May Flowers – Green

Here we go again.

Leaglize Maraguana

Noel had to make it happen, had to make his masterpiece a reality.  Homage to Tom Petty on his passing, or within a decade of his passing, please let it happen.  Also, homage to the plant that offered the only real meaning in Noel’s life.  He’d been smoked out since he was twelve, fuck what the people say about teens and marijuana.  Life before that was suckin’ down candies and pickin’ his nose, watching Spongebob but not truly understanding it.  Life after Mary Jane?  He could laugh at jokes, and laugh at the terrible things in life that really are jokes, when you get it.  Love was real, everything was real, if wrapped in green cellophane.

And so the project.  Tom Petty’s Last Dance with Mary Jane, the music video it should have had, not that starfucking bullshit that got on MTV.  A sexy 3d animated girl doing a pole dance on cannabis stems.  Religious icons and sex toys in oscillating colors.  A motion-blurred tour through the ferns and mushrooms and tree stumps behind his dad’s house.  Garter snakes and frogs getting peaced out together on the herb.  But the 3d animated girl was the central recurring image, the thing that tied the home video together, and it wasn’t happening.  The other guys were fucking slackers.

Boxhead and Colin were the first two.  Boxhead never learned to 3d model by any other method but spline modeling.  You’d think with his handle he’d know a thing about box modeling, but no.  One leaf was thirty-thousand polys, and that shit would not do for a forest of the stuff, for what Noel needed.  Colin’s solution was compositing – render it in front of blue, mask the blue out in After-effects – but getting the light right, making that work on a large scale?  Looked like ass, took a million layers, and still killed any computer they tried it on.  When Boxhead dropped out, he took the leaf model with him, and then Colin, and all that remained was a mediocre resolution .mov burned with a strangely massive file size on CD, and then the disc got corrupted when left in a hot car for a day.

Deonte was better.  Buddha gave him superpowers, totally cured his ADHD, and he learned all the 3d shit like a wizard.  But the later in the day, the more he’d smoked, his mind went to the mystical.  They would try to do shit extracurricular, but got lost in mutual excitement about religion, philosophy, politics – all revolving around the ganj, of course.  One time they mistook their mutual excitement for sexual excitement and had a moment of gay panic that they could never get past.  Why are we all kept in these chains?

Then there was Juggalo Casey.  That dude was not right in the head.  To him, spliff was just a way to connect the dots between harder trips.  He helped Noel shoot the footage behind his dad’s house, but lost track of time playing with a slinky, imagined he was throwing fireballs.  Acid.  He kept saying he could help with the 3d work, but it was never going to happen.

Pearla was the one.  She blew a tree with the guys on Ash Wednesday and Noel had a vision – she was going to be the face of the dancing girl.  Before Deonte had to part ways with them, he did the model, too.  It was spot on, looked just like Pearla, but more stretched out and curvy, like African sculpture.  Hot shit.  But while she was a muse, and she could move minds toward the greater purpose, that influence only lasted until she transferred to a four-year school.

After that, it was Jaden, Oliver, Diamond Nuts, Ollie, Ava, Caden, Joshua Ripper, Caitlyn, Henry, Bitchface, and Toledo Stooge.  He couldn’t remember what they’d individually done wrong, but he could feel their failures in aggregate, a hydra in his brain stem.  In his six years at the two-year technical college, the animation never seemed to pull together, out of all the strands of effort in hard drives and thumb drives and burned DVDs labeled with sharpie or never properly labeled at all.

But at the end of the day, if everybody around you is on the same page except for you, doesn’t that make you the wrong one?  The weirdo, the outlier, the misfit?  Noel wondered, at long last, if it was ever meant to be.  Life is a struggle which is ultimately all to the same end, and only a great fool would try to squeak an achievement past The Reaper’s mighty scythe.

