I turned off the stereo and killed the lights as we pulled slowly into the cul-de-sac, wheels crunching as they slowly turned along the battered asphalt. I pulled into the first spot of the parking lot of the apartment complex at the end of the street, and got out of the car.

Ryan stepped out of the car, walked around front, and started peeing on the bamboo hedge.

"Dammit, Ryan," I said, as I walked around to open the trunk. "We just left your damn house."

He answered dismissively as I clicked the trunk release button on my keys a couple times. Stuck, as usual. He nonchalantly smacked the top of the trunk and it slowly sprung open. I grabbed the 12-pack from inside. Tecate: the best cheap Mexican beer in Texas. Dos Equis's ugly cousin.

"Hey Ryan, what do you call six Mexicans pissing in bottles?"


We walked leisurely past the end of the street, skirting the fenceline down the hill. The eerie red glow from the trailer on our left provided little light, and I stumbled as we walked, brushing the bamboo leaves out of our faces and lamenting my choice in footwear. Flip-flops and skulking around tall grass don't mix. We reached the end of the unfriendly chain-link and ducked under the hole. The jagged tear, rolled back upon itself like a sardine can, stood like a mocking challenge to the barbed wire five feet above it.

"Fuck," I muttered. My head, freshly shaven and unprotected, scraped against jagged metal as I crawled through. "Ryan, next time you bring the bolt cutters out here, you should clean up the edges of the hole."

"I'll keep that in mind," he replied, laughing. "Maybe a little gate, too."

We trudged through the tall weeds onto the concrete, kicking aside empty cans and broken glass as we stepped toward the edge. The city stretched out in front of us, its glowing lights promising prosperity to us who had spent our last ten dollars on the 12-pack in my hand. I set it down at the edge, considering the ten foot drop below me. The trees below, obstinately growing up through gaps in the next tier of concrete, waved in the warm summer breeze.

I lit a cigarette and walked toward the enormous willow tree, held it between my lips as I unzipped my fly and urinated through the tree's tendrils, which writhed in the wind.

"Wind's picking up," I observed.

"You pee on yourself?" Ryan laughed, as I walked back over.

"You only pee into the wind once," I giggled, by way of answering. "Wind's out of the east tonight." I sat down on the edge, took a drag of my cigarette. "Beer me."

He handed me a beer and bummed a smoke. The can, covered in the sweat of a humid Austin night, seemed like a natural extension of our existence. Weeknights, we drank at the Foundation. That was life. I brought it to my mouth, hooked my teeth around the rim and pull-tab, and cracked it open, sucking in hard to catch the spray of beer.

Wiping my face on my sleeve, I reflected on my day, and thought about the next one. Working as a grocery store cashier left me, as always, in a mood to escape, and tonight was no exception. Nor would tomorrow be, I mused.

We sat for a while, drinking and entertaining conflicting fantasies of corporate ladder-climbing and Austin hippy utopias. The more I thought about it, and the more beer I had, the more sense it made: we were supposed to be there. On that night, our place in the grand scheme of things, was as the two guys watching airplanes and helicopters cross the sky from the Foundation on a Tuesday night.

"Copper chopper," Ryan pointed. Sure enough, the beam of a spotlight slashed down from the helicopter onto the city below, drifting aimlessly. "Waste of tax money."

We watched the cops slowly circle around to our direction, noted that we were in the path of the searchlight on its current course.

"Let's hit the tree," I said. "No need to get spotlighted."

We took the remaining beer with us and ambled leisurely to the far side of the willow tree, looking upward at the blindingly bright light that glided across the pavement, glaring through the branches of the trees.

"Damn cops."

Returning to our previous spot, we finished the beer, dropping the cans onto the concrete below. Going down there to retrieve a sandal, lighter, or pack of cigarettes, as I had been forced to do in the past, was a harrowing swim through a sea of sickly underbrush and filthy broken glass. I took my shoes off and placed them behind me as I dangled my feet over the edge.

"That's the last of the beer," Ryan noted as he crumpled his can. I picked up the torn box and turned it upside down, unsuccessfully trying to light it on fire. The sweating cans had soaked through it, and its burning abilities were less than spectacular.

"Fuck it," I said, tossing it over the edge. We returned to the car the way we came, stumbling a bit as we walked.

"You hungry?" I asked.