Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
He was way too chickenshit to get high. He had no older brothers from whom to learn the shibboleths of drug culture. The kids at school who sold weed were abrasive, jockish Deadheads or loudmouths who wore rayon sweaters from Chess King and religious medallions.
To compensate, he immersed himself in the darker elements of what he perceived this underworld to be: Naked Lunch and Confessions Of An English Opium Eater; coffee table books with antiquated forensic photographs of drug dens; Sid Vicious and Johnny Thunders esoterica. He had never so much as seen a joint, but he could describe with a Hollywood detective’s effortless and blasé precision the circumstances surrounding Danny Whitten’s death.
He had a band.
They practiced in the living room, when his parents were gone for the afternoon. They were nice boys. Regardless of how raucous The Ramones covers would become, they made sure not to sweat all over the furniture, and took time to spray the room with Lysol when they were finished. Four young men: three of them did triple duty on the football teams, as well as the indoor and outdoor track teams. The drummer was considered to be the best competitive diver in Rhode Island, and would be attending Boston College on a scholarship.
After working out the perceived details of a Replacements cover, they would retire to the rec room, where he housed his elaborate collection of LPs and singles.
The rest of the guys were leaning against the wood grain (Formica) bar, drinking cans of Hires root beer.
“Have you guys ever heard this one?” he asked, knowing they couldn’t have.
He held up the sleeve. Elektra Records – home of The Doors, The Stooges, The MC5 and Love and Tim Buckley. A brand you could trust. It looked like a cheap old shoe polish can: a circular maroon label. In the center, however, was a cluster of drooping marijuana plants.
He placed the record on the brown plastic turntable.
The LP sounded like the dumb weed dealers who sat at the back of the school bus and hurled obscenities with Tourettic urgency. Tuneless, grunting slogans about the joys of reefer bellowed by New York City vagrants.
The guys in the band slapped their thighs and projected root beer through their noses. They laughed until they couldn’t breathe.
It struck him, however; This was the same turntable that rotated his parents’ Johnny Mathis and Kingston Trio records. When they weren’t around, and sometimes when they were, he had used it to broadcast a song about a band cheering while a drunken groupie blew their roadies.
He had a shirt with a picture of John F Kennedy printed on it, the President’s face pinned in bright pink crosshairs.
He was drinking Fanta grape soda out of a cute purple can.