The Summer Man - By S. D. Perry


Amanda was stoned out of her mind the night everything started to change. So high, in fact, that the sounds of the party around her, the voices and laughter, all sort of blended together into a big, echoey stew, punctuated by the beat of bass-heavy music coming from another room and by the old movie playing not far from where she sat. David Lynch, she thought. Something with Laura Dern, anyway.

The way everyone kept moving around didn’t help define matters; from her position, leaning against the wall next to the bathroom, the shapes of the other partygoers were vague, dark blurs, people shuffling themselves to watch the film, to pass a pipe, to leave the room or enter it. Half the people there seemed to be wearing black. At least half.

“Me too,” she said, looking down at her skirt, noting how pale her skin looked through one of the carefully cultivated rips. Man, she was white. She was one of those people who didn’t tan, anyway, just turned red, and too much sun gave her a headache. She wore sunblock all the time, put it on after every shower. Which meant she was white, white, white. Kind of fat, too. The tear in her skirt revealed a tiny white island, rising from a black abyss. She seriously needed a new diet.

Devon, sitting next to her on the floor, was saying something. Amanda blinked, focused on his wide, seemingly sober gaze. Ha. As if he hadn’t finished off most of a six-pack by now. At least.

“What?” she asked. “Did you say something?” Her voice seemed to be going through a tunnel, echoing away as she spoke. Cool. Weird.

“That’s what I asked you,” Devon said. “You said something.”


“A minute ago,” he said, then shook his head slightly. “Never mind. You’re out of it. High as a fucking kite.”

Amanda hesitated, digesting the information, then grinned. It was kind of embarrassing to be caught out unable to function, but it was only Devon, he of the perfect skin and just-so hair and the charming overbite, which he hated. She couldn’t count the number of times she’d seen him puking in the bushes, beer being his usual drug of choice. He said pot made him paranoid. She thought it just made him think too much…which, if she were him, she’d probably want to avoid, too. He was smart and funny and he had friends, but being gay in high school—he wasn’t technically “out,” but it was pretty obvious, even to a bunch of backwoods hicks like their alleged peers—was a suckfest, no doubt. He got hassled all the time.

“I am not; fuck off,” she said. Too loud. A couple of the movie-watchers glanced over at her, then turned back to the film. Onscreen, someone was punching someone else. Blood splattered.

Devon was smiling, too. He drained his beer, then set it aside. “I do believe I will. There’s more beer here, somewhere. And I need a smoke. I think Keith’s back from the store; I’ll see if he got ours. I’ll be back in a few, OK?”

Amanda nodded, slightly amazed at how he was able to talk in complete sentences, to express whole thoughts. There was a beginning, middle, and end to his plan, and he hadn’t forgotten any of it as it came out of his mouth. Impressive.

I want a smoke, she said, but only thought it, which was just as well. Devon was already gone, rising in one fluid motion, disappearing around the corner into the darkened room.

A dilemma, then. Cigarettes were outside only; Pam Roth’s parents were out of town for three more days, but Pam insisted that they’d be able to tell if anyone had smoked inside. Pot didn’t count; incense covered that up pretty well, and the actual smoke-to-air ratio wasn’t so bad, but cigarettes were a different deal. So, out back with the dog crap and the cold, cold night, where the other addicted souls huddled together, blowing stinky smoke at the moon. Making their clothes reek. Making their lungs black.

Sounded fucking awesome. Amanda started to get up, then remembered that Devon was coming back to get her—wasn’t he? Or was he going to have a smoke first? She tried to remember…he had been unclear. They were both out of cigarettes, but Keith had made a run to the Qwik-Mart at the bottom of the hill for like seven different brands, some soda, candy, possibly even beer—if Clark Emory was working, he’d sell to Keith—carrying a scrawled list and a