The Brief Life of Percy Waters, pt. 2

A New Friend, A Party

In the night, Percy arrived on campus and unloaded his car of all its contents. Clothes were lumped into a small closet and sheets were thrown around a mattress. Trinkets: pictures, statues, pocket knives and a few scattered books were placed along the window sill at the head of his bed.

His roommate appeared later. A Puerto Rican who smoked rich cigarettes outside on the steps of the building. He spoke broken english and possessed quite the collection of crystals and Buddhist sculptures.

Quickly acquainted with one another, the boy invited Percy outside to smoke. Percy obliged and learned the boy’s name was Tacio. He had long, stringy blonde hair, thick and matted like a horses’ mane.

He pulled deep drags from those heavy cigarettes and spoke rapidly about all manner of things. Percy sat mostly quiet, watching the boy’s hands move from his knees to his mouth in a smooth, well-practiced manner.

How he ended up here, Percy could never divine. Like a washed up surfer living in Kansas, Tacio seemed out of place and time away from palm fronds, crashing waves and tanned women. Some fossilized remain uncovered by a scrupulous archaeologist in a waterless place. A creature once sustained by it, now etched into the fabric without it.

A pot was placed at the base of the steps of the dormitory and Tacio and Percy filled the thing with cigarette butts and hid the roaches of joints under the smoldering layers of old tobacco.

They sparsely went to class and would sit in the back and sleep or text or talk.

Days were hazy, smoking joints in hidden parts of campus at night or on the roof of the building during the day. The denizens of the college passing below, milling about.

One day, the boys ventured to the outer reaches of the small town where they encountered a group of older students standing around in a park, drinking beer, throwing balls of various form and factor, and talking amongst themselves with professional abandon.

Tacio and Percy quickly acquainted themselves with a straggler hanging out on the outer reaches and began to ease towards the source of the beer when they were cut off by a large guy with a turquoise shirt unbuttoned all the way to reveal the hair on his chest, a backwards hat and the smirk of a five o’clock shadow.

Who are you guys?

I’m Percy, this is Tacio.

Do I know you?

No, we just got here.

Got here, he pointed to the ground. Or here, he motioned all around him to the surrounding area as if he overseer and enforcer.

To college, we’re freshmen…

The guy’s mouth widened into a smile, Well damn, got some balls don’t ya. Come here.

They followed him towards a keg and filled each of their cups. I’m Mark. This is the first Delt party of the year. You guys rushing?

They looked between one another. Weren’t planning on it.

He brought his head back, I see. Two young independents are we? He looked around. Ah, let’s go meet… Clint. Clint!

Mark strode through the crowd with the two boys in tow.

Clint. Meet Percy and, uh…

Tacio.

Tacio. Percy and Tacio.

Hey. Clint, he extended his hand. Both shook it. Clint looked at them silently for a bit. You guys wanna see something?

Mark now departed, Percy and Tacio followed Clint back through the crowd towards an overcropping of bushes on the edge of the park, not ten feet from the outer reaches of the milling students.

They stepped around a shrub, over a path running between the bushes and out into an open area where loud music played and people were gathered around a pool. Brightly colored floats moved around and flipped as girls laid on towels in the grass.

Clint stopped at the entrance, motioning around him. This, my friends, is paradise.

It was not long before both had drinks in their hands and the day blurred as both Percy and Tacio took turns rolling joints for a bunch of lounging girls and boys, gathered about each of them as campers to a fire.

Percy, ceremoniously dumping pot onto white paper and reciting great lines from the Illiad while the boys looked on, unsure what to think, and the girls gazed dreamily.

They flowed with the crowd to some house with hardwood floors and nicely framed concert posters. A brown suede couch sat in the main room in front of a TV displaying the album art of the song playing loudly over speakers that piped into every crevice of the house, inside and out.

Percy and Tacio settled onto the couch, spent from pot smoke, sun and beer and each gently faded into the night as the bleeding edge of a sinking sun turns day into night.


Thus begins the story of Percy Waters. Read Part 3 here.