The only time I’ve dealt with death was with my hamster, Chubs. He died a quiet death for unknown reasons. An autopsy wasn’t performed, why would anyone? But for the body that lies in front of me, an autopsy was surely to be performed by a coroner. Why wouldn’t it? Luther was in my dorm hall drinking, but he passed out in the hallway. People stepped over him, thinking he was another drunken college student. But he wasn’t drunk. He was dead. And he wasn’t a student. He was my drug dealer. Well, pot dealer. I stay away from the hard drugs.
It was merely a matter of time before I am linked to all of the madness that will ensue over the campus for the next couple of months. It had to come back to me. But maybe it wouldn’t. Either way, Resident Advisors became drill sergeants. And I became a scared college Cadette in need of weed. I don’t mean to sound insensitive or anything, but I didn’t really know the guy that well. He just sold me the green every month or so. But other than his first name, which probably isn’t his real name, I know nothing about the corpse decaying in the morgue at the moment. Maybe I was desensitized to it all from the violence on the news every day, or the video games and movies. All I knew was that death is inherently sad but natural. I’m a biology major, so I’m familiar with the cycle of life.
And that cycle of life includes socialization—an obligation to which I’ve held a lukewarm candle to. Not even the flames, just the hot wax that some use as a tantalizing stimulation. Which is all I’ve ever really needed. But now that my weed dealer decided to push daisies instead of cannabis, I needed to network and find a new dealer, lest I be damned my senior year of college weedless. Or even worse, bunk weed—reggie. Reggie is like an off-brand name of weed that one purchases to be economical, or that’s the potheads’ only source to buy.
But to whom meets my standards of friendship? Do I even have any standards at all? I find people to be mostly weird anxiety-filled creatures. During my youth, the only friend—besides Mary Jane—I ever had was Dean Sanders. We had each other’s back from elementary school to the freshman year of high school. That’s when Dean went and “found God”. He renounced all the things he found to be “unholy” and “non fundamental” to his religious cult. He tried to initiate me into his church, but I was candid with him and told him there was no way in hell—that doesn’t exist—I’d go to church and have my brain stirred to mush by the delusional adults, who are supposed to be the responsible ones in society. Yet, I found it odd that they believe in ghosts and magic men in the sky. Needless to say, my friendship with Dean went sour soon after that.
I wandered the halls of the multiple dorms, striking up awkward attempts at lame conversation. I was a bit rusty, but eventually I met Levi, a heavy-set sophomore with wire rim glasses and acne one could find constellations in. And he led me to a name of a “bomb ass” dope dealer. His words, not mine. I don’t think he quite got over high school, much less puberty. I gave him my word that I’d tutor him in statistics anytime he wants. I felt I owed him something. Isn’t that how humans operate? Tit for tat. Quid pro quo. Et cetera. Anyhow, he gave me the number of this guy named Marvin. It’d been over a month since Luther’s death, which meant it’s also been over a month since I’ve smoked. So, I texted him right away.
-ME: Hey, my name is Parker. Got your number from Levi. He said it was cool with you to set
up a deal.
-Marvin: All good. What you need?
-ME: Can I get a half oz. of your finest Sativa strain?
-Marvin: $120. Meet at the back of your school library at 2:00 PM?
-ME: That works. See you then.
That was easy enough. Only thirty minutes from now and just enough time to eat at the commissary. On the way to the commissary, the growling in my stomach faded and was replaced with a loss of appetite. I eat best after smoking. I’m not the biggest guy around campus, but I wasn’t little either. Just a lean, mean biology machine. I decided I’d wait at the library and read a book while I waited. I chose a nonfiction book on theology. I enjoyed reading the empirical evidence of science, because it disproves the whole notion of a higher being.
“Higher being,” I said softly, chuckling.
It was a few minutes until Marvin arrived, so I went to the back of the library, where there aren’t any cameras and few, if any, people treaded. There wasn’t anyone there yet, so I continued to read the book as I stood up, leaning against the back shelf of books on the wall.
“Holy shit,” said a familiar voice.
I looked up. “Holy shit,” I repeated, purely coincidental in the same usage of the term.
“Parker, w-what are you doing here?” Dean asked, eyes wide in surprise.
“I could ask you the same question,” I replied, my mouth agape.
“This-this is what I do now. I make quite a good profit. I don’t have to slave away hours at the clock for the man. It’s freeing,” Dean replied, then pointed to the book I was holding. “Still adamantly against religion, huh?” he smiled.
“W-well…does that mean you won’t sell to me? Wait, why are you selling weed instead of Bibles?”
“Once the other kids kept me out of their inner circle in the church youth groups and after multiple prayers to God, I realized that religion isn’t for me, either. I mean, we all do dumb things as kids.”
“Even as adults,” I whispered. “You could go to jail, Dean. Possession is one thing but selling is a whole other monster.”
“I’ve got it figured out. Don’t you worry…Hey, look…about our past and friendship and—”
“Hey, man. I’m sorry I didn’t stick around. I was a dumb kid...now a dumb adult,” I softly laughed.
“Yeah?” I replied.
“We grew up together. You’re still the only friend I’ve ever trusted with my entire life, man,” Dean said as he teared up.
In these situations, I’d usually just give a pat on the back or whatever humans do to console one another. But the hug I embraced him with came without reasoning. We held the position for only a few seconds, but I could feel the memories we never had fade away into a place we'd never find them ever again.
“Dean, or should I say ‘Marvin’, what say you and I take this half ounce of grade-A weed and smoke it out? Make up for the lost years in smoke. Whatcha say?”
“I say, ‘not only are we doing just that, but this batch of green is on me!'"
"To my dorm room it is!"
"And bring that book, too," he laughed.