A Day at the Tam Tams

Submitted into Contest #94 in response to: Start your story with someone accepting a dare.... view prompt

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Contemporary Coming of Age Fiction

Hi readers!


I tried something different this week. I used as many of the prompts as possible in one story. I hope you enjoy it!


***Trigger warning: Story discusses drug use and alcohol***



“I dared you.”

“So? You’re the one who wants it.”

“I dared you, so you have to do it.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

Asha Drake glared at her big brother.

Jadyn puffed out his chest and grinned. 

Asha conceded with a bowed head and slumped shoulders. 

“I’ll do it,” she mumbled. She shook her head and straightened her back as she headed towards the master bedroom. “I better not get in trouble.”

“You won’t. Now hurry. I gotta know if it’s there before I call them.”

Asha glanced at Jadyn again before turning the doorknob with a shaky hand. She glanced around the hallway as if their parents would return any second. 

They barred kids from this room. Rule number one in the Drake house was no kids in the parents’ domain. It was their sanctuary. It was unexplored by underaged hands. It was off limits. Asha trembled as she stepped over the threshold into the forbidden zone. 

Her heart fluttered and her head spun as she tiptoed into the room, expecting her father to appear at any moment. Her trembling hands searched the wall for the light switch. The light revealed her parents’ secrets. A queen-sized bed with a royal blue comforter and matching pillows, a bureau covered with makeup and jewelry, a tallboy with magazines and books stacked on top took up most of the space, but Asha was more interested in a wooden cabinet tucked in one corner. 

Asha gawked at the cabinet. She’d only heard her father mention it in passing. It was the principal reason the kids weren’t allowed in the room.

Asha wiped at her forehead as she foraged for the key to unlock the cabinet. She scanned the furniture and inspected the side tables. She almost gave up when she opened her father’s top drawer of the tallboy. Asha cringed as she searched under a pile of socks and underwear. The small silver key was under a pair of red boxers. 

“Gross.”

“Are you done in there?”

“Yeah, yeah. I found it.”

“Shit, yeah!”

Feeling braver, Asha headed straight for the cabinet and slipped the key into the lock. Sitting inside were three bottles of dark amber liquid and two others filled with what looked like water. 

“Which one do I take?” Asha asked, biting at her lip, eyebrows scrunched together. “There’s two different colours.”

“Grab some vodka or something.”

“Which one is that?”

“God, you’re dumb. It’s the one that looks like water.”

There was a bottle of vodka and a bottle of tequila. Asha took the tequila bottle, because the name of it intrigued her. She noticed a black object when she took out the bottle. It was a gun. Asha stared at it. That’s why we’re not allowed in here. If Jadyn was aware of the gun, he’d tear the place apart. He loved weapons. 

She was about to close the cabinet when she noticed several small bags of green buds. Jadyn told her to take a bit if she saw anything green. Asha contemplated on taking one. Jadyn was too scared to go in the room himself. He’d never know. She shrugged as she plucked one bag from the pile.

“Got it,” she called down the hall. 

Jadyn rushed as he struggled with three semi-full pop bottles in hand. 

“Tequila? Wow, are we ever going to get wasted! I’ll do this part. I don’t want you making a mess or waste any.”

Jadyn poured tequila into each of the bottles until they were full. The tequila bottle was half-empty when he gave it back to Asha. She decided not to tell him about the gun. She forgot the green stuff in her pocket, distracted by her brother’s overjoyed reaction to her success. 

“Fill the bottle back up with water. Make sure it’s the same amount.”

“I don’t want to do it.”

“But I dared you, so you have to.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

“You always say that. You sound just like Mom.”

“Hey!” Jadyn moved to punch her arm, but stopped halfway, tugging at a braid instead. He laughed when Asha gave him a murderous glare. “I’ll call the guys while you fill up the bottle. Don’t forget to put the key back exactly where you found it.”

Asha grimaced at the idea of touching those boxers again. She ran the faucet carefully so the water and tequila wouldn’t overflow. Jadyn would kill her if she watered the tequila down more than need be. Once the bottle was full, she returned it to the cabinet, hid the key under the red boxers, switched off the light, and crept out of the room. 

