“I have to talk to you.” Loni was waiting outside Art class.
“What’s up?” I asked as we walked to lunch. She stopped and looked at me, then down at her hands hugging her notebook to her cheerleader sweater.
“Joe came in last night, for about an hour.” She glanced up, then back down at her hands.
“Cool,” I said. It wasn’t like we were dating. In fact, in the two weeks since her party we hadn’t really done anything except eat lunch together. I was waiting for her to say she dumped that guy. I guess Joe wasn’t. “So, what’d you guys do?” I asked as we made our way through the lunch line.
She seemed relieved that I was being cool about it. “Well, we talked for a while…and smoked some weed,” she whispered.
“Cool.” I looked at Loni. She wanted me to say more. “And you hooked up?”
“Yeah. Well…, sort of. Yes.”
“Really? Really? You’re not pissed or hurt or anything?”
“Naw”, I said, grabbing a bag of fries from under the heat lamp. “I mean, unless you want me to be. No, really. I think you’re a babe. And Joe is my bud. It’s cool. So anyway, just out of curiosity, who initiated?” We paid for our lunch and sat down.
“Yeah, that was a dumb question. He probably tapped on that steel door until you answered, huh?”
“How’d you know? He scared the shit out of me. I was reading Lord of the Flies for English, and I live in this fucking reform school, and it was late at night and I was half asleep. And to top it off, my mom was out of town. When he knocked I nearly jumped out of my skin.”
“So?” I opened a packet of ketchup and squeezed it onto the tray. “So, did you have fun?”
Loni blushed. “Yeah, I did… He’s a wild one.”
“You don’t know the half of it. I could tell you some things.”’
“Oh yeah?” Her eyes lit up.
Loni called me the next Saturday to ask if I wanted to stop by. Her mom was out of town, something about family in DC. So I grabbed some beer from Taylor’s on the corner and rode my motorcycle out to Cub Hill. I had to go to the package goods because I lost my fake ID and Arlo’s wouldn’t serve without it. I had a good beard already but I guess I still looked young, plus that was the year the drinking age went to twenty-one. It was hard to get served anywhere without ID. But Taylor’s still did. An old dude worked there, a friend of my dad. He called me “Billy.” I think he was senile, but he knew my face and my dad so he never carded me.
“Hey-a Billy, how’s er going tonight?” He’d ask when I came in. “Tonight’s the night, Billy.” He waved a lottery ticket in the air, while smiling and chewing his unlit cigar. “I think this one’s a winner.” He did it every time. I always bought it too, because I was certain it was extortion: If you want beer you little puke, you’re gonna have to buy a lottery ticket.
“Yeah, I’ll take one. And give me a case of Natty Boh while you’re at it.”
“Sure thing, Billy.”
When I got to Loni’s there wasn’t a party. There were no cars in the lot except Loni’s. I parked next to her’s and unstrapped the beer. The door was open so I walked in. She and Joe were sitting on the sofa. The air was musky and sweet. Dark Side of the Moon was on the stereo.
“Hey,” Loni called to me. “I heard your motorcycle coming down the road.”
“Hey there. Beer?”
“Thanks.” Joe said, taking two and handing one to Loni. They both were glassy-eyed and stoned. “Wanna hit?” Joe reached for the bong.
“Oh yeah, Loni said you don’t smoke no more. Hey, you got anything else?”
I sat next to them on the sofa and dug into my pocket. “Let’s see, I think I got a couple of ludes somewhere. Yeah, here we go.” I pulled the baggie out and held it up. “One, and some crumbs.”
“Let’s smoke ‘em.” Joe said, reaching for his bong again.
“I don’t know, Joe. I heard that’ll put blisters on your lungs.”
He looked at me, “Is that bad?”
“I don’t know. But it don’t sound good.”
“Awww,” he said with the wave of a hand, “you only live once.”
“Yeah,” I smiled, “why not get it over with.”
Joe and I laughed. It felt good to see him again. I felt something wake up inside of me as soon as I heard him laugh. Loni didn’t feel it though. She just looked at us like we were crazy. “I’m not smoking anything that might put blisters on my lungs.”
“Don’t worry,” Joe said. He reached into the baggie and pulled out the whole lude. “You eat this one. Mann and I will smoke the crumbs. Cool?” He looked at both of us.
“Fine with me.” Loni took the lude from Joe and looked at it. “’714′. What does that mean?”
“That means it’s good. Eat it.” Joe pushed the lude toward her. She stopped him. “I can do it.” She looked at the lude again. “Why is it swirled?”
“Oh, you got one of those.”
“What do you mean ‘one of those’?”
“From that batch.”
“What batch?” All of a sudden Loni looked really concerned.
