On Being Fourteen and Rolling a Drunk
You’re with your pals,
shooting the shit,
trying to get the telephone numbers of
pretty girls walking by. Ignored. Broke and bored.
Fourteen years old, smoking cheap weed
that burns your throat and eyes.
They tell you,
rolling a drunk
It’s a crime of opportunity.
A spur of the moment
kind of thing.
You need to pop
your cherry, they say.
If the opportunity arises and
a drunk stumbles past, well,
there’s the opportunity and
the cash bonus to a
good night out with friends, right?
And then the opportunity does knock.
He’s about your father’s age.
Balding, overweight, dressed like someone
who sells secondhand cars for a living.
He stumbles and trips over twice before he even arrives
at the bus stop you’re all watching him from.
What will haunt you the most is how it starts.
The robbery. It doesn’t come quickly
like you thought it would.
It comes slowly with smiles,
pats on the back and chuckles.
It comes with the brittle façade of kindness.
You stand away from the group observing
the people you thought were your
friends strike up the friendliest
of small talk with
It is as though you’re all old pals.
He could be a friend of your father’s.
A friend of the family.
Maybe he is. You pull the hood of your jacket
over your head.
he’s making some kind of a joke and then
the next the ripples of laughter
into the impacts of fists on flesh.
Like a sudden storm.
It makes you startle. You look around to make sure no one noticed.
You slide your hands into the pockets of your jeans.
You wonder why all the people you’re close to
have the ability to slide from
such uncontrolled violence.
You used to think
it was only your home,
but now you wonder
if it is the whole neighborhood.
You finger the front door key and loose change in your pocket,
feeling like a foreigner in the place you were born.
You stare at them. Your pals,
bloody, gaping face,
the crack of his head on the broken concrete
makes your empty stomach drop
and in the streetlights, you see the dark stain
spreading on the crotch of his slacks.
So much blood stains the ground.
A splash of red on your sneakers,
you’ll notice a day later.
The gasping noises
makes are the sounds of a
small, pathetic animal.
You just watch.
Your gut aches and
you want to go home.
After, they, your buddies, try to give you
of the cash from the piss stained wallet.
You refuse it.
It isn’t even enough for a pack of cigarettes.
They tell you to keep your fucking mouth shut.
Later, you let yourself into your parent’s sleeping apartment,
it smells of what they ate for dinner and a kind of loneliness.
You drink a glass of water over the kitchen sink while
gazing out of the window
at the way the night makes shadows
across the worn-out parking lot.
You feel like the character in a
Later still, you lay on your bed
listening to the echoes and
trying to sleep