The Dark Night
Remember that night? The one that started out as a balmy summer afternoon, and your friend, the wild one, the one who throws his head back when he laughs insanely, invited you and your boyfriend, Jason, and your sister, Louisa, to go for that boat ride? That was something wasn't it? It was early evening when the four of us borrowed Matt's parent's boat. He turned the key and Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' was on the radio. He backed us out of the slip at their deserted cottage. "Want to try some of these," he says. "What are those?" I answered, looking at a plastic zip lock bag full of mushrooms. "Mushrooms," he says. "No," I said. "I smoke pot, but..." "Not me," says Louisa, crossing her arms. Jason takes a small one. "Hmm. Not bad," he says. "Try one Millie." "They're organic," says Matt. "There are no dangerous chemicals in them." "No. I don't do hard drugs," I resisted. "These are naturally grown mushrooms, no pesticides." Jason takes another one and pops it in his mouth under his mustache. Matt slips one past his lips and starts chewing it with his wide white teeth and his big grin. "Okay," I say. "I'll try one." You see, even though I hate roller coasters, I cannot pass up a challenge. If somebody says, "Let's go on that roller coaster." "I get on it." I hate to miss out on things. Even if I don't like them. I know. The first mushroom didn't taste that wonderful. It was a mushroom without salt or pepper. And it was not sautéed in butter. "Louisa try one," I said. "They aren't bad." "No," she says looking at me through wide-brown-eyed-daggers, that clearly said, "Great. You, my big sister, my protector, my role model, just ate a mushroom that is going to get you high, just like the other two losers in this boat. That's just perfect, Millie." Soon everything became all so very, lovely, as my friend Clementine likes to phrase it. A soft wind in my face, a blue powdered sky above, green leaves fluttering along the shore, made life seem perfectly, perfect, which it basically was anyway, since I was seventeen and I had my entire future in front of me. The moment in time turned into a sweet and gentle buzz that matched the steady rumble of the motor and the waves that folded over and over and into themselves behind us, in complete harmony with The Doobie Brothers. Serenity. Peace. Tranquility. Tranquility. Serenity. Peace. Peace. Tranquility. Serenity. "Hey, are you guys hungry?" Matt's words were heard above the motor and broke into my little world of arranging words lyrically with the wind and on the folding water. I snapped back to the present as we pulled up next to a dock that was scattered with boats and located in front of a restaurant with a lit up Fish and a beer a sign in the window. "How many?" said the hostess, from behind her gold chained bifocals. "Four." "Smoking or nonsmoking?" "It depends what they are smoking. Ha-ha-ha-ha." We received a cool, four-eyed-stare. Silence. "Nonsmoking." "Come right this way." We follow her tight blue skirt and we are seated at a round table, under a spotlight, in the middle of a chatter-clatter-noisy-people-filled room. The all natural, organic, mushrooms had my ears tingling. "I'll take a hamburger and fries," said Louisa to the waitress. "Me too," I said, above all the chaos. "Me too," says Jason. "Make it medium-rare." "Same here," says Matt. "Make mine rare." "How would you like yours done?" she looks at Louisa and I. "Medium rare," we say in unison. The joint was obviously not a five star restaurant. It looked fancy and all, but when she returned with platters of food, it turned out that the beef patties she set in front of us were alive. Worms started coming out of mine. And it was staring at me. Not to mention the surrounding tables were staring at us. To our horror, Louisa took a bite of hers, worms and all. "Excuse me," Jason says to the waitress. "We need these cooked some more." "I thought you wanted yours medium rare." "We all changed our minds." "Mine is fine," said Louisa. The waitress walked away with our plates. "You guys are such idiots," Louisa said, and she takes another bite of her maggots. "I'm getting out of here," I said. "Check please," Jason says, waving down the waitress who still has our plates. Matt has his head back and is letting out one of his totally insane belly laughs, as the rest of the surrounding diners all stop chewing and turn their heads. There were no arguments from the staff for us to stick around. The bill was paid. Louisa put her remaining beef and wiggly-worms into a Styrofoam container and followed us out. Did I mention that Jason cannot swim? Jason cannot swim. So when Matt sped outta there with all the horses in gear, Jason decided that he was going to die. The air was cool. The water was black. The sun had set. Matt was higher than a fucking kite and he was spinning the steering wheel with one finger, throwing his head back and laughing his insanely crazy laugh as he did water donuts. The rest of us were frantically pulling out and snapping on life jackets. Jason laid on the floor and started screaming, "Matt! Stop! I can't swim! Stop!" The thing about Matt is, Matt had no stops. He was the kind of a guy that parents knew would not make it to forty. That was one of his endearing qualities, or so I thought at the time. He took chances. He was daring. He cleared my entire high school out with a called in fake bomb threat from the mall pay phone. It's true, this should not be a virtue, but since I was a goody-two-shoed-chicken-shit, it was kind of fun having that friend. I realized at that moment that I preferred him more when he wasn't behind the wheel of a boat that he had floored, and was driving into the pitch blackness of the night, with his head thrown back, laughing that all too familiar, "I am seriously out of my mind. You know that right?!" laugh of his. "Were all gonna die!" yelled Jason. "I can't swim!" Louisa was in the back staring stoically ahead, watching her life pass by in front of her. I was yelling at Jason to, "Shut up" and at Matt to, "STOP the God Damn boat!" No roller coaster has ever come close to bringing on the anxiety we three shared out on that lake, in that boat, with the guy we knew was crazy at the wheel and speeding into the black with us. But last week kind of reminded me of that night, only without the all natural organic mushrooms, the burgers with worms or being out on the lake in a boat. I was petrified when I woke up on Wednesday. No matter what scares you. Whether it be that guy behind the wheel twirling it with one finger doing water donuts or perhaps that woman in the pant suit sitting next to you in a lifejacket, sending out emails full of classified or non-classified information, fear is real. My son told me that the fear is on both sides. He said that the sun will still come up and that life will go on. People are in the streets protesting. People are mad that people are in the streets protesting. I hope we stop pointing and blaming and blaming and pointing at everybody, including the people in the streets protesting. It's just going to take some time. RESPECT. I wish equality and prosperity for all. What I mostly wish, is that we run out of gas. But if I know Matt, he filled the tank to the top with the money he stole from his mother's purse. So hang on everybody. We will surely hit the shore at some point. Hopefully we are not going one hundred miles per hour when we do.