Part One

Three friends gathered round a campfire. On their faces, flickering light. Backs were to the dark. Silence. It is the absence of a ringing telephone. No words spoken, loud inside the heads of one or two. A bottle passed except to the third. Dry, the joint made the mouth.

“Jeb,” said the smoker.

“Yeah?”

“Thanks for building the fire.”

“You’re welcome,” said Jeb. “Thank you guys for collecting the wood.”

“Our pleasure,” said the one who was neither Jeb or the smoker.

“I am getting in the mood for s’mores,” said the smoker.

“You’re getting the munchies,” said Jeb.

“I might be.”

Jeb received the bottle. He knocked it back. He watched the smoker take another drag.

“Well?” asked Jeb.

“Well, what?” asked the smoker.

“Are you going to get the s’more stuff?”

“No.”

“And why not?”

“I’m super high.”

“All the better.”

“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Then pass it.”

“What now?”

“Give it here.”

“Are you serious, Jeb?”

“Yes, asshole. Now give it here before I change my mind.”

“Ask nicely.”

“Really?”

“What do you say?”

“Please.”

“Please, what?”

“May I please have the joint?”

“Yes, but first I want you to take a deep breath.”

“Jesus, it’s not that big of a deal,” said the one who was neither Jeb or the smoker.

“Shut up. This is Jeb’s first time.”

“He’s right, it’s really not that important.”

“It’s my weed, I’ll tell you what’s important.”

“Pass the bottle, Jeb.”

“Here.”

“Hey, focus.”

“Alright, alright. Why do you want me to breathe?”

“Don’t ask questions. Breathe in through the nose. Pause at the top. Two seconds, one and a half at least. Slowly out and keep going. Push it all out. You have old air in your lungs—”

“That’s not a thing,” said the one who was neither Jeb or the smoker.

“Please. Shut the fuck up.”

“Now, give me your hand, Jeb.”

“Okay.”

“Feel my heartbeat?”

“Yeah.”

“Start counting. I’ll time it. Ready?”

“Yeah.”

“Go.”

“Stop. How many?”

“Twenty-seven.”

“Times two.”

“Fifty-four.”

“Now let’s count yours. Ready?”

“Yes.”

“Go.”

“Stop. How many?”

“Thirty-nine.”

“Jesus, Jeb. Double it.”

“Seventy-eight.”

“Keep breathing. Get your heart rate in the sixties and you can take a hit.”

The smoker sat down. He sucked on the joint, held, and expelled smoke out of a small hole in his mouth. Jeb focused on his own breath. His eyes pierced the darkness. The bottle lifted near his face but he did not accept. The smoker stood and retreated into the night. Jeb blinked. He watched, and blinked more, and his breath quickened. Then the smoker returned with a bundle of sticks.

“Ready?” asked the smoker.

“I think so,” said Jeb.

“Relax your shoulders.”

“Okay.”

“Breathe.”

“Yes sir.”

“Count.”

“Okay.”

“Go.”

“Now stop. How many?”

“Thirty-three.”

“That’s a lucky number.”
“Is it?” asked the one who was neither Jeb or the smoker.

“It is to me. Now Jeb, I’ve been smoking on this thing already. From experience—”

“You have a lot of that, don’t you?” asked the one who was neither Jeb or the smoker.

“You done?”
“Yeah, man.”

“Thank you. Anyway, bottom line, the end of the joint hits harder. I let it go out so I’ll get it going and cherried for you. But when you take a hit, go at it hard. That’s why it’s called a hit. I swear to God, don’t say anything.

“Thank you. Okay. So hit it hard. And hold as long as you can. Don’t swallow it though. Hold it. If you can do it, release it slow.”

“I doubt it,” said the one who was neither Jeb or the smoker.

“Well, yeah. But if he can, all the better. Remember Jeb, get out all of the old air.Then start taking deep breaths again.”

“Why?” asked Jeb.

“Get that oxygen to the brain. Maximizes the high.”

“Got it.”

“Ready?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t forget to pass it to the left,” said the one who was neither Jeb or the smoker.

“I’m gonna get it going,” said the smoker.

“Yeah, that’s tasty. Whew. Ready, Jeb?”

“Yeah.”

“Remember to breathe.”

“And to pass it to the left.”

“Guys, I got it.”

“Okay. Here you go.”

“Hit it, harder!”

“Shit, look at his face.”

“Damn, Jeb, you’re holding it like a champ. Let it out slow though!”

“Pass it, motherfucker.”

“Slowly, Jeb!”

“Holy shit.”

“That’s what it’s about, right there. Good job, Jeb.”

“Hey man, you want any more?”

“No, I’m good.”

“Jeb, you want more?”

“Nah, man, I’m good.”

“Cool.”

“Ready for some s’mores, Jeb?”

“Oh shit, we got s’more stuff. Sweet.”

“Look what you’ve done.”

“What’s that?”

“You’ve created a new stoner.”

“Peace, Love, and Weed on Earth.”

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