“Oh, don’t worry. It’s not bad. It’s just swirled because the batch didn’t get mixed good. I call them ‘loony ludes.’ You don’t know what you’re going to get. You might not get off at all, or it might knock your boots off.” I looked at Joe. “Got a good deal on ‘em.”
“Whoa.” Loni handed it back. “I’ve only done ludes twice. I don’t want to o.d.”
“Relax. Relax. Here,” Joe bit the lude in half and handed part to Loni. He swallowed the other half.
“Ok,” she said, washing it down with Natty Boh.
I ate some crumbs and Joe packed the bong with the rest. We tapped beers, “To the land of pleasant living.”
“See you in Hell my friend.” Then we lit the bong and passed it back and forth. Ludes are harsh, harsher than hash oil. And they really weren’t meant to be smoked. I could feel my lungs burning and not in the good way. And they smelled terrible too. But it was effective. Pretty soon we were all mellow as meatloaf.
Loni was sitting between us with her head on Joe’s shoulder when she started rubbing both our legs. She looked at Joe and gave him a kiss, then she looked at me.
Call it performance anxiety. Call it too much beer and Quaalude. Call it whatever you want, but it didn’t happen for me. At first I was into it. I mean, Loni was hot as fuck. I mean hot, with dark shiny skin and that ass popping out. I certainly thought of her in that way. Often. And I thought about her and Joe together. But I never thought about the three of us together. And when it happened, it just didn’t do anything for me. Actually, it upset me that it didn’t do anything for me. I started thinking the worst, like maybe I was some kind of traditional guy. And that scared me and pissed me off so I tried even harder, but that of course didn’t work. You can’t force a boner. At least, I couldn’t.
Then I started worrying what they were wondering. Actually, not so much Loni as Joe. I felt bad for Loni because I wanted her to know how sexy she was. I didn’t want her to think she didn’t turn me on. She did, like crazy, just not with Joe around. Joe…, now Joe was a different story. I mean here it is we haven’t talked in months. I didn’t know how he is doing or what he’d been up to, or whether or not he missed me and all of the sudden we’re sharing a chick. Too weird for me. And too much pressure. Way too much pressure. I made a couple of excuses and got the Hell out of there. Joe shrugged and said, “Alright, Mann. Peace.” Loni said “Ok,” and gave me a kiss on the cheek.
Monday in school at lunch Loni apologized. “It was Joe’s idea. I’m not blaming him. I take responsibility too. But I just wanted you to know that.” Loni had the most sincere eyes. I’ve been a sucker for brown eyes ever since.
“It’s cool, really. It wasn’t a bad idea. I would have liked to and I’m flattered and all. But I guess it’s just not for me. At least not with you.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment.”
Loni smiled. “Thanks. Anyway, I don’t want to do anything to mess up our friendship. Are we cool?”
“Cool. God yes.” I leaned forward and gave her a hug. I like hugging hot chicks.
We finished lunch and went outside to chill. It was a bright sunny spring day and my spring fever was burning up. “Hey, you want to get out of here? Ditch the afternoon and go to the reservoir?”
“Yeah,” Loni nodded. “I do.”
When the bell rang to end lunch we went in the front door and out the back to the student parking lot. We hopped in Loni’s rusty Datsun and took a left out of the lot.
Loch Raven Drive was full of kids ditching class. Bon Jovi and Def Leppard wafted from car windows. We found a quiet spot near the little dam and I sat down against a pine tree. Loni spread out her jacket and laid her head on my legs.
“So, by the way, did you have a good time Saturday night after I left?”
“Yeah. I felt bad for you and all, but I was too horny to stop. I’m not going to take ludes anymore. I was insatiable.”
“Like Marilyn Chambers?”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh. Yeah, probably. Insatiable.”
“No, it’s kind of crazy. And really frustrating. But I think Joe had it worse than me. He was really crazy. I thought he might pass out.”
“Really? Sounds like you guys had fun. Maybe I should have stayed.”
Loni reached up and rubbed my arm. “It’s cool.”
“Yeah. So Joe was pretty crazy, huh?”
“Crazy. Crazy Joe.” Loni was the first one to call him that. And it fit so well it stuck immediately. “…Crazy Joe. You guys have done some crazy shit. Haven’t you?”
“Yeah. Pretty much.”
“I bet you guys have done all kinds of things.”
“I bet you’ve stolen cars and robbed convenience stores and…Hey, have you killed anyone?”
“No,” I smiled, “not yet.”
“Tell me some stuff. Have you ever robbed houses?”
“Tell me about it. Tell me a story, please.”
“Wouldn’t you rather smoke some weed instead?”
“Will you smoke with me?”
“I’ll take a hit or two…for you.”
“Ok. First we smoke. Then you talk.”
I took a hit, leaned my head back against the tree trunk and exhaled, looking out over the flickering silver coins of Loch Raven Reservoir.