I stirred a bowl filled with gooey brownie batter as my accomplice Christian looked over my shoulder. “So how much should we put in?” I held up a zip-lock bag filled with pot. I had just graduated high school, moved out on my own, and was ready to try any mind altering substance that came my way. “Fuck it, let’s put it all in there!” He grabbed the bag with his catchers-mitt hands. Christian was a 6’6 ogre, took Mexican horse steroids and was pumped for everything. He began crumbling up buds into the batter–stems, seeds and all. I thought about telling him to at least leave the stems out, but rather than risking a storm of roid-rage, I decided to leave the angry elephant alone.
Street lights shined through the hall windows as I walked into my living room. I sat next to my roommate Ryan who was sprawled out on my futon watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in his PJ’s. An hour later, Christian entered with a grin, holding a smoking batch of brownies with oven mitts, looking like some kind of Shrek housewife.
“Are they supposed to smell like cat piss?” Ryan said.
“Just shut up and eat.” Christian said.
“Oh my God, they taste like rotten straw.” I said.
“Ah come on, they’re not that bad, in a few minutes we’ll be so messed up it won’t matter anyways.”
Forty minutes later, we’re all bent over laughing, watching Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.
“Look how nimbly he runs across those branches.” I pointed at the TV.
“Nimbly? Who fuck says nimbly?” Ryan slapped the brownie out of my hand.
“Dude, I’m starving, someone go get food. Lots of food,” I looked over at Christian.
“Oh sure, make the Mexican go get it”.
“I’m down. Let’s get some Carl’s.” Ryan said.
“Here’s ten bucks, get me five chicken sandwiches por favor,” I handed Christian the money.
“Five? God, you’re disgusting”.
As soon as they left, my skin started to feel hot. I splashed cold water on my face and stood in front of a fan, but it didn’t help. I stripped off my shirt and shoes, and put on some old neon-pink beach volleyball shorts. I felt much better. Twenty minutes later, they came back holding two greasy sacks in each hand.
“Nice shorts Zack Morris, you goin’ to meet Screech at The Max or what?” Christian threw five chicken sandwiches on the coffee table. We remained silent as we stuffed our faces.
“Oh God, I should have stopped after the second one, but they were just soo good,” I popped the last bite of the fifth chicken sandwich in my mouth. Ryan zombied to his room while Christian and I sat absorbed by the Crouching Tiger.
Then, my knees, elbows, and knuckles started going numb. My heart was pounding and my skin rippled across my chest. A smudged halo of light appeared around the TV. I looked away, but Master Li yelled through the screen, “Don’t look away from the Tiger–Face the Tiger.” This was all I could take. I sprinted to Ryan’s room, crashed open the door and collapsed on his floor.
“I can’t feel my body,” I seizured on his carpet.
“Shut up and get off my floor,” he laughed. The whites of his eyes had turned sunset-red.
“I’ve been poisoned! No, No, not poisoned, it’s those chicken sandwiches. I ate too many of them. They’re stuck in my throat, I can’t breathe.”
All my yelling brought Christian in. He looked composed with his hands on his hips “What the hell’s wrong with him.”
“He says he’s choking. I wonder, can you OD on weed? I’m not feeling that good myself. Do you think there was something in that stuff?” My hysteria was contagious and Ryan had caught it.
“Seriously guys, I can’t breathe. I don’t want to die from weed brownies; my mom will be so disappointed.” I grabbed my stomach. Paranoia bubbled in my veins. “Call 911”.
“Screw that, I’m on probation fool. Plus, I’m way too high to call 911. You call em.”
“Come on, can’t you see I’m dying.” My face felt like a boiled lobster, anxiety gripped my neck.
Ryan grabbed the phone, “I’m calling them. He don’t look good, and-and, I really don’t feel right either.” Ryan dialed the three numbers, and fifteen minutes later our dogs barked as the paramedics’ boots clunked up our wooden staircase.
Navy blue shirts and slacks filled the room. “Come on big boy, get up, we’re not carrying you down all those stairs,” one of them said. The sight of all these alien people in my house snapped me out of my hysteria a bit. I got up, and they helped me down the stairs.
