“I Think I Feel Something” by Nathan Dennis

I Think I Feel Something

You hop into a van —
It’s a Toyota Sienna. A gold Toyota Sienna.
Fool’s Gold Toyota Sienna.
Fool enough to ignore the rolling stranger danger stereotype
And foolishly get into the passenger’s seat
Of a van with a man you’ve never met.

“‘Sup?” Sup.

The van reeks. Of course it does.
It reeks of weed. Why shouldn’t it?
You’re here to buy weed.
You’re not really one of those guys.
Those weed buying guys.
But here you are.
“I’m new to this.”
“All good.”
“Just want something that won’t make me too anxious.”
It’s not for you.
But he doesn’t need to know that.
“Something that will make me happy.”
It’s not for you.
But maybe it’ll make you happy if it works.
“Gelato, my man.”
He hands you a jar of raisined up green flowers.
It doesn’t look like gelato.

You give him 60 dollars, and hop out of the gold sienna.
The hammered up, dented out, two karat gold sienna.
Be cool.
You got weed now.
You’re a weed guy.
Put it in your pocket.
It’s an awkward jar.
It smells.
You smell.
You smell like those weed guys you shiver at on the subway.
People shiver at you now.
You feel giddy.
Fuck the law, amirite?
You’re in Harlem, and a twinge of that white privilege gentrifying buyer’s remorse
Hits you in your lungs.
Only white people get to be this excited about breaking the law.
You can still go to jail.
You’re willing to go to jail for weed.
To make her happy.

You walk in. She’s relieved.

She wants to smoke it.
How do you smoke it?
You need a grinder.
You need rolling paper.
You don’t even know what you don’t know.

You go outside.
You go to a headshop.
It’s not even a headshop.
It’s a deli.
That’s how dangerous this escapade is.
James Bond in: Gold Sienna.
James Bond in: Get High another Day.
James Bond in: From Deli with Love.
James Bond in: that’ll be twenty five dollars please stop making James Bond puns, we
have a line, the drawing for PowerBall is in fifteen minutes.
You pay too much for a grinder.
For a one hitter.
For rolling paper.
To get her high.
To get her happy again.

You dump the green lumps into the grinder.
It smells more pleasant closer up.
Still bad.
You look over at your pipe — your beautiful wood pipe
Next to a jar of fresh cut Virginia tobacco.
Why couldn’t weed smell like tobacco?
Why does tobacco have to be bad for you?
Jesus Christ, that’s a great question.
Tobacco is great.
Sitting on a Southern porch
On a hot night, with a pipe and a cigar,
Your father, grandfather, and the memories of every grandfather you ever had.
Weed can’t give you that.
Not you anyway.
But maybe it can give her something else.
That’s why you’re doing this. Focus up.

You grind it up — sanding down the lumpies
Into teeny bits of spice.
Stick them in the one hitter.
You have the match.
Light the match.
Open the fire escape window.
“Breathe in, baby.”
She coughs.
“It burns.”

No fucking shit, woman, it’s on fire.

“Yeah it’s a bit harsh.”

Try again.

“I don’t like it.”
Didn’t she ask for this?
Didn’t she want to feel better?
Didn’t you text an absolute stranger, and get into another stranger’s Gold Sienna van to
get her an illicit substance so she could get out of this depressive episode she’s crawled
herself into for the last four months?
You can’t say those things.
She knows you think them.
She knows you’re trying.
She’s trying.
You both know you’re both trying.
And you’re both desperate.
This is desperation.

“Let’s try a joint.”
How do you roll a joint?
You need a filter?
Fuck, you don’t have a filter.
Who needs filters?
You, apparently, you realize after you spend ten minutes
Scooting the paper up and down up and down along the hot chopped pot
That spills out of each side onto the counter:
Money wasted.

“This is hopeless”
She groans.
Not defeat.
The joint cannot be hopeless.
Because, let’s be honest, the joint is way more than a joint
The joint is now a stand in, a metonym for the relationship itself.
You can’t let all that sweet high spill out,
You can’t roll it so loose it bursts in flames.
You gotta use those fingers, boy!
You gotta massage that little sticky flapping fucker into place,
Touch it sweet — like cosmopolitan says to.
Don’t jam it.
Nudge it up,
Gently lick the flaps on the sides.
Focus, goddamnit.
Drown out the squirming legs of the world that wrap around your head
And lightly pull a trail of saliva from end to end
And seal that sticky roach. Melt that paper onto itself. Twist that little cap.

God damn that thing is pretty.

Your jaw hurts. Your fingers ache.
You hand her the joint.

“Try once more.”

She opens the window.
You light a match.
She inhales. Slowly.
She breathes out coolly.
It smolders.
You clean up the ashes. You triple ziploc bag the jar of weed so the entire apartment
doesn’t smell like that one apartment you always made fun of.
That weed apartment.
You put the jar in her sock drawer.
It’s a weed apartment now.

You pour yourself a glass of gin.
Gin doesn’t require this much work.
Gin smells delicious.
Gin tastes like flowers and history.
You sip the gin while she lays on the couch.

“I think I feel something.”

nd headshot for punchdrunk

Nathan Dennis is a Manhattan based playwright and poet of Floridian extraction.  A graduate of NYU Tisch Department of Dramatic Writing, his most recent play, Lord of Florida, was workshopped by PrismHouse Theatre Company in the Fall of 2017. He is the founder of Little Shitty Theatre Company which is developing his new play about a descent through the inferno: Circle of Shit. Further Information on current and past projects can be found at nathandennis.ink

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