Michael watched as Scott walked up through the thickening snowstorm. Already the snow was starting to pile up on the old stone walls surrounding the Arboretum and was giving the grass a serious dusting. Michael hoped everything had gone well with Scott's trip down to South Campus.
"Take your shoes off out in the hall Scotty-Boy!" Michael yelled as the door opened.
"How'd everything go down South."
"We're good!" Scott said as he pulled out an overstuffed zip-lock freezer bag filled to bursting with plump crystalized buds.
"Hey, Hey... My guy...now we're in business!" Michael said
"Literally!" Scott intoned as he reached under the coffee table to grab the digital scale, the baggies and their tally book.
"Should we sample a little, just to make sure it's not poison?"
"We probably should, I mean as responsible purveyors of fine pharmaceuticals... it's our responsibility really...we owe it to our customers to ensure nothing but the highest quality."
"To Quality Control!" the boys toasted, as they both lit up fat bowls of the gorgeous buds Scott had just brought back from South Campus, where their old High School friend Andy was running a pretty serious distribution network. Scott and Michael were to be the North Campus branch of this operation, as Andy looked to expand and take over the entire campus.
"Ooh Freshie...Fresh...Fresh!" coughed Michael.
"What do you say we hold off on work for tonight... pack ourselves a little bowl... or two... grab a flask of that bourbon my Uncle gave me for Christmas, and go for a little snow hike around Campus?" asked Scott.
"I like that idea...a lot...we don't need to worry about doing anything tonight anyway...let me grab a little pinch of this for us..."
"And I got the flask right here." replied Scott. "Get your gloves and a toboggan, it was really coming down when I was walking up, so I'm sure the ground is covered and it's probably still dumping. The Weather Channel said it was supposed to snow at least for the next two days!"
Both boys went to the window to take a peek at the scene outside... in the hour since Scott had come home, there was at least eight new inches of snow on the ground. The stone wall was completely covered, and there was no green visible in the usual grassy areas in front of their dorm. It really was a winter wonderland out there. The trees, all except for the big Lebanese Cedar at the entrance to the arboretum, were leafless and skeletal, naked but for the new covering of snow that was layered on top of their branches, giving them a mystical frosted look, and the snow was still coming down. But even through the compromised visibility of the glazed windows, both boys could see the gathering groups of other students heading out into the snowy night with their big ski coats, winter hats, boots, and gloves.
"It looks like Narnia out there." Scott said.
"Narnia? Old CS Lewis was quite the storyteller...he definitely had a prodigious imagination, but his Christian metaphors were a little heavy handed for me, I prefer my preaching to be a little subtler. Besides I'm really digging the modernists right now." said Michael.
"Oh yeah...a little Fitzgerald, maybe a touch of Nabokov, some Kafka even?" chimed in Scott.
"And don't forget Hemingway. I am loving me some Hemingway these days." said Michael.
"Really? You think he's as good as Fitzgerald?' asked Scott.
"Listen, Fitzgerald's great, but other than 'Gatsby', and a few of his short stories, nothing else of his really stands up." countered Michael.
"F. Scott is a bonafide natural treasure Mike...no if's and's or buts about it." said Scott.
"I respect that, and to most 'The Great Gatsby' is the definition of the 'Great American Novel'. I just happen to disagree. Now, don't get me wrong, I love 'Gatsby', and I love Fitzgerald’s way with a turn of phrase, but Hemingway's a Master in his own right...the way he can cut down a scene or piece of dialogue to only its most essential parts. It’s a beautiful thing Scott."
"So you think any one of Hemingway's books or stories could go toe to toe with 'Gatsby'?"
"Absolutely...for my money 'The Sun Also Rises' is better than "Gatsby". both are great but 'The Sun also Rises' is just a better book." said Michael.
"Well, we'll agree to disagree on this one friend." said Scott.
"Here, let's pack a bowl before we head out. And take an extra bud or two for our adventure around campus."
"Let's raise a glass too, what's this in here?"
"Just, Jack Black."
"That'll do." Michael said as he raised a glass...
"To Fitzgerald." said Scott
"To Hemingway!" Michael said as they clinked glasses and... down the hatch the warm liquor went.
They finished off another bowl while discussing the merits of 20th Century American writers versus their Russian counterparts, and then headed out into the snow bright night.
