Shoulda Known Better


A week and a half had gone by since the bike incident and its safe to assume that I made absolutely no effort whatsoever to leave the house. I mean, don’t get me wrong I walked down the block for food so that I wouldn’t starve. But, I’ll sure as hell be damned if I was going to make another excursion from my lair anytime soon.

I spent the majority of my time researching more articles for my dissertation. It was busy work, and it definitely helped to keep my mind off of Zack and the fool I made of myself in front of him. I honestly didn’t want to reopen that can of worms any time soon. I found myself grimacing every time that memory eased its way back into my mind.

Despite my distractions with my graduate work, I had managed to contact my mother and let her know that I would be in town for quite a few months. As expected, I received an earful on not informing her sooner. I decided to leave out the part about me already being home for two weeks before I got around to calling her. She would have had a fucking conniption.

Unfortunately, for me, I was guilt tripped into spending some time with her and had reluctantly agreed to a “home cooked meal with mom” this evening. I was currently gathering my stuff in anticipation of her picking me up. You know, seeing as how my bike is out of commission. Not to mention the fact that I’ve recently developed an unhealthy fear of riding my bicycle around Huntington Beach.

A little before two o’clock I thought I heard the faint beeping of a car outside, and I quickly assumed it was my mother alerting me to her presence. So, I picked up my purse and opened the front door to leave when I unceremoniously ran into another body.

“I’m sorry I thought you’d be waiting in the ca-“ I didn’t get to finish my sentence because it wasn’t my mother at the door like I had quickly assumed. Instead, I was greeted by a short red mohawk with Johnny’s face attached. “Hi?”

“Hey Evangeline!” he greeted, patting me on the shoulder. “I was in the neighborhood and figured I’d make sure I didn’t kill you after all!” His tone was far too excited and woke me from my solitary coma.

I shook my head a couple times and gestured to myself. “Perfectly fine. No worries, I’m great.” I offered him a small smile for good measure.

He shifted his feet back and forth and ran a hand through his mohawk. “I’m glad to hear that” he chuckled, slightly uncomfortable. “Listen I’ve still felt bad about the whole ordeal and I know you weren’t feeling well the other day but I was wondering if maybe I can still get you that cup of coffee?”

I opened my mouth to let him know I already had plans but I was cut off by my mother’s car beeping as she pulled into my driveway. Both Johnny and I looked over to her before turning back to each other. “I would love to Johnny, but I actually have plans with my mother right now.”

A wave of disappointment swept through his features before he shrugged. “I’ll take a rain check. I don’t mind.”

A genuine smile graced my lips as I realized how kind this man actually was. He had run me over, yes, but he still took the time to cart me around and deal with my sick ass when I was puking all over his friend’s car. What a trooper. I decided I could do with some human interaction from a guy like Johnny.

I smiled once again at him and nodded, while digging through my purse for a pen. When I found one, I clicked it open, grabbed Johnny’s hand and scrawled my number across his skin. “Give me a little heads up next time.” I warned, “But, then again, I’m free indefinitely.”

He chuckled a bit at me before we both made our way from my porch and into my driveway. I gave him a short goodbye and a wave before heading in the direction of my mother’s car and him to his own Mercedes.

When I got into the car and closed the door, I turned to give my mother some type of hug and instead was cut off by her questioning, “Who was that?”

Her eyes were set on Johnny, just finally getting into his car. I followed her gaze casually, then immediately knew where her mind was headed. I shook my head vehemently. “No, I know what you’re thinking, Mom. He’s just an acquaintance. Nothing more.”

Her lips pulled into a tight frown as she looked over me for the first time in six years. “I should hope not.” She responded, indignantly.

Without another word the two of us were off towards her house. The car ride, which I had assumed would be filled with questions on my life, school, and personal relationships, was instead, disappointingly filled with simple silence. My mother had never been a big talker, a trait I inherited from her. But, I was at least expecting her to show some kind of emotion over her only child returning home after six years. I swallowed down the lump of disappointment forming in my throat and pretended as if nothing was wrong. It was something I was great at doing.

After a few more minutes of silence, I finally broke it by asking, “What’s for dinner?”

I saw her adjust her sunglasses out of the corner my eye before replying. “I ordered in some pasta and pizza from that little Italian place down the road you were always so fond of. I didn’t really have time to prepare a meal. I hardly ever do, you know that Evangeline, dear.”

I exhaled, knowing full well exactly what she was talking about. The majority of my childhood meals consisted of take-out and to-go packages from restaurants all around town. My mother never had time to cook, or she never wanted to cook. I was never fully certain of which. All I knew was that I spent a hell of a lot of time in high school smoking a fat bowl and then ordering pizza from Jennie’s Trattoria, the place my mother was referring to. It was by far my most dedicated hobby.

Oh, marijuana. Just the thought of weed had my mouth watering. I had spent the past two weeks without any form of smoking weed, which was saying a lot for me. I smoked almost every day in Massachusetts. There was something about it that just calmed me down like nothing else could. I wondered if I could still hit up my dealer from high school and see if he was still selling.

Without hesitation I whipped out my phone and began scrolling through my contacts for that familiar DD number. Once I found ‘DD Tom’ in my phone, I quickly typed a short message reminding him who I was and asking if he still had something I could pick up.

It only took a minute before I received the reply of ‘Hell yeah, Eva! Where, when & how much?’

