A Whole New Realm of Exploration: A Selection from the forthcoming Novel, Milk and Honey

***Please keep in mind, as you read this, that this is a very rough draft of what will, one day, be a novel… I am currently revising/rewriting…***

The impact marijuana had on Luc could not possibly be overstated; he was in love.  Everything made more sense to Luc after a puff or two.  Though pot dulls some people’s senses, Luc felt a marked increase in both clarity and comfort when he was high.  He was compelled to search for this mysterious plant at school.  After asking around a bit and coming to several dead ends, he was, once again, pointed Dylan’s way.
It took Luc several days to work up the courage to approach Dylan with his request.  Dylan had, after all, been the first of many to pick on Luc when he first transferred to A.E Cross. A lot had changed since then, however.  Luc was becoming more fluent in English.  Some of the kids still made fun of the strange breed of English he spoke, but Luc was now more than able to express himself.  He was, in fact, much more loquacious than many of his classmates for whom English was a mother tongue.
Luc approached Dylan in the hallway after school.  He skipped all formalities: “Dylan, I heard that you can get a hold of some weed for me.”  Dylan, quickly and forcibly grabbed Luc by the arm and directed him into the boy’s bathroom.  He inspected the room to make sure it was vacant.  “What the fuck is your problem Luc? You trying to get me busted? Fuck!”  Luc was naïve about the unwritten rules of procuring pot.  He apologized profusely.
Luc learned the complexity of the drug trade very quickly.  Dylan was a mere extension of his brother, Dustin, who had graduated from A.E. Cross the year before.  Dylan bought the pot from his brother and sold it to his fellow Junior High students, with a ten percent charge attached for his services.  Dustin was fine with this since his brother’s business comprised about 30 % of his own.  For the next week, Luc didn’t eat lunch. Instead, he put the money in a piggy bank which he secretly re-christened as his ‘pot-bellied pig’.
By Wednesday of the following week, Luc had saved enough money to buy an eighth of an ounce.  He was uneasy about walking around at school all day with ten dollars in his pocket.  Ten dollars was a small fortune for him; his parents had always been poor, especially since moving to Calgary.  Finally, at 3:00, the school bell rang and Luc ran to the appointed alleyway like a man possessed.  Dylan was late; “I’m waiting for the Man” played in Luc’s mind-stereo; his heart beat quickly.
Dylan finally showed up and the deal went down.  It was less than ideal, however, for Luc.  One of Dylan’s informal policies was to smoke a joint with the buyer.  Luc had to include Dylan in his first taste of the sacred herb.  Dylan had already rolled a joint and took the liberty of lighting it as Luc handed him the money.  Luc reluctantly took the joint Dylan passed to him.  He had planned on holding off until he was almost home, sparking a little bowl and retreating to his bedroom headphones and Tony’s most recent mix tape.  Instead, he found himself completely fucked in an alleyway with a kid he had always despised.  It was a much different trip than his first.
Everything got uglier, Dylan especially.  Luc lost all sense of time.  The alleyway which, pre-joint, had been harmless and unassuming, started to shrink around them.  He felt trapped and paranoid, sure that the authorities had witnessed the deal.  Every barking dog terrified him.  It seemed to take forever for Dylan to finally kill the roach.  Luc was fearfully loosing his mind.  He shook Dylan’s hand and ran from the scene of the crime.  He didn’t feel safe until he was in his own bedroom.
At the dinner table that night, Luc appeared out of sorts.  He sat down in front of his meal and looked around at his family’s expectant eyes very conscious of his dry, mute tongue.  Marie asked him if he was alright.  He mumbled something about not feeling well and went back to his room as soon as he finished his potatoes.  Lying on his bed, he put on his headphones and got lost in the bluesy swagger of Let it Bleed.  He was asleep by nine that night.
While Marcel and Marie were concerned about Luc’s frequent illnesses over the next few months, they were encouraged by the marked improvement in his grades.  Not only was Luc now passing his classes, he was now the top student in many of them.  His English had improved tremendously, and many of his teachers even suggested he move up a grade.  Marcel and Marie were astonished.  They never saw their son study, so they assumed he was cheating.  They were happy to turn a blind eye, however, so long as he didn’t get caught.  But maybe they had created a genius.  At night, they dreamed of their son as a doctor or lawyer, who would by them a house and take care of them in their posterity.  His frequent illness seemed to be a small price to pay for his academic success.
By Christmas break, Luc was “ill” every weekend.  He only left his bedroom to go on long, solitary walks.  By then, he had made a pact with himself to only smoke on the weekends.  Initially, he used pot as a reward for a hard week of study.  The contrast between weekday Luc and weekend Luc was like night and day.  On weekdays, Luc would entertain his family with profane, hilarious tales both real and imagined.  His stories, by this time were finely crafted and fueled by the lyrical inspiration of the music he listened to incessantly.  On the weekend, however, Luc was a ghost: silent and white.  Marcel and Marie assumed he was studying in his locked bedroom.  In reality, he was high in heaven.
Luc was obsessed with one album in particular.  From October right through to Christmas, only one album graced the rubber of his record player.  The diamond needle almost wore the wax down to nothing.  He had to buy a new copy by November.  He discovered this record on his own and was well outside of Tony’s jurisdiction.  The band had recently achieved phenomenal international success, but Luc preferred their early stuff, which was unknown to most people who loved the new record.  The man who lulled Luc to sleep every night with his detached babble was rumored to have been committed to an asylum; his previous band mates kept making music, however, their latest album, a premature eulogy to him, was a hit.  Luc couldn’t care less about the new incarnation of the band.  He preferred the incoherency of the missing singer.  When the record spun, Luc was hypnotized by a strange delight.
