“Where, IN THE HELL, have you been?” I ask Pumpkin when he finally comes home at exactly 9:42 am. He is on house arrest. The thing with Toledo house arrest, that everyone knows, is there are only three people in the Community Control Department who actually go to the houses to make sure the kids are really staying home. We usually have someone check midmorning and then again in the evening. They come to the door with a book the offender must sign and then they leave. That’s it.
The other thing about Toledo house arrest is they don’t work third shift. That means if they don’t show up by 10:00pm, they won’t be back until the next morning. Pumpkin waits till the magic hour and then he is gone. He won’t leave right in front of me, he waits until I am in another room and then he leaves. In theory, I am supposed to call and report that he has left. That would mean a new charge and I have a hard time snitching on anyone, let alone my kid. I tell him not to break the rules, I can get in trouble and he will get in more trouble, but he doesn’t listen. He says if they do catch him he will tell them I didn’t know he left, that I was asleep or something, and only he will get in trouble. He is usually home by the time I get up. This morning I was getting really worried he wouldn’t make it back in time. But, here he is and he looks like shit.
“Are you going to answer me? Where have you been and what the hell happened?”
He falls into the couch face first, legs hanging off the edge. He smells funny. His clothes look wet. This is gonna be good.
“Ma, I’m just happy I’m alive. That was some crazy shit,” he says into the upholstery.
“I went with Brandon over to his house.”
“Who the fuck is Brandon?”
“Some rich white kid in my group therapy,” he says.
“Why is a rich white kid going to Compass? It’s for poor brown kids.”
“His parents caught him drinking and they are trying to scare him straight by making him go to rehab with us.”
“That’s brilliant. You smell funny.”
“Yeah, lake Erie is fucking nasty.”
“You were in the lake?”
He sits up. Puts his hand to his head and rubs it.
“I think I’m still tripping, he says as he lowers his hands and wiggles his fingers. “Tracers,” he says smiling.
“I hate you.”
“What happened was, I was just going to go out to where he lives and we were just gonna drop some acid and chill.”
“Acid? Why the hell would you do that?”
“That’s the only thing they don’t test us for. He’s been taking like a box of Dramamine and hallucinating during group. I told him, that ain’t shit, you need some LSD. So, I got some. He lives out in Perrysburg. His house is by the water. We were gonna drop and hang out by the water.”
“But,” I say knowing this is where it all went wrong.
“We were sitting on their deck. His parents didn’t know I was there.”
“We started talking about the collective unconscious and how it’s represented by water and if you really want to figure out what’s really going on, you got to dive in.”
“Of course, and then you jumped in that disgusting water?”
“No,” he answered and stopped like that was the end of the story. I waited at least ninety seconds before I yelled, “What did you do?”
“His neighbor had this boat.”
“Had? Oh, Jesus.”
“Yeah, it crashed. It was dark, the hallucinations and the waves really fucked with me when I was driving it.”
“You don’t know how to drive a boat!”
“I thought: how hard can it be? Well, it’s trickier than it looks. At least tripping, that is.”
“Why didn’t you just go swimming in the water? Why did you steal a boat?”
“It sounds stupid now, but we really wanted to get into the human psyche and you can’t do that in shallow water, you gotta go deep.”
“Is the white kid ok? What did his parents do? What did you hit?”
“Yes. Nothing, they were asleep. A thicket.”
“Yeah, trees and bushes and shit, that’s what I hit.”
“Go and wash up before they get here. What are you going to tell Mr. Rodriguez if he finds out?”
He pauses going up the steps, turns to me and says, “I got that all worked out. Know how he is always trying to get people to believe in God? I’m going to tell him I keep trying to believe, but my mind won’t let him in. So, I thought I would use LSD as a spiritual tool so I can feel the love of Christ and change my life. I was taking the boat out to baptize my new life. Huh, huh? Pretty good?”
“There is something really wrong with you.”
“Duh. Did you make coffee?” he asks.