‘Lude & Lathargic

Loaded, drunk, and talking teenage shit. Every day. That’s what we did. Just a blurry contorted reality. Surrounded by what looked like an E-ticket ride of the lowest uncommon denominator, which is my favorite.

Hollywood High. We sat on the concrete wall, on the corner of Sunset and Orange.

It was the designated smoking area of the high school.

We marveled at the pimp and hooker and activity across the street at the hotel.

Just weeks ago it was illuminated with lights and cameras. They were shooting a movie with George Segal and Denzel Washington. ‘Carbon Copy’ was the film. I walked over to the set and slurred to George Segal how much I loved Omega Man. He thanked me. We stood and looked at each other for a moment, then I turned and stumbled away.

I was ‘luded or on loads and drunk most of the time. I would leave school for lunch and trip around Hollywood Boulevard smoking cigs, eating Two Guys from Italy Pizza or cheap Chinese food, and flirt with the tourist at Graumann’s Chinese theater. Once in a drunken state, I walked onto a big tour bus filled with Asians and screamed, ‘TOURIST GO HOME AND LEAVE YOUR DAUGHTERS!’

They all took pictures of me. I felt like a star until the driver grabbed me and threw me off the bus.

One morning I stole a full bottle of ‘ludes from my mother’s boyfriend. I ate two and I’m really numb. Dave Petrie comes up and asks me if I’m stoned.

Dave is always asking me this question and never has his own drugs. ‘Yeah man, I took two of these.’

I got a pocket full of quaaludes and everything is all right.

‘Shh, Mr. Munhall will hear you.’ He says.

I hand him two Lemmon 714’s. He chews them up, and then he swallows them.

‘These taste nasty.’ Making a lemon face.

‘Wow Dave, Those are going to hit you quickly.’

Ten minutes later we’re watching a film on single cell amoebas and the like.

Dave whispers, ‘Man, I’m coming on like I drank a six-pack.’

‘Yeah. These things are fucking magical. It is like a beer buzz, without the beer belly.’

‘Wow. These things are fuckin’ cool.’

Munhall looks over at us. He’s sitting at his desk with a penlight in his mouth looking over some papers.

‘Shh, be quiet Dave, fuck man. Shut up.’ I say.

‘Mike, I want to walk around on these things. I got to Get UP.’

‘NO, just sit and enjoy Dave.’ I hate this guy right now, he’s classic blow it case type shit.

‘Fuck that.’ Dave is restless.

Munhall is staring at us now. He has the penlight pointed at dave.

I’m really buzzing. My whole body is numb and the narrator of the film isn’t making any sense. The film is scratched and pops occasionally like a cap gun.

Dave stands up and attempts to walk behind the projector. Munhall follows him with the penlight Dave’s face looks curious, tragic and happy all at once.

I try to grab him. Munhall quickly shines the penlight on me, I quickly pull my arm back. He puts the micro spotlight back on Dave. He stumbles, reaches the projector for support.

It tumbles sideways. Dave goes down with it, Munhall follows him with the penlight. I watch the amoeba change shape slightly.

It shoots across the wall – the image is gone with a loud crash.

The lights go on immediately. New environment. Paranoia.

‘Dave? Dave? Are you all right,’ Says Munhall, whom, by the way, also teaches physical education. Now all eyes are on Dave.

Munhall is a heavy set guy who always wears tight white polyester shorts, has tree trunk coach legs and a potbelly.

I imagine he has a La-z-boy chair and a big color console television in his living room and random trophies in a special cabinet. I also Imagine his wife is totally subservient, she serves him fatty meats and Coor’s beer.

Dave gets up and stumbles. He mumbles something incoherently.

He falls on Michelle Tanner’s desk, she is disgusted with everyone and everything, but particularly Dave.

‘Ewwww!’ she cries bluntly while falling back in her chair while simultaneously holding herself.

Dave is on his belly on the desk. He’s swimming in the air trying to gain his footing. His Converse can’t converse. Like a robot that has fallen sideways, or doing space work like a bad vaudeville act. The whole class is quiet and I start laughing uncontrollably like a Tommy gun.

‘Ah ha ha ha ha, ah ah ah ah ah ah!’ My eyes are tearing and I’m ready to piss my pants. Now Munhall is livid and red-faced he screams, ‘SILENCE!’

I can’t stop laughing and crying. My side hurts, even with all the

methaqualone in my 15-year old body.