Outside red lights flashed as my neighbors watched the show. The paramedics helped me in the ambulance and I laid down on a gurney. They talked Ryan into coming along just in case he had the same reaction. I was choking, expecting oxygen, a stomach pump, at least a couple reassuring words, but a meathead-paramedic just sat next to me, holding a clipboard like a high school gym teacher.
“Aren’t you boy’s a little old to be experimenting with pot brownies?” Ryan giggled on the bench in the corner. “Anyways, what’s your social?”
“6……………. 2 …………….” is all I could remember.
“Uh, either you’re one of the first people ever born, or I’m guessing there’s some more numbers than that.” Everyone laughed except me. I was too busy freaking out. He elbowed the guy next to him, “You like that one?” His friend nodded and chuckled.
“So, were you boys getting ready for the Gay parade tomorrow or what?” Ryan curled over laughing hysterically. I wasn’t sure what that even meant. I wanted to punch him, but I was too high to move.
We pulled up to the hospital, and as they wheeled me out, I felt the chicken sandwiches budge. I frantically looked side to side. “I need a bucket.” The meathead tossed a plastic bedpan on my chest. As they rolled me down the ramp I began projectile vomiting like the demon girl from the Exorcist. I puked while passing Ryan’s wide eyes and laughter. I puked in front of a family and kids their mouths twisted into “Eww’s.” And I kept puking as they gurnied me into a room surrounded by blue curtains in the E.R. I’m pretty sure all five chicken sandwiches were now in the bucket.
My heart stopped pounding and I could breathe again. But I was still sweaty and tingled all over. “Oh no, did I crap myself while I was puking?” The navy blue shirts surrounded me until a blond doctor with nice jugs split between them. I closed my eyes and pretended to be unconscious. I was so high; I just wanted to be left alone.
“Can you hear me,” she yelled. “Hello? Why are you here tonight?” I laid still and played opossum. She lifted up my eyelids with her fingers. My eyes scanned the room and focused on hers. Her brow scrunched. She stared into me, and let go. She knows, I thought.
“Look at him, that stoners faking it,” the meathead yelled.
“Let’s find out”. She grabbed a chunk of my skin and started pinching and twisting it between her fingers. Pain shot up my arm, “Can you feel that”? I kept my mouth shut and remained still. “Ok, you don’t want to talk, fine. I’m going to go help someone with a real emergency.” When I heard her walk away, I slowly peeked one eye open. I was alone. I smiled and went to sleep. Meanwhile, Ryan had locked himself in the bathroom and passed out on the toilet.
I woke to another pinch on my arm. My eyes shot open. The doctor towered over me. “Hey you-You’re going to talk to me this time or I’m going to stick a catheter down your penis.” That woke me right up. I didn’t know what a ‘catheter’ was, but the thought of having anything jammed down my pee-hole was terrifying.
“Umm, I think I ate too many brownies.”
“You mean, you ate too many marijuana brownies”.
“Right, I thought I was suffocating or something. I feel fine now though.” I tried to smile at her.
“It’s called paranoia and anxiety. You and your friend should be ashamed for taking resources away from patients with real medical emergencies,” she crossed her arms.
“Yea, sorry about that, but uh, can I leave now?” I sat up and stretched.
“Go sign the clipboard down the hall. And keep an eye out for the drug abuse literature you’ll be receiving in the mail. Give it a thorough read, it might do you some good.”
“Yea, great, I look forward to that”. She gave me a final frown and stormed through the curtains. I walked out the room and saw Ryan wobbling from the bathroom.
He looked around suspiciously, leaned into my ear and whispered, “I’m still so high.”
“Me too, but, I think I puked a bunch of my highness out. Let’s sign that clipboard and get out of here.” After signing out, Ryan went outside while I called a cab.
I walked my half-naked body out of the hospital and into a blanket of fog. I stood next to Ryan who was bobbing back and forth. Silent, we stared at the sliver of morning sun rising in the distance. As our cab pulled up to the hospital, Ryan turned his puffy red eyes to me and said, “Man, after this hospital bill, those are going to be the most expensive brownies ever.”