Adam held up the baggie in front my face; the two candy-like pieces of Ecstasy smiled at me from one corner.
"Want to take it now or later?" he asked.
I'd been lying around in my room all day, guarding my book bag with the drugs in the side pocket. I'd disguised the baggie by wrapping it up in an old bandanna and I didn't think the Dick would come snooping around, but he did go in my room before, and better safe than sorry.
I was anxious to get on with this.
"If we take it now," Adam said, "we probably can't go anywhere. I don't want to drive on it."
We were at Adam's house, in Adam's room again. His parents were home, but he said they were going to leave. They were going out and running around getting ready; I didn't even see them when Adam let me in. I heard his mom, the click of her heels on the kitchen floor. We're going to be late! she was yelling at Adam's dad. The energy here was so different from my place, the way it was lately. Here at Adam’s we had places to be, drugs to do.
“There’s always the bus,” I said. I could still hear Adam’s parents in the hall.
“Okay, then. Let’s take it now. We can even leave before we peak. If you want."
“Where are we going?"
Adam shrugged. "Where ever we want."
That seemed fair. Despite evidence to the contrary, I still figured Adam knew more about Ecstasy than I did.
Adam's parents were calling out their good-byes like they didn't expect an answer; I heard a door slam shut.
"Here." Adam dipped his hand into the bag. He handed me one the pills; I stared down at its engraved happy face. “Go ahead,” he said, picking up a glass of water from his dresser.
I watched Adam and mirrored him, popping the pill in my mouth. It tasted nothing like candy and I tried not to make a face. Adam passed me the water and I swallowed hard. I watched Adam swallow his pill, then we sat there in silence. It was weird not to hear his folks making noise in the other rooms.
"How long does it take to work?" I asked.
"Half hour or so?" He looked to the clock on his nightstand. "It's only six now."
"Hey, we could crash the Homecoming dance," I said.
Adam grinned. "Yeah, right. Let's do that.”
"Can we watch TV? While we're waiting for it to kick in."
Adam shrugged. "Okay."
"Your parents aren't coming back?"
"Not until late. They're going to some play," Adam said. "Or maybe they're going to the symphony. I can't remember."
We were alone; the night was ours.
We were halfway through an episode of Mythbusters when I started to feel a little funny. Or maybe I was just anxious from sitting there, waiting. A couple more minutes in, I caught myself looking cross-eyed at the screen. The shot opened up on a desert and I was sure the picture had become sharper, like I was looking through a window instead of a screen and I could feel the texture of the sand and curling intricacies of each tumbleweed without even reaching out a hand. With a start, I realized that Adam's living room had taken on the same sharp hyperrealism. I turned to Adam and he smiled, a dazzling grin.
"Are you coming up?" he asked.
I thought I might have beenI kidding myself over the visual shift and the warm, buzzing feeling in my stomach, but when I found myself mesmerized by Adam's teeth, I knew it was the drug, That made me happy—I could feel my mouth stretching wide around my own smile.
I nodded. "It's just really…wow, huh?"
If that sounded stupid to Adam, he let it slide. "It's great," he said.
The anxious feeling in my stomach let up a little when I talked to Adam, looked at Adam. Adam was right there with me on this. We were in this together; I could just take a few deep breaths and I'd be fine. I was so glad Adam was there.
I pressed my lips together to keep from gushing about it, but then I thought, so what if I tell him? So what?
"I'm so glad we're hanging out now," I said. "You're so cool. You're like my best friend now."
"I know, man." Adam bobbed his head. He sounded very sincere. "I know what you mean."
"I can't believe we never hung out before this year!" I said. I felt so warm inside, I wanted him to know this stuff, know just what I was feeling. "You're just such a great person and I'm so happy we're friends. Like, really happy."
"Me too," Adam said, and that couldn't have made me happier. He was grinning again and he looked great to me. Really nice, with his big smile."You're awesome too, Dillon. Everything's awesome!"
Everything was awesome! We sat there on the couch for I don't know how long, telling each other how much we liked each other, and it was great. I'd never felt this open and relaxed around Adam, around anyone maybe. It was totally okay that I was telling him all this stuff because he was thinking it too, it was already in his head. I could say whatever I wanted and he would understand. I felt invincible, happier than I could ever remember being.
"We should do something!" Adam said suddenly, standing up. He looked down at his feet immediately. He wasn't wearing shoes and I laughed. He laughed too and did a little hop dance. "Standing up feels good!" he said.
"What could we do?" I asked him. I drew my knees up towards my chest. I was really comfortable on the couch.
"We could take the bus somewhere. Like you said!"
I cracked up. I was way too high to take the bus.
"Oh my god!" An idea hit me all of a sudden. A great idea. "We should call Stacey!"
"Oh my god!" Adam sounded exactly like me. "Yes! I have his number!" He reached in his pocket and pulled out a phone. I spread my fingers out on my knees, worried some of the threads from the rips in my jeans. The cotton was so soft between my fingers; I couldn't get enough of that.