“Alright, you set?” Jadyn asked, putting the pop bottles in his yellow backpack. “Let’s get going. The crew are gonna meet us at the park.”

“I still don’t like this,” Asha said, wringing her hands.

“I dared you so you have to because—”

“Because you said so. Yeah, I get it. You’re so bossy.”

Jadyn nudged her towards the front door.

“You’ll have fun. Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”

Asha’s eyebrows raised at the sudden show of concern. Her brother made no sense all day, ever since he tricked Asha into playing Truth or Dare. His first dare was for Asha to get loaded at the Tam Tams with his friends. She couldn’t have her turn until he knew she was good and drunk. 

“You’re a teenager now,” Jadyn said, patting Asha on the head. She flinched and snarled at him. “You’ll be going to parties with drugs and alcohol, so I just wanna prepare you for it.”

“I’m only in grade nine. I don’t think we’ll be partying that much.”

Jadyn smiled and shook his head.

“You’d be surprised how many people your age drink already—and do drugs.”

“Seriously?”

“Some of them smoke pot. I started smoking at your age. Some people do worse drugs and I’ll kick your ass if I hear you’re taking them.”

Asha’s face paled. Was he going to expect me to smoke, too? The Tam Tams was famous for being the best place to smoke up. Montreal potheads flocked to it, listened to music, and basked in the sun. 

“Well, I’m not smoking. I like my vape.”

“We shall see. Now move it. We’re going to be late.”

***

They held the Montreal Tam Tams in Fletcher’s Field at the base of Mount Royal. It was a Sunday tradition for Montrealers since the sixties. Sunbathers lay on towels, blankets or right on the grass, soaking up the rays. Musicians, drummers in particular, played their music and could be heard from several blocks away. Adults and teenagers of all sorts danced to the music. Groups of people played various games like bocci or hacky sack. Entrepreneurs sold everything from craft jewelry to vintage clothing to musical instruments. All of the items were placed on blankets, waiting for the perfect buyers. Others sat in circles on picnic blankets, eating lunches they brought from home or ordered from a nearby food truck. And then there were the partiers. If someone wanted to score, the Tam Tams was the place to be. Everyone had their territory sardined on top of each other, but nobody cared. The more people, the better. 

Full of trepidation, Asha followed her brother up Parc Avenue, eyeballing the free-for-all in the distance. As they got closer, the music and chatter got louder, and Asha’s anxiety grew. 

“Keep an eye out for the others. They’re supposed to wait near the monument.”

“The what?”

“The tall statue with an angel or goddess on top. You can’t miss it.”

The George-Étienne Cartier Monument came into view, and sure enough, sitting at the foot of the marble steps were Tiny Truman, Starr Smith, Shannon O’Toole and Lucilla Madison. It was Jadyn’s crew. Mrs. Drake despised them. She said they were a bad influence on Jadyn.

 It was the first time Jadyn wanted Asha with them. Normally, he’d chase her off, telling her to mind her own business. Now he was revealing his secrets to her. 

“Jadyn!” Starr yelled, spotting them first. “Finally. It’s about time you got here. We’re dying of dehydration. Did you bring the stuff?”

“I brought the alcohol but couldn’t get any weed.”

“Is that the green stuff you wanted me to take?” Asha asked, fishing in her pocket. “Is this it?”

The rest of them cheered once Asha showed them the gram of weed in her hand.

“Why didn’t you tell me? I could have rolled it at home.”

“Hey, don’t bitch her out,” Tiny said. He was twice the size of everyone in the group, so they listened to everything he said. Luckily for them, he was a giant teddy bear with a bark worse than his bite. “At least she got some. I’ll twist it if you’re too chickenshit.”

Jadyn shrugged and gestured for Asha to pass it to Tiny. 

“Where are the drinks?” Starr whined. “I’m thirsty.”

Jadyn laughed as he plopped down beside Shannon, giving her a sheepish grin before taking the three bottles out of his bag. The gang cheered. 

“They’re all the same. Two people per bottle. I’ll drink with Asha—just to make sure she actually drinks some.”

