His friends had to admit: they had always thought he was crazy.
Wylie had seen him dive out of a moving car, rolling backwards and whacking his skull. He’d seen him drink waaay too much, in one of their first opportunities to do so, at his parent’s house for New Years. That night had ended up with him swallowing Wylie and Ed’s drinks, too, proving not much in the end, but leading to him wondering down the hall in leopard print skivvies, vomiting in a line. He’d watched and joined Lewis in annoying band chaperones with vaguely obscene dances and suspicious chants, every Friday night of football season.
He’d laughed so many times at Lewis’s antics, his recycled punch lines and clowning that served no greater point than to stave off high school boredom. They never really talked much of anything serious, other than to grouse about the common level of stupidity. He had a lot more in common with Ed, actually. They shared a degree of pessimism as well as a taste for classic rock. Lewis had been the third Musketeer most of the past six years, but he had begun to grow off in his own direction.
Still, it fit the profile, this sudden engagement with a girl they’d never met. Lewis was still crazy as a bug in a laser show.
Ed had known Lewis a lot longer; he had been the only friend to visit him each year out in the country, where his excited manner and careless bad language embarrassed him in front of his grandmother, cousin and aunt, each summer. They used to raid each other’s comic book boxes, gouging a hundred great, beat-up titles at a time. They had gone to his father’s house, and later his mother’s, too, and went to their first rock concert together, and quite a few since. They had gone out looking for girls countless times that just ended up with them talking and talking and joking and goofing off together instead. Girls liked Ed, but he was much more shy than his irrepressible and sometimes awkward but funny friend.
The big news, as it sank in, made him a little uncomfortable. He had moved in with his own girlfriend, Debbie, and
Wylie, not very long before, and no official engagement had been set. He wondered how she would take the news. At least, she kind of despised Lewis, thanks to a drunken argument with Philip, Wylie’s step brother, the first night they all hung out. Actually, Philip was the only drunk one, but Lewis could’ve let it go. Just as well. Ed didn’t quite forgive Lewis for that time with the Debbie’s cash register codes. His other friend Angel was more to blame, though. He’d found Debbie’s codes, left behind on the floor on her second day, and Angel had chosen to give the codes to Lewis. “She’s the daughter of a professor,” Angel explained in confidence, “and I love Ed, he’s my boy, but I really think you are more her type.” His romantic thunder recovered soon enough. All Lewis did was mysteriously drop off her codes when he went through her line and tell her to have a nice day…but.
Lewis mentioned his plans to go back to Colorado, where the three of them had such a wild time the summer before. He told them he’d taken his inspiration from his trip. The mountains they hiked, the people they met: he’d found a taste of freedom and adventure there, that never had left his mind. Ed remembered another bitter fact, how, the night they’d spent in Aurora with his aunt, Lewis had went off with his cousin to do things he’d found disagreeable. He’d played along with her new bad habits and stayed out with her all night. Lewis told them about the half dozen girls they partied with. He and Ed’s cousin had sat out on the back porch when they got home, instead of unlocking the door, and dozed off. They had stayed with his mother, who now managed a high rise with her husband Derrick. As a favor, he passed along her number, while Lewis traveled through Denver.
“Well, man, I guess you know what you’re doing,” said Ed.
“I think you’ve lost your mind,” said Wylie, laughing, “but it’s your life!”
“I know it sounds bananas, but she’s just this great girl,” replied Lewis from the couch. “I guess she’s like a soul mate. And here I was planning to leave, when this girl comes into my life. Days later I ask her to come with me. One thing leads to another. I just trust her. That’s all I know.”
They weren’t willing to go the extra mile to ask if she was crazy, too. They had looked out for one another in mind-altered circumstances, but this was a different class. He had this intensity that had always made them a bit uncomfortable, which they weren’t entirely sure was egomania. They were both quieter people with more reserve, except, sometimes, while partying. Somehow, his story about the girl they remembered somewhat from high school at least convinced them of him being convinced. He had taken her on without hesitation, the way only a crazy guy could. They weren’t his parents.
Yet…on some level they wouldn’t discuss for some time, they could understand the desire to have someone bonded so closely. Just the same, they were both issues from broken homes. Their skepticism harkened back to experience. There was little they could do to keep Lewis from crashing and burning, though. Who knew? Maybe it would work.