“Ken” Part III

“Serena. That’s so sweet.”

“No I’m serious. I’m almost to the point where I’m in love with you. Just know that’s how I feel. If we get killed.”

“Well thank you…” the time seemed to turn to an eternity. “Oh right! I love you too. I love you too, Serena.”

“Thanks, Ken.” Serena seemed as if she felt romanced and contentedness.

Dave walked back in with the water, which felt like an eternity ago. “Here you go,” Dave said, as he set the glass down in front of Ken. Dave began to pack another bud into the bowl. This was so fun. “Here,” he said again, “have a real hit.” Ken was already a little high but he didn’t want to turn down Dave’s hospitality.

As Ken lit the weed on fire, this time he inhaled slowly and over a longer period of time. But he didn’t get very far because he almost immediately started coughing up smoke. He immediately grabbed his water and drank from the mug with fervor. Dave and Serena avoided eye contact.

Next was Dave. He took the pipe and lighter from Ken. “Here,” Dave said, “I can take that off your hands.” He seemed embarrassed for Ken.

Dave knew what he was doing. He was a seasoned pro. He was the Leonard da Vinci of weed.

He took a deep hit like a choir singer would for a long note.

Ken’s jaw dropped. Serena seemed unaffected. Dave cleared the whole bowl in one hit and exhaled a volcano explosion of smoke. Wild.

“Ah, that’s good,” said Dave, “now let’s play some motherfucking monopoly!” Ken snapped out of his trance long enough to ask, “Which piece do you want to be?”

Serena said, “I want to be the thimble.” Ken said, “I want to be the dog.” Dave’s face changed from jovial to dead serious.

“I want to be the gun.” The room stopped and you could see Ken and Serena shiver. “There’s… there’s no gun, Dave.” Ken was nervous as to what would happen next. “What do you mean there’s ‘no gun,’ Ken?” Dave responded.

“I just… I don’t know, there’s no gun piece.” Ken’s leg was shaking.

“Haha! I guess I’ll just be the old boot then! Heck, an old boot for an old man, am I right?!” Dave laughed at his observation. “Heh, heh…” said Ken and Serena, sort of in unison.

Ken shook the dice in his hand. He wasn’t supposed to go first because that’s not the rules but whatever. So he shook the dice and just as the dice were ready to drop, he began to feel the dice roll in slow motion.

“Ken? Are you ok?” Serena asked, concerned. “Um, yeah. Whose turn is it?” Ken replied.

“It’s still your turn. You just rolled the dice and you’ve been sitting there staring at it for a good 20 seconds. Do you need me to get you something?”
Ken seemed less alarmed. “Yeah, I’m fine. Hey, I think this weed is laced.”

“Lol,” said Dave. “Nobody actually does that. I wish! It’s just how weed works. You’re on a wild bronco and she’s a-buckin’ so you might as well enjoy the ride.”

“Enjoy the ride… right. Um.. ok that’s about 6.” Ken moved his dog 6 squares. “I’ll, I’ll buy it. It’s a railroad. Imagine if you bought a real railroad. Think about it. You’d have so much money. You could take the land, scrap it, and build a hotel on prime real estate. Maybe I should do that with my life. I could say I discovered the idea while playing monopoly high on laced weed.”

“It’s not laced, Ken. I don’t feel anything, Ken. I don’t think it’s working. Let me hit that again, Dave.” So Serena was going back for more. Serena, of all people.

“Boy, will I. This little lady knows how to start a hoedown!” Dave stuffed the bowl again with a fresh, crystalized nug. He passed the pipe to Serena.

“Where’s the lighter?” Serena asked more calmly than she had been in 15 hours. Stoners always lose their lighters every 10 seconds.

“It’s right here, Serena.” Ken said slowly while passing the lighter to her. Dave and Ken watched in amazement as Serena took another deep breath of smoke and exhaled toward the ceiling. It was hot.

“Your turn, Serena. Wait, did I buy the railroad?” Ken seemed very confused.

“No. Here, let me do the exchange of money,” Serena counted the money and put it in the bank. But, just as she was counting the last of the money, she felt her concentration drift in and out of her mind every few seconds. “Um, it was, how much? I’m having… some trouble… concentrating on…”

Serena started giggling in a crescendo. “Hahaha! Ken, have you seen your… face? Look in a mirror. You look like a parakeet right now.” She couldn’t stop laughing. See, weed was good for Serena.

“Speaking of parakeets,” Dave started, “I have one somewhere in the house. Her name is, ‘Gemini.’”

Serena turned to Dave, “Gemini is a beautiful name for a parakeet. You know what, Dave? I’d really like to meet this parakeet. Can parakeets be pet?”

“Boy, I would love to show you Gemini but I can’t find her. Maybe she’ll turn up.”

“That’s ok, Dave. Can I ask you something extremely personal, Dave?” Serena’s eyes were half shut and red.
“Sure, I’m an open book.”