“I don’t understand why you want to get your sister drunk,” Lucilla said. She was younger than the rest, except for Asha, but she was also the most level-headed. “Way to be a good influence.”

“I know what I’m doing,” Jadyn said, opening a bottle. He took a long swig, cringed at the taste, and blew out hot air as his insides burned. “Ah, that’s the stuff. Okay, Asha, it’s your turn.”

Asha pouted and shook her head. 

“I’m going to get in trouble. It’s bad enough you made me steal everything. I don’t want to get caught drinking. They’ll know I stole from them.”

“Did you fill the bottle back up with water?” Tiny asked.

“Yeah, we did what you said.” Jadyn took another sip before nudging Asha in the arm with the bottle. 

“Then you’re fine. My older sister waters it frequently and my parents never notice, except for once, but the bottle of vodka was almost pure water, so they busted her as soon as they went for a drink.”

Asha glanced at everyone. They stared at her, intrigued, waiting for her next move. She sighed and took the bottle. She sniffed the liquid. 

“It burns my nose.”

“Just wait until you drink it,” Starr giggled.

“I don’t want to drink it.”

“You have to. You accepted the dare so you have no choice.”

“Why?”

“You know why.”

“Because you said so?”

“Exactly right.”

“Well, I’m not doing it.” Asha put down the bottle and folded her arms. Her eyebrows furrowed and her lips frowned as she pouted. 

“Why’d you bring her?” Shannon asked. “She’s gonna bring everyone down. Lue, can you lend me some of your tanning spray? My legs are so white a ghost would be jealous.”

Lucilla passed her the spray and turned her attention back to Asha and Jadyn. 

“You can’t force her to drink, Jadyn. It’s not right.”

“She needs to learn.”

“Learn what?”

“How to party,” Jadyn said. He turned to his sister and demanded Asha take a sip. “You can’t back out of a dare. It’s bad luck.”

“It is?” Asha’s eyes widened. Her entire family lived on avoiding superstitions. Her lips trembled enough for Tiny to notice. He raised one eyebrow and stared at her as if she were the dumbest being on Earth. Asha looked away, embarrassed. “I’m scared, okay?”

“Look. If you get caught, Jadyn will take all the blame. Right, Jadyn?”

“That’s right. I promise.”

Asha stared at the mouth of the bottle, pondering on what to do. If she didn’t drink, not only would it be bad luck, but all of Jadyn’s friends would consider her a wimp. I have no choice. I have to drink. Asha lifted the bottle to her lips and took a small sip. She could taste the alcohol over the Cocoa-Cola. It tasted as bad as what she imagined paint thinner would taste like. 

“That’s so gross! How can you guys like that?”

“You adapt and you hardly notice the taste once you’ve had a few,” Lucilla said, lighting up a cigarette. “Shannon, spread the lotion.”

“No, I’m spraying it evenly.”

“You need to spread it or you’re gonna have spots.”

“I know what I’m doing.”

“Fine,” Lucilla said, taking a haul, blowing the smoke out in circles that the mild wind caught and unraveled. “Don’t blame me if your legs look like a Dalmatian’s.” 

“Buzz off. My legs are going to look great.”

“Enough of this tanning shit,” Tiny said, holding up a fat joint. “Time for some pot. Asha, I want you to take one toke. It’ll calm your nerves.”

Asha’s mouth popped open. 

“You want me to do what?”

“Smoke up.” He placed the joint to her with a firm hand. “Believe me. You’ll like it.”

Asha hesitated before inhaling. The smoke had her coughing up a storm. Everyone laughed. Asha’s head was floating. 

“Take another,” Tiny said, a small smile played on his lips. “You won’t regret it.”

Asha took another toke before passing the joint to Starr. Within minutes, she had a dopey smile and slanted, red eyes.

“Here,” Jadyn said, passing her back the bottle. “Take two more swigs and then it’ll be my turn.”

Asha didn’t complain. She took three sips and two tokes off the joint. By then, she was loaded. 

“Alright. Truth or Dare, Jadyn.”

Her brother’s grin widened. His eyes sparkled with amusement.

“Truth.”

