A column of opaque smoke rose from her upturned lips like a foul-scented genie…

Here is a new scene sketch I wrote this morning about some friends around a campfire. Enjoy.

The night bugs trilled in their bushes and the moist air collected on my back. Sierra stirred her Jack and Coke with a bubblegum-pink nail; she smiled, guided a strain of hair from her face, and laughed at something Kai said. Kai laughed and coughed until his freckled face flushed and splotched like a wren’s egg. I stood to strike his back, but for the first time, Andres raised his head then waved me away from Kai. “Let him get it out, he’ll thank you in the morning.”

“So violent,” I said, “He’s not always like this is he?”

“Yep.” Sierra said. A column of opaque smoke rose from her upturned lips like a foul-scented genie, come to place us all under a deep spell. “But he’s an iron lung sweetie; you don’t have to take in so much when you smoke.”

“You gonna hit this Nate?” Kai said with a chest full of air. Tears dribbled down his cheeks but he was smiling wider than his face.

The sound of a lighter wheel and a pop of light made me look back to Andres who *mop-mop-mop*’ed at a fat, crooked cigarette. He went on sucking until the cigarette glowed red at the end; he squeezed smoke swifts out of the corners of his mouth. He coughed, covered his mouth, and held out the stick. “It’s a joint. The smoke’s hot as hell; you ever smoke unfiltered cigarettes?” I shook my head. “Well they’re like those; the smoke’s hot, but you have more control over how much you take in.” He wiggled it under my nose. “You gotta breathe in deep though okay?”

I took the joint and rolled it between my fingers. The paper crackled and a tiny twig snapped and pierced the paper. I examined the end not on fire; the paper was damp and stuck together like downturned lips; smoke slipped continuously out from the frown.

“Woo! Let’s do it Nate!” Sierra said. Kai’s hand shook over a new bowl of marijuana. He looked up, just before he filled the glass tube with smoke, and offered me an up-turned thumb.

I let out a slow preparation breath, then I kissed the tiny mouth and sucked. First like a straw, but the taste was steamy and bitter and I thought I might gag; then I remembered to breathe deep, so I closed my eyes and saw a ten-year-old asthmatic boy; I replaced the joint for an inhaler and drew in a full chest of medicine…

Grey and black and buzz and worb. “S-sh-sh-shh-shhh-shhhh.” “Uhrt. Woowawawow Andres.” I heard my words in the dark. I heard laughing. I smiled in the dark.

“You’re the master,” Kai said. “You’re the master dude, you took a massive hit! You’re gonna be so stoned…”

My smile straightened and my body sagged in my chair. My words were slow to escape me. “Is that bad?”

“Only if you start to freak out bro. I hope you aren’t one of those paranoid dudes who always think they’re dying and call the cops and shit, are you?”

I hoisted my lids, but the night outside rocked and threatened to pull me off my chair so I closed them again. “Is that bad?”

“No,” Andres said. “You’re fine. But Kai’s right, it will mess with you if you let it. It’s just like drinking; you’ll just get out what you put in, you know?”

It sounded profound and I was sorry I did not understand it. I nodded open-mouthed. “Feels like my body is buzzing… My gums are tickling my teeth. My teeth… My teeth.”

“What’s wrong,” Sierra said giggling and lifting her sunglasses.

I formed the ‘m’ sound on my lips and silently repeated it. Each time the lips stuck, then tore apart painfully. “Mouth’s dry, Jesus, do we have water?”

Sierra came around the fire and knelt by my chair. She held a glass to my lips and as I drank she kept her eyes on mine. “Is that better?”

I was going to answer when I realized I’d just gulped straight whiskey. At the same time, a sharp pain exploded on my thigh as the forgotten joint burned through my shorts.

The laughter that followed was inescapable, and unanimous. We sat and smoked and drank and talked and we didn’t stop until rosy-fingered Dawn appeared to expose our company, and send us off to forage and rest.






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