“What’s with the newspaper clippings?”

Dave stopped smiling. “You want to know about my clippin’s, do you? Don’t you ever bring up my clippin’s. EVER!” He slammed his fist on the coffee table, shaking all the pieces. Ken and Serena got goosebumps. Ken almost ran into the woods.

“Haha! Just kidding! I just love animals. I always wanted to be a zookeeper but they wouldn’t accept me even though I’m a veteran. As if a veteran isn’t used to shoveling shit all damn day. When I was in the marines, sometimes we dug the latrines with a toothpick and a good lick of spit.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Ken chimed in. “But you would be a great zookeeper, Dave.”

“You know,” Serena offered, “the dream isn’t over. You can still be a zookeeper. Whose turn is it?”

“Yours.” said Ken. “Dave, I can help you be a zookeeper. I have connections in the zoo.”

“What are you talking about?” Dave asked. Serena slowly rolled the dice.

“I have a lot of family and friends who work at the local zoo. I get to pet all the animals for free. That’s how well we know each other. I’m sure if I put in a good word for you, they’ll consider you as zookeeper.”

“Hot damn, Ken. I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch, but wouldn’t that be a sight to see? Imagine me, petting a hippo, or maybe a tarantula. Imagine me feeding a gator or maybe a komodo dragon. Those things are dangerous but luckily I know my way around a lasso.” Dave was beaming with a big smile.

“That’s great, Dave. I’ll let you know as soon as I call my mom— Oh shit, word will get back to my mom. I guess I can’t get you a job as the zookeeper afterall. Sorry.” Ken sat and thought for a minute, hoping to come up with a brilliant solution. Which didn’t happen. “I was having so much fun, I forgot about my mom and my problems for a second. I was busy enjoying life. Huh. I guess that’s what it feels like to be more than a shell of a man…”

“It’s your turn, Ken,” Dave said.

“Oh right,” replied Ken. He rolled the dice and landed on boardwalk: the most valuable property in the game. Not only did it have high rent prices, it was prime real eastate on the board.

“I’ll take it!” yelled Ken.

Serena put a hand on Ken’s arm. “Ken, you can’t afford to take that much risk.” Ken looked at her with disgust.

“Even if I lose it all… at least I had the dream. Even if only for a moment…” Ken forked over $400. “And give me a house while you’re at it.” Serena looked at him like he had just murdered her favorite friend.

Again, Ken didn’t know how to the game right. 1. You have to pay more than the base $400 to get a house. 2. Before you buy a house, you have to own all the properties of that color.

God, Ken.

“Guys, we need to have a huddle,” Serena said, lightening up. “I’m listening,” said Dave, supportively.

“Ken? Are you there?” Serena asked.

“Oh um… yeah. Let’s huddle,” Ken replied. They all leaned in slowly and Serena spoke fast in a near whisper.

“First of all, we know it’s fucking ridiculous that Ken’s going to run away from his evil mother and move in with a country bumpkin, so let’s not even entertain that thought. My problem, my problem is that Ken tried to take boardwalk for $400 and demanded a house when he didn’t have park place.”

“I agree with Serena. It’s pretty fucked up move, Ken.” Dave responded.

Ken looked in shock. “I’m fucking sorry, ok? What the hell. Can everybody chill? I thought weed was supposed to make you chill. You guys are making me paranoid.”

“Buddy, you’re on a journey. A journey that’s like one of them circles with two black and white halves and two dots. Opposite colors. Anyway, soak up the good and the bad. It’s supposed to happen. That’s also a metaphor for life too, you know. Heh heh.” Dave spoke like Socrates.

“Oh right, let’s see… where’s my gun?” Dave questioned.

In unison Ken and Serena said, “there’s no gun.”

“Heh heh, oh right. Welp. Oh, here I am.” Dave found his old boot, but before rolling the dice, he began an old Irish song:

There was an Old Man of San Diego,
Who loved to eat a mango;
He ate all the fruit,
Now he lives in a boot,
That nasty Old Man of San Diego.

By the end of Dave’s old Irish song, Serena and Ken were in tears. They were so moved.

Serena spoke, “You have the voice of an angel.”

Ken joined in, “These are not tears of sadness, these are tears of joy.”

“Wow, you guys. Thank you so much. It’s just my ole whistlin’ song.” Dave was humbled. “Well, whose turn is it now?”

“We don’t remember. Let’s just make it me.” Serena said.

Serena picked up the dice again. She rolled them in her hand and let go. They dropped to the board. 6. She moved her piece. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

“Oh my god,” she said. Everyone leaned over slowly to look at the board.

“Board. Walk.” Everyone looked at each other in astonishment.

“Ken, there comes a time in every boy’s life when he becomes a man. Today? Today you became that man,” Dave winked at him.

“Do you take that as an omen?” Serena asked.

“Yes,” Ken answered before she had even asked the question.

