For those who haven’t already read them, you can find links to the previous chapters here:
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9
Chapters 10 and 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23
“So do you have any plans for the weekend?” Mom asked as I fixed a bowl of cereal.
“I thought I’d go to a biker bar, maybe join a gang or just a satanic cult, then elope to vegas with a prostitute.”
“Remember what I said about being smart,” she replied, taking a sip of her coffee, “and make sure you get a prenup.”
“You really take the fun out of being a smartass.”
“I know. So what are your actual plans.”
“I’ll probably spend all my time at Weed’s, putting the finishing touches on my car.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”
“Yeah, you know I like Weed, for whatever reason, and I’m glad you’re not letting everything that happened with Shawna drag you down.”
“So you wouldn’t mind if I just stayed over at his place tonight?”
“To be honest, I could use a night off of worrying about you being home alone.”
“You know you don’t have to worry about me.”
“Yes, as a mother, I do. But I also know Nancy will keep a good eye on you.”
“Right,” I said, not wanting to ruin whatever illusion she had about Weed’s mom.
“And speaking of Weed, I should probably get over there. I’m sure he’s already started without me.”
“Just remember what I said,” she replied.
“I will,” I replied, “but shouldn’t you be getting yourself to bed?”
“This is my second cup of coffee; I’m good for a couple loads of laundry first.”
She went to work in the laundry room so I grabbed a bagel and took it upstairs to eat while I finished packing a bag for Weed’s. 10 minutes later I was heading back downstairs with my helmet and bag in my hands.
“Bye mom,” I called through the open laundry room door.
“Bye,” she replied. “I’d tell you not to give Nancy any hassle, but I know she won’t take any of that from you.”
She was both right and wrong about Weed’s mom. She wouldn’t take any crap from me, or anyone else, but she sure let us get away with a few things my mom didn’t need to know about.
It was a nice day to be on the bike but I decided not to go for a joy ride and instead went straight to Weed’s. I was still reminiscing about some of the studpid stuff he and I had gotten away with by the time I reached his driveway. Pamela was visible through the open garage door, but I opted to head to the front porch first.
Weed’s mom was standing in the open doorway before I’d even reached the top step.
“You get in trouble?” She asked with a nod to my overnight bag.
Being the only son of a single mother meant I’d gotten into trouble with her on multiple occasions. Each time I seemed to end up at Weed’s until things had cooled off a bit, and his mom never turned me away. I think she saw it as a better alternative to me ending up somewhere else.
“Nah,” I replied, “not exactly. I just thought mom could use a night of not worrying about me.”
“She deserves a lot more than one night of that,” she said, “but it’s a start. And you know you’re always welcome here, though if you stay too long I’ll have to start treating you the same way I treat that son of mine.”
“Speaking of Weed,” I said, “is he still asleep?”
“At nine-thirty on a saturday morning? You know it.”
She didn’t even ask as I pulled a paintball gun from my bookbag.
“Just remember,” she said, “you’ve got to clean up any mess, not already there.”
“It’ll be worth it,” I said.
My paintball gun was a cheap one that didn’t have the velocity of the more expensive ones, but from a couple feet away it still hurt like crazy.
I was about to creep up the stairs as quietly as possible, before realizing it was Weed I was going after. He could sleep through an earthquake, so I stopped wasting the effort and took the stairs two at a time, making as much noise as possible. Of course it didn’t faze him, but bursting through his door, and unloading several shots to his groin area did.
“Ow! Holy shit! What the hell is that smell!” all came out of his mouth before his eyes even opened.
“You never should have let me know about those 68 caliber skunk spray balls.”
“Yeah,” he said while still writhing under his blankets, “I think I’ve learned my lesson. From now on I’ll keep my best ideas to myself.”
“I’m sure you’ll get me back soon enough,” I said, but for now I’ve got a favor to ask.”
“That’s how you asked for a favor?”
“Only when I’m sure you won’t say no.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.”
“Oh, but I am.”
“And why is that?” he asked, finally sitting up.
“Because you never say no to a saturday night of car work, John Hughes films and a packed bowl or two.”
“Sleep over?” He asked.
Before I could respond he rushed to the door and hollard down the stairs.
“Hey Mom! Do you think Nate can…”
“I saw his bag and didn’t send him back home, now didn’t I?” She yelled back.
“You’re the best!”
“I know! But you need to remember that next time I have to ground you!”
“I know that too,” she yelled back, but by then Weed was already throwing on a semi-clean t-shirt and a worn out pair of shoes.
It took us much longer than I would have thought to replace the windshield, but we were being extra careful. FInkenbine had said it was the only one he could find. The memory of him started to bring me down again, so I pushed the thought from my mind and just continued working on the car. I knew getting her done would have made him happy, even if she was only the “president of the glee club”.
