Mason Binkley ~ Whoa Golly

We’re togeth­er again, three old buds stand­ing in a dark clos­et at our thir­ti­eth high school reunion. We can hear the eight­ies music from the audi­to­ri­um one floor below us. What are we doing? I’d let Larry tell you, but he’s wor­ried he’s hav­ing a heart attack. And Justin, he thinks the police will barge in any sec­ond. He’s already prepar­ing a legal defense. 

We’re still best friends, although we haven’t seen each oth­er since the twen­ti­eth reunion. We stayed in touch most­ly through Facebook, texts, and drunk­en phone calls. Now it’s like we’ve nev­er been apart. In fact, they’re prob­a­bly my only friends, unless I count co-work­ers and what’s left of my fam­i­ly. 

We want­ed to smoke a few joints in the same place where we used to get ripped as teenagers. And whoa gol­ly, pot has become much, much stronger since then.

Justin flips on the light. “We’re fucked,” he says. “There’s no way some­body hasn’t smelled it and called the cops.” His glass eye sparkles. His pre­vi­ous eye, the real one, had to be removed after a doc­tor dis­cov­ered ocu­lar melanoma. “It was weird,” Justin had said. “It was like a lit­tle demon lived behind my pupil, try­ing to kill me.”

Larry flings open the clos­et door and hob­bles into the emp­ty, unlit hall­way lined with gray lock­ers. His left leg was ampu­tat­ed after a motor­cy­cle acci­dent. Now he has this pros­thet­ic leg, which he named, “Larry, Jr.” In high school, he broke the region­al record for stolen bases. Justin and I fol­low him, a plume of smoke trail­ing us. 

The three of us sit against the wall, breath­ing heav­i­ly. Our butts spill over and press togeth­er. I try not to think about my ex-wife. She left eight months ago, after two kids and twen­ty-four years of mar­riage. She had stopped laugh­ing at my jokes, stopped undress­ing in my pres­ence. Truth be told, I didn’t mind no longer see­ing the mole on her low­er back that resem­bled a minia­ture camel.

I should call an ambu­lance,” Larry says, his fin­gers press­ing against his neck, mea­sur­ing his pulse. “My heart’s beat­ing too fast.”

If you call,” Justin says, “they’ll have us arrest­ed. Pot is still ille­gal in this state.”

From the audi­to­ri­um, “The Power of Love” plays. My ex-wife and I danced to that song at our wed­ding. Before I could pro­pose to her, she had dropped to one knee in our favorite lit­tle café dur­ing break­fast. “What are we wait­ing for?” she had asked, offer­ing me a ring. 

I, sit­ting between Larry and Justin, place my arms around their shoul­ders and pull them close. “You’re not dying, and we’re not going to jail.” I open my mouth to say more, but noth­ing comes. A squeak escapes from my throat. They erupt in laugh­ter. 

I look over Larry’s enor­mous bald cra­ni­um, down the hall. I can almost see our younger selves walk­ing around in sneak­ers with back­packs slung on our shoul­ders, chew­ing water­mel­on bub­ble gum, feel­ing invin­ci­ble. 

~

Mason Binkley is the author of Familial Disturbances, a flash fic­tion col­lec­tion (Ellipsis Zine, 2019). His sto­ries have appeared in Necessary Fiction, Pithead Chapel, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Jellyfish Review, New Flash Fiction Review, and oth­er places. He reads for Pithead Chapel and lives in Tampa, Florida, where he works as an attor­ney. You can find him online at masonbinkley.com or @Mason_Binkley.