The morning sun glistened on my skinny white frame. Shirtless with droplets of sweat. The smell of morning dew and cow shit that was spread on the surrounding cornfields. Polyurethane wheels carried me up and down a janky halfpipe. The backdrop was a rural park where skateboarding street rats would hang. Impulsive kids who would fight and fuck. Last night we railed pills off park picnic tables and smoked ourselves useless. A young family sat on the benches where we ran from the cops just a few hours ago.
The only one at the park was me and Knuckles. The park never filled up until later in the afternoon during the long days of the hot summer. A good time to perfect the tricks before the distraction of friends and floozy skater girls infilled the park. Days of smokin’ GPC cigs and reckless self-destructiveness.
Knuckles was always at the park. All hours of the day and night. He was short and blonde. Didn’t go to high school. Was hardened at an early age by the time he served. Institutionalized in junior high at a three year stint in a juvenile facility.
When Knuckles was in the seventh grade he stole a teachers car for a hot ride. Caught three years and disappeared into the system. Gone and forgotten. A degenerate lost into the system. His little brother was all that was left. Less impulsive but a skate rat like the rest of us. Was smoking and drinking at 12. One of the best skaters around.
That summer Knuckles was released.
Knuckles came from a hard to do family. Single hot blonde mom who slept around at the local bars. His dad was either dead or in prison — it depended on how Knuckles was feeling that day. He’d always ask if he could drive my car. I never let him. He would have taken off down the road and try to sell it to his car guy. That kleptomaniac mindset never changed — Knuckles is currently facing life in prison for armed robbery, grand theft auto and recently caught another charge behind bars for concealing a shank.
After skating through the morning we decided to head to a gas station down the road to shoplift some beers. It was an easy target. All the local rejects would pull the same stint. Send someone in to buy cigarettes and when the clerk had their back to the store the shoplifter would load up on hot merchandise. Stuff their skinny jeans filled with tall boys and walk out of the store with confidence. Given the lack of cameras and the “they don’t pay me enough to care” attitude of the clerks, none of us ever got caught. After the stint we hopped back in my “fall apart” blue car to an abandoned parking lot.
The parking lot was cracked and worn. Yellow paint chips were all that was left. Rusted guard rails and half pints of vodka littered the ground. A tattoo shop was south of us and Subway, the only fast food joint in town, was to the west of us. The east side of a Legion Hall where the veterans of foreign wars smoked, drank and gambled their miseries away. And to the north was the rental slum houses.
We drank the cold ones in my car while smoking cigarettes. Drag, flick, chug. Look around to make sure the pigs weren’t around then repeat. Flick, flick, flick, drag, chug.
While we were drinking, Knuckles started to tell me about his boy who had peyote for sale. I’ve always wanted to try it and told him I’d buy some. Ironically the dealer lived across the street from the abandoned parking lot where the slum rentals were.
The dealer lived in a duplex on the top floor. One of those downtown houses you knew was no good. Poverty and broken families. White trash renegades. A stench that smelled like mold, stale booze and cheap GPC cigarettes. It looked as bad as it smelt.
A shady man in a wife-beater, scraggly beard and Busch Light in his hand opened the door.
“What’s going on Knuckles? Come in come in, hurry.”
The small apartment was littered with empty beer cans. Busch Light, the crown jewel of a drunken hillbilly. Filled ashtrays were the centerpieces to the beaten coffee table. White Trash Rob, a high school drop out, sat on a brown couch with holes in it as he rolled a joint.
“What can I do you for?” the man with the white beater said as he cooked up something brown on a dirty stove top.
“You got any mescaline?” Knuckles said.
“That’s what I’m making up here,” the man said. “Let me hit that joint Rob.”
We passed around the joint and smoked. Old Mexican dirt weed. It came in bricks and was filled with sticks and stems. Way before hydroponics and the infamous “white widow”.
After the joint was roached I pulled out my wallet and bought $50 bucks worth of mescaline. The dirty man in the wife beater bagged it up and we bounced. Headed back into the summer sun onwards to the sweat of the skatepark.
The skatepark was busy when we got there. Skate rats everywhere. The sun beat down on the roof of my metal car. Knuckles and I both stared at the baggy of peyote in my dash. It was the day before smartphones and the constant touch of the internet at your finger tips. We had no way to know what to do with it so we smoked it — a rookie mistake.
It tasted like shit. Burned up and gone. Black into our lungs and out as tar. Instant headache and constant coughing. Then it was gone. Our heads raced. I looked in my rearview mirror to see if I was dilating. Nothing.
“Fuck it, lets skate.”
The rest of the afternoon we skated. Threw ourselves off ramps and hit the rails. Tried to impress the chicks with our shit tricks. Smoked more cigarettes and pounded Arnold Palmer tea.
We both felt some effects of the mescaline, but it wasn’t much. Light heads and goosebumps. A headrush without the hallucinations or euphoria. “We should have eaten it,” we both said to each other.
The day turned to the afternoon and the afternoon turned to the evening. My good friend Jelly showed up with my brother and told me about a party happening in the woods. He already had his mom pick up a 30 racker’ of Red Dog.
“Desmond Fest,” Jelly said. “Let’s go watch some death metal and get fucked up.”
I told him I’d be there. The peyote trip was a disappointment and I was ready to get loaded. I hopped in my car and flew down the road. Turned on the red dirt road my parents lived and cranked the music.
The sun was just now beginning to set behind the golden cornfields. Crickets and frogs were singing their last song before the owls began to hoot. It was humid and wet. My skinny jeans were dirty from hours of skating. A new sunburn began to appear on my arms. Red pain. I looked out into the endless cornfield and saw 20 deer. When I turned my eyes back to the road I screamed and slammed on the breaks.
“MOTHER FUCKER!” I yelled.
A white and black cow was standing the middle of the road.
“Fucking peyote,” I said. “Fucking peyote.”
The cow moved out of the way and I went onward. Onward into the night.