X-Games Chapter

“Does anyone smell that? I think there is a fire.” I ask my friends at the drinking table. “That is the smell of my victory. Now drink up, spit your five and stop stalling.” My homie, David responds with an arrogant smile. Truth be told, it has been a long Saturday and I have lost every single game of snappa. Before I know it, mid-day has passed and the long cool breeze of the night has kicked in. The dice at the bottom of my glass stares at me, its ominous five smiling back. Fuck me. “Boom, Bitch!” David yells as the five rears its ugly head once again, spat on the table by yours truly. “Really though, am I the only one that smells something burning?” I ask again while I make another full beer disappear. When Matt looks over the rail, he says,  “Oh shit! It’s coming from below us in the parking garage! I’ll call it in, let’s go check it out.”

As we begin to turn the corner to the parking garage, I can feel the heat licking my face. We find a dumpster, a large dumpster, completely ablaze, the flames well over six feet tall. “Think management will get off your back since we are first on the scene?” I ask Nick. “I doubt it! If anything they will assume we started it,” he responds while we snapchat the incident. Fire trucks arrive shortly after we do to put out the fire. Never having been this close to a raging inferno, I stand, mesmerized by the fire hose forcefully shutting down the flames. Eventually, the dumpster becomes a giant bucket of ashy trash and muddy water. I walk up to the fireman and ask if he will take a picture with me. “Why? So you can put it on your Instagram and show how cool you are?” he sharply responds to my request. Well if you want to be a dick about it. “I wanted to show off the charming firefighters valiantly putting out dumpster fires.” I say with a smirk. “Get out of here, now!”

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Back at the apartment, my brain drunkenly dials in on the search for food. I decide, leftover chips and salsa from earlier, this will do. When I try to open the salsa, the container slips out of my fingers and starts its collision course with the ground, in slow motion. Damn, I dropped something again. I’ve done this SO many times. I know, I know, I’m going to get a lot of shit for this. Man, I need a moment, I need to chew it over with Twix. Immediately, Britt looks at me and begins to shake his head. “Butterfingers! You have got to be kidding me. Every other day, I swear. The hookah, cups full of vodka, and who knows how many beers you have dropped.” “Not to mention all the dice you dropped today,” David adds with a laugh. The pile on was completed when Nick says, “Don’t forget you dropped the guitar in the bathroom too!” Stay calm. The anger flows through my body like a rushing river and finally the dam breaks. “Fuck all of y’all!” bursts from my mouth in rage. “Britt loses something every 10 minutes and nobody gives him shit. David I don’t even know why your bitch ass is talking. You broke the bong and both mirrors within the same week!” “Well you were the instigator when I broke the mirrors so it’s your fault, really,” David responds. I am fuming at this point. “This is ridiculous! If anyone has a problem, step up and whoop me!” I roar like the Leo I am. “Fighting over salsa is ridiculous,” Britt adds, trying to defuse the situation. “If it was queso you spilled, then it would be a different story.” The room bursts into uncontrollable laughter. Fuck every single one of you. I wave the white flag with my middle finger and the lion storms out the door with his tail between his legs.

Listening to music on the drive home calmed my nerves and I was regaining my composure. The Weekend, hitting notes on The Zone and The Birds, regulated me all the way from 10 back down to about a 5. Never get too high, never get too low. However, at the intersection a block away from my apartment, a police car lights up to brighten my day. Fuuuck, the first time I have ever been pulled over – this is going to ruin my life. “Is there a problem officer?” I ask as the black cop approaches my window. You are supposed to be on my side. You also look familiar. “Have you been drinking tonight?” All day nigga. “No… I was hours ago.” I glance at my clock and see 3:00 am. Holy shit time flew by! “Sir, I need you to step out of the car.” My heart dropped to the floor and it was at this moment I knew I was experiencing the, “Oh shit” moment to all oh shit moments. Time slowed down as I made the walk of shame to the back of my car. Ice-cold fear creeps from my toes to my knees and all the way up my chest, chilling my body, shivering, a nervous shake. Yet, before it crawled into to my head, I reached in my pocket and looked at the tiger on my phone, staring into my soul. Richard Parker. Shit is hitting the fan and we must prevail. Let the losers worry about losing. As I slide the phone back into my pocket, a different man, yet the same beast, I round the corner of my car. The cop might have thought my breath smelled of alcohol, but it was pure adrenaline he smelled. The cop might have thought drinking gave me an awkward stride, but it was nothing but swagger in my step.

