Mark and I sat on the floor in the bathroom.
“It’s aged five years,” I said.
“I have a feeling that I can’t tell,” Mark said.
“It’s Ancient Age, and it’s been aged for five years,” I said.
“I wish there were other words to describe drinking from the bottle,” Mark said. “They’re all taken.”
“Took a pull,” I said.
“Nursed it,” Mark said.
“Hit it,” I said.
“Flooded the grub tube from the fire barrel,” Mark said. “That’s mine.”
We pushed the empty bottle out the window. It hit another bottle resting on the barely sloped roof and made a dim, quick-squelched ding, a recycling center sound, and sat there on the moss, a stunned living room dancer who missed a step and sat down hard on the rug.
Chris stood in front of the set of windows in the living room. He swiveled and the keys on the ring on his belt loop slopped against his thigh. He stood in the middle of the windows, in the middle of the peaked roof, and looked out into the parking lot across the street, intent on the parking lot. Chris would be staying home tonight and playing video games. He would slay countless digital demonic hordes.
“Hey, Chris,” Mark said. “We’re going to steal your car.”
“Were you guys in the bathroom together?” Chris said.
“Mark wanted me to check him,” I said. “You know, like in a physical. A little turning of the head, a little coughing of the throat. I was just being polite.”
“Bye, Chris!” Mark said.
“Bye, tiny little Chris,” I said.
“Don’t touch my car,” Chris said.
“Okay. If you’re still up, I can check you when I get back,” I said.
We would never have taken Chris’s car after drinking. Mark had a car. Mark had a perfectly good car. We got into Mark’s perfectly good Honda Hatchback. I sat there and thought about where we were in the plan.
“Hold on,” I said. “We were going to drive somewhere and then drink, and then not drive anymore. We stated that clearly. We were going to drive out into like a ravine, drink, and then come back to town.”
“So we’re abandoning the plan,” Mark said. “Because we’ve already done the drinking part. So we should drive somewhere now. Because we missed the first bullet point on the plan.”
I looked Mark in the face. His expression made drinking and driving sound fun.
“The plan evolves,” I said. “It’s a living document.”
In the convenience store, we got gum, gum awash with flavor crystals. We each took a handful of gum, the way toddlers take gum, alcohol heavy fingers.
In chapel we both sat in the back, and woke up sweating, to the sound of “and also with you” at the very end of chapel. Jeffery Bonds, towering over us, too old for our class, and too tall to trust, leaned down over us as we shuffled out and said: “Every pore is pouring whiskey stink. Both of you.”
Out on the sidewalk we ran. We ran to the art gallery. We bundled food onto first Friday plates, emptied a glass of wine, and nodded at each of the paintings, as though they were insecure and we were there to affirm them. I worried that I wasn’t nodding quite enough and that the painting could sense it.
“I’m not nodding enough,” I said to Mark.
“I’m counting my nods,” Mark said. And you could see his mouth move slightly when he did.
We could no longer go to the Prospector which had criminal drink prices, which turned out to be actually criminal. Can Norsemen be nebbish? Odin, the guy who ran the Prospector had been a nebbish Norseman. Mark said that he had “big brass, intestines. Guts.” Odin bought all the alcohol, everything, on credit, only took cash, charged next to nothing for well drinks, a dollar twenty-five, let his suppliers start to sweat about the lines of credit, let the mound of cash build up, and then got the hell out.
So we had to go pay two fifty for whiskey cokes, eight dollars for almond chicken.
The dark graded down the sky and we watched it from where we sat on a bench eating almond chicken off of styrofoam, darting occasionally into The Moderate Dog for the whiskey cokes, back outside to smoke.
Mark couldn’t make drinking and driving sound fun anymore. We walked back towards my house, to check in with Chris and see how his campaign against various demonic hordes fared, see if Mark would be able to sleep on the couch.
At some point in the walk we gained a throng. These high school kids, a few of them plenty stoned, were wearing bathrobes.
Mark asked if they’d just gotten out of the shower. A chubby sixteen year-old girl said that she was a wandering ascetic.
“But it isn’t a good look for you, my dears,” Mark said. “It’s not at all aesthetic.”
“Ascetic,” she hissed, like a patristic air hose.
Another chubby sixteen year-old girl said, “I look like Jesus.”
Mark stared at her.
“We need to keep walking,” I said. “Come on,” I said to Mark.
“I don’t know whether or not that’s true,” Mark said. “I want to pray with you.”
“Come on, Mark,” I said.
He pointed a finger at me.
“You are quenching the Holy Spirit,” he said.
“You are drunk,” I said. The throng cheered. The throng then decided to censure the sin of drunkenness and booed and wagged fingers.
“I am drunk and I want to pray,” Mark said.
I stopped and Mark put his hands on the kids in bathrobes and prayed with them. He told the them that he was gathering them to him as a mother hen gathers her chicks. His gathering was chaste and appropriate, and they seemed comforted by the embrace. Mark let them go. They passed on, silent and ascetic.
And we walked to my place, and Mark was overcome with emotion occasionally, and his eyes were wet, and I didn’t say anything and didn’t feel like crying or praying.