James knew who to call and called him. The girl had described James earlier as the skeleton from a Tim Burton film. His shoulders were hunched in his cloak, and they shook as he laughed, his jaw below the phone unhinging with an audible clacking. They all wanted weed, but they weren’t as drunk as him. While he spoke the girl turned to us. She had never seen him like this before, she said. She was embarrassed. “He used to be sweet and shy and charismatic, and now…” He was shouting orders on the phone, his wild eyes roving the dark yellow roads. Sipho was used to this. I couldn’t comment. The person on the phone wanted to sleep but was on his way. I would tag along. I had all this whiskey and there was still plenty of space in the night to feel better.
A car pulled down the road. Green, squeaking, mismatched panels; an old sedan with weak yellow headlights like gas lamps, turned around and pulled up next to us with an abrupt bounce. The girl was hugging James from the back while he smiled at the car. We’d met the driver earlier at the first bar. He had a strong face, thin lips and long hair tied back. He was still up from the previous night spent high on Ket with James.
“Get in my…my chariot.” He spoke in an impression and laughed.
She sat in the middle seat and I sat beside her. There was a dreamcatcher hanging from the rear-view mirror. James told him where to go as we drove. The guy drove fast. He turned with his head in the turns. The car shook across potholes and speedbumps. He didn’t stop and turned hard at a four-way stop. After taking a left, away from the light of the town and down a darker road, he remembered he had music. The music came on gruff and tinny and warm from the speakers in the back. It was a tape, some old blues. He showed us its case.
When he pulled over, James and Sipho got out and went down a road to a house. I got out and so did the girl and we stood away from the car on the corner of the two roads. The driver stayed in the car, laying back with his foot out of the door and the music playing. There was a white streetlight cool on an oak tree by the parking lot next to us. The light was on her face too, like moonlight. She had soft eyes and a quiet mouth and I looked at her while she spoke and offered her whiskey which she said she shouldn’t drink before she took a sip. I looked at her and asked her questions, calmly and sort of dejected while looking at her. And then I’d have to look away, to the oak tree, to the car, to the respite from intoxication falling warm into her. And then I’d look back, calm and dejected into her eyes while she spoke and let frustration feel far away while we waited. They came back onto the road from the house.
They hadn’t got weed, but they knew a guy they could get from back in town. The girl sat in the middle and as I got in after her, the driver peeled off and I was thrown into my seat before I could close the door. James howled us on as we clattered too fast down the road. I glared at the back of the driver’s head before settling down. I had signed up for this. I felt her next to me and the warmth of our legs touching. I hazarded a sip of the whiskey and lifted the cup to her. She declined. I looked out the window: no moon, just yellow haze on the sky and on the trees and the roads like caution tape. The driver swung the wheel with his head lolling as he ran a red light. They were laughing in the front. He screeched around a final turn before pulling up behind my car on the main road of the town.
Everyone got out to buy weed except me and the driver. He lay back in his chair and brought his left arm back so that his hand was pressed into the headrest in front of me. His hand was pressed firmly into the headrest. It looked as if he was looking out the rear-view mirror but the slackness of his body and neck revealed that he had begun to doze off. I sipped the whiskey. There was only a little left. Hollow blues played in the dark yellow roads. My car was parked just in front below the dreamcatcher. The driver’s hand was pressed firmly into the headrest. The last of the whiskey turned weightily in the cup.