"What do you like so much about Hemingway anyway?" Scott asked.
"Oooh, that is a good question... I think it's the way he boils his prose down to such terse, short, laconic language. And I really like the way Hemingway does most of his story telling through dialogue. You know kind of letting the reader fill in the blanks and connect the dots. I like that because it makes me think, and I don't feel like he's pandering to me...you know."
"Yeah of course, I don't need anyone to hold my hand." Scott joined in.
"Exactly, 'Trust your reader. Assume they're as smart, if not smarter than you'...isn't that what professor Edwards said in our Creative Writing class this year?"
"Hey, look what we have here."
"Hullo boys!" said Jimmy
"Jimmy Boy, we bombing some hills?" asked Michael.
"You fellas want in?"
"Let's do it...Michael you go first, let me get another pull of that Jack, good sir." said Scott.
"Here and can I take another toke of that green piece...Thank You Guvnah."
"Yeah man...thank you fellas...cheers!"
"To Hemingway." cheers'd Michael.
"To John Smith." Chimed in Jimmy. "You English Major pansies out here writing poetry again tonight?"
"Jimmy my boy...we all can't be money hungry econ majors. Somebody has to write poetry for all of these beautiful girls out here...just look around Jimmy, this place is crawling with every iteration of the fairer sex you could imagine...more than you could imagine Jimmy...and do you think you'll find any of these lovelies in your boring econ classes...no my dear boy, me thinks not..." quipped Michael.
"My turn Scotty...let me show you boys how we sled in the Hills of this great State."
"Whoooooooooooooooo!!!!!! Yeah!!!!" Michael whooped as he went sailing down the hill at a ridiculous speed.
"Hey boys if this snow keeps up I think Joey and Dave and I are gonna head up to Winterplace tomorrow and hit the slopes...did you guys bring your boards and boots back from Christmas break?" asked Jimmy.
"I did!" said Scott.
"Me too!" replied Michael.
"Let's do it then!" shouted Jimmy.
"Are you guys planning to spend the night up there or just make a day trip of it?" asked Scott.
"I think we might spend the night if the powder's good. That way we can ride all tomorrow afternoon, then wake up and ride all Sunday morning and then head back to be here for classes on Monday." said Jimmy.
"If we'll even have classes on Monday, if this snow keeps up I seriously doubt we will." Michael reasoned.
"Yeah, but even if we don't have class, it'll still be good to be back, just to get a day to reset and be ready for the week. You know..." said Jimmy.
"Agreed and I don't want to be spending all my Christmas dough... two days’ worth of lift tickets, and gas money and a hotel...yeah two days is plenty for me." Scott said.
"Hit me up this evening and we'll lock down the plans." Michael said as he prepped the sled for another drop.
"Sounds good, we'll be looking at rolling out around 8:00am tomorrow, just a heads up fellas, so don't get too crazy tonight...hey can I hit that bowl one more time...pretty please?" asked Jimmy with faux courtesy.
"Of course! Thanks for the invite Jimmy...see you tomorrow!"
Michael and Scott rode down the hill one more time each and then continued their nocturnal exploration of campus. As the snow continued to fall everything became more and more surreal. The boys felt like they were wandering through a dreamland as they hiked past the gigantic classically styled buildings just off the quad. There were snowmen adorned in college gear and snow angels dotted the quad while Mike and Scott did their best to emerge unscathed from the ongoing snow ball skirmishes raging between buildings and across hedgerows, as they continued to tromp around campus, feeling good and warm from the bourbon and nice and high from the Grade A 'kind-bud' Scott brought back from Andy's crib in South Campus.
"You know; you were smart Scotty."
"How do you mean?"
"To end things with Bree."
Scott didn't say anything, he just kept walking, looking down at the fresh snow and taking in the serenity of the snowfall covering campus, as the two young men entered a quiet stretch of their hike.
"The way you two were going you would have moved in with each other this year for sure, and that's nearly the same as being married."
"Playing house ain't the same as being married Mikey."
"It's not much different Scott. You live with a woman, you take on her ways, you become part of her schedule and she's part of yours. Put it this way...If you two had moved in together you wouldn't be able to be out here stomping around with me right now, and you sure as hell wouldn't be going snowboarding tomorrow with Jimmy and them."
