"Fucking lesbos." He's standing right over us as I squint out into the white hot room. "Come on, get up. You're supposed to be ready. Christ." He walks out and I can hear him cracking a warm beer in the kitchen.

"Kathy," I whisper, "Kathy. Wake up." I nudge her and she nails me in the ribs in the process of rolling over.

"Fuck," she snarls, then goes into a coughing fit.

My hand roams the muddy carpet, searching out the cigarettes we stole from Albertson's last night. It's too bright to actually look for them, and my eyes are all sticky. Flesh hits cellophane. Only when the smoke is in my mouth and lit do I remember that the Newports had been unfortunately positioned out of the line of sight of the bank of cashiers. Cloying menthol freshness whacks me full in the lungs and I renew Kathy's dying chorus of barking and gasping.

Tom finds us struggling against the sleeping bag like pets run down on the highway, lolling our heads and limbs around seeking no particular direction. From the corner of my eye, I watch him watching us, knowing that this far into our relationship the sight of Kathy and I in bras and underwear is only fascinating in the most obligatory of ways. Still, he makes the appropriate comments and we flirt or mock as warranted.

Downstairs the front door slams and it means Tammy's mom. It's a safe bet she's been out all night, fucked raw while blacked out, somehow stumbled to her car and careened home when sun hit her eyes. It's safe to say she's looking for a fight.

I'm not tired anymore. Either we slip out now or we stay to be blamed for abortion and alcoholism and everything that lies between. "Is Tammy up?" I ask.

Tom just shrugs. I stand and pull my pants on in one move, then tip-toe down the hallway as quickly as absolute silence permits. Tammy's not up. With one hand, I shake her to waking and with the other, shove her shit into her backpack. There's a nearly full carton of Camels in her underwear drawer. I only grab two packs. She'd do the same to me. Tammy slept in her boxers and that's good enough for 9am in summer. I drag her back down the hall.

Through the glass we can see the MallWalkers strutting past the gated stores, resplendent in neon and pastels. The worst are the twin couples. There's another half an hour until the mall opens and the ashtrays are barren. We've circled the mall twice looking for unfinished butts. I'm saving the Camels for an emergency. Tom is pacing, waiting for the roll-gate on the arcade to move. Jackson, the cashier, is his half-brother and our favorite dealer.

"Let's just go to Dave's," Kathy whines. "It's gonna be another hour before they even open. We could already be stoned by then."

"Twenty minutes." Tom doesn't even glance towards his wrist. But he's the lone male and a year older. He can get away with that shit. Instead, he looks at me as though I'd materialized from nothing. "Hey Nadine. You got any more of those cigarettes?"

I hand him one and he sucks it into the world of born to die. "Fucking shitty menthols. Fuck."

Tammy and I roll our eyes at each other. "Hey, can I get one, Nadine?" she asks. I comply, Tom furnishes the light. "Shit, Nadine," she stage coughs, "These really are foul. I wish we had some fucking Camels." Tom pretends not to notice her fluttering eyelashes.

Once we've scammed all the free Orange Julius and Taco Time a reputation of being tough can earn us, the mall is full of jocks and Jackson is definitely not coming in today.

"Don't look like he's showing up," the arcade manager prophesies. "You see him, you tell him he's gonna lose his fucking job. If he ain't here tomorrow.." He adjusts his belt, nodding gravely.

"Me and Jackson drank with that asshole once," Tom is telling Tammy as I wave goodbye, "He's fucking hardcore."

As I walk down Pacific, I count plastic bags. I picture myself as an old lady, collecting them to make ugly crafts. The dust along the train tracks is too flat to kick up.

Dave, because he's only a sophomore, like us, gets shitty weed. But unlike Jackson, he's my best friend and reliable whenever I need to smoke. Tammy claims he's in love with her, but that's crap. He's pining for this gutter punk girl who's presently on a Greyhound somewhere. Honestly, it's better that I ditched them at the mall. Though we get into more trouble when we're together, our group works best when we're in pairs. Also, Dave's parents are nice. His dad shows us his Navy tattoos and doesn't drink, and his mom feeds us pop tarts.