“It was luck, Ken.” Serena was skeptical.

Just then, a curtain was open a sliver and a bright beam of light blinded them.

“Oh, it’s morning. Oh! It’s morning!” Serena hugged Ken. “We can fix my car and then we can and go home!”

Ken rejected her hug. “Serena,” he looked deep in her eyes and cupped her face, “I’m staying. Go home and I’ll stay here. All you have to do is avoid telling anyone where I’m living. That’s all I ask of you.”

Brushing his hair with her fingers she responded, “Ken. Go back to your mom.”

“What punishment could she possibly have this time? Is she going to resort back to spankings?” Ken was in disbelief.

Serena calmly explained, “Ok, Ken. You’re free to do whatever you want. I just don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to lie to people about how you ran away from home. I don’t want to know a thing more.”

“Are you breaking up with me?” Ken was almost in tears. Which was like, whatever.

“I think so.” Serena didn’t have heart to directly tell Ken no.

“’I think so’ as in ‘I think so that we are still together’ or ‘I think so,’ as in, ‘I think so that we’re not together anymore.’”

“We’re not together anymore, Ken.” Serena seemed unaffected. They both turned to Dave.

He had a putrid look of disgust on his face.

“That was terrible, awful, and disgusting to experience. It was like watching two squirrels makeout. It was like accidentally seeing your cousin’s titty in a dollar general parking lot. It was like two clowns 69’ing.”

“Wow, um, I’m really sorry, Dave, I—“ Ken stammered.

“Let’s just fix the car. Bleh. I need another shower. And I already took a shower Thursday!” Dave shook his head in disbelief.

It was now about 7am. They had been playing monopoly for 3 hours and still there was no winner.

Dave got up, grabbed a wrench off the carpet, and kicked open the front door. He took a toolbox from the front porch and walked off toward the car.

Serena and Ken followed him outside. The sun was blaring and they shielded their eyes with their arms. That’s how bright it was.

“The rain stopped,” Ken said, dumbly.

The property was visible now. The property consisted of acres upon acres of woods, with some paths created through it. Old cars were rotting and littering the area. An upturned tricycle was in the front yard, along with a toilet. Tires were heaped in a large far that appeared to be on fire.

“Oh yeah,” Dave said, “that’s been on fire for 10 years.”

Dave was buried deep underneath the hood of the car. Horrible scraping sounds could be heard, the result of Dave’s wrench poking around. He then wielded his wrench as if it were an axe and chopped the engine violently with it a couple times.

“Hm. Well that didn’t fix the problem.” Dave seemed stumped.

Dave looked underneath the car on one of those things that’s like a skateboard.

“Ah-ha! I see the problem right here.” And with that, Dave brought his hands down from underneath the car and produced a baby possum.

“Look at this little guy! Hahaha!” Dave was heart-warmed by the cuteness of the little beast. “Poor lil feller’s gotta be scared as heck!”

“You’re not going to stuff him, are you??” asked Serena.

“Heavens to Betsy, no! I only stuff the ones that die of natural causes around my property,” Dave clarified.

Thinking back to it, Dave seemed to have every blank space on his wall filled with various taxidermy rodents. I think there was one ant.

Dave walked up to the driver’s side door and opened it. He propped himself up in the driver’s seat. He turned the key in the ignition, “Click. Click. Click.”

Ken and Serena seemed downtrodden. Serena just wanted to go home and Ken just wanted Serena to go home.

Dave smiled and slowly turned his head, “Guess y’all are gonna have to spend some more time here… with ME! Heh heh heh…” Serena and Dave said their prayers.

“Hahah! Just kidding, pals! It’s been a long night, let’s get you guys home,” Dave smiled a jovial smile.

Dave sat up in the driver’s seat and turned over the key again, this time slightly depressing the gas pedal. “BOOM!” the car backfired, but it had started!

Serena jumped up and down!

Serena ran to the passenger’s side and jumped into her seat immediately.

“Well it was nice meetin’ you all again! Have a safe ride! Heh heh.” Dave waved goodbye.

Ken backed out the car and was about to drive away, when he decided to stop.
“Hey Serena?” he said. “Yeah?” she replied.

He looked deep in her eyes again. “Let’s go home to our moms.” Ken let out a modest smile.

“Let’s do that, Ken.” Serena was happy and kissed his hand.

“Oh wait!” yelled Serena. She rolled down her window and turned her head toward Dave, who was still standing and waving goodbye.

“Hey Dave,” she yelled, “same time next Saturday?”

“2am next Sunday, you mean?” Dave asked.

Serena was squinting in the sun. “Yeah, 2am next Sunday. You free?”

Dave looked around astonished, “boy, well I sure am, Serena! I’ll show you how to cook my favorite gator tail recipe!”

“Haha! Sounds great, Dave!” said Serena as she pulled her head back into the car and rolled up her window.

Then they drove down the driveway and out of the woods.

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