,”Yeah,”
“Heey,” said Rebecca with a winning smile. “I’m heeeeere.”
“Hey,” replied Reece.
Mick gave a shy wave.
Planting herself on the ground, she said, “You two are so bad. I can’t believe I’m doing this for you.” With that, she reached into the space between her boobs and pulled it out. Mick smelled a pungent, earthy odour as Kelly passed the pinner joint under his nose to her little brother. It was wrapped in American Flag paper, like no other cigarette Mick had ever seen his parents smoke. He knew its contents were also very different, and from what Reece said, in a good way.
Reece, with his vast experience smoking pot on two occasions, inspected the joint, passing it under his nostrils several times like a wine critic. “Smells like good stuff,” he proffered.
Rebecca sniggered, “It’s leaf,” she said. “But it’s enough to get you guys stoned.”
Mick smiled as Cheap Trick’s, ‘On Top of the World’ reverberated from the boombox.
“You gonna be okay, little Mickey?” Rebecca asked. “Here, I’ll light it for you.” She took the joint between her moist lips and sucked the end of it, bringing it to a conical conclusion before raising the blue and yellow flame to its tip.
Mick watched her boobs push out while she sucked the burning stick, eyes squinting from the smoke rising off the tiny cherry and then the plume of grey smoke she forced out through her candied orifice.
She handed it to Mick, looking him straight in the eye with a casual smile and kind eyes. “Your turn, Mickey.”
Comforted and trusting, Mick accepted her offering. Tasting her lip gloss on the joint made the experience one he would never forget. As he sucked the crackling joint, he felt the smoke spread through his lungs before coughing it all out. Rebecca leaned over and kissed him on the mouth.
“You’re in,” she said. As she trotted off, Mick took another hit, this time controlling the urge to cough. Passing the joint to Reece, Mick leaned back and watched Rebecca’s ass sway back and forth down the corridor.