My friends’ kid stops begging me to swipe her a beer while her parents aren’t looking. Now, she just wants to know the dumbest thing I ever did. I know right away what that is.
But can I really tell her about that time in Laos, in that town where they sell mushroom shakes out of bamboo huts, where all the guidebooks tell you the one thing to avoid is weed, about how I drink said mushroom shake and leap over a bonfire, burning the hairs off my unshaved legs, how just as the shake’s kicking in someone passes me a spliff, how the police swarm me, so I stick the spliff in my pants to conceal it … like, not in my pocket, but in my underwear so that it burns my ass cheek, can I tell her they handcuff me just as the mushroom shake really starts to kick in, how as they try to escort me into the bed of a pickup with some other poor saps, I run into the trees shouting — I’M HARRY HOUDINI, MOTHER FUCKER! — as I slip off the cuffs and toss them in the bushes, do I tell her how they eventually handcuff my hands to my feet when they get hold of me again, how three of them have to lift me like a suckling pig into the truck bed and drive me to a station which is really just a wooden bungalow with a police station sign hammered above the entrance, do I tell her that they confiscate my passport, threaten me with a year in Vientiane prison if I don’t pay up, how despite all this, I can’t stop laughing until they demand to know why I find this so funny, and I say that I’m looking back at this moment six months from now and it’s kinda funny in retrospect, and how the policeman says — But this is happening right now — and the very idea of this makes me cry, then laugh, then cry, then laugh, then cry, then laugh again, do I tell her I haggle with him, that in the end I fork over 500 dollars for my passport, and do I share the dumbest part of all: that I don’t even leave town after, but stay to go tubing down a river that was probably once idyllic, but is now lined with bars with bootleg booze and people like me?
Of course not. And I scan my memory for something a little more PG-13 while also scanning the room for an adult to save my ass from this question. Wondering where the hell they all are. Where the hell they’ve always been.
L. Soviero was born and raised in Queens, New York but has made her way around the world, currently laying her hat in Sydney. She has an MSc in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. When she is not writing flash, she works as a Learning Designer. She has been longlisted at Wigleaf and spotlighted in Best Small Fictions. Check out more of her work at lsoviero.com.
image: MM Kaufman