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California skies soared overhead
as bike wheels screeched
on heated pavement,
stopping in an instance
at the Marshall Taco Bell.
Our group of hungry 14-year-olds
left no tray untouched.
My brother looked sickly
scarfing down the fast food,
our stomachs full of grease, nothing else.
Day turned to night.
We wandered neighborhood streets,
bottles of beer in hand.
I followed the low beat of Maniac,
leading our pack to a stranger’s home.
We drank and we drank,
we smoked and we snorted.
Narcotics raced through my veins—
my brain, the finish line.
Soon, everything was black.
We woke up in a front lawn,
the morning light glowing
on our stained and putrid clothes.
My brother and I hobbled home,
a hangover drumming in our heads.
Back home, Mom awaited us on the couch—
a cigarette in one hand, a new man in the other.
She spoke in a raspiness that stung my ears,
“Now that you’re home boys,
how about doing a little cleaning?”