A verdant day in early spring, before almost all of the flowers had started to grow, some trees still bare from winter but reflecting the brilliant foliage below them, green with promise.  Noel lay at the edge of a vast, mostly empty parking lot, across the hood of his dodge neon with a bag of funyuns and a mountain dew code red.  Piled between his back and the windshield were book bags full of the work – sketchbooks and CD books and thumb drives in baggies or floating loose, plus all sorts of other trash that found its way into the mix.  He had planned to haul the whole lot over to the digital arts building, but realized he’d need some kind of cart, and gave up.  Time to ponder life in an increasingly sober state.  What misery, on an otherwise beautiful day.

The brain stem shook with the hydra’s thrashing.  A rage built inside him.  Did no one understand beauty?  Did no one understand art?  Yes, it was great to enjoy leisure and creation passively, but somebody, somehow, needed to create those things one enjoys.  It had to be Noel, but how could he carry on, surrounded by mendicants and psychic vampires?  Fuck, he needed to get baked, right quick.

But he knew enough to not light up in plain sight.  The pile of bags was like a duck blind, where he could hide from campus police.  Perfect.  He got back into the driver’s seat, fished a lacy out of the glove box, and lit up.  He saw the dark, lumpen wall of his abortive magnum opus before him, sighed, and proceeded to hotbox that shit.

Eventually Noel’s eyes uncrossed, and he immediately clocked a pair of eyes looking back at him from the other side of that wall.  How had he not anticipated this?  From outside the car it looked like an unattended pile of possessions, something that attracted a sniffing little piggy.  The cop broke eye contact to head toward the driver’s side door.

In a panic, Noel scrambled to the passenger side, opened the door, and lunged out head first.  An explosion of glass behind him, and the cop snagged his leg, preventing his escape.

“Stop resisting arrest!  Get out of the car!”

“I’m trying, man!”

The cop wasn’t making sense, Noel wasn’t making sense, so it was business as usual on Mother Earth.  The gendarme clung to his leg, though in the thrashing his arm was dragged against broken glass, and he cried out in alarm.  This was not helping Noel calm down at all, and he finally broke free, spilling out onto the concrete.  The edge of the lot was spiderwebbed with mossy green cracks where tree roots fought to reclaim the land.  For a moment, the boy was distracted by the beauty of it, but the pig bellowed with blood in his voice, and the panic returned.

Noel was on his feet, but anywhere he might flee was open ground, where he could easily get shot in the back.  He froze.  Put the hands up and turn around slow?  He could still see himself getting shot.  As the cop lurched into view, he ran around the back of the car, on some Abbot and Costello Meet the Mummy kind of shit.

“Come out where I can see you, punk!”

“Nope!”  Again, neither man was making sense.  The cop should have just stood his ground and bellowed threats, saved his energy, but he ran around the car, and Noel ran as well.  Ring around the rosy.

Suddenly, Noel found himself behind the officer.  The pig had tripped on the cracks, landed face first on the ground, and lost a grip on his gun.  Noel ran over the top of the man to reach his gun – just to kick it out of reach, keep it away from the fascist.  But he tripped on the belt and came down knee-first in the back of a skull.

He lost seconds of time as the terror took over again, and came out of it standing tall, looking down at his victim.  Noel had killed a cop.  It didn’t feel triumphant, like in the songs.  It felt like the end of the world.  He could load all the book bags back into the neon, pick up all the pieces of glass from the concrete, and drive away without leaving a fingerprint or a molecule of DNA.  He could do that, but they’d still get him, CSI style.  Zoom and enhance.  Isolate the genome.  Clever interrogations.  Frenemies flipping on you.

Noel lay down on the hood of the car again, and nestled into the pile of bags, staring up at the sky.  He let his cellphone lay heavy in his hand, waiting to dial 911 and write the last chapter of his young life.  The sky was blue and, as his heart finally slowed to a moderate pace, the haze over his eyes turned green.  At least now he had an excuse for never finishing his shit.

Green and serene.

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