I feel his beefy hand on my shoulder and he smells like Brylcreem,

and old spice. I hear his angry voice in my ear,

‘Marcus, God damn it. Shut up.’ I was looking out the window

suddenly wishing I were walking on Hollywood Boulevard skateboarding or bogie

boarding at Zuma, anywhere, but here.

I would like another Quaalude. Munhall walks up to Dave.

Dave is now laying face down on top of Michelle’s desk, he’s given up

the swimming routine. He’s splayed over the little desk table, he

looks dead or passed out and she’s leaning back in horror.

Munhall puts the beefy hand on Dave’s shoulder (which I’m sure has

some sort of death grip if provoked).

There is a long pause.

‘Dave. Are you on medication? Hello? Dave?’

It’s church mouse quite and I’m hoping Dave is passed OUT.

It feels like an eternity, and then,

‘No, I just wanted to get up. I wanted to…’ he’s slurring bad.

‘Dave are you are you on drugs? Have you been consuming alcohol?’ He makes his way to his feet,

‘Yes, Marcus gave me some pills.’

‘Is this true, Mr. Marcus?’

‘I don’t know what Dave is talking about,’ slurring a little. I hated maintaining so much when I was loaded. I look over at Michelle for support she looks back at me with her face contorted, as if she literally smells bullshit, she’s sneering. I flip her off.

‘I think you both need to go see Mr. Whitehead.’ Now he’s writing out referral slips.

‘Why?’ I’m sitting at my desk, hands folded back erect.

‘Because I think you’re both on drugs.’ He says staring me dead in the eyes.

‘This is a bullshit!’ I yell, pointing my finger to the heavens.

A few students laugh, with me, or at me, it doesn’t matter at this point. Mr. Munhall hands me the slip. I get up out of my desk. I hold the slip at my side shaking my head back and forth. We exchange looks and I stop at the door and then I address the whole class.

‘This is total bullshit.’

Mr. Munhall starts walking toward me. I’m sure he’ll punch me. ‘Fine, I’ll go.’

‘I’m going home,’ says Dave.

We both walk out.

‘Dude. You fucking snitch. You piece of shit!’

He starts to run. I run after him, Munhall grabs me from behind, and Dave is gone. He escorts me to the Principal.

As we’re walking up the hallway I pass the multi-purpose room. I open the door and look in. Craig McKean is sitting by himself staring at the ceiling.

‘Craig McKean,’ I say in my best Irish brogue trying to imitate his Father.

He slowly looks my way and I know he’s on something because like me, he’s always on something. His lips move but I have no idea what he’s saying. He moves his hand back and forth. He’s staring at his hand. He’s on mushrooms or acid or maybe dust? He keeps moving his lips and nothing is coming out.

‘MARCUS, GODAMMIT,’ I turn and look back Mr. Munhall is standing in the doorway of the admin office with balled fists.

I walk past him and go straight in.

Mrs. Kratzel, the assistant principal looks me up and down with disgust and asks me to take a seat.

She seriously has the yester-year looks of an Aryan schoolmarm and a slight German accent. Sharon accused her of being a dike once. Nervousness set in, I need another ‘lude. I didn’t swallow and with a mouth full of spit I snuck a pill out of my pocket and put it into my mouth.

‘Uh, Michael’ Mr. Whitehead said as he stood in front of me. He seemed to appear out of nowhere. He was wearing tight beige polyester pants and a grey velour sweater vest. This was worn over a puffy sleeved yellow shirt. So I laughed.

‘This isn’t funny, give me the referral slip.’

We walked into his office at the same time and we both get stuck in the doorjamb.

‘Ha, ha, like all in the family.’ I say.

Mr. Whitehead looks really serious and points a finger at the chair in front of his desk.

‘I don’t want to hear about All In The Family. Where is Dave Petrie?’

‘I don’t know, he just walked outta’ class, he left, just like that.’ Now Whitehead is pissed, he has white dry spittle around the corners of his mouth and he is sneering.

I giggle and he shifts in his chair.

‘This isn’t funny Marcus, you could be expelled for dealing drugs.’ Now I’m paranoid and pissed. I didn’t sell that asshole those ludes, but Whitehead doesn’t even know that.

‘I didn’t sell anyone anything.’

We look at each other for what seems like an eternity and he raises he hand in a gesture of dismissal. Marcus, I don’t want to see you again. I breathe a sigh of relief.

That’s right Whitehead, Petrie’s trippin’ around the gym, the track field or somewhere in Hollywood,

but not here to rat on me again.

I walk out of the admin building to my next class. History class. There is a film in progress, something about Columbus. I nod out on my desk and wake up in a puddle of my own spit.

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