Page 1 The first time I met Duke, I was tripping on shrooms. In fact, it was the first time I dabbled in psychedelics as well-- just don’t underestimate me in the marijuana department. The moment I can recall vividly comprised of the walk from the music hall which brought us to underneath the Moody Towers residential buildings, where there is wind and benches. A square of dirt rests behind the two benches facing one another; the distance apart from the benches being just far away enough to notice the gap of distance when conversing with someone on the other side. There was a main square of dirt, consisting of hundreds of butts twirled within the earth, scraggly weeds, and one relatively low sitting, yet ominous tree. This tree often glowed during the segments of the day in which the sun found itself to gazing down on the towers and its delinquent inhabitants. On many occasion during these occurrences you could find me, or perhaps Duke, basking in the serenity of the simplicity of the slivers of light breaking free through the emerald green mass of the tree. On this particular night I’m recalling, it was nighttime, causing the yellow of porch lights to dim the other color palettes. Except the sky was royal purple, and the grass in the distant hillside was writhing and crawling and breathing-- according to the mushrooms. Half of the bodies there that night were standing, half sitting, and there couldn’t have been more than a dozen of us. Here is this person in my indirect line of sight, and I couldn’t quite pinpoint the gender, but cute regardless. My guess of girl pursuing boyhood turned out to be correct. Small, almost delicate frame like mine, only he attempted to conceal his when I had long ago grown out of that. With a plaid button down and the collar poking outside of his oversized dark casual suit blazer. It was tied off with baggy khaki pants and clunky black sneakers similar to the ones the chefs in the cafeteria wear with a sense of longevity.
Page 2 His hair took inspiration from the typical pubescent teenage boy, straight and shaggy, and nearly covering the ears and eyes with a combination of strips of platinum blonde, ***** blonde, and light brown wisps. His almond shaped almond colored eyes were framed with black, square and thick glasses, but they seemed to help compensate for size with the natural petiteness of his face. Pink snakebites resided beneath his bottom lip, emphasizing the common nature of his lips that often formed a tight line, even when speaking. I only saw him from a distance that night. We didn’t introduce ourselves to each other until the next day, at that same location. There were less people now, and I was no longer in an altered state of mind. Well, to be honest, I still most likely was, but it certainly wasn’t shrooms. I don’t remember who began the introduction first, but I know his was accompanied with an abundance of compliments on my outfit and level of cuteness. As masculine as his mind was, he could still have an appreciation for the arts, for unique style, as any natural born writer would be so inclined. So there, underneath moody, I met him, within a social circle so new to me yet so familiar within the ebb and flow in the air of cigarette smoke, sometimes so pungently thick and keen against the tide of stimulating conversation. I felt a sense of belonging new to me.
Page 3 And there again and again, I saw him. The central station of our friends. There I slowly got to know him. I learned he lived about an hour away from Houston, he was a creative writing major, he was a freshman just like me and lived in the same building as me. We were both INFP’s on that Meyers-Briggs personality test. I had never met another INFP. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more his general profile seemed familiar to me. And then I remembered. RoomSync, an app the university had us use to select a random roommate. I remember considering someone’s profile that possessed all the qualities of Duke, before my current roommate reached out to me, unfortunately. Duke might have been my roommate in another reality-- remember the Multiverse Theory. I wonder if that would have even changed anything. But that thought process is futile. Once, in the initial stages, Duke had been rambling about modern horror and the author of the fight club, and where the two converge with the product of a gruesome short story. Not many accepted Duke’s invitation to read the short story, but I volunteered. But that is when I remember the beginning of Duke’s admiration for fight club. The concept of it. In fact, one of the first nights, I remember vividly as the Fight Club Night. Where Duke insisted on starting up our own Smircle fight club sometime, what what better time to do so, he thought, then right at that moment with his buddy Otis while drunk on ****** life and four lokos and *****? They were both at least eight shots deep in their sorrows when they ended up disappearing for what seemed to the rest of us like mere seconds. When we found them, we had ventured that way due to the need and ability to smoke a bowl behind the dumpster a few steps nearby. And when we found them, only one was standing. In the recounting later, Duke had apparently taken a nasty blow to the stomach after slamming a few hits in himself.
Page 4 As he lay there, sprawled face-down on the pavement, disoriented and disheveled, for a solid eight minutes at least until he determined he wasn’t going to puke. The remainder of the night was spent accompanying the rest of the group with Otis, forever refusing to let go of the moral dilemma that had just been established by this pseudo-fight club on which it is incorrect on all accounts to punch a drunk person in the stomach, because they are, in fact, drunk. This might appear annoying after a while, but the radical and lively energy that would radiate from the banter of Duke and Otis made this situation anything but.
Page 5 And so were my first stories of Duke, and so it was for many stories to come. Our stay at this place began to feel more permanent as our bodies would steadily adjust to the ranging, sporadic temperatures outside and as our eyes took in absorbing the physical evidence of the seasons. As it was, at any time throughout the day, my route would take me down to our spot underneath Moody, where Duke might or might not be there himself, shmoozing around with cigarettes and doodles on pen and paper noteworthy of Tim Burton. I got to know Duke. He seemed to have mastered the skill in which I prided myself most in, and that is the warmth near him that urges someone near him to just open your heart and reveal your thoughts and secrets-- that blind trust. Duke had a way of getting to exactly what was on my mind. And in exchange of me sharing, out came the stories of Duke’s life, the sad, ****** up, abusive stories. I heard those the most, for they were also the most compelling, and most exciting, and ******* sometimes Duke could even make them funny.
These days, Moody feels empty. Just because of minus one.
This is a short story I wrote for a dear friend I met my first semester in college, and this dear friend committed suicide before Thanksgiving in 2015. The page numbers stand for the pages in which I wrote the original copy, on fragmented pieces of notebook paper. It’s a very rough draft, but I wanted to put it out into the world. You will be severely missed, forever and always, Duke.