2.9 Careful, Kid



The air in the basement was thick with smoke – and not just cigarettes, either. It smelled of beer and old sweat, and the music was loud. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. Even though I’d been here a few times now, I still didn’t feel totally at ease.



Zack’s brother, Jake, was downing a beer over by the bar. After finishing his glass, he burped loudly.

“I’m bored.”

“Me too.” Dave yawned. “I want the stuff. What time did you tell him, Z?”


I felt a rush of nausea. Stuff. Drugs. I knew the guys did drugs every once in a while, they bragged about it often enough. But I’d never seen them do it.



Zack pulled Hester next to him in the couch, put his arm around her and placed his hand on her breast.

“Come on, baby, entertain me for a bit.”

“Zack. Stop it, not in the basement.” Hester tried pushing his hand away, annoyed, but he gripped even harder. “I’ll have you anywhere I want.”

“Stop bothering her!”



As soon as I’d said it, I regretted it. Zack pulled his arm away from her and shot me an angry glance.

“What I do to my girl is none of your business.”

I swallowed hard. “Sorry.”

“If we were in a club right now I’d beat the shit out of you for this.”

“I know. Sorry.”

Apparently Zack didn’t feel like beating the shit out of me, because he simply said: “Hope you’ve learned your lesson.”



“Maybe Enzo should get the stuff for us,” Dave suddenly said. “Look at him. He looks like a baby. Nobody is gonna suspect him of doing anything illegal.”

Zack nodded. “That’s a good idea. You wouldn’t mind, right, Enz? We’re friends, after all.”

He gave me a look that I didn’t dare say no to, but my heart was racing. They basically wanted me to participate in a drug deal. If anyone caught me… This was more than I’d signed up for.

But I’d seen Zack beat somebody up before. If I wanted to leave tonight without any broken bones, I didn’t have much of a choice.

“No,” I heard myself say. “I don’t mind.”



A little past midnight, I went outside and saw the hooded figure standing on the corner. The money was getting damp in my sweaty hand. I hoped he wouldn’t mind.

“Uh… Hi.”

I didn’t even know this guy’s name. Hello, mr. Drugdealer.



He turned around and gave me a curious look from under his hat. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here for Zack.” My mouth was so dry I could hardly speak.

He chuckled. “So you’re Z’s new puppy, huh? He sure knows how to pick ‘em. Better be careful, kid. You don’t want to get caught with this stuff.”

“Yeah. I figured that much.”



The guy fumbled in his pocket, and suddenly, his hand was shaking mine, subtly gripping the money and depositing a little, squishy bag in my hand. I think I stopped breathing for a second. But before I could say anything, he’d turned around and walked away.

I didn’t even look to see what was in my hand. I just rushed back into the house. I longed more than ever for my mom’s warm hug.


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