Because I stayed up late trying to finish up a batch, I ended up forgetting to set the alarm. The only reason I wake up is because Dog is running something fierce in his dreams again, maybe looking to catch uncatchable tennis balls. The final blow comes when he kicks me directly in the kidney, making my leg jerk up so that I almost kick him in the face. “You’re lucky I love you, you furry son-of-a-bitch.” He gives me a look that tells me to go screw myself and yawns in my face. “Jerk.” It’s past ten and I don’t want to hear crap about missing more classes, so I don’t bother to do anything except brush my teeth and throw on some semi-clean clothes. My skin is probably combustible by this point anyway, so showering won’t make any difference. Then again, maybe I would get lucky and catch fire at some point throughout the day. At least that would lighten things up. Hardy har har. Ain’t I clever? No surprise. The Stooges are already waiting for me in the parking lot when I get to school. Twitching more than usual, Sam Anderson looks like he’s about to pick out the last of his hairs from his head. I guess that’s why he cut it so short to begin with. And I swear if Ryan Fuller’s face breaks out anymore, FEMA will have to declare him a natural disaster area. I can see the signs and yellow caution tape now. Warning: Standing too close to this junkie may cause you to go blind from his ugliness. And that’s the thing about meth; it makes you ugly, but not just on the outside. We all end up ugly on the outside eventually (don’t get me started about western standards of beauty) but crank makes you ugly on the inside, like evil stepsister ugly. So ugly that I almost forget when we all used to be friends; Sam, Ryan, Luke, and me, before Mom left and Frank started using, and all that other shit. Maybe meth makes it easier to forget. I don’t know. I must have become too weird for them to hang out with. At least until I had something else to offer them, something that helps Sam and Ryan make weight for wrestling and help Luke make the money for the car he wanted. Then suddenly I’m their best friend again. Poof! Presto! Alakazam! Even that didn’t last long, because now their eyes bug, and they itch, and twitch. They bug, itch, twitch and they sell. They sell for me. I know it isn’t smart to shit where you eat, but I keep everything in-check by keeping them in-check. I mean, I don’t even have to pay them; they work for product, for Christ’s sake. I make them their own batch, battered down and diluted so I get the most use out of them for my buck—so to speak. If anything ever did happen, if they ever did turn me in to save their own asses, all anybody would see is a few strung out losers with a story. It would be my word against theirs. And on paper I’m an honor roll student who has never bothered anyone. Then there are other ways of getting rid of evidence should I ever need it, so I’m not too worried about The Stooge aspect of business. I know instantly when I see them that they must be hurting. In a way it’s funny, these guys have no concept of self-control, and they always end up bingeing on what I bring them. Half the time, they want even more than what our original arrangement dedicated and I have to remind them that they’ll have to pay me on top of working for me. “McKay! McKay!” Before I can even get out of my truck, Luke is all over me, practically jumping on the windshield like Dog used to do when he was younger. But when I give him the look, he simmers down a bit and backs off. I thinking figure people are watching us from the windows. I know they aren’t, but I still can’t help but think it. “Dude, how ya been?” I look around, and because the school day is half-over and the parking lot is deserted, but I don’t want to risk a security guard finding us out here, I hold them off a little longer. “I’m not giving you anything.” “Dude, we’re starting to feel the pain here.” As if I cared. Then Anderson makes that whiny sound in the back of his throat and Ryan is scratching at the sores that have formed on his arms over the last few weeks and I am thinking: college, college, college. Out, out, out. So I dangle a possibility in front of them.