Asha scowled. She wanted him to pick dare so she could pay him back. It took a few minutes, but she found her revenge.

“Okay, truth. Isn’t it true that you’ve been in love with Shannon since elementary school?”

The crew became dead silent. The booze, pot and lotion forgotten as everyone turned to stare at Jadyn and Shannon. Both of their faces flushed. Jadyn looked at Asha with daggers in his eyes. 

“No, that’s not true.”

“Tell the truth. I know you’re lying.”

“I’m not playing this game anymore,” Jadyn said, glancing at Shannon who concentrated on spraying her legs. She placed her sunglasses on the bridge of her nose and leaned back on her elbows. 

“You have to. You chose truth. Admit it or I win the game.”

“This game is stupid.”

“It wasn’t stupid when I had to drink.”

“That was different.”

“Why?”

“Because I said so.”

***

Jadyn got Asha home in time to stick her in bed before her parents came back from their trip to Ottawa. They had both gotten sick on the walk home from their drunken stupor. Starr bought more weed from a hippie, so they were high as well, but Asha wasn’t complaining anymore. She liked the sensation. She decided partying was fun and she wanted to do it again. Until the next morning.

Her head pounded like a sledgehammer. Her stomach turned and danced somersaults. Her body ached. 

“Why?” she groaned. “This is hell.”

She made it to the bathroom just in time to get sick again. She stayed in there for a while, freshening herself up so her parents wouldn’t suspect. Lucky for her, and Jadyn, their parents had already left to run errands and wouldn’t be back until later that afternoon. 

“See? I told you we’d get away with it,” Jadyn said with a triumphant smile. 

“I still won the game.”

“That was a bitch thing to do. You know nothing can happen between me and Shannon. Tiny’s got a thing for her.”

“But you like her and she likes you.”

“How do you know?”

“I can tell.”

“Well, forget it. It’ll never happen and never mention it to the guys again. Do you hear me?”

“Alright. I won’t say anything.”

“Good, because they’re going to be here any minute.”

True to his word, the doorbell rang a few minutes later. 

Jadyn opened the front door while Asha got a glass of water. She almost dropped it when she saw the crew. Most of them looked alright, sober even, except for Shannon. Her face glowed a bright red, as did two strips down her white arms. But what Asha noticed the most, what mortified her, were Shannon’s legs. How can she be wearing shorts with her legs looking like that? I’d have that shit covered.

Most of Shannon’s legs were still white as a ghost’s, except for the long, red lines running down them, and the orange spots that were scattered all over her legs. 

“You’re legs have polka-dots and stripes,” Asha said, astounded. “What the hell happened?”

“She didn’t spread the lotion around like I told her,” Lucilla said, ignoring Shannon’s glare. “The spots are orange because it didn’t agree with her skin tone. Happens.”

“Like that?”

“No. Not like that. I told her to spread it.”

The gang couldn’t help but tease Shannon the entire time they visited, until Asha’s parents came home. Too nervous to stay, they walked to the door to say their goodbyes, when Asha noticed her father go into his bedroom with his special glass. He’s going for a drink. Jadyn and Asha stared at each other. They heard a drawer open and close. Then, their worse nightmare came to life.

“Asha! Jadyn! Get over here.”

Without saying a word, Asha and Jadyn slipped out of the house with the rest of them, and they ran. They ran until their lungs burst. 

“How did he know? I was careful. Jadyn, you said we wouldn’t get caught. I knew we shouldn’t have done taken his stuff.”

“You were right, Asha. All I can say is you were right.” 




May 16, 2021 14:41

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5 comments

Pippin Took
18:55 May 25, 2021

I LOVED this story! It was so interesting, and very long! (tell me your secrets...) XD KEEP IT UP! *clicks quickly back to your profile and reads another story*

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23:25 May 25, 2021

Thanks for the fun comment! I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I do yours.

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Pippin Took
00:01 May 26, 2021

Aw thanks! I love your stories!

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10:56 Jun 01, 2021

I just read your latest one with Sofie and Patty. It was so moving!

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Pippin Took
13:36 Jun 01, 2021

Thank you!

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