One Last Night at the Incinerator

They all agreed that smashing the bong was the only thing to do. 

The night before their college graduation they went out and broke the four-foot bong, the big son of a bitch that Trav bought at the beginning of sophomore year, back when they were living in the dorms and had some time to kill before their lives really got started. A bunch of them christened it that first afternoon. The sun came through the room’s one window, fighting to make its way past the box fan that was wedged in there, a universal sign that something nefarious was afoot.

The next year it moved off campus with Trav and then to another undisclosed location, still never particularly well-hidden. It was admittedly a hard thing to hide, at one point stashing it behind a trash can with a sombrero sitting on top got the job done. Not their best work, but serviceable nonetheless. During their senior year it again was on the move before finally ending up in 2000’s apartment. As the days to graduation got closer, something would need to be done with it and no one was eager to claim it.

And then the bong was broken, smashed over a big, pointed rock out by the incinerator where all the drugs took place way back when and the keg was stashed on the night they all got seriously rocked for the first time, jaws jittering and hands violently rubbing together trying to just keep busy and keep warm. That amazing idea of just getting so torn up and well…well when the bong was smashed it definitely seemed like a sign that things were changing, either naturally or unnaturally. This group of friends who came together four years prior and some who had joined up along the way were set to go their separate ways. They were moving on. It happens and it would happen again. They were old enough to realize that nothing stays the same forever.

Rubber, still so sly and still so quick after all these fun years of jam-packed madness, grabbed the slide from the bong right before 2000 slung it over his shoulder. The move surprised no one. Rubber put the slide in his shorts pocket. 

 2000 looked at him.

“I don’t care what you say, 2K” Rubber said. “But that’d be a waste.”

“True.”

Then they said goodbye. 

The bong broke in two and that was it. That was that. They turned and left, slouched and shimmied into places that would hide their future with their past. As they came out of the woods and onto the Loop Road, the bright lights of the newly built residence hall blinded them. It was all changing around them. The time to leave was upon them, for better or worse. Nothing stays the same forever, kid. From there they splintered off into different directions. It was the end. That was that.

2000 woke up early the next morning, somewhat groggy but no more than usual. Hanging on the rickety bookcase was the tie his father had tied for him the day before. 

It was a hot Baltimore day. The black robes they were all wearing made 2000 wish he had worn a t-shirt and shorts like he had said he would all along. That was cute, but when 2000 told his mother this, she looked absolutely disgusted and told him that it was a no-go. A NO GO! 2000 laughed, Dad laughed. But Mom rules so 2000 wore a tie. It was navy blue and had tiny green whales on it.

2000, wearing a tie and a shirt with long sleeves and pants and shoes that weren’t flip flops, went on and sat there in the sun. The graduation got underway and he found himself getting teary-eyed only once. The school’s President had everyone stand up and thank their parents by clapping for them. 2000 turned and saw his little mom and big, tall dad and proceeded to get a little teary-eyed because this was something for them and it was all nothing compared to that. They looked so proud and well, after that 2000 just kind of zoned out.

Later on, 2000 high-fived the school’s President when he handed him his diploma because it felt right and up on the hill, Big and Sam sat with The Socialist. The poor lad had been effectively screwed by the system regarding some crazy shit involving library books or movies that were never returned. And no doubt that given The Socialist’s general nature and uncivilized overall disorder that was his life he had probably lost whatever it was they were looking for and there was a damn good chance that whatever was lost would stay lost. But it still didn’t seem to be a very good reason not to let him walk with everyone else. The Socialist was a fixture in their class, someone they always assumed would be dressed the same as everyone else when all this good fun was over. But the bullshit took that away as bullshit is so often prone to do.

2000 and The Socialist had roomed with each other during freshman orientation, during the run-ins, shenanigans, and the Styrofoam coolers of beer. Their friendship had been a quick start. 

Once everything was over, the two old friends ran into each other as everyone was standing around looking for someone to hug or shake hands with. It was uncomfortable and they both knew it. They made plans to meet up later. Grab a beer or something like that.

It would be the last time 2000 would see him.

Two days later 2000 finished packing the rest of his stuff in the small rental truck that had been his graduation gift from his parents. With everything packed, he looked at the truck and then at his parents.

He was right.

There was no way he would have been able to bring the bong with him.

And then it all ended.



Categories: Fiction

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