Meeting Minutes: May 24, 1992
It was 11:30 a.m., Wednesday: a gray and sullen Palouse day in Moscow, Idaho. In a converted apartment building next door to a newly erected church, three young men had gathered on the floor of a plain, white-walled and high-ceilinged bedroom with a lack of furnishings. They sat around a coffee-slash-end table fashioned from old milk crates and a piece of stained plywood of doubtful durability. On the table lay two Ziploc bags: one, a quarter-ounce of Alaskan Thunderfuck (Cannabis sativa; “marijuana”), the other, a half-ounce of Liberty Bells (Psylocybin; “mushrooms”).
The guy with long, mouse-brown hair, a thick mustache and torn green t-shirt was named Jeremy and four weeks shy of his twenty-first birthday. Normally, he attended the University of Idaho as an Honors Business student, but had decided to sit out this semester. Meanwhile, he cleaned the all-you-can-eat salad bar at a local restaurant. The apartment was Jeremy’s. He said chairs were uncomfortable. His bed was little more than a couple of blankets spread out in the corner. A second-hand boom box sat on top of a cinder-block-and-plywood shelf. A few music posters and a portrait of his ex-girlfriend (drawn by a former roommate) made spirited attempts to break-up the monotony of the walls, and failed.
The other two’s names were Skizzy and Cliff, seniors at Moscow H.S., and friends of Jeremy’s. Sometimes. Skizzy was the lead singer of a local punk band: thin, pale, with a mop of curly blond hair and almost vibrated in place, he had so much energy. Cliff was bigger, huskier, and had long, curly black hair pulled back in a ponytail to show the dragon tattooed on the left side of his of his shaven scalp, rarely spoke and ran one of the regular supplies of weed in town.
Cliff pulled out a dollar bill and started using it to roll a joint.
“So, What’re the ‘shrooms for?” Jeremy asked, eyeing the bag.
“There’s a party out at Charlie B’s again this Saturday,” Skizzy said. “Did’ja hear what happened at the last one?”
Jeremy shook his head. “I had ta work that night.”
“Aw, some fucker freaked on acid and thought all those small trees out in Charlie’s yard were dragon’s teeth and he was standing in its mouth. So, he went ballistic and broke down ten of Charlie’s trees before me and a couple other guys could wrestle him to the ground. Then the asshole started bawling, so we locked him in the woodshed with his girlfriend until he calmed down. Never saw him again. Charlie was pissed.”
“No shit. And he’s letting you guys have another party?”
“Yeah. You know: free booze, drugs, and little girlies running round. He’s probably forgotten about it by now, anyway.”
“Yeah. You guys playing again?” Jeremy asked, meaning Skizzy’s band.
Skizzy nodded and risked a glance at Jeremy’s bass leaning against a small Gorilla amp in the corner. “You want to play?” he added, with such a slight grimace Jeremy again failed to notice.
“Sure! Anyone else playing?”
“Nah. Just the band . . . and you, of course.”
“Cool. You coming, Cliff?”
Cliff thought for a moment. “Maybe. But I gotta make a run up to Sandpoint Friday night. I should be back by Saturday.”
“What’s in Sandpoint?” Jeremy asked.
“Ah,” Jeremy said with his best sagacious nod.
Cliff gave up trying to roll the joint and let in drop in frustration. “Damn it, Skizzy. How the fuck’d you do this?”
“Give it here.” Thirty seconds later he was finished.
“Thanks,” Cliff said, snatching the joint from Skizzy’s fingers. “How about slowing down and showing me next time?”
Skizzy ignored him.
“How’s your brother?” Jeremy asked Skizzy.
Jeremy’d met Skizzy’s older brother, Izzy, just a few weeks before downtown while he’d been reading on a bench in the town square. This’d caught Izzy’s attention. An impromptu literary discussion ensued. Compatible reading habits fueled further discussions, usually held up in the dingy confines of Izzy’s studio apartment. Izzy provided joints and, in the absence of papers, knife hits. This continued for a few days, until Jeremy realized just how racist and crazy Izzy really was.
“Izzy’s the same,” Skizzy said, holding his hand out for the joint. “He said he’s moving to Boise to find work. But he ain’t gonna to, cause he’s too fucking lazy.”
Jeremy didn’t know what to say, so he smiled.
“Was he really an Eagle Scout?” Jeremy asked as he took the joint.
Cliff and Izzy looked at each other and chuckled. “Oh, yeah,” Skizzy nodded. “He was a member of good ‘ol troop 466, same as us.”
The joint made it’s way around the circle, a little smoky red pulsar in the darkened room.
Finally, Jeremy asked, “So, is that Michelle girl going to be at the party?”
“Who?” Skizzy asked looking at Cliff. Cliff shrugged.
“You know, dude: that chick that fucked that guy up in the rafters during that first show of ours.”
“What’re you talking about?” Cliff asked, exhaling.
“It was at another one of Charlie’s parties,” Jeremy explained. “That was the first night I played with you guys, remember? It was a pretty wild party: three kegs of beer, tons of weed, some good acid rolling around. Well, we’re playing hard, when John noticed this naked chick on the upstairs balcony, right above the audience, just bouncing away on somebody. She was really into it, not even looking around. And you know John, man. He could just come up with any type of music he wanted, anytime. So, he started jamming this cheesy porno music. Man, she was going at it regular, like a metronome, so John kept the music in sync with her. But she still didn’t notice. The band were the only people who could see her at this point, but people were beginning to wonder why we’d changed the tune, and they started looking around. It didn’t take long before everyone was watching and cheering her on. She really got into it after that.”