The cop was waiting for me and his partner stood to the side watching me closely. As the cold breeze caresses my neck in the dark of the night, illuminated by Walgreens signs and the street posts, I never thought the showdown could get tenser. The officer walks up to me and sizes me up. “I am going to lead you through a series of tests. First, stand with your feet together, close your eyes, put your head back, and count to 30.” “Okay, I understand,” I reply. As I close my eyes, my head fills with darkness and I imagine each number being spelled. “One, two, three, four, five…”What is the point of this? “….twenty-nine, thirty,” I finished with a smile and open my eyes. The partner looked unimpressed as he twiddled his thumbs. So easy. I got this in the bag. Wait, focus, they want you to fail. The officer approaches me again, this time with a sly smile as if he’s got something up his sleeve. “Your are gonna need to walk in a straight line, stepping with one foot in front of the other. After ten steps, you will turn, and repeat the procedure back to your original starting point.” Each step was surprisingly easier than the one before. Looking down at my red vans, I’m reminded of the time I spilled bleach on my right shoe, staining it. Yet, it gave the shoes more character and life. I love these kicks. When I returned to my original position, the partner, fucking Robin, gave Batcop a shoulder shrug in disbelief. Was I driving that bad? No doubt I should not have been driving, but I was driving slow, homie. The cop approached me once again, this time carrying a pen with a light on the end. “Follow the light with your eyes, without moving your head.” “Okay, I understand.” This test was easy enough. Left to right, right to left, up and then down, down and up, then a repeat cycle. My only worry was going cross eyed and freaking out when the light moved across the bridge of my nose. The officer sized me up one last time. “Okay, you passed. Barely.” Hater, you know I aced that shit. “You know who you remind me of? Anthony Anderson!” I say, “Just not funny.” And 40 pounds heavier. I was able to hide my enjoyment of the joke, however, his partner, who showed no emotion through the field tests’, cracks up at his fellow officer. “Get out of here, now!” Not the first time I’ve heard that tonight.

At 3:20 am I make it home. Flicking the lights to the kitchen on, I can finally take a deep breath. I pull out my phone and give thanks to my tiger after a job well done. It was at this time that I have my moment of clarity. I let my anger get the best of me. Getting so pissed off clouded my judgement. Not only did I yell at my friends, I decided to drive home drunk. Okay, from now on, I will not let myself get mad anymore. Ever. Oh ya, and I am hungry.

I put two hot dogs in a cup of water and place them in the microwave. I thought about grilling them on the George Foreman or putting them in the oven but, nobody got time for that. The beeping from the microwave goes off and my roommate’s door opens. The drunken steps get louder as the stranger approaches and the light from the kitchen reveals a familiar face. Yet, I am unable to recall her name as I size her up. Heavy Makeup smeared after a night of bar hopping on Sixth Street. Blonde hair drastically ruffled, slightly flushed face, smirking her smile and a dimly lit glowing aura. I don’t even have to ask, but why are you here? “Would you like some water?” I ask her while eating my hot dog. She sizes me up with her eyes. “Really? Eating a hot dog at this time,” she sassily remarks. “I could ask you the same thing.” I can hear my roommate’s unmistakable laugh from his room. The slight flush in her face amplifies into an overgrown cherry on the verge of exploding. “I would like some water, thank you.” I hand her a bottle of water and head to my room.

Moonlight creeps through the windows and provides a clear path to my bed. My room is surprisingly cold, making the thought of covers sound so sweet. I waste no time getting in bed. Falling face first into my mattress has never felt better. As I pull up my Baltimore Ravens blanket, my body sinks in while my mind decompresses. Turning over on my back, my eyes close and I contemplate the type of day tomorrow will bring. The thought of having a great day after my recent adventures brings great comfort to me. The door to my room slowly creaks open and a toddler crawls towards my bed. Suddenly, I am on my feet reaching down to pick up this baby boy. The caramel colored skin of the baby is soft to touch and his eyes resemble a single sunflower in a field of green grass. Lady Killer eyes. His curious hands navigate over my face, examining my nose, my full lips, and my dimples. When his curiosity reaches my ears, I begin to giggle as he rounds my earlobe. The sharp pain and blood flowing from my split earlobe brings me to panic and I forget I was holding a child. When the baby hits the floor head first, screams can be heard all throughout the apartment.

