I was taking this English teacher to school (hohoho) on the air hockey table at Dave & Busters one night. Things were tense: we were two and two in a five match set. The Red Sox were on the overhead TVs, winning game whatever of the World Whatever and this English teacher is one of those people that says "we" when she refers to the Sox, so she was having a hard time concentrating on reality long enough to support the obscene amount of boasting she'd done prior to the game. Being attached to a teacher, her arms had never been subjected to anything as rigorous as [my] professional air hockey, and by the time I slammed the 7th goal, they were spasming this way and that in a frantic poultry-esque fashion.
The drive home was dry to say the least. Like any caring educator, I kept trying to review the shortcomings in her game that had brought her to this embarrassing outcome, but she didn't want to grow from the experience. I imagine she was also agitated that each of the Sox's points was scored in sync with one of mine, so oftentimes it was unclear whether the entire D&Bs was erupting over my acrobatic performance or the Sox's (I made sure to thank the crowd graciously, just to be sure).
When we arrived at my house, which is situated on a long winding old-towny road with no sidewalk, there was a baggily-dressed youth ambling around the dirt patch that used to be my front lawn. As we got out of my car, he approached, calling me "sir" and explaining his situation. I braced myself for an abdominal wound, but he appeared unarmed and unconventionally honest:
"I was at this party, and I got real drunk... I had to leave. Can y’all give me a ride home?"
This was one of those times in my life where I recognize the response conventional wisdom would prompt one to give and then immediately contradict it: "Sure, hop in."
Not two minutes into the drive, Nick started bragging about the oodles of money he was making selling cocaine. He took my response ("Cool, man") as a vote of disbelief and began to spill money and contraband onto the back seat. He told us that he’d opted not to leave the party with his friends because “shit was going to go down.”
"That was smart," said the English teacher.
Possibly thinking intelligence a sign of weakness, he digressed, "I ain't afraid of that shit. I do what I have to do in Pawtucket. Shit is crazy. My uncle shot a dude in front of me when I was fourteen so I would know what the deal."
"That's awful," said the English teacher.
"We don't fuck around in Pawtucket."
"Hey Nick, where am I taking you?" I asked.
"You don't know where I'm going, man?"
"No, you said you were headed to Pawtucket, but where in Pawtucket?"
"You live in Pawtucket?"
"No, Nick. You were just at my house remember? We were in Lincoln...we're going to Pawtucket now but I need to know where you want me to leave you."
"Oh, maaaaaan. You know Delicious?"
"No. I don't know who that is. Is that where you want to go? Can you call and ask his address?"
"Ay, yo," he said to the teacher, "Is he ya man?"
"Nick," she replies, "We're trying to help you but you've got to tell us where you live."
He leaned forward to whisper something lewd in my ear, but ended up kind of licking it instead and I jerked my head forward. "What are you doing?!"
Disoriented, "Did y'all take my phone? Where's my muthafuckin phone?!"
"Nick, I've been driving. How would I take your phone?"
"You sure you didn't take my phone?" I expected to feel the barrel of a gun pressed against the back of my head, but it didn’t come. This could be that snap moment that comes with certain coke-heads and drunkards when they suddenly and inexplicably turn violent.
"Look, Nick. You asked me for a ride, and I'm happy to help. But you've got to figure out where you want to go."
"Ay-yo, don't be mad, son. I ain't mean nothing. Don't be mad. Don't hate."
"I don't hate, Nick, I'm just tired. We gotta get back home, and you're not helping."
"Oh, aight. I got you. Y’all in a rush. Y'all want money? I got shit loads. Here's a hundred." He attempted to pass forward a hundred dollar bill.
"Nick, I don't want your money, it's not like that. Look, you gotta call someone and get directions."
“Give me your phone. Yous got a phone?”
I lied, “I don’t have a phone. We’ll stop at this pay phone and you can call a friend.”
I pulled over a few feet away from a pay phone and gave him a quarter. At this point, the entire illegal contents of his pockets were scattered across my back seat and his nose was dripping brown stuff.
"Yo, y'all took my phone!"
"NICK, WE DID NOT TAKE YOUR PHONE. HERE'S A QUARTER. MAKE THE CALL."
"Hey, you guys need some weed?" he pushed a baggie towards the rear view mirror where my eyes were narrowing.
Things were beyond awkward. His door was ajar but aside from one foot on the pavement, he was otherwised planted in the car. We could taste escape but this was starting to resemble the scene in the movie where the girl escapes the mass murderer, flags down the car, and realizes that the driver is the murderer’s inbred brother.
"Nick, we don't need any weed. We need you to make this call." We didn't talk about it, but it was understood that we would peel out of there the minute he was out of the car. He must've known how bad we wanted him out. He was finding every excuse to delay the departure.
"Don't be mad."
"I'm not mad."
"Whose wallet dis?"
"That's your wallet, Nick."
"Aight. Y'all hate me now."
"Nick, please just take the quarter and call your friend."
"I don't need y'all's money. I'm making...two Gs a week! Fuck y'all's money!"
After what may have been twenty minutes, he stumbled out of the car, coins and lighters spilling out onto the street, cash everywhere, his jacket dipping into a puddle. Once he had lurched ten feet towards the phone booth, we u-turned and hightailed it back to my house. The ride home was eerily silent. When we got back, I apologized to the English teacher for putting her life in danger on our first date. She said it had been "interesting" and sped off in her little teacher car.
The next morning I found Nick's Boost phone in my back seat. I searched through the contacts for a "mom" or "dad" or "Delicious." Though there were plenty of exotic female names, none seemed promising. There was, however, a number for The Cadillac Lounge, one of the grimier strip clubs in RI. The solution was obvious.
I drove to the Cadillac Lounge at about two in the afternoon (an experience I cannot describe without violent hand gestures) and left his phone with a reluctant bouncer. I assured him that Nick would be by to pick it up shortly, as I had laboriously texted everyone in his contact list the following message:
"Nick left his phone at the Cadillac Lounge. Please tell him to come get it."