The first time I did drugs,
I was sitting in a car with my friend Ox

In this dusty spectral parking lot
Yawning at three in the morning,

Waiting on the hookup to show,
Flinching at every blue hint and brake light,

Drooling at the waft of fresh-baked biscuits
Creeping down the street from golden arches,

Knowing, with certainty, that the hookup
Was marked, or that he was a rat,

And at the very least we would
Spend the next fifteen up state,

Where they don’t have books,
Or cell phones, or television,

And where mom can’t send
Brownies on our birthdays.

Still we waited, music on a low hum,
Some sad fucking hymn about

Bitches crawling, sweaty testicles, skeet skeet
Sure as snot on a toddler’s lip

We were up the creek,
When this little white Honda

With neon blue trail,
Throbbing to some other sad hymn

Split rubber and asphalt
And let howl a mighty shriek in the cool night

Alarming the prowling, listening wolves,
And every tree in the Bluegrass with eyes and ears.

We swapped glances, sweating buckets,
Ready to shift and peel out at any moment,

And go screaming off into the night,
When this scrawny Jewish kid

Stepped out of the car
Holding a tattered ammunition box,

Wearing a Flogging Molly tee shirt
And a sagging Rastafarian beanie,

Grinning like a dumb shmuck at prom,
And waddled up to the driver’s window,

Knocked, and said, “Dude, let me in!”
So we did, against better judgement.

Ox introduced the boy as Royce,
And I asked him what the stuff was called,

Hoping for some celebrity name,
Like OG Kush or Purple Nurple,

Something to tell the fellas in class Monday,
But Royce didn’t understand branding.

Instead, he said, “This shit is fire, bro,
It’s like novocaine, man,

“You won’t feel a thing all night.”
And I said, “Don’t you mean lidocaine?”

And Ox said, “What’s the difference?”
And I said, “I think it depends on your HMO.”

And Royce said, “Woah, man,
What are you even saying?”

And I said, “My dad’s in insurance.”
And Ox said, “How much?”

And Royce said, “Sixty bucks.”
So Ox paid the kid, dropped three crisp bills

In that worn green box,
And Royce shook our hands.

All the while I’m aware of the photographer
Crouched in the bushes, holding a 400mm

Isometric telescopic something or other,
Planning our downfall in vivid noir detail,

All black and white, photo grainy,
A bit too blurry to make out,

But the judge would pound her gavel,
Stare down at us with frost in her veins,

And my parents would cry
As they hauled me away in a jumpsuit,

Not because I’d ruined my life,
But because I looked so pear-shaped in a onesie.

Royce exited the vehicle and disappeared
Into the wild, purple dawn,

Never to be seen or heard from again,
At least, not by me.

Ox and I went back to his parent’s house,
And sat in the basement, frantically

Trying to stuff this sticky green shit
Into broken cigarettes we bought off his cousin

Who worked nights at the gas station up the street,
All the time giggling and thrilled

With the enormity of our crimes,
The gravity of our manhoods,

Until at long last,
We lit that spliff like a clumpy white rope,

And filled the room with swirling cords of smoke,
Coughing and gagging, reeking skunk spray,

Dispelling rumors of gateway drugs,
Vowing we’d never get into the hard shit,

Just keep it mellow, you know,
And taking turns asking if the other one

Could feel anything.
No, not yet.

Fast forward.
Ten years later.

Ox is in the ground,
Marked by a cold marble slab

That says something about son and friend,
With two very close dates on it,

And silk flowers all over.
I’m sitting alone on a couch,

A thousand miles from that parking lot,
Dissolving a sugar cube on my tongue,

Waiting for the drip to start up slow,
While I crush some Molly with a hammer

To kickstart the high, thinking back
To that night in Ox’s basement,

And the promise we made,
That nervous flutter in my stomach

The first time I took a hit,
And breathed out, exhaled boyhood,

Exhaled innocence, clarity, chastity,
Completed that sacred rite of passage.

Anyway, I guess the drugs worked,
Because I didn’t feel a thing that night,

And I haven’t felt a thing
Every night since.

12 thoughts on “Novocaine

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