I gave him my mom’s address and asked him if he could bring by an eighth within the hour. His response was positive and I was absolutely giddy that I would not only be getting my favorite pizza tonight, but weed from my favorite drug dealer as well.

Before I knew it we were pulling into Jennie’s parking lot. “I’ll get the food. Just wait here.” My mother ordered, before slamming the door behind her.

Either she had gotten a lot more agitated over the years or I had forgotten exactly how cold my mother truly was. It didn’t matter though because I was sure she would get distracted some how and I would have a moment to smoke before my mom even remembered that we were supposed to eat with each other.

Just as I had guessed, the minute we got to my old home, her phone began ringing off the hook. She shoved the take-out boxes in my hands and walked down the hall without another word to me. I let out a huff as I watched her form retreating.

I walked into the kitchen with wide-eyes. It had been six years since I last stepped foot in this house. Nothing had changed but somehow it didn’t even feel like my house anymore. Everything just felt so foreign, like I was stuck inside a shell of my old, discarded life.

I hitched myself up on to the granite counter top, pushing away the flash of recognition of the last time I had done that, and dug into the box of pizza next to me. But before I even got the slice past my lips, my phone started going off, flashing ‘DD Tom’.

I walked back out the front door, casually noticing the sound of my mother shouting upstairs on the phone as I moved past the staircase. When I stepped off my porch, I immediately recognized Tom behind the wheel of his beat up Oldsmobile.

“Hey, Tom!” I greeted, as I opened up his passenger side door. I slipped in beside him and gave him one of those manly, drug dealer handshakes. You know what I’m talking about; when the dude passes you the eighth at the same moment you slip him his cash. Ah, I didn’t even realize I had missed my old friend until that moment.

“What’s good, Eva?” he smiled, going in for an actual hug this time. I gave him the best hug I could muster while awkwardly sitting in a car. “I haven’t seen you in a hot minute.”

I nodded, tucking some of my hair behind my ear. “Yeah, I’ve been up at school for the past six years. Haven’t had any chances to get back to California until now. How are you?”

He shrugged, not offering up much information. “Same old, same old.”

He didn’t have to say much more than that. I knew exactly what he was up too. I was about to shove the eighth in my pocket when I turned to him and asked, “Do you possibly have any papers I can bum? I have nothing here with me and there’s a pizza calling my name inside.” I sent a sheepish grin in his direction.

In a flash he whipped out a package of papers from his pockets, saying, “I got you. I got you. Here give me some nugs, I grind it up and roll it for you special. You know, like a welcome home present or something.”

Without another word, I handed over a decent sized nugget and watched his fingers gracefully roll it up into one of those ridiculously thin papers. I could hear the very faint sounds of Sublime playing off his stereo. Honest to god, the first thing that came to mind while I was watching him roll was how comfortable I was in this moment, in this car, with some of my favorite music and an old friend.

I must have zoned out because before I knew it Tom had shoved the jay in front of my nose. “Wakey, wakey. Time to bakey, Eva.” He smirked, handing over the gem of a joint. Seriously though, it was perfect.

I chuckled a bit. I was about to turn and asked him if he wanted to smoke it with me, but his phone started buzzing and I knew that was a sign that he had to leave. “Work?” I asked, knowing the answer already. He nodded, dejectedly.

“Yeah, but you should definitely hit me up sometime again. We can smoke together then.” I flashed him one last genuine smile before exiting his Oldsmobile.

Without hesitation, I made my way up to the steps on my front porch and pulled a lighter out from inside my pocket. I listened for the sound of my mother’s voice still talking on the phone. When her one-sided conversation was confirmed, I sparked the jay and took a tremendously long inhale. I exhaled the remaining smoke from my lungs a few seconds later with ease. I could instantly feel the effects of the THC running through my body. And all at once my body felt calm.

The sound of leaves crunching startled me from my hazy relaxation, and I looked to my left to see someone exiting my neighbor’s house. My stomach immediately dropped, the fleeting elation I had just experienced completely gone, when I recognized just who exactly it was that was leaving the neighbor’s house.


No! No! No!

Snapping my attention back to the jay in my hands I attempted to ignore the shuffling of Zack making his way to a car I could only assume was his. If I didn’t make any sort of sudden movements, I was positive he wouldn’t notice me.

Slowly but surely, with my eyes intently focused on the jay in front of me, I raised my thumb and forefinger to my lips and pulled on the small wrap of paper. Instinctually, my eyes closed with the sensation of smoke hitting my lungs. When I opened them again, I nearly jumped out of my shorts. Zack was standing by the border of his parent’s yard and mine, staring at me. His expression was questioning, as if he was trying to piece together a puzzle.

Full terror, that's all I felt. I knew he would recognize me. How could he not after the stunt I pulled last week? He would know, and he would remember. I just prayed to god he wouldn't bring up six years ago.

I don't know if it was seconds, or minutes, or hours but I couldn’t break my gaze from his as I watched him try to figure me out. Finally, I decided to give the guy a small nod of the head, because honestly, I wasn’t sure of what the fuck else I could do in that moment.

Zack approached my porch step slowly, adding a bundle of nerves to stomach each time his foot hit the ground. After what felt like an eternity, he was right in front of where I was sitting, looking down at me with those green eyes.

I thought I had melted all over again.

But, I hadn’t. He was standing right there, two feet away from me, yet again. And I was at a loss for words, yet again. Before I could help myself I sputtered out the only thing I could think of,

“Do you want a hit?”
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Seriously, I've got the itch I'm sure.

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