By Will Schmidt
I don’t know much about Dennis. I tried addressing him as ‘Denny’ one time and he threatened to cut off my big toe. I like my big toe. So I know I should call him Dennis. But things tend to get real foggy when I try to recall the majority of conversations we’ve had, and the only thing I can really be certain of – besides the whole ‘Dennis’ ‘Denny’ issue – is when we first met.
“You just put the blotter on your tongue.” My eyes burned with excitement. But I can’t see them, so I don’t know for sure. I could feel them though. “Just like – naaaahhhh.” I emphasized the tongue-stick-out-noise. For dramatic effect, always for dramatic effect. That’s what Brus always tells me at least, but he wasn’t around right then. Natalie chuckled, Graham looked kind of apprehensive. He kept swiping his left palm against the blue denim on his right leg. “Just go for it, you really can’t have a bad time.” I smiled. Reassurance, sometimes that’s all people need to jump off the cliff of insanity.
“Bottoms up.”Tthe pair kissed, then stuck their blots on each other’s tongues.
“Aw, so cute you two.” I fluttered my eyelashes for, you bet, dramatic effect. Damn, Brus would have been proud. “Let’s roll one up while we wait.” My hands instinctively crawled to the fresh ounce and zig zags. “Personals!” Cheers with my hands up.
“I swallowed mine.” Her eyes went wide.
“Well, how long has it been?”
“Bout five minutes.” Graham drawled while licking his doobie.
“Nah, you’re cool Nads, don’t sweat it, buuuudd-eeeee.” Pauly Shore, Encino Man status. Once again though, just a bit of reassurance.
Time ticked, time tocked. Lighters clicked, a lot of coughs. After an hour of blowing some serious dro, “It’s going to make things more real…RAW SHIT!” – I was too high maybe – then sun had just hit high noon. The cowboy-duel time of day. The sun rays were pure white, and goddamn warm. Light breeze, too; perfect day. After one-and-one-half hour, things started to get twisted. For Natalie and Graham at least, that is, I knew what to expect. Not to toot my own horn, buuutt, it was my second time.
“My heart feels happy!” Giggle gaggle swiggle swaggle.
“My face hurts from smiling!” Ditto datto bitto batto.
“My brain is Speed Racer’s car!” Fuck the rhyme. So I says, “Give it a bit longer, things will be –”
“Hey, Will, I’m Dennis.” A hand was shoved into my face.
“Things will be what, Will?” Graham wanted the explanation.
“SHH! I’m talking to,” I turned to him, “Dennis was it?”
“Yea, mind if I hang with you guys?”
“Cool by me bruthah.”
Natalie and Graham were too sidetracked by themselves – hands fluttering together – to care at this point. Laughter erupting like volcanoes, eyes flashing wildly, veins bulging on arms. “Oh yea,” thinks I, “it’s settin’ in real nice.”
“So tell me about yourself, Dennis.”
“Nah, let’s go. I’d rather show you instead.” His smirk had a way of reassuring a guy; maybe that’s all I needed.
“Okay,” I smiled, “let’s explore guys!”
The ocean was at our left, for the time, but it always stayed to the west. Even when I put it on my right hand side. Was I turning, or was the topography shifting? Anyways, Dennis was fucking suave, man. A real ladies’ man – primo player. He could strike poses like a goddamned runway model, and I’d be damned if I said his smirk wasn’t rubbing off on me.
Natalie was, well to say elated would be an understatement, but I’ll just say it, excited. Or was it elated?
“Do the – this one – again!” As she acted out my pose.
“Oh yes, one of my favorites!” Head points down to the left, eyes tilt up and right. Mouth purses, cranks up left – no, no, YES! There it is. Hips push off right, feet a little less than shoulder width. Goddamn it was a good pose.
“Dude,” Graham shoved out between laugh-gasps, “dude, du, duh, dude…”
“Yes, Graham my man?” A quickly banged furrow of the brow.
“YES!” He loved that shit.
All for dramatic effect. Vunderbaugh! I could see the cameras shooting, snapping, surrounding me with flashes: “Let’s keep walking.”
“Oh man!” Dennis stopped us though. “Dude check out that chick, real nice ass. I mean, tight, perky, and look at that sway. Those pants are practically ripping at the seams.”
“Ohmgee, pose for her!” Natalie was on the brink of vomiting from laughter. Or maybe it was the blotter wreaking havoc on her stomach. You really shouldn’t swallow those things.