When I get to his house, Dave's still asleep. I bang on the window for five minutes before he lets me in. In his bedroom, he picks up his guitar and I pick up his pipe.

"How's Karen?" My last syllable is caught in a sustained inhale, a sweetened death rattle.

He shrugs. "I got a letter. She's gonna meet us in Eugene next month." He fishes an envelope from under the bed, and I trade for the pipe. Typically Karen, the letter is bordered with peace signs and anarchy symbols. Sometimes I worry about her going patchouli.

I start reading from the middle. ..really desolate. I almost got stranded in Butte, Montana this morning, too. We stopped for breakfast and everything but I'm totally broke so I just got out to clean up. Brush my teeth. But when I came out of the cafe, the bus was gone. I just stood there, and I'm looking across this wrinkly old patch of pavement with dirt sidewalks and there's nothing there. All that's on the street is a ghost town post office and raggedy ass power lines, falling all over each other. I went back inside and asked the waitress (who looked like, take a flying fuck, kid) where the bus went. She told me the bus station was two miles up the street, so I just started running. And halfway, the sweetest fucking thing happened. There's this kid I've kind of hooked up with and we've been hanging out for a few stops, and he's running toward me from the opposite direction! He said he tried to get the bus driver to wait for me, but he told him I was in the bathroom and he just said, "That's a good place for her." But we caught up with the bus and then we sat there for like half an hour waiting to leave. It was really stupid, but lucky.

My turn to hit the pipe again. "I heard you got kicked out," Dave says.

I exhale. "Yeah, I guess. My mom threatened to put me in an institution again."

"Your mom's nuts. I thought you were supposed to be grounded all summer, anyway?"

"I was, but then I got that job. Maybe if she wasn't so fucking lame she could ground me, but she needs my money. I'm keeping it, though. I'm gonna buy a car in November, so I can get my license."

"Nice." He looks around, then leans closer. Dave thinks the FBI is tapping his phone. "I'm gonna get a car. I'm making a lot of fucking money. I mean, like, a lot."

Giggles slip out before I can catch them. He just looks pissed. "If you're gonna make any money, you'd better stop selling fucking twenty bags to the jocks," I smirk.

"Fuck you. You don't know anything about business. I've gotta sell bags to the jocks." As he's talking, his gestures get wilder. "Cause, see, if I sell to them they tell their friends and pretty soon I'm selling to everybody at school, and then.." He knocks the guitar off his lap. "Damn it."

Dave glares at me, then we're both laughing our asses off.

On the bank's lighted display, the numbers say it's 3:27 in the morning. I'm coasting slow on my skateboard, inhaling the weird hyacinth/laundry soap smell that comes out of nowhere in the summer. The streets have rolled up except for the last straggling carloads of kids out cruising, circling the McDonald's parking lot to infinity. After a while, you hit a point of zen where you don't even hear people honking.

At Denny's the manager came and threw us out personally, a nice touch. Tom and Scott, who was wearing a prison uniform he claimed was his own, dropped acid and were making a big deal about it. When getting into the abandoned warehouse behind the old mall didn't work, we decided to run across the freeway to Borderview Park. There weren't any bums out tonight but there was the moon, almost like tinted daylight over the river. Trying to hit the seagulls with our skateboards was in vain, but I didn't want to run across the freeway again, so I walked underneath while everyone else went over.

University crosses the strip like a big grey field. Instead of turning toward Denny's, I roll into the intersection. I can hear crickets and prematurely gunned motors from the other side of the river. Pushing as hard as I can across the unseamed asphalt, I drop all my weight onto my back foot as I jump, staying with the board as we hop over nothing. I even land it, rolling up onto the other curb as headlights appear further down the block. There's no point in going back to Denny's. My fingers itch to draw something and my feet stink, after three hot days of rolling around and no shower.

My mom will be awake, watching late night movies even though she has to be at work tomorrow. After she yells, then threatens, she'll start to cry. I never mean to piss her off. She, at least, doesn't bum all my cigarettes.

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