I wake up in a cold sweat immediately removing my stud earrings. That was pretty gnarly. At least I don’t have a damn kid. The thought of not having a child at this stage of my life always brings a smile to my face. As the sun begins to rise, I remind myself that today is going to be a great day. Okay, yesterday is over and done with. You are going to teach a swim lesson, and with that $100 you will get an X-game ticket and hang out with your friends all day. Holy shit! Not to mention Game of Thrones Watchers on The Wall episode is tonight. Jon Snow is going to do Jon Snow things. Safe call to mark today as one of the top ten days of my life. Hopping out of bed with a smile on my face, I look in my closet for a suit to wear. I pick out my black and pink chubbies with a floral design pattern and a white tank top. After my usual hygiene routine, I hop into my car and head to the nearest Taco Cabana. No better way to start today than with breakfast tacos and orange juice.

“Okay, this time when you go in for your flip turn, try to tuck your head.” I tell the two kids in the pool with me. Early morning is always the best time to teach swim lessons. The kids are usually attentive, the Texas heat is not a problem yet, and you have the rest of the day to do what you want. “How was that one?” one of the kids asked. “Was that one better?” “It was! Nicely done. Try to not forget what we worked on today.” I reply with a smile. The kid smiles in return and I notice a large green and translucent white booger inching out of his nose. Before I can tell him about it, he slurps it down to his mouth, and swallows it, like spaghetti. Holy moly. Any other day I would let my gag reflexes get the best of me, but not today! Today is going to be too awesome for you to get the best of me.

When I arrive back home, I call Britt and my friends to apologize for freaking on them and to let them know how the rest of my night went. “All good man. Glad to hear you are done baby raging. Hurry up and get back over here, we are leaving for the X-Games in an hour or so,” Britt tells me before the call ends. After showering, I search my closet again for clothes to wear on this perfect day. Everything is going according to plan. I decide to go with baby blue shorts and a dark blue Wu-Tang Clan shirt that I took a liking to. The infamous symbol of Wu was cleverly displayed in a batman flood-light style over the city skyline. Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with.

Arriving at Britt’s apartment provided an odd feeling considering what happened the night before. The dumpster was still full of water and floating trash, and the heat sensation had been replaced by a foul, nostril burning odor. When I walk through the door, we make a few jokes about the night before. I will not lie, it is a good feeling to be able to laugh about that type of stuff instead of holding grudges. “We were thinking about getting you football gloves to help with your dropping problem,” Nick says as he turns on super smash bros. It felt good to win a few games after taking so many losses last night. “Next thing I drop is probably going to be you,” I told my friends, trash talking my way to victory. Talking shit is one of my fortes. Getting into your opponents head gives you the mental advantage, though I use it to hype myself up, too. Putting pressure on myself to perform and then backing up my talk gives me a rush. “Who’s next?”

“We will leave when Ben gets here,” Britt declares as he poured me three shots of vodka. “Why am I taking three by myself?” I reply. “Because you always show up sober where as everyone else has been drinking for a while.” My liver and I want to see twenty -two. “And because you were a little bitch last night.” I nearly spit the vodka out trying to hold back from laughing. “Fair enough. Are you sure that I can buy a ticket at the gate?” I question Britt as he pours another shot for me and one for himself. That’s a quick four for me. “I don’t want to look like a dumbass waiting outside the grounds all day.” “Yeah yeah,” Britt replies, “you can purchase at the gate. They’re like $60.”

Ben bounces into the room dancing and we get ready to go. “Wooooo!” he screams making his presence known. Since he was our designated driver, I was free to keep on with the keep on. I grabbed a bottle of Deep Eddy Cranberry vodka on the way out for the 30 minute drive to The Circuit of The Americas. I knew that a girl I liked named Zoe would be at the games today, but I was not sure how to make a move. Maybe the answer is at the bottom of the bottle. I take a pull and pass it to Nick. Nope, shit out of luck. Just a tough drink to take a pull from. Opening up our text thread, I watch the video she sent me yesterday of her smoking in the car. Not many people can make smoking look cool, but she does. Still, nothing inspirational comes to my mind and I go on without texting her.