Adam pressed the phone to his ear. "It's ringing!" He spun around in a little circle. A commercial for some food or some restaurant spun around the screen behind him. "Stacey? Hi, Stacey! It's Adam and Dillon!"
I liked that he included me.
"We're at my place! Yeah, my house! It's in the suburbs. It's really nice here!" Adam might have been babbling, but he sounded more coherent than I felt, so I just played with my jeans and watched TV around Adam's body.
Suddenly, Adam was pushing his phone into my hands. "You want to say hi, right?" he said. How did he know? That was totally what I wanted. I had to tell Stacey how much I liked him. He patiently listened until I ran out of steam.
"You guys are so cute," he said. "You are totally rolling."
"Where are you, Stacey?" I was hoping the answer was nearby.
"I'm going to Pizza Palace," Stacey said, "to meet some people. You guys want to come? If you're not too far away, I could pick you up."
My mouth dropped open. I couldn't believe our luck. "You could pick us up?"
"Well, I'm going to need an address at least," Stacey said, laughing.
"You're the best!" I chirped. "Here, talk to Adam again. He'll tell you where we are." I passed off the phone, very excited about this plan. I could take or leave Pizza Palace, but I couldn't wait to see Stacey.
" Stacey's coming over!" I told Adam when he hung up, like he hadn't just been talking to Stacey himself. "He's going to pick us up and take us to pizza."
"Let's go outside and wait for him," Adam said. Adam was really into this getting up off the couch and doing something idea. He bounced up and down on the balls of his feet. "Come on!"
I expected my body would feel impossibly heavy when I was trying to get up, like it did on the Vicodin. But this wasn't like the Vicodin. I stood up fine and Adam started leading me toward the door. Walking felt amazing, like I'd been doing it wrong my entire life. Easy, like I was walking in a dream. I could see why this drug made people dance.
Adam opened the front door and I shivered at the draft,. I pushed my sweatshirt sleeves down from my elbows, pulled the cuffs over my fingertips, and followed him to the front stoop. The night air was cool but it felt nice, more alive than the air of Adam's living room.
Adam settled down onto a step, laughing to himself about something.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing," he said. He was staring off at one of the porch lights. Each one pulsed with an amber halo. He looked at me and, this time, we both laughed. It felt good to laugh. This was the best drug.
"Hey, give me your hand," Adam said, holding out his. I looked down at the lines of his open palm. I held out my own hand wordlessly and he grabbed it.
"Your hands are so cold!" I said.
"They don't feel cold," he said. Adam started rubbing his thumbs into the palm of my hand. "Does that feel good?" he asked. It totally did. I'd never felt anything like it before. I didn't want him to stop.
"You are really good at that!" I told him.
He laughed again, but didn't stop rubbing my palm. "You're just high."
"You're high too!" I said, not quietly. Adam lifted a finger to his lips. Shhh! He was trying so hard to keep a straight face.
Before I could change my mind, I reached out with my free hand and ran it along Adam's cheek. I could feel the whole topography of his face, the roughness of the stubble along his jaw. I imagined I could feel his pulse, the breathing of his skin. His skin felt very warm and real. He laughed and leaned his face into my touch.
"See!" I said, like I'd proved something.
"Do it again!" said Adam.
So I petted Adam's face like he was a cat, and he gave me a hand massage and we sat there waiting for Stacey. Two cars passed and we waved at both of them. I felt so open and friendly. I thought, there were so many awesome people out there. I thought of Teek, and Stacey, and my brother. My brother was amazing! He was true old-school cool, unflappable. And he was killer with that guitar. It was so unfair that I had to wait so long to get to know him, but that didn't matter now. We were together again. I had the urge to call him and tell him how much I liked him, before remembering my cell phone was out of commission. I consoled myself by letting Adam massage my hand some more. It was so nice, out here on the steps.
We were sitting like that when a red compact pulled up. I knew it was Stacey; it was definitely a Stacey-car. The horn sounded and we jumped to our feet, waving with unmatched enthusiasm. Adam still had my hand so I laced my fingers with his and we pulled each other over towards the car. The driver's side window rolled open.
"Oh my God," said Stacey. "You guys are so fucking adorable, you are going to kill me."
"Don't die, Stacey!" Adam said; he was trying hard not to laugh. "We'd miss you!"
"Then get in the car!" said Stacey. "I'm late!"
"Do you want shotgun?" I asked Adam.
"You can have it," Adam said. That was so nice of him. I was glad we were friends.
"Thanks!" I said. We walked around to the passenger side; he didn't let go of my hand. He was running his thumb along my palm, and I didn't want to let go either. But we had to get in the car. I looked down at our intertwined finger. "It's okay," I said. And I let go and gave him a hug. He hugged me back and it felt so nice that for a second, I forgot about Stacey. When was the last time I hugged someone? I thought. I should hug people all the time.
"Get in the car already!" Stacey said. He was cracking up. We were the funniest.
Up next Thursday, Chapter 23: Pizza Palace.