“Food’s on the table,” Weed’s mom hollered from the front porch, just as we finished tightening the last bolt. “You better come get it before it gets cold.”
Weed was covered head to toe in six different shades of grease and rust, and my hands were completely black so he headed to the upstairs bathroom for a quick shower while I tried to scrub my hands clean in the kitchen sink.
“So you’ve been having a few issues lately?” Weed’s mom asked, as I dried my still stained hands.
“Weed tell you that?”
“You know he wouldn’t break your confidence unless it was life or death, and even then I’m not sure he would. But he didn’t have to; I’ve known you since before you could walk. I can tell when something’s not quite right.”
“It’s nothing, just typical teenager stuff,” I lied.
“So problems with Shawna?”
I froze, not quite sure how to respond.
“I’ve seen the two of you growing up together. It was only a matter of time…”
“Maybe a little to do with her, but honestly, it’s nothing, really.”
“Okay,” she said, turning back to the stove, “Just remember that I’m always here if you need a female perspective on anything.”
“It smells great,” Weed said, sliding down the staircase railing. I couldn’t tell if he just had impeccable timing, or if he’d been waiting for us to finish our little conversation.
Weed’s mom set down a platter of crispy fried chicken right in the center of the table, followed by bowls of mashed potatoes and coleslaw. My mouth was watering before I even finished filling my plate.
“So you boys have plans after dinner?”
“Not really,” Weed replied. “Maybe just watch a movie or two.”
“Two single, teenage boys are going to stay in on a saturday night? Are you both feeling ill?”
Weed and I just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.
“I hear there might be something going on at the old Johnston place,” she continued.
Weed and I both stopped mid bite. I’m not sure if we were more surprised that she knew about that party, or that we didn’t.
“We’ll think about it,” Weed said, before shoveling some more food into his mouth. I followed suit.
Our silence seemed to work, as his mom didn’t push us about going out anymore and for that I was thankful. But after dinner we headed up to Weed’s room to watch a movie, only none of them really sounded good.
“She’s right, you know,” Weed said as he cracked the window and lit a cigarette.
“I know she’s right, but I wasn’t going to tell her that.”
“And how did she know about the party at the Johnston place and we didn’t?”
“She’s your mom, you tell me.”
“We are two young, veral guys. We shouldn’t be holed up in a room watching movies on a Saturday night.”
“So you’re wanting to go out to the Johnston place?”
“Of course not,” he replied. “If my mom knows about it then how good could it possibly be?”
“Good enough for us to not get an invite?”
He just ignored me.
“And if she knows about it, then other parents have to know about it, so it’ll be broken up before it gets really good,” he said, plopping down beside the open window and lighting up a cigarette.
He did kinda have a point. And besides, I wasn’t really in the mood to go to a party. I mean, I wanted something to take my mind off Shawna and everything else that didn’t seem to be going right, but I wasn’t ready to just go get drunk with a lot of people I didn’t really like.
“There’s got to be something worth watching,” I said, thumbing through his movie collection, “or worth doing.”
He had every John Hughes, Chris Columbus and Tarantino movie ever made, but none of them sounded good. We really did need to get out of the house, only I was out of ideas. I was just about to start searching through his secret stash of movies when Weed popped up from his chair.
“What you need is a night of video games.”
“Too bad we don’t have anything but the old atari with one broken controller.”
Weed and I both loved video games but his NES got destroyed one wild night that neither of us remember very well. We’d talked about each of us chipping in to replace it, but Sony and Nintendo had both released amazing new game consoles so we decided to save our cash for one of them, only we couldn’t decide which. Weed was a major Nintendo fanboy so he wanted to go that direction but Sony’s system was much more high tech, so I was leaning that way.
“I’m not saying we should break out the atari,” he said, “I’m saying we should hit up the Rock ‘n Bowl.”
On Friday and Saturdays a local bowling alley would turn down the lights and crank up the music. For 5 bucks you could bowl all night and play every video game in the arcade for free. Rock ‘n Bowl had been a tradition of ours for a couple years, but eventually everyone within a fifty mile radius seemed to find out about it. In no time it became overcrowded and overpriced. We hadn’t been in over a year.
“So what do you say?”
I thought about it for a minute, and it did seem like a better idea than just sitting around his room until we fell asleep, but I still wasn’t sure.
“Come on, man,” Weed said. “We need a night out and who knows, maybe everyone’s forgotten about it by now.”
With his pathetic grin, and puppy dog eyes, I couldn’t say no any longer.
“Fine, we’ll give it a shot but just for a little while.”
“Mom, we’re going out!” he yelled as soon as the words had left my mouth. Instantly I knew I was going to regret it.