"Yeah, you're right about that." Scott said...He was starting to feel kind of down now. The excitement of the sled, the buzz from the bowl and the Jack Daniels were fading in the cold, and now he was starting to get that low feeling he always got towards the end of the day, especially in the winter, when the work is done, and the sun's getting low, and there really isn't anything to look forward to. He'd just go home in the dark and try to find something to eat, and something to do until he was tired enough, or drunk enough to fall asleep. On nights like these it was so nice to come home to Bree. She would always have some music on and a candle burning and more often than not she would have one of her famous dishes on the stove. Chicken parm, or beef stew, or just mac and cheese, and the smells would fill the house and lift Scott's soul because he had someone waiting for him. Someone waiting for him who loved him, waiting with a light on and a warm plate, and conversation and music and... love. And he'd had all that, and he'd let it go, he'd let Bree go.
"It's better this way Scotty, now she can go find some hippie patchouli smelling hacky sacker and they can settle down and before they even graduate I'll bet they'll be having babies. But you, you're free Scott my boy. The world is yours...you're a young man, a college graduate, free and untethered! Are you kidding me? This is the life my friend! It's just good to have you back is all, a bunch of us thought you were gone for good, we missed you Scott."
"Yeah, thanks Mikey", Scott said, feeling all kinds of low, unbelievably down, he'd had it all. He'd been happy with Bree and now she was gone. And the thought of her with some other guy made Scott's belly ache. He could feel tears around the edges of his eyes. He tried to tell himself it was just because of the cold and the wind, but he knew better. Aaaaah!!!! Scott wanted to scream... he'd had it all...and now...not.
"Hey Mikey, let me get another taste of that Jack."
"Only if I can sample that bowl."
The two traded back and forth and walked on in silence.
"I'm sorry Scott, I didn't mean to bring you down...I was just saying how much I missed you man. I'm glad to have my boy back. This semester is going to be the illest! We're gonna make a ton of dough moving that herb for Andy... we're going snowboarding tomorrow... Can you believe it Scott? This time tomorrow we'll be coming off the mountain with a day worth of sick boarding behind us. We'll have that good- tired, exhausted feeling and then we'll get some hot chocolate and sit by the fire in the lodge and see what snow bunnies are around and maybe see if one or two want to come back to check out our room...you know what I mean Scott...Hey...come on man...I'm sorry, I won't mention Bree again. We just got to find you another girl to take your mind off her, get you back for real...I won't mention Bree again. Talking about her like this is gonna get your mind back on her and then the next thing you know you'll be trying to get back with her. And then before you know it you'll be trapped all over again. But faster this time and for good, because she won't let her claws out of you so easy this time Scott."
He could get her back...things weren't over...of course things weren't over. They had a long history together. If he wanted to...he could skip out on snowboarding tomorrow and maybe try to take Bree out for dinner or something. He could at least drop by and say 'What Up'...see how she was doing; see how she was looking.
Just the thought made Scott happier...he felt light again, buoyant even, like he was floating through the snow. He slid down the railing of the gigantic stairway that led down into South Campus.
"Whoooooo! That was fun!" Scott yelled, not really listening to Mike anymore. He'd probably have to go with the boys this weekend. It'd be impossible to shake Mikey now. The kid could be like a pit-bull with a bone. But when they got back on Monday he could definitely give Bree a call. He might not. He didn't have to, but it was nice to think about. That door wasn't totally shut yet, it was nice to think. And Scott smiled to himself as the two trudged downhill to South Campus Michael talking the whole way.
"Hey Mikey, let me get another sip off that flask, yeah?" Scott said, holding out his hand without even looking at Michael.
"Really? Scott, you haven't heard a word I've said in the past ten minutes. Where's your head at man... snap out of it...you want a 'sip'...go get it..." Michael said as he tossed the flask onto the frozen pond off to their right. The flask hit the ice with a gentle bounce, skidded to the middle of the frozen pond and spun there.
Scott looked at Michael, incredulous..."Damn Mikey...what'd you do that for?" asked Scott as he walked carefully to the edge of the pond and gingerly tested the strength of the ice. There was no way the ice was thick enough to hold him, he thought as he took his first uncertain step onto the frozen pond.