Descent of Dan
by M.T. Fallon
You've got nothing in your hands walking across the lot cause everything you need is in your sock. Willie is standing on the landing smoking a cigarette and you shake hands in a gray light fading fast to black. He tells you he is psyched for the weekend cause he's been in the field three weeks straight. He says recruitment's up and that's good news for the empire, and you say, Hey, that's great, do you want to smoke some dope? He gives you a grin and says, Do I want to smoke some dope, man, that is exactly what I want to do. So the two of you go up to your place and he asks you if you have any cold ones and you say, No, man, I'm only nineteen. Willie says, Hey, let's go to my place.
He's got a great apartment and he's lucky he tells you cause he met this forty something woman who's not all that hot but she's a nice lady and has money and she just likes to have sex with him sometimes. He says they go out and she buys him furniture and some clothes and other things and it works out really well cause he doesn't have a girlfriend and it's hard to get one cause he works for the army. Soon, he says, he's going to get called up. Man, you say, I don't think I could join the army. He hands you a beer and you say thanks as you reach into your sock for your brand new bag of dope.
He asks you how school is going and you tell him everything is wrong, all wrong, but it's all over now cause you've flunked out of school. He lifts his eyebrows as he takes a long drag on the joint and you tell him you had one last chance, all you had to do was write about the new Jerusalem but you fucked it up and they failed you and then you shake your head and say, Man, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bring things down, and you rub some ash into your pants as you take a long drag off the joint and he nods and says, Hey man, I know things will work out for you.
I'm going to have to get a job, you say. He nods his head and gets a couple more beers from the kitchen and says, Too bad you don't want to join the army. I could help you there. No way, you say, I never join anything. Hey man, that's cool, he says, and then things get quiet and you feel like you said something wrong so you say, What I mean is I don't want to join unless they really need me, cause I would, you know, to protect the empire. Right, he says, we probably have enough guys right now anyway. And then you shoot the breeze for awhile and you tell him about a guy that got stabbed in the parking lot and he says, Do you want to smoke some rock? and you look at him for a long time stunned and stoned cause you're not sure what he means, but then it gets to you and you say, You mean crack? and Willie says, Yeah, I always got a little, you know, for the weekends. Yeah, you say, I'd love to smoke some rock. You don't even know how and you wonder if he will just put it in a pipe but he takes a bag from under the couch and sets his paraphernalia on the table. He stuffs a pinch of steel wool into a glass tube then carves a dirty gray rock into chunks with a razor blade and sets a piece in the tube. You suck on the pipe while he torches the crack and after a minute you let all the air out your lungs. You taste metal and something chemical that makes you a little worried on the inside.
What's the new Jerusalem? he asks and you just look at him and shake your head and your tongue is stuck to the insides of your mouth. But you just wrote a paper about it, he says. Yeah, you say, but it wasn't any good. I didn't know what I was talking about, man. No problem, he says, I was just curious cause who knows I might end up there when I get called up to the front. The new Jerusalem is in Russia, you say, or at least that's what the guy in the book thought. Russia? he says. He shakes his head, I don't think we're going to be fighting in Russia, dude. Those guys are on our side now. Right, you say, right.
You sit there for an hour watching a documentary about world war two and then you smoke the rest of the crack and sit there for another hour and you become quite certain that you want to smoke some more crack and you say, Hey man, do you know where we can score some more rock? Um, he says, licking his lips, I think I know a guy. And then he says, You want another beer? No way, you say, I want to smoke some rock. That's cool, he says. And you say, Let's go. He looks at his watch and then he says, Can you drive? Sure, you say, I can drive.
It's almost three o'clock in the morning and you are nervous but you have a real sense of hope inside yourself. You follow Willie up the steps and he raps on a door and the peephole latch slides and a bolt clicks and the door opens. The guy in the doorway and Willie punch fists together and you put your fist out licking your lips but the guy just stares at you and smirks. It's dark inside and there's only chairs for three people so you stand because there is a guy sipping a pint of bourbon in one chair but after a few minutes he gets up and tells you he is a bus mechanic and he's going to work. Willie and the guy keep talking about some people they know and you feel a little awkward so you glance all around the apartment and now the guy is watching you closely and a few minutes after the drunken mechanic has left says, Hey Willie, I'm sorry but your friend has to get the fuck out of my place and I mean now. What, you hear yourself saying, what? But Willie is already apologizing and everyone is on their feet and you are thinking there must be some way through this, if you could just explain yourself, if you just had a chance to tell them how important this is to you, but Willie is shoving you out the door, and he keeps his hand on your shoulder till you reach the car. He says, I don't know, Dan, he was catching some evil vibes off you. What are we going to do now? you say. Willie says, I am tired, man, I just want to go home. Alright, alright, you say. Is there anyone else you can call? He says, Hey man, I'm not like that.
The sun has not yet risen but the sky is baby blue with just a scatter of clouds and when Willie gets out of the car he says, Man, I am going to take a shower and get some sleep. That's cool, you say, but you don't know how he can rest in peace when for you this night will last forever. He says, Let me know if you change your mind about joining the army. Alright, you say, and then you put the car in reverse, pull out of the lot, and you go where you knew you were going all along and when you get there you abandon all hope as you pass through the gate and step down the ramparts nodding to the shady faces, hello, hello, hello.
About the author:
M. T. Fallon is an office worker in Boulder, Colorado. His work has recently appeared in Hobart.