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The idea seemed silly, sitting down with a kid I didn’t know and making a plan for a future I’d never thought of, but for some reason the thought of hurting his feelings made my chest feel stabby, a feeling I was very unfamiliar with. Unsure of what to do next I gave in. I sat down next to him in the grass and sighed. He smiled up at me like just me being there meant we were halfway there.

“We can’t be pussy’s about this,” he continued. “We aren’t going to get the Star Wars house by getting jobs in a shitty hotel or factory, and I never been much of a fisherman. So this shit starts now. Pussies get pushed over and stepped on. My uncle, who’s a total fucking asshole douche-bag, sells weed. We could steal some from him and sell it. Then, we can use that money to buy our own to sell.”

Using a black marker from his bag, Samuel began to draw on the page. The top read GOAL and he drew a house with legs underneath that did look like a stick figure version of the whatever-you-call-it-thing in Star Wars. I didn’t know the name of it because I’d never seen the movies, just the previews. Then, he drew what looked like it was supposed to be us, him much smaller than me. With a green marker, he drew dollar bill signs all around us floating in the air.

“So what? We friends now, Preppy?”

I’d never had a friend before, but there was something about this boy with the foul mouth that got my attention. I plucked the marker from his hand and took over his drawing. I was never good at much in school, except for art. Just drawing really.

Drawing was my jam.

“Fuck yeah!” Preppy said, watching me add on to his stilt home. He’d also drawn a picture of what I assumed was his uncle because he’d written douche-bag over the top. “You’re fucking good at that. Man, we’ve got to have you do that, too. Art shit. Write that down in the plan. We gotta have hobbies, too.”

“Then what’s your hobby?” I asked.

“My hobby?” He smiled and wiped his nose, which had just started dripping blood again, a single drop fell to the page and splattered on stick figure Preppy. He nodded slyly and purses his lips, hooking his thumbs under his suspenders. “Bitches.”

I think I laughed more that day then I ever did in my whole life. I also learned that ‘bitches’ could be a hobby.

“So what happens if we get caught?” I asked, pausing the marker over the page.

“We won’t. We’re too fucking smart for that shit. We’ll be careful. We’ll make plans and stick to the plans. Nobody will get in our fucking way. Nobody. Not my stepdad, not my uncle, not teachers, and especially not bitch-ass bullies like Tyler. I ain’t ever getting married. I ain’t ever having a girlfriend. This is just about Preppy and King crawling out of the shit instead of rotting in it.”

“But really, what if we get caught?” I asked. “I’m not talking about by the cops. I’m talking about by your uncle, or anyone else that does the kind of shit we’re talking about doing here. These are rough people. Bad people. They don’t like being messed with.” I knew these kinds of people first hand. More than one dealer had come to our house armed with guns, demanding payment. Mom would settle her debt by taking them into her bedroom and closing the door.

This kid may have just been screwing around, but the more I thought about it the better it all sounded. Living a life without answering to anyone. A life without fear of what someone could do to me or to this little preppy kid, who by the looks of it had enough bullying to last him his whole life.

The idea of growing up and being my own man, the kind of man people didn’t mess with, the kind of man who didn’t take shit from anyone, became more and more appealing as it rolled around in my brain and latched on, taking up residence where I was missing other things the guidance counselors said I was lacking, like a ‘firm sense of right and wrong’. But they were the ones who were wrong. It’s not that I didn’t know the difference.

It’s that I just didn’t care.

Because that’s what happens when you’ve never had anything to care about.

If I was going to take this kid seriously, I needed to know that he wasn’t going to bitch out on me if it all went south. I needed to know he was as serious about the plan as I was getting, so I had to ask, “What really happens if someone gets in our way? In the way of our business? In the way of our plan?”

Preppy held the end of a marker to the corner of his mouth where blood had begun to dry and crust over. For a moment, he stared over my head, deep in thought. Then, he shrugged and locked his eyes onto mine.

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