The six that could have been twelve

The other night, I was drinking with my buddy Francis, and our two other friends, Rick and Cheeze. All being somewhat broke, we pooled — more or less evenly — our cash and bought a 12 of Blue from the vendor. We went back to Francis’ place, just down the lane, where we listened to Burton Cummings and Rush LPs and talked and argued as we drank those tasty, cold beers down.

Rick complained about the music throughout, but since he didn’t own a record player, and hence no LPs, he had little choice in the matter. Besides, we were at Francis’ place, and Francis loves Burton Cummings. Period. Fly By Night was put on the spinner after My Own Way to Rock had finished in an attempt to pacify Rick, but to no avail. Seems not only does Rick loath Big Burt, but he actively hates on Geddy Lee. Unfortunately for Rick — fortunately for me — Francis has no Lupe Fiasco LP, or CD for that matter. Too bad.

Towards the end of the twelve, Cheeze and I got into a bit of a discussion about Cheeze’s good lord, Jesus Christ. Of course, everyone is free to believe whatever they want, and Cheeze exercises that right in his steadfast belief that a zombie superman is going to come back to Earth from space sometime in the not-so-distant future, reanimate his corpse and deliver it thereupon to a mighty house of gold, where everyone will party forever.

I disagree with Cheeze on this one, as do Rick and Francis. For my part, I believe that when I kick the bucket, that will be that, and the worms can do what they will with what’s left of me. Rick doesn’t give two shits one way or the other. Francis, on the other hand, is a steadfast believer in the dark powers of the gods of rock ‘n roll.

“If any motherfucker is coming down from space,” Francis told Cheeze, lighting a joint, “It aint gonna be no one but Nammtar and his buddies, and they will bite the head off any goddamn zombie king that comes their way and piss acid down its bleeding throat.”

Cheeze was choked. Still, he believed we were all going to Hell, and he would have redemption in the end, so he sucked it up and hit that joint hard. When the smoke cleared, it became apparent that we were out of beer, and that something would need to be done about it, or our night, as such, was over.

“I got some cash,” said Francis, pulling out a crumpled five and a few bucks in change. He put the dough on the table, and looked round the room. “Anyone else want to cough up a couple bucks?”
Being a broke student who works two minimal paying jobs to pay rent, bills and tuition while affording enough time to attend to school, I only had a dollar. I threw it in and apologized, hoping Rick or Cheeze would pony up the remainder.

But nobody said anything, and the silence became awkward. Francis counted the money on the coffee table. Not quite 10 bucks. “We need at least $6 more if we want a 12 of Lucky,” he said, looking from Rick to Cheeze and back again.

“We’ve got the empties,” I said, nodding to the case of empty Blue bottles at our feet. “So we only need five bucks. If I had cash, or money on my overdraft, I’d throw more in.”

Neither Rick nor Cheeze said anything. “Shit,” said Francis. “I’ve got some change in my truck. Maybe that’ll add up.” He went out, and came back a minute later with $3 in quarters and dimes.
“Now we only need $2,” I said, after tabulating the funds. “You guys don’t have a dollar each?”

You could tell from the looks on their faces that they each had the money in their pocket, but for some reason didn’t want to part with it. They sat, squirming, as Francis and I stared, willing the dollar out from their pockets. But we failed.

“Fuck it,” Francis said, gathering up the cash from the table. He pulled his boots on, grabbed the empties, and headed out the door. “Six-pack, it is.”

While he was out, Rick, Cheeze and I sat in silence, staring at the floor. When Francis got back, he set the six-pack of Blue down on the table, and we cracked it open. Even though Cheeze and Rick could have helped get us that 12, but couldn’t be bothered to cough up a dollar apiece, Francis passed them each a beer. They’re buddies, after all, embarrassingly cheap as they may be.

“Thanks,” they mumbled, uncapping the bottles. Francis waved their thanks away, got up, put on Burton Cummings and fucking cranked it. We sat, drinking in silence, while Burt sang “Stand Tall.” It was going to be an early night.