“You guys notice a change in Casey lately?”
“You mean aside from the fact he aint using?” Merle looked up from the engine he was working on, a grease streak across his thin face.
Danny shrugged in response and the question fell to the wayside as he fumbled for a smoke. Dee-Dee reached out an impatient hand, indicating he should share. Her brown hair fell forward in a careless waterfall as she pulled deeply on the cigarette. Shaking the hair back, her eyebrows furrowed as she studied her boyfriend.
“Casey’s been different ever since those biker chicks came through here.” She opined finally. Merle snorted from under the car, only his jean clad legs visible. The jeans were ripped and stained, perfect for the work he was doing. “Biker chicks! HA!”
“Whatever.” Dee-Dee’s retort was classic. She focused on Danny. “He followed Wendi, you know.” Danny’s blank look prompted more. “To that church thing? That carnival. Halloween? Hello?” she waved a hand in front of his face, determined to be acknowledged. He pushed her hand aside, pretending to be more irritated than he was. He knew exactly what she was referring to but he had no desire to go down that path. Despite the fact he’d asked the question, he didn’t want the reason for a change in their friend, he just wanted affirmation that something was off with Casey.
For the last several years the routine had been the same; work, drink, get high. Having a friend defect messed things up; forced you to do some re-evaluating. Danny ground out the cigarette. He needed something stronger. Rising from the stool he’d been perched on he slipped into the shadows behind the house.
Dee-Dee watched him go. Nervously she leaned closer to Merle. “It started with those biker chicks.”
“Whydn’t ya say whatcha mean.” Merle didn’t mean to snap but Dee-Dee’s penchant for drama wearied him. He struggled with a bolt. He just wanted to finish this repair and leave his sisters yapping behind.
“Those women on the Harleys; they were passing out flyers to some carnival down at that new church that opened. Wendi’s kid got a hold of one and pestered her to go. Wendi took her and after that she started going to the church every Sunday. Remember, that’s when she quit hanging out with us?”
“Wendi’s always marched to a different drummer.” Merle grunted as he worked his way out from under the car. It was true. Wendi might have partied with them from time to time but she never gave any indication that her weekends were dependent on whatever drug was being passed around.
“Yah, but Casey started going with Wendi to that church!” Dee-Dee sounded offended.
“So?” Merle was tired and cold. He wanted a beer and a joint and maybe some of that left over stew. He wanted Dee-Dee to go home. Except this was her home, hers and Danny’s and Merle’s. Casey’s too for a time. Dee was right, though he hated to admit it. Casey had changed but Merle’s next thought was that it was for the better.
Dee-Dee stuck out her lip as she kicked the dirt in front of her. She wouldn’t call Danny the love of her life but she did wish her boyfriend would follow her around like Casey did Wendi. It was obvious Casey thought the sun rose and set on her. Dee-Dee wasn’t particularly interested in church either but she found it intriguing that two of her friends had changed so radically in the last few months simply because they’d found “religion”.
Behind the house, Danny inhaled deeply off the smoke rising from the heated foil. He needed this hit. Needed to chase away the feelings of inferiority and anger that thinking about Casey seemed to stir up in him. Casey had been the leader of the pack back in the day. Now when he saw his old friend, he felt betrayed. He could see something significant had happened to Casey. It wasn’t just the physical improvements that rattled him. There was a change in Casey that went deeper. As if that all elusive peace they’d sought in the bottle or drugs, had somehow found its way into Casey’s soul.
“Sold out to the other side, s’ what he did.” Danny muttered, staring across the yard at Dee-Dee and Merle. Casey may have deserted him but at least he still had them. Restlessness stirred within him and he breathed in another hit.
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