A few days later, I saw Larry again, sitting in the same spot on the wall with his backpack companion. I went across the street to In ‘n’ Out and got a chocolate shake, waiting for the crowd of students to clear out. Then, I crossed back over to say hi.
I sat down beside Larry. “Hey, how are you?”
“Oh—Oh, I’m good. Careful, now.”
“I just put down birdseed right there. You almost sat in it.”
“Oops, my bad.” I gave the small pile of seed, almost invisible against the grey concrete, more space.
“Do you go to this high school here?” Larry watched the cars whizzing by at eye level.
“Yeah. I’m applying to colleges, though.”
“Oh, that’s great. I went to Berkeley. A long time ago—before you were born, I bet. Man, you wouldn’t believe the shit we got up to back then.” He laughed, showing even white teeth. “Where do you want to go?”
I hesitated for a second. This was getting weird. Why was I sitting here talking to this guy? Walking by, a couple of girls from school gave me a look that told me I was acting like a huge dork. Larry took out a worn sketchbook and began doodling funny-looking figures.
“I’d better go,” I told him. Psyching myself up, I unzipped my backpack. “Here you go, man.” Playing it cool, like I did this all the time, I passed him a joint I’d swiped from my dad’s not-so-secret stash. Larry’s face lit up like sunlight on chrome.
“Hey, thanks, buddy!” He rifled through his pack as I stood to go. “Hang on—here, this one’s on me.” He handed me a T-shirt. It was much too big for me, but the drawing on the front was unmistakably his style. It was a pot-smoking fly cowering from a flyswatter, with the text: “Don’t Kill My Buzz!”
Adrien Kade Sdao earned their MFA in Creative Writing (Writing for Young People) from Antioch University Los Angeles, where they now teach through the Continuing Education program inspiration2publication. They are a reader and guest editor for Voyage, a young adult literary journal. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Drunk Monkeys, K’in, Lunch Ticket, Fterota Logia, and more. They live in North Hollywood with their cat, Shelly. Find out more at aksdao.com. Adrien recommends the NoHo Home Alliance.