“What happened?” Cliff asked.
“Aw, the guy came off cue, so we had to stop.”
Skizzy said, “That pissed her brother off major time. He was down in the audience.”
“Naw. No shit, man. You know him, too. You bought beer for him last Saturday.”
“Mike? That’s her brother? Well, what’s her name?”
“Just wondering, man.”
“Uh huh.” Skizzy passed the joint to Cliff.
No one spoke for a long while.
“You got any music?” Cliff asked.
“Yeah, sure. What’ya wanna hear?”
“Got any Type O Negative?” Skizzy asked before coughing up a pale cloud smoke. He knew the answer already.
“No, man. I don’t listen to techno. How ‘bout some Ministry?”
“Ministry?” asked Skizzy. “Fuck, they suck.”
“Whatever, dude. I’ll keep it low, alright?”
They quieted down again, listening. Cliff watched a few starlings jump about the branches of an oak just outside Jeremy’s window. Skizzy sat with eyes intently closed. Jeremy inspected the bag of mushrooms.
“How much does a bag like this go for?”
Cliff shrugged. “You interested in buying?”
“Maybe later, you know. Just curious right now.”
“Well, what you’re holding there is a half-ounce. How much you think it’s worth?”
“Man, that’s what I’m asking you.” Jeremy never bought drugs. People just gave them to him.
“Take a guess.”
“I don’t know. Fifty bucks?”
“Jesus,” Skizzy said without opening his eyes.
“Well, fuck, man. I don’t know.”
“You’re like an Honors Business Student, aren’t you?” Skizzy asked. “At least, that’s what you told us. So you’re a smart man. You figure it out.”
“Fuck you, Skizzy,” Jeremy said, annoyed. “Studying business has nothing to do with knowing how much a bag of ‘shrooms is worth. You’re brother was a fucking Eagle Scout, but that didn’t stop him from being a racist asshole.”
Skizzy opening his eyes and sat up. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Well, he was an Eagle Scout, wasn’t he?” Jeremy asked, winding up. “I’m just saying it doesn’t matter what awards we fucking get. It doesn’t show what we know or don’t know. You should both know that, man. You guys were scouts, too. Right?”
“What rank did you get?”
“Guys, let’s just relax a second. You two are getting way too worked up for me.”
“No, man,” Jeremy insisted. “I want to prove a point.”
“What point?” Skizzy asked.
“That it doesn’t fucking matter what awards we get. What matters is what we know, right? Everything else is just surface.”
“Then why the fuck you keep telling people about your grades and shit?”
“Yeah. But, I mean, that’s my point.”
“What rank did you get?” Skizzy asked.
“No. You tell me first.”
“Just tell us,” Cliff said.
“No. What’s it worth to you guys to know?”
“What the fuck you mean by that?” Skizzy asked.
“You just seem to want to know, badly. And I’m just saying it doesn’t matter. So, I’m wondering how much it’s worth to you. How about we bet that bag of mushrooms?”
“We’ve got this big bag of mushrooms sitting on the table. We’re all going to the same party this weekend. Whoever has the mushrooms is going to share them, anyway. We’re all going to get some. We’re all going to get stoned. It’s just a matter of who everyone thanks, of who everyone awards. It doesn’t really matter whose they are, right? Let’s make a bet: Whoever has the highest rank in Boy Scouts gets the ‘shrooms.”
Skizzy looked at Cliff. Cliff shrugged.
“They’re yours, man,” he said. “Do what you want. You know I ain’t gonna win.”
Jeremy persisted. “What have you ever gotten from whatever rank you attained?”
Skizzy thought for a moment longer. “Alright, what the fuck. Who wants to go first?”
“I will,” Cliff said quickly. “I got as far as Star.”
Skizzy and Jeremy looked at each other. Stoned as they were, they kept poker faces.
“What about you, Skizzy?” Jeremy asked.
Skizzy watched him a moment. “Eagle Scout,” he said, with a slight flourish, well-deserved confidence showing. Eagle was the highest rank
“Eagle,” Jeremy smiled, “with silver palm.”
Eagle may have been the highest rank, but three ulterior awards existed, largely known by any save those within the scouting association itself. Three metal pins, in the shape of a leaf, that attached to the eagle medal represented those, and their colors, successively, were bronze, gold and silver. Their attainment was a relatively simple matter: earn five more merit badges and remain in Scouts an additional five months for each palm. Duplicate that for the gold, and again for the silver. But such esoteric knowledge was largely unknown, and relatively unimportant. What was important, Jeremy’d been told, was that the Eagle medal was the only civilian award a U.S. citizen could display on a military uniform. Jeremy had been awarded the silver palm at the age of sixteen, nearly a record in Idaho.
Jeremy reached for the bag of Liberty Bells, victorious and smiling.
“You know, Jeremy,” Skizzy said. “You really are an asshole.”
--March 11, 2002, Tokuyama, Japan.
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