It was 1995 and they played NBA Jam on their dorm room floor from morning ‘til night, fingertips Dorito-stained orange, Reggie Miller catching fire behind the arc and Shawn Kemp shattering backboard glass with boomshakalaka dunks, and so when he moved in a few doors down, mid-year, from someplace on the East coast that wasn’t New York and got piss drunk on his first night and ate a slice of old pizza from the hallway trash and told them their room smelled like wet fuckin’ socks before they’d even been introduced, they decided to drop the controllers and follow him wherever he was heading. It was his idea to start an Adventure Man competition. He earned the inaugural fifty points for strolling through the library in nothin’ but Superman boxers. Got another quick hundo for proposing to his Ethics prof. They couldn’t keep up with him because the only adventures they were willing to do weren’t adventurous at all like the time one of ‘em ate a spoonful of mayonnaise for a cool twenty-five. And the rest of the year he just racked up points like Chris Mullin with the hot hand: he stole a Pabst Blue Ribbon-blue recliner out of their RA's dorm, talked his girl into having sex in the Rat Lab at Nakamura Hall, marched into Brown Ballroom and did the hokey pokey during the President’s remarks at an alumni lunch. After they’d graduated and he hadn’t, he’d still call now and again from somewhere in America, drunk on whiskey, but they were always already asleep, alarms set, toothbrushes pre-pasted on bathroom counters, neckties hanging from doorknobs. He’d leave rambling messages that would get cut off mid-sentence wherein they’d only recognize phrases like “fuck yeah, I’m Adventure Man” and “I miss you fuckers” and “you fuckin’ pussies” and they’d talk to each other the next day and compare him to those birthday candles you couldn’t blow out. When they got the call years later that his car ended up a big ball of fire wrapped around a giant oak on a long stretch of road somewhere between the sun going down and rising back up, they couldn’t fight away tears because he was still so young and had his whole life ahead of him. But how they wished they could jump up and dance for him instead, run outside naked and feel hot blades of grass dig into the soles of their feet. ::
About the Author: Steve Karas lives in Chicago with is wife and daughter. His stories have appeared in jmww, Necessary Fiction, Little Fiction, DOGZPLOT, and elsewhere. You can visit him online at steve-karas.com.
Story Song: "Firecracker" by Ryan Adams