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Several pulls of the bottle later, we arrive at the X-games. When I get out of the car, the booze is in full effect and I am in my zone. My tolerance had more than tripled in the few weeks of hanging out with my friends. However, I am still far from their level. If they were first team, all-pro drinking fanatics, then I was a rookie in the game making a name for himself. Number one draft pick, though!

Walking to the entrance gave me chills as I soaked in the sunlight. The day was beautiful, bright and sunny with a nice breeze that agreed with my face. There is something about large groups of people gathering to watch events that makes me happy. Maybe it’s the atmosphere, celebrities putting on a show for the crowd, or the smell of delicious food being cooked and readily available. What is that aroma? Instantly, I was drawn towards a security guard sitting down at a non-entrance gate. In his hand was a freshly made, hot chocolate chip cookie. That sweet smell fills my nostrils and I begin to feel a great sense of comfort, energy and ecstasy. Like the first time you kiss a girl that you admire. Sweet, where can I find those? Watching the guard, with his unimpressive beard, drop the cookie on his pants blew my mind. Idiot! As he stands up, my adrenaline takes over, and I knew bold moves were about to be made. “Damn it!” he complains. Turning around, he walks through the open gate and heads left towards the bathroom. Not noticing the lion that saw his opportunity, took it without thinking, and trailed him closely, step for step. Well then, my day just got better. Now I have $100 to buy all the food and beer I want.

Inside the grounds, the place is packed with people walking all around. I decide to walk parallel to my friends and watch them till they discover I’m missing. After about three minutes, I can see the gears turning in Nick’s head as he looks around for me. “Wait, where did he go?” Nick asks the group. “I could have sworn he was just right next to me.” “YOOO,” I reply from the other side of the fence. When they get through security, and the main entrance, my friends laugh as I tell them how I got into the X-games.

As we make our way to the street skate park, random people are shouting out my Wu-Tang shirt. “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with!” some girl yells out as she flashes her Wu-Tang tattoo on her forearm. The arena stands are packed with spectators on both sides, so we decide to watch the exhibition from the ground level next to the jumbotron.  I had no problem with this because we were next to the concessions and still very close to the action. I helped myself to the gyro station where a friendly woman made my sandwich. “I’ll have whatever you recommend.” I told the lady behind mounds of freshly cut meat and vegetables. The gyro was filled with savory lamb, fresh tomatoes and onions, and bacon. Topped with what she called Tzatziki sauce, and then wrapped in a warm pita. The gyro was so good that I went back for another and then to another stand to buy some beer. $7 for a Dos Equis. Ass holes. “Hey man, I love your shirt!” the man behind the counter tells me. “I’ll give you 5 Dos Equis for it.” Then get kicked out of the x-games for not wearing a shirt. “No thanks bro,” I respond as I pay for my beers and then walk back to my friends.

This was my first time watching professional skateboarding and it was a lot more exciting than I imagined. I recognized Ryan Sheckler as that kid who was a superstar when I was in 7th grade, the other names not so much. However, a skater named Nyjah Huston was killing the competition every time he stepped up for a run and the crowd clapped furiously at his tricks. Okay, there’s a distinctive aroma. A group of guys a few from us were smoking inside of the grounds. How bold. Before they knew it, I charmed my way into rotation. As I exhale, the euphoric sensation brings a tingle to my finger tips and I learned the guys went to my rival high school back home. I’m cross faded but definitely in my zone right now.

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Nyjah Huston puts on a show in his final run and eases his way to a first place finish. “Pretty sick huh?” Britt asks me as we walk to the barricaded red carpet packed with fans. “I’m pretty fucked up,” I respond in a jolly manner. “Let’s try to get Nyjah’s Autograph!”

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We make our way to the front of the barricade where we can clearly see the red carpet. The carpet led to an exclusive VIP area, which served as an entrance to the athlete staging rooms. “If Nyjah comes out, I’ll probably run over these little kids to get an autograph,” I joke around with the girl in front of me. An ESPN film crew weaves through the crowd like a snake and parts the barricade in front of me before walking single file down the red carpet. I already know the answer to this question, you enabler you. Turning to Britt I ask him,” Should I do it?” “Absolutely,” he responds before I even finish my question. I see a group of medical staffers in white weaving through the crowd coming my way. I pull out my phone and admire the Tiger on my phone. Richard Parker. I ain’t gotta do it, but fuck, somebody’s got to. Not like we have anything better to do. The adrenaline returns to pat me on the back once again. However, the combination of my prior indulgencies raises me to a higher state. Not only is time slowing down around me, the noise of the crowd is rapidly reducing. At first, I hear the full sound of the spectators, then a dull noise, followed by the sound of my breathing and heart beating, until there is complete silence. As the medical staff passes, the lion matches foot step for foot step, easily blending in as we make our way down the carpet. I’m in.

