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The Weapon of Young Gods #16: Treating The Symptoms

“Don’t call 911.”

I think that I’m the one who says this, but I can’t be sure. The field lights are shining down too brightly, blacking out details on the shapeless forms that hover just above me. “Was that Derek? Is he, like, awake?” Jaime, from far away. “Jesus fucking Christ, dude, look at his head!” Troy, a little closer. Their voices are disembodied, gurgling into my ears, passing through infinite layers of misty-black, liquid fog; through ripples of pain spilling down from the back of my skull. Skull. Goal post. Roy. Allison. “That was the fucking scariest hit I’ve ever seen, Ali.” Jaime again. “Oh shit, oh shit, oh man. I’m totally calling an ambulance,” says Roy, also nearby, still shaken up.

“Don’t call 911, dammit!”

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The Weapon of Young Gods #14: Concussions

I’m locking my bike to the Rec Center rack when I hear Roy call my name. He rides up clutching a soccer ball under his left arm. It’s only ten minutes to game time, but he’s the only other person from my team here so far, and the other team is nowhere to be seen. Out on the field, the previous hour’s intramural games are wrapping up, the players slouching off to the locker room through the warm, dry October evening. I stand up and scan the darkening campus, searching the bike paths and sidewallks for any signs of teammates, and casually ignore Roy’s happy chatter. He’s just leaned his bike against the fence without locking it, and I briefly wonder if he’s sober.

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The Weapon of Young Gods #10: It’s Quiet Up Here

I know Grandma’s here when I arrive because the wind chimes are ringing. My grandparents’ one-story, Camelot-era ranch house is halfway up a tastefully crowded hill in South Laguna, and it catches the breeze coming right in from the ocean. If there’s no wind, the courtyard is still and silent as death, and I’d know she’d be off somewhere else, but today the chimes tinkle as I open the gate, and leaves float across the yard and an occasional olive plops down from the tree standing in the middle of it all. I take Mom’s key to her ex-in-laws’ house out of my pocket, wrench the massive front door open, and enter the musty, stuffy darkness that my father grew up in. There’s a little light coming in from the glory of Outside, and I pick my way with care through the gloomy kitchen to the back door. It’s very quiet, but not absolutely, so before I go back outside I say it softly, the same way I always do when I come here alone.

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The Weapon of Young Gods #8: Your Time Is Not Your Own

Many years ago, when my parents were still married, I asked them to put a lock on my door. Not to keep them out- I emphasized that they could each have a key if they wanted- but to keep my little sister and her kleptomaniacal tendencies away from my video games, CDs, and other then-valuable things I called my own. My mom only laughed, and my dad flat-out refused. “Why should I need a key to get into a room in my own house, son?” I hear the exact notes of their denials rattle around my skull when Hannah barges in to rip me from my subconscious.

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The Weapon of Young Gods #6: Last Train Leaving The Abyss

I wake up with a stiff neck and sore shoulders as the train pulls into Stockton. The stale air inside the car is shot through with the sweaty reek of many grubby travelers, including myself. For a second I consider stepping outside for a refresher, but then I remember that I’m marooned for the moment in one of California’s many wretched armpit-cities and instead shift my weight and try to ignore the uncomfortable olfactory overload.

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The Weapon of Young Gods #4: Vanishing Points

I step into the elevator of Lisa’s dorm, which happens to be the tallest building in California north of Sacramento, and float down the six floors to solid ground. Outside, the already-stifling heat of the longest morning-after in my life hits me like a garbage truck. I walk the few blocks to the station, but there are no trains til around noon. I need to get the fuck out of here now, though, so I settle for the Chico-to-Sacramento bus that’s an hour away and tell myself that I’ll figure out where to go from the end of that line. I collapse into a sweaty heap on a bench, and open up my bag to dig around for the Walkman. I find it and push play and immediately the Jesus and Mary Chain assault my fragile early-morning ears, so I flip over the tape to their acoustic album and close my eyes.

Fuck with me and I’ll fuck with you/Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

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The Weapon of Young Gods #2: The Precipice

It’s almost four in the morning and Lisa’s still shrooming, but I’m the one who’s having the fucked-up visions. A vast, eternal, limitless void is opening up in front of me, and I see the future stretch out to infinity. It’s a terrifying oblivion of wants and needs and responsibilities and realities that I know I’d have to deal with if I end up getting involved with this chick and her insanely addictive personality.

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