Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Jeff started telling me weird things about Dave.

“Dude, he’s like, psychic.”

“What do you mean?”

“He knew all about my dad. He knew about his cancer. He told me about it in the woods.”

“He knew about it?”

“He told me about it. Like he knew. He knew what type it was. He knew it was stage four pancreatic cancer.”

“Without you telling him?”

“No, without me fucking telling him. Of course not.”

“Then how did he know?”

“Dude, dude, dude, I just told you. He’s psychic.”

“He told you about it in the woods?”

“Yeah, we went out in the woods on Friday night. We made a fire. He was like, ‘I can tell something’s up with you. Something with your dad.’”

“You were in the woods and you made a fire?”

“Yeah. Out back. Near the airport.”

It was not unusual for us to hang out in the woods. Especially not to get high. Normally we didn’t go out at night though. And didn’t make fires. The fire seemed to make some kind of difference in the story. Flames illuminating faces.

“You guys got high?”

“Yeah, fuck. Shit, Jesus. Of course we got high. We were fucking baked. Dave had the most amazing weed.”

“And he didn’t know about your dad?”

“He didn’t! I mean, I didn’t tell him. There’s no way he would know. But dude, he fuckin’ told me. It was fuckin’ spooky, man. It’s like he knows shit.”

“Wow, that’s weird.”

“Yeah, and plus he did some other shit that was amazing too.”

“What other shit?”

Jeff widened his eyes. “Like I-can’t-even-tell-you-type crazy-ass shit, man.”

Dave was slightly older. He was a new kid at Jeff’s school, moved there for this or that reason. Parents split up, Mom moved to Chaplin of all goddamned places. Or maybe Dad did. Or maybe they both did. Who knows. Why does someone appear in the middle of the school year in a backwoods town in Northeastern Connecticut? Least of all someone like Dave?

I didn’t go to their school. I just hung out with Jeff on account of playing guitar. We had the same teacher and he told us we should get together, since we could both play just about as good. So we did. And we smoked cigarettes. And we smoked pot. We bought cigarettes from the machine at the diner on Route 89. We drank beer. Out on the dyke by the airport. Then we’d go to his place and play Grateful Dead tunes on two electric guitars, recording into a portable cassette player. Anyway, Dave moved into town.

One day soon before Dave disappeared for good, without a warning or a trace, the three of us were hanging out. Dave was a tall guy, short hair. He seemed more relaxed than any other kids I knew. Like he’d already done shit, like maybe had some jobs. Maybe had a kid or something. Definitely been laid.

We went out on the dyke one night and got high as hell, then we went back to Jeff’s house to watch TV. We were goddamned hungry. We made spaghetti.

“Lemme show you how to make the sauce,” Dave said.

I didn’t really understand what the fuck he was talking about. Sauce came out of a jar like it always does.

“What do you mean, make the sauce?” I asked.

“You gotta doctor it, man. You gotta doctor it.”

I nodded stupidly as he found a jar of oregano in the spice rack.

“Watch me,” he said, and I did as I was told.

Dave unscrewed the entire top of the shaker so there was just one fucking big hole there, not the screen with all the little holes.

“You see what I’m fuckin’ doin’?” he asked. Then he proceeded to pour a good fucking tablespoon of oregano into the sauce. The dry, dusty flakes, sitting in clumps now on the glistening, bubbling surface of the Aunt Millie’s. I was astounded.

“Wow,” I said.

“You think that’s enough?” he asked, tauntingly.


Immediately he shook out the same amount again.

“Wow,” I repeated. My hunger. My twisted mind. My numb and stricken mind. Ravenous like an animal. Terrified like one too.

“You think that’s too much fucking oregano for this fucking sauce, Pat?” he demanded. It sounded like a threat.

“I dunno. Yeah. It’s kind of a lot.”

He calmly, deliberately shook in some more. Till half the jar was gone. The entire surface of the crimson liquid was now covered, just about.

That’s enough,” Dave said. He put the lid back on and placed the jar back on the rack.

Then he stirred his concoction a few times and pronounced it done. We poured it on the spaghetti and ate in front of the TV. It tasted pretty good. I was so high anyway. I don’t know. “2001: A Space Odyssey” was on. The apes had just discovered the monolith and were going batshit crazy. I looked over to see Dave gazing at the screen, its light reflected in his eyes. He lifted his fork up to his mouth and ate like anybody does. Like an animal.