“Go get her!” Graham…love it. Sometimes all a guy needs is a bit of reassurance. Either way, the dog was off the leash. So I walked over to her. That hair was brown, like melted chocolate. And fuck it smelled like a garden of blooming, um, forget-me-whatever they’re called.
“Hey,” I said real cool-like. She turned! She did the I’ve-never-met-you-before-girl-giggle.
“Hi.” Grey eyes, almost silver. Perhaps that’s why the next word out of my mouth was –
“I’m sorry, is that your name?”
Oh no, “Dennis!?”
“Pose dammit! Flaunt your goddamned sexual ferocity!” He was roaring like a lion.
So I looked right into those eyes, sterling silver, like new nickels from the mint. I think I even saw that president dude where her pupils were – should have been. One word – “Boom,” dead silence, then I boomed my pose. She didn’t say anything, but just gave me a firm handshake and walked off. That ass waved for three to four more blocks before blowing me a kiss goodbye forever. I just stared.
“She’ll be back.” Dennis said, then both of us in unison: “They always come back!” Uproarious laughter.
I looked at my wrist but realized I wasn’t wearing a watch. Judging from the sun, it was probably one hour past one o’clock p.m. So, about two hours in. The rest of afternoon continued on similarly. Dennis instigated a breakfast burrito fight, and everybody was laughing. Oh, well except the mom and her young son who got beaned with, well, beans. Dennis high-fived me for that one.
“Fucking Chris Carpenter over here!” Oh yea, Dennis was a huge Cardinals fan.
The mom just walked away. The kid was rather portly. So he ate the beans. Even the ones on the ground. Yuck. But not completely misguided. I mean,
“Dogs do it” Graham threw in.
“Yea they do. Also,” Natalie collected her thoughts: she leveled her hands, in steeple formation, in front of her heart while biting the index finger of Graham’s right hand, “I’m a water person. Like elementally. Babe, your palms are sweaty.”
We started walking to the ocean, west, always west! Damn how did it always manage to do that? My investigation was sidetracked. There was this really neat bush, just oozing plant lust – goo – and succulent pollen. White buds that smelled of honey and far away spices.
“Bro, check it out.” Dennis pointed. Bees. They were flying around the plant. Tens. No. Hundreds. Not quite. Thousands. Yes, thousands. Big ones, like the kind that would kill an infant or small feline.
“Oh, my…” I couldn’t speak. My mouth might as well not have been there. The green was enveloping, the white near blinding. The yellow of the bees shone like neon street lights. Miraculous.
“Fear not, youngling.” The bush was speaking. Dennis and I locked gazes.
“Holy shit, man, fucking talk back!”
“Yes, oh great bush,” hesitation. “You’re not like, God, man, right?”
“Nay, verily I am just a bush. Too long have people feared my resident bees. I beseech thee: lay down your burdens, world-weary traveler, and rest in me for a time. You are one of us.”
As if on cue, the little white buds began swaying in the wind, beckoning, reckoning. I could not reply nor resist. Only a nod sufficed.
“Be with nature.” Dennis gave me what all men sometimes need: reassurance.
I stretched my arms. Head to the sky, my breath was deep, like I was tasting a sweet current in the air nobody have ever noticed before. Step, one. Step, two. The bush held my weight surprising well, and smashing my face into those sexy, lusty, drippy, oozy buds was better than any pussy I’ve ever had. The bees made not one move to harm me, never did they touch me. They rather kissed me, and I began to cry.
“My son, you are home.” The bush sounded like Mufasa, James Earl Jones I think. Before I left I plugged my nose with that scent one last time, and Dennis helped me back to my feet. “Go now, and be. Simply, just be – exist!” And the bush quieted forever. Dennis hugged me.
After, the sun had set and the straight lines stopped bending. And air ducts stopped breathing. I remember sitting in the living room being massaged by shadows.
“Natalie, Graham…” I looked at them. Graham blew a smoke ring. “Ton verdict? S’il vous plait.”
“Yes,” was all they said. I understood perfectly. What I couldn’t understand though, was where Dennis had got to. The two lovers eventually fell asleep in each other, like two furry puppies.
“Dennis?” I whispered. And just before I gave up my search, I heard a whisper in the back of my brain.
“Yeah, bud?” – “You still here?” – “Yeah.”
I looked around, but couldn’t locate the source.
“I’ll always be with you, Will.”