After the awkward phone call with Nicolas, Ivan took a walk in an attempt to “do a jay” his current vernacular for smoking a joint thanks to a movie the band had recently rewatched. The evening had descended on the college’s grounds, bringing with it the pleasant glow of the solar light poles that looked like old gaslamps, and the sweet musky smells of the flawless landscaping.

There were smatterings of schoolgirls going here and there, many of which had changed from their uniforms and were starting to resemble normal college girls, but still in common fashions and styles denoting their class in the world.

Ivan liked joints. There was something natural about them, a level of craftsmanship that he had a hard time associating with edibles and vaporizers. Which was weird he thought as he viewed chefs as craftsmen and figured there was a fair amount of skill and science that went into making vapes. Perhaps it was nostalgia, either for his own youth, or even for youths further back in his genes memories. Marry and Pippen smoking pipeweed in the Lord of the RIngs would have come across quite differently had they been passing back and forth a vape pen with Shokanaw Shwag juice in it. Of course, there was one big downside to doing a jay, especially on a campus, the smell. The smell of pot had a way of permeating all the air around it, drowning out all other smells, and it was a love it or hate it smell. At the smell of burning marijuana, it was just as likely to hear someone say yum as it was to hear someone make a raspberry sound and complain. The smell of pot and politics, the two things that the world seemed to be exactly split down the middle on.

He found himself walking a similar path to the one he’d taken earlier and thought to himself that he should have made note of good hiding spots earlier in the day when he met Peggy. Maybe Peggy would know some, she seemed cool. Ivan really liked her, so what if she was older? The rest of the band obviously thought that it was weird, but Ivan was not one to stop just because people thought he was weird. If he had been, he possibly would have never moved an inch in his life. Ever since Ivan was a child he was on the outskirts, and not the outskirts like the cool underground or the fashionable forward, the actual outskirts. Even the counter-culture group he ran with in high school kept him at bay due to his “oddness”. They were nice about it, but it still happened.

Ahead, Ivan spied the cafeteria. It was almost completely dark save for a light or two from the back. He walked around the backside of the building and saw Peggy through the window. She had changed out of her work clothes and was in her, what Ivan could only assume was her daily attire. He hadn’t expected her to be so bohemian. She wore a long dark earth tone dress with several black beaded necklaces and several black bracelets. He watched for a second as she gathered her things. She appeared to be done for the evening, so in the interest of only being a creep for as little time as possible, Ivan decided to make his presence known and he tapped on the window. He should have known from their earlier encounter that he had made a mistake. His tap on the window again startled her. She put her hand to her heart and collected her breath and looked out the window. Ivan gave a wave and she smiled and sighed in relief. She held up a finger indicating that it would take her a minute and Ivan lit up a smoke to pass the time.

Ivan put the cigarette to his lips and lit it. He drew in a drag and looked up at the stars, exhaling the smoke into the cool humid late spring air. Ivan was a mix of not knowing what he was doing and knowing exactly what he was doing. How he walked with purpose while pursuing no purpose at all astounded even him. Why was it so important to Nicolas that they play a show at this school. Not that Ivan would ever view a gig or a person for that matter beneath him, but the band, Ivan Rock and the Blackness Between the Stars were getting radio play, having an album release part, playing bigger and bigger shows, then Nicolas insists that they play an all girl’s college in the middle of Kingsport. All Ivan knew was that his calling in this world was to move the darkness and replace it with light, that’s all. He had no idea who was light and who was dark, at least, he didn’t know until he knew and right now, he wasn’t sure which Nicolas was.

Peggy startled him out of his head as she left the back door of the school’s cafeteria. “Hi, Ivan,” she said with her welcoming voice. “What are you doing here? Don’t you have important band guy stuff to do before playing?”

“Nah, we don’t play until tomorrow night,” he responded sheepishly. “I hope you are coming?”

“Of course. I wouldn’t miss the only thing going on, would I?”

“I don’t suppose you can help me?” Ivan asked. She looked at him quizzically until he held up the joint for her to see.

She gave a mocking smirk and head shake and said, “Yeah. Follow me.”

Ivan followed one step behind her and to the side as she led him deeper into the employee parking lot behind the cafeteria. Past the dumpsters, past the grease recycling, to a chainlink fence. She opened the gate and they stepped into the Altre Deorum community garden. Between the almost completely faded light of day and the solar stake lights, the garden was its own refuge of wild magic in the over manicured campus.

Ivan and Peggy

“Wow,” was all that Ivan said and Peggy took a lot of pride in his response.

“They call it the community garden,” She said, “but it’s mostly my garden.

“It is magical, Peggy,” Ivan released through his awe. The vining plants crawled up every option and there were only rows that were completely necessary, other than those, the garden was like a jungle of food.

“Is all of this… food?” Ivan asked.

“There are a few that are for pollination only,” she replied and led as they walked to a bench at the back and sat.

Ivan pulled the joint from his pocket, reached back in and pulled another. He handed one to Peggy. She thought for a second and then took it.

“Don’t smoke ofter?” Ivan asked.

“Oh no, I smoke, just not normally with kids,” She said with some uncomfortably.

“Oh I see,” Ivan responded, “So, I’m a kid.”

“Well, I thought you were.” Peggy lit her joint.

Ivan looked in her eyes and could not see any of the blackness he saw before, only light. He lit his joint and the pair both inhaled deeply.


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