When I was younger, my friend Brian and I used to hang out quite a bit. Our houses were relatively close to one another, but mostly we both just wanted someone to hang out with because we lived in the country. He was the funny, goofy kid with red hair and freckles that had rich parents and cool stuff. We used to play on his computer, and his taste in computer games has stuck with me to this day. I still get a kick out of killing an afternoon playing Space Quest or Shadows of Darkness.
I used to sleep over at his house, where we would stay up until all hours of the night writing stories or making swords out of wood. We would choreograph elaborate sword fights set to music and not sleep all night. I remember one night we even wrote the next game in the Final Fantasy series, convinced that the publishers would buy it from us without any doubt. It was a pretty good story, actually. But...
He used to come over to my house and play games with my brother and I. And my brother, once upon a time, was a pot head. We got new neighbors in the house right next door (the only house around), and they brought with them from the wreckage of their burned down house bad influences...and a Playstation. I used to play Playstation at their house while my brother and his new neighbor/friend Jason went off to smoke pot.
Well, often times Brian would come over under the guise of hanging out, only to go off with my brother and Jason to smoke pot with them. I'm mostly convinced it was because he thought they were so cool, and he wanted to be cool, too. I never wanted to be cool that badly.
We continued to hang out at each others' houses, but when I went to his house I mostly wanted to hang out with his little brother Robbie, because he was just like Brian used to be. You see, Brian stopped being fun. All he cared about was when he would get to smoke pot next. He started hanging out with the deadbeats in our class, and I felt more and more like the nerd that was, once again, being left behind for something cool.
I remember the last time I spent any time with him. His parents were throwing a huge 4th of July party. I went, because my parents were invited. I didn't really want to be there. I was sort of over Brian. When I got there he was nowhere to be found. His mother told me he was with his friends up in the barn.
The barn used to be that place where we'd swordfight and build forts and start fires and break stuff. It was a giant, endless playground where we could do basically whatever we wanted and not get in trouble for it. It was our space.
Well, I went into the barn, calling Brian's name. His coughing response came from upstairs. He was in our fort with a bunch of kids from school I didn't really like. I didn't go in, but chose to talk to him from the ladder. All I saw of him that night was the intermittent flickering of a lighter put to a bowl. After turning down an invitation to join them, I went to find my parents and told them I was leaving.
I never really saw Brian after that. He joined the Army, lied about his skill level, and then got kicked out for doing drugs. Last I heard he was cleaning grease traps or sewer lines or something.
I still miss him from time to time, especially when I'm driving by his road, all alone, in the country.
What else could we have done?
2 days ago