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How Old Are You Now?

Happy Birthday to You Mom

*Text Message from "Cap:" Yeah, dude, hurry up. Come through"

Johnny looked back up at the row of greeting cards. 

"Her Birthday: Mother from Son"

Johnny had been in the store for the last 20 minutes trying to pick out the perfect card to go with his perfect gift for his Mother on her Birthday--August 14. He always made sure he got a card that said everything he wanted to say, but kept it sweet and, as an added bonus, ryhmed. If his Mother was crying by the time she finished the card, he had succeeded (it's important to note that those tears would be happy tears...he did not enjoy making his mother cry for any other reason than happiness.)

Cap could wait...the dope would still be there regardless of how much Cap told him to hurry his ass up. Once he got the card, he would write his own little perfect note on it, and tape it to the book he had got his mother that might as well have said "For Johnny Meyer's Mother" on the cover. Although he had waited till the day of her actual birthday to get the card...he was in no way taking the lazy approach. He was tired of being a disappointment to his mother, and this was one of those few days a year where he could make it up to her. 

He had to do it right.

He found the perfect card and, on his way home, stopped by at Cap's house to get some "shit" before the birthday dinner. It's okay...he still had 45 minutes to kill.

They smoked.
They got high.
They wanted Taco Bell.

Well, it's a funny thing when you live in Johnny's world, (or should I just say reality) because his luck is non existent...he has none and never had any. And an incredibly dumb decision to get weed on his mother's birthday ultimately led Johnny to that day's demise.

On his way to the local Taco Bell, which, it is important to note, was only 2 minutes away from Cap's (short for Capilinni) house, he sees a Ford Explorer with police lights pulling him over.

"Oh shit...you are kidding me dude."
"What, we don't have shit on us."
"I have like half a gram on me."
"You're a fucking idiot, dude...who saves that much?"
"I didn't even do anything wrong anyway...I stopped at that stop si..."

"You guys wanna get out of the car."

That was the first "officer," stopping Johnny mid-sentence. Briefly, Johnny wanted to say "What about probable cause" but in reality, probable cause is all bullshit. If a police officer wants to search you...he will; regardless of whether or not your tax paying self "approves" it or not. He could simply say your eyes are red and there wouldn't be a single way to prove the cop was telling the truth or not unless someone took a picture of you right then and there.

(The thing is, suburban police officers tend to have a lot of time on their hands. And since they are making more money than the cops that actually solve crimes in big cities, they must do something to show for their paycheck...unfortunately...this means giving 16-20 year old kids with weed a hard time).

"Can I ask why you pulled me over?"

"Do you know who you're with?"

That was the explanation Johnny got when he finally asked the question pertaining to his rights. He simply got pulled over because he was driving with Chris Capilinni...a kid who had been caught selling drugs before. Immediately, 20 thousand thoughts raced through Johnny's mind: 'but I'm not like him, I go to college, I have a good family, I have a good head on my shoulders, I've never hurt anybody, it's my Mom's birthday....'

'It's my Mom's birthday,'...that's the one that stuck and kept repeating in Johnny's head...'it's my mom's birthday....it's my fucking mom's birthday.' 

Twenty minutes later and the cops find nothing on Chris, but, of course, find the half of gram on Johnny. Instead of letting it go (we are talking a miniscule half a gram...that's nothing...a crumb off a chocolate chip cookie...a broken-off piece of led from a pencil) they put the handcuffs on him.

In the police car...the 4 hours at the station...all Johnny thought was...'it's my mom's birthday.'

"Sir, it's my mom's birthday...please don't arrest me today."
"Sir, it's my mom's birthday how long is this paperwork going to take."
"Sir...."

"You should have thought of that sooner, dickhead" 
Says one cop

"You'll be out of here shortly"
Says another

Well, shortly to police officers is 4 hours. 4 hours later...after being tortured at the local police station because of his mistakes...because he had to go get high on his mother's birthday...he finally makes it back to his house...after what seems like an enternity.

When he entered the kitchen the first thing he noticed was silence. The family simply sitting there...waiting for him to eat...waiting for him all of this time...wondering where he was...what he was doing. Everybody looking like they were on the verge of tears or lunging across the room to strangle khim.

Johnny looked at the floor.
"Where were you?"- Dad
No response
"Johnny...where were you?" Mom

How could he possibly explain this? There's no excuse for showing up to a birthday dinner 4 hours late...there's just no excuse. He would have to tell the truth.

And he did...he owed his mother at least that on her birthday...

at least that.

Johnny saw the tears swell up in her eyes...then she simply got up very slowly and walked out of the room. On the way out Johnny flinched because it looked as if she would hit him.

She never did...I think she was too disappointed at this point to bother. She simply put her head down...and walked out of the room.

Then slowly...one by one...his brothers followed.

Then his father.

He stood alone in the kitchen...a celebration ruined...a birthday ruined...because of him. It was always because of him. Because of the drugs...because of his need to get high.

Another celebration ruined...August 14 2006.

He put the card and her birthday gift on the kitchen table.

'Next year will be better' he thought.

And really, I never had the heart to tell him it will never be 'better'.
It will never be "okay".
It will never be "next year..."

Not without change.
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