Phil was home again. In the last hour he had managed to start an uprising, infiltrate mainstream news and command an attack on the Citadel Robots. And now to celebrate his triumph he was sitting in the back of a hollowed out van licking his lips as he watched Forest roll a fat joint.
“I have to say that today was indeed a victory.” He proclaimed.
“Aye,” Forest agreed, raising the half rolled joint as though it were pint of lager.
Stevie sat next to Phil without saying too much. Phil wasn’t sure if this situation would make him uncomfortable or not – the guy was a cop, but he also had a penchant for conspiracies, and weed was one of the best friends of any conspiracy theorist.
“Will you be joining us in our salute to the Man, Steven?” Phil asked jovially. He preferred to tackle uncertainty head on, in the field of battle – see where its allegiance lay. There also seemed to be a medieval tone to his dialect which he was enjoying immensely.
“No.” Stevie replied.
Forest snorted. “He’s a cop, Flip, why would you even ask? He’s probably never even smoked the shit before, just busy busting balls over it.”
“I think it’s best at least one of us maintains a clear head in light of our wanted status.” Stevie said.
“You sure?” Phil aksed, not sure if he should respect Stevie’s position or defend his favourite wonderplant in front of his people.
“This doesn’t even mess up your mind, man.” Forest said. “It’s all just propaganda, the memory loss and paranoia. I drive better when I’m high.”
Phil saw a small smile attempt to set up camp on Stevie’s face. An ill-informed ally is sometimes best kept hidden from the enemy. Stevie retorted, “So you remain highly functional when you smoke? You don’t lose perspective or have altered perception of reality?”
“Nah.” Forest said defiantly, idiotically.
“So why smoke it?”
Forest paused a moment as he processed his misstep. “Fuck, Phil, Why’d you bring this old man?”
“He saved my life,” Phil said bluntly. He thought it best to distance himself from Forest at this point.
“Look I’m not here to nark on your parade, Forest,” Stevie said in a water-under-the-bridge manner, “but we can’t afford to linger too long and we need to focus on where we go from here. Today was a victory and worth celebrating, but in other battles we clearly lost. The media generated from this fracas will be drowned out by the special with Sam Tank. The public are being softened up by a smear campaign against Walter and a self-entitled claim to his happiness. Phil and I believe Citadel is going to sell his happiness. What we need to do is fight the battle on two fronts: The fight for public opinion; and the fight for Walter.”
Forest again took a moment to respond, his reflexes clearly not firing on all cylinders. “OK but just let me smoke this first.”
“But Walter is safe now isn’t he?” Phil said.
Stevie still seemed undecided here. “Look I would rather he was with us then with anyone. You’re the one who doesn’t trust anyone though, right? Lucy Blues’ position here is easily questionable. She’s obviously worked with Sam before. She kidnapped Walter right before he was set to go into Citadel but maybe that will feed into the public’s sense of ownership of Walter. You only want what you can’t have, so we can expect them to demand it.”
“Yeah I know what you’re saying, but you actually think Lucy is in on it? I mean she seemed pretty nice on the show.” Phil said.
“Ha! Flip’s still got the hots for her. Classic!” Forest interjected before lightly placing the joint between his lips and lighting it.
Phil’s heart sped up a little at the sight of the paper reeling back from the flame to reveal its gooey green centre. It was magic.
“Fuck off.” He said to Forest , taking the joint between his thumb and fore finger. He thought of that magic as he drew in his breath. Weed was like magic; blending into his lungs and entering his system, convincing his brain that anything was possible and everything was exceptional. He held the toke, closing his eyes and imagining the journey it was taking. He could see the smoke rise up into his cranium like a potion in a vat - only the vat was upside down; it made more sense when he didn’t try to rationalise it. Finally he exhaled, and immediately took another short hit as a chaser.
His eyelids felt heavy as he raised them. He saw Forest slouched down in his seat with a big grin on his face. “You shouldn’a dropkicked this shit, Flip. I told you it’s heavy; a fucking bowling ball, man.” Forest leaned over and took the joint. Phil thought for a moment that everything was moving in slow motion but then he saw Stevie stand up and roll the window up at normal pace – apparently it was just Forest himself moving in slow mo. “Hey piggy, you’re not so bad after all. I didn’t realise the hot box had a leak.” Forest yawned.
“We don’t need to draw attention to ourselves,” Stevie said, “What we do need is to decide our action. Lucy, good or bad, has Walter and we...”
Phil remembered what he had been trying to think of – magic. He wondered if the wizards and witches from the dark ages used to just be enlightened drug users. Maybe the church knew about their ways and wanted to stifle the counter-culture with propaganda. Fuck, even the middle-ages had this bullshit corruption keeping the voice of the free muzzled. Then he realised that he had lost his medieval mood. He hadn’t been thinking in medieval speak for ages. Oh well, you win some you lose some. That didn’t even make sense, he snickered to himself.
“Yeah?” Phil realised Srevie had been talking that whole time – however long it was. “Yeah sorry, Stevie, I wasn’t listening to a word of that.”
Forest, who was now lying sideways on his seat, burst out in a fit of laughs. Phil laughed as well. He was pretty funny. That was his charm. Weed was great.
“...to figure this out – Phil!” Stevie shouted.
“Sorry, man, fuck.”
Forest giggled like...well, like a stoner, really.
“I don’t know why you want to, like...” Phil felt he had a point when started the sentence but it quickly withdrew as he spoke, “OK I get it, yes, we need to save Walter’s happiness potion – formula – his-” Phil paused, “I don’t know.”
Forest erupted like a hyena this time – a stoner hyena. Phil started cracking up as well. “Dude, dude, dude, you sound like a fucking stoned hyena!” Phil could barely get the sentence out before he went into a fit himself.
Forest sat up with inspired swiftness, “Yeah and you’re a fucking stoned kookaburra,” They both laughed hysterically.
Phil had tears in his eyes. “Wait so what does that make Stevie?”
“He’s like the grumpy old grizzly bear,” Forest flailed his arms about, “Roar, we need to do work, roar!”
“Roar! I’m sensible, Roar!”
Forest fell off his chair giggling. He still had his joint in his fingers. Stevie reached down and snatched it away. “Give me that you fucking idiots.”
“No, no, no!” they cried in high pitched unison. But before they could even move Stevie had raised the joint to his lips and was drawing deep breath.
“If you two aren’t going to fucking listen I might as well make a night of it.”