Standing in the area with only a few people who have VIP credentials or special passes made me stand out. Without even a regular admission pass, I am overjoyed to have made it this far. Poker face. Just relax and don’t do anything dumb. I look at the large crowd of people in front of me and see my friends towering above everyone in the middle. I can’t help but flash a subtle smile. Suddenly, the crowd becomes excited and judging by their faces, people are screaming in joy. I turn around to see what the commotion is about. Ryan Sheckler made his way out of the athlete room and is walking towards me. “Nice runs out there Ryan,” I say, blending in, as I put my hand out for a handshake. “Jeah bro, Austin is fun to shred,” he responds with his Southern Californian accent. He shakes my hand. The accent caught me off guard and I try to not laugh in his face. “Lets grab a photo.” “Jeah, I got you. Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to fuck with,” Little did I know, everybody was already taking pictures of the two of us talking, thinking I was one of the athletes. Mission accomplished. I look over at Britt, along with the rest of my friends, on the other side of the fence, again, and they are dying laughing. They are taking photos of people taking photos of me. Reality sets back in; I notice the sounds of cameras flashing and a growing noise from the crowd.

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I waited for Nyjah to come out but he never did. Ryan stayed to sign autographs for a while before going up the red carpet to another exclusive room. Nick calls to tell me that they are ready to head back to campus and I look around for an exit. Phone is about to die. Guess I have to go up the carpet. After my first step on the carpet, a girl grabs my hand and asks for a picture. After her, a little boy asks me to sign his baseball cap. “Take a picture with my son!” a father yells from the crowd and I happily oblige. I can get used to this. Only a matter of time. As I walk farther up the carpet, my hand starts to cramp from signing autographs. “I can’t believe you did that!” a random voice yells from the crowd. I turn and see the girl that I made the joke with earlier in the same spot. Show the Leo some respect. I wave to her goodbye and enter the door at the end. Once inside, I grab a water bottle from the massive spread they have for the athletes before finding an exit back to the arena.

“Holy shit!” Nick says when I catch up with the crew. “I know my friend, I know. I had to sign autographs after you guys left too,” I said with a big laugh. “So what are we going to do for Game of Thrones?” “Let’s go to the lake house to watch it.” I text Zoe the picture of Ryan Sheckler and I on the drive back home. “WHAT!! You were there to!? I think I saw you! Why didn’t we meet up?” she responds. My nerves I guess. Before I can ask her to come to the lake house with my phone dies. No. Just no.

When we arrive at the house it is already dark outside. The moonlight dances like magic on the lake water as the small docile waves carry on. The home is beautifully built with a delicate and elaborate brick pattern, blue roofs, and an elegantly carved wooden door. The father of our friend who lives at the lake house is pretty intimidating even as he solitarily sits playing with his Doberman puppy. Within the dimly lit theater room is a high definition projector and rows of reclining seats. The projector shows a massive image that covers the entire wall in front of us. This is definitely where I parked my car. “Why are you so hyped up for this episode?” Britt asks me. “Jon Snow is about to go off and it’s going to be awesome.” I emphatically respond. “Okay we get it. You have a hard on for Jon Snow, give it a rest already it’s about to start.”

My excitement can barely be contained from the back seat of the car as Ben drives us home. I turn my phone on after charging it at the lake house and take another pull of Deep Eddy Vodka. My day has gone so well that I decide to ask Zoe and her friends to come hot tub with me & the crew. “Aw, we are too tired from the X-games. Maybe next time,” she responds with a smiley face. “Well, she shot me down boys!” Again. My friends erupt in laughter. “Yo, don’t flip out like you did last night!” spews Nick. “Are you going to keep partying tonight or are you headed home?” Britt asks me as I sense another pile on coming. The day has been too good to me. “I’ll keep going, but I think I will crash at your place this time.

Editor: Amanda Griego

Vice Editor: Brittain Dalby

Creative Score: Brittain Dalby

Thanks for reading! For more content on this chapter check out Behind the Madness: X-Games Chapter.

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