It’s a freezing February night and I’m at my friend’s dorm. In contrast to the twenty-
degree weather outside, the room is warm with body heat. My friend group is gathered for a
movie night and we sit snuggled in blankets or in the arms of significant others. During the
course of “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” something odd has happened; the
gruff masculinity that my friend Kyle usually wears has fallen away. In its place is a softer, more
feminine facade that reveals itself in his posture. He’s lying on his stomach, feet kicking in the
air behind him like a Playboy bunny. His personality has shifted too — he’s giggling like an idiot
and acting like a toddler, with the coordination to match. What could have stripped him of his
swaggering masculine confidence? Maybe it was the three shots of vodka he downed before the
movie, perhaps the orange juice and whiskey concoction he’d been sipping throughout, or the
swigs of rum he took when he got bored. Either way, here we are, a grown man acting like a
child, tottering around giving hugs and making an ass of himself. I find it sad, imbibing a toxic
liquid just to return to the ostensibly happier persona of one’s childhood self. Is adulthood really
that hard? Is it a state of existence so unpleasant that you would give up the ability to walk in a
straight line just to escape it for a few incoherent hours? Kyle claims he’s not an alcoholic,
merely a social drinker. Social drinking: taking the precious time you have with the people you
care about, and spending it piss-drunk and unintelligible. Sure, sounds great. While I might find
Kyle’s intoxicated state to be sad, he couldn’t be enjoying it more. The alcohol has relieved him
of his standards for humor along with his critical thinking skills, and now the world is his farce.
Stare at him long enough and he’ll try in vain to hold back an inevitable tide of unprompted
laughter, his dark brown eyes looking like they’re about to pop under the pressure. I’m just glad

that we got happy-drunk Kyle tonight. Sad-drunk Kyle scares me. Sad-drunk Kyle is a man in
crisis, unable to forget the cruel disappointments of adulthood, and has deprived himself of the
emotional intelligence to cope with it. I hate being around sad-drunk Kyle, but I don’t feel safe
leaving him alone either. I don’t know what a man in that state would do to escape it, so I just
make him some eggs and hope I don’t find out. Drinking for Kyle is a gamble. He might end up
in the happy and oblivious state we envy our younger selves of. Or he could end up as a scared
child, emotionally unprepared and unable to forget the horrors of adult life, the coldness, the
emptiness, the despair. What an awful thing to do to a kid.

With one last overly affectionate hug from Kyle, I leave around midnight with my
roommate, Jack, and his girlfriend. He walks her back to her dorm, and I go back to our room to
sleep. The room is cold, and I curl up for warmth in my chilled bed, but my protosleep is quickly
interrupted by Jack’s return. He stands in my doorway, tall and blonde, with the facial hair of an
18th century Dutch colonialist. He says to me, “Hey man, there’s a dude tweaking out near
Wilson, could you back me up while I see if he needs help?” Despite looking like he’s involved
in the transatlantic sugar trade, Jack is a saint. I throw on a jacket and we head outside.

It’s bitterly cold and snowing. I’m already shivering and even Jack, Nordic-blooded and
Colorado bred, is admitting that it’s a bit chilly out for his basketball shorts. As we round the
corner, I see a man gesticulating at a wall like he’s trying to teach it karate. This must be him.
We approach, and Jack gives a jovial, “Hey man how’s it going?” The man turns around and I
finally get a good look at him. He’s a young Native American man, around my age, with straight
black hair and a warm-brown complexion. His clothes are comically baggy, borderline clown attire.

He’s swimming in an XL red hoodie, and it looks like he borrowed his sweatpants from the Elephant Man.

The man starts saying something, but his words are so slurred that I can’t make anything
out. He’s swaying back and forth, and he keeps sifting through his pockets. I’m scared he’s
looking for a knife. However, I find comfort in his tone of voice, which is clearly friendly, and
the British accent that he keeps inexplicably dropping into. Jack asks if he has anywhere to go or
any friends who can take care of him. He mumbles something dismissive about his mom’s place
and asks us if we’re students. We reply in the positive and he says sincerely, “Yeah that’s a
blessing man, it’s a real blessing.” There’s something so earnest about him, so raw. Any
inhibitions he had were clearly stripped from him hours ago. He’s starting to enjoy our company
now and he’s speaking more enthusiastically. I can tell from his voice and body language that
he’s building to something big, even if I can’t make out many of his slurred words. He turns to
me suddenly and puts his hands on my chest; whatever he’s about to tell me demands my
absolute, undivided attention. He’s looking directly into my eyes, and for the first time I get a
good look at his. They’re wide and crazed looking, dark irises drowning in an ocean of sclera. He
leans in close, pauses for dramatic effect, then triumphantly proclaims, “Blebbins!” His
declaration made, he presses himself off my chest and staggers backwards with the self-
satisfaction of a swaggering stockbroker.

I hear a police officer approach from behind and Jack pulls me out of the way. “Sir,
please sit down on the bench!” she shouts. The man is clearly confused, but he can tell that he’s
in trouble. He’s still sifting through his pockets and the officer demands to know what for. “Fuck
you bitch!” he screams in retort, followed by a meek, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean it.” He tries to
walk away only to spot another cop approaching from his flank. Upon seeing this, he turns and

begins sprinting back towards me and Jack. As he passes by he looks at us and says, “Come on

guys, let’s go!” before vaulting over a bench and running towards the Honors dorm. His mad
dash is brought to a sudden end when he trips and is quickly held to the cold ground by three
police officers. They keep him down for at least two minutes. He’s shouting and thrashing on the
frigid pavement, and the cops are returning his verbal abuse in kind. Finally, they drag him to his
feet and throw him in the back of their cruiser. I watch as they drive him off to who-knows-
where, his muffled objections trailing off into the bitter night.

We return to our dorm around 1 a.m. and I head straight back to bed. But I can’t sleep. I
can’t stop thinking about the last thing he said to us, “Come on guys, let’s go!” He spoke the way
a child would talk to their friends. Did he really think of us as his friends? How desperate for
connection would you have to be to think that strangers you’d known for all of three minutes
would be willing to run from the cops with you? I keep trying to picture what could’ve gone so
wrong in his life that would lead him to the back of that cruiser. He didn’t seem to have any
friends, only an illicit chemical companion to keep him company. Did he feel betrayed that we
didn’t follow him? Was he sitting in a padded cell somewhere cursing me and Jack for not
following him? I wrestle with my blankets and these thoughts for hours, until Morpheus finally
comes for me, and the soft oblivion wins out, just like it always does.


Matthias Glass is a hobbyist writer and student at Northern Arizona University. His work has been published in the Palouse Review.