Luc’s favourite album was a constant source of tension between him and Tony, who saw the band’s early stuff as shit.  According to Tony, the band was much better off without the former singer.  He could appreciate their new stuff, but “The Dawn of the Piper” was too much for him.  Luc and Tony argued incessantly.  Luc claimed that even John Lennon went mad with envy when he heard the band recording the album in question at Abbey Road studios.  He pointed out that, despite the massive financial and critical success of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band, an album Tony cherished, Lennon felt that the Beatles had been bested.
The musical rift between Luc and Tony was a superficial symbol of a much deeper problem.  Tony was growing increasingly concerned about Luc’s habit, but was uncomfortable confronting him about it.  The boys, who for the past year had limited their discussion to music, were not comfortable discussing personal matters.  Any other subject seemed superficial to them.  Accordingly, Tony took out his frustration with Luc on his beloved album; he invoked the goddess of drought, without saying her name.
“Whatcha listenin’ to these days Luc?”  “Well, you know…  It’s a fucking masterpiece Tony; you need to give it another chance.”  “Are you fucking serious?  Anyone could make a ‘masterpiece’ so long as those who listen to it are completely fucked.”  Tony used his exaggerated impression of stoned Luc to make his point:  “Whoa man, did you hear that guitar effect?  I’m totally tripping out!”  “Fuck off, Tony.  I think it is pretty ironic that Dylan’s biggest fan is attacking heads.  What the fuck is a ‘mercury mouth’?  I’ll tell you what it is.  Fuckin’ meth-talk, that’s what.”  “Don’t even compare those stupid fucks with Dylan, you might as well burn a crucifix while you’re at it!”  And so it continued: a cold war between old friends.
By Easter, the boys verged on explosion, spending less and less time together.  When they did get together to listen to music, Luc would be high and, hypersensitive to long stretches of silence.  He constantly asked Tony if something was wrong; Tony lied and say no.  When they did converse, Tony did most of the talking.  By the end of the evening, he was frustrated with Luc’s withdrawal into his own thoughts.  It was as if he was speaking to a brick wall.
Tony’s frustration grew.  He was angry with Luc, and upset that the limitations of their friendship prevented him from talking about his feelings.  His parents had split up after Christmas; his mother finally had enough of her husband’s drinking which had become completely out of control.  On the surface, he was a successful lawyer and a devoted husband and father.  Nobody outside the Primastrada home, Luc included, knew the severity of his drinking habit.  The assistants working along side him loved him and fellow lawyers, even judges, respected him very much.  Home was a different story.  He was both emotionally and physical abusive to Tony and his wife.  When Luc or any other guest was in the house, he was a kinder, gentler man even if he was in his cups.  Behind closed doors, he was a monster.
Tony wasn’t sure what finally caused his mother to leave.  Perhaps it just took her this many years to work up the courage.  He didn’t really want to know anyway.  All he knew for sure was that she chose the coldest day of the year to do it.  He came home from school and found a note instructing him to go to his grandmother’s house.  He knocked on his grandmother’s door about an hour later and found his mother crying loudly on the old chesterfield.  She told Tony that she had left his father and that they would never go back; he was happy about that.
Tony was disheartened by the lack of emotion with which Luc received the news of his parents split.  His mother had practically adopted Luc into the family.  She treated Luc like her own son.  He was like the brother that Tony had never had, but always wanted.  Tony was hesitant to tell Luc the news about his parents, but he finally relented and phoned the Louis’ house.  Marie answered and called for Luc to come and get the phone.  He picked it up and Tony recognized the distant voice of his friend over the telephone.  He didn’t tell Luc the reason for his call and was disgusted by the predictable indifference of his best friend; he wept uncontrollably.
Luc had never heard Tony cry and it really bothered him even though it seemed unreal over the telephone.  He wasn’t sure how to respond; he was silent and he struggled to find reassuring words to tell his friend.  He listened to Tony cry for over a minute and then he heard a click.  “Tony?”  He had hung up.  Luc quickly grabbed his sweater and ran to the Primastrada home.
Luc knocked loudly on the front door; a stranger in the skin of his best friend’s father soon opened it.  He was drunk and visibly angry.  “What the fuck do you want?”.  When Luc stammered Tony’s name, the door was slammed in his face and curses were hurled at the inside of the door.  Luc guessed what happed but couldn’t believe it.  He was pretty sure where Tony and his mother might be found, but he felt too guilty to go to Tony’s grandmother’s house with glassy eyes.  Instead, he sparked the little roach he saved and began his long journey home.  By the time he got back home he was freezing.  He had a quick shower to warm up and dropped the needle on his favourite album.  He didn’t see Tony until Monday and he pretended that nothing had happened.  Tony wasn’t surprised.
A few weeks later, Tony and his mother moved into a Bankview apartment complex.  She decided on the neighborhood in hopes that Tony would be consoled by the fact that the split from his father brought him closer to his best friend.  Marie made a big batch of her famous venison stew and sent it over to the new home with Luc as a housewarming gift.  The boys talked about the new Aerosmith album ignoring the tension between them.  Their silence on the matter continued until spring.

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