Fire and Wanda, Chapter 4, Scene 3


When I walked into the apartment I could hear the blare of the television coming from the back, but that didn’t necessarily mean Max was sleep since he always slept with the TV on. But then I heard him break out laughing all by himself and I knew we were in for a good night. His smile lit up when he saw me come in the room, and I grinned back at him. I held up the brown paper bag and my grin stretched wider.

“No shit?” he said.

“No shit. But I swear to God if you tell your mother about this, Max…”
“Dude! You think I’m crazy? She wouldn’t even have enough strength to fuck you up after she got done with me, all right? This is all about self-interest here. You and me, Alton. You and me, bro.”

I reached in the bag and tossed him the cigarettes, then flopped down beside him on the bed as I unscrewed the top off the wine bottle.

“What you watchin?”

“Some crazy sci-fi deal. It’s pretty cool though. So where you been?”

I tore open the pack of cigs, shook one out for Max, then another for myself. Reached into my pocket.


“No lighter?”
I nodded. Max smiled.

“Not to worry, dude. I gotcha covered.”

Max rolled over onto his stomach, then jammed his arm down into the tight space between the bed and the wall. A few grunts and curses later, he pulled up a veritable bouquet of cigarette lighters representing every color of the rainbow. He tossed them onto the bed between us like so much spare change, then gave me a wink.

“Man, exactly how long have you been 12 years old?”

Max laughed, then offered me a light, which I accepted. Then he fired one up for himself.

“Wine now or later?” he asked.

“Don’t matter. We got the rest of the night, right?”

“You know I don’t have a problem calling in sick.”

“Tomorrow’s Saturday. No school.”

“Wow. That’s right. So you gonna tell me where you were or what?”


“Oh yeah? You over there kinda late weren’t you?”

I gave him a long look, then grinned. His eyes popped open like somebody snapping open window shades.

“No you didn’t!”

“Oh hell yeah I did.”

“But how..? I mean why…How’d you get her to come around? I thought she was always telling you about how you were too young and all that?”

I shrugged.

“Things change, I guess. I don’t think it’s gonna happen again, though.”

“Huh? Dude! Don’t tell me you’re backing away now, after all this time you’ve been waiting for this?”

“Not me. Her. You shoulda seen the way she looked at me before I left. Almost made me feel guilty about the whole thing. I mean you’re right, I’ve been dreaming about this whole thing ever since the first time I saw her, but now I’m not even sure how I feel about what went down. I mean it was good, right? Damn, it was good. But..I dunno…”

“You think she’s mad at you?”

I shook my head as I took another long drag.

“Naw. Wanna know the truth? I think she’s mad at herself for letting it happen. That’s what I think.”

“Yeah, well. Too late now, right? Can’t get takebacks on that.”

I had to laugh at that one.

“You really are the oldest 12-year-old in the world, Max. For real. C’mon, let’s get started on this wine.”




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