Leon's Golden Acorn


The golden acorn was an exact rendering of the real thing with a cap that twisted off. It lay just under his forefinger, probably set there by his stepbrother Tommy. Those of us who knew Leon well also knew what it contained - an endless supply of the finest weed around. He carried it with him always and shared its contents graciously with any and everyone, to the foil of his stepbrother, the local drug dealer, who could get his hands on any kind of intoxicant, hallucinogen or narcotic, but not for free. One time Tommy came to school with a big brick of hash, stashed in a purple Crown Royal bag. He kept it in his locker, doling it out between classes. It was before the days of random locker searches and drug-sniffing dogs. He had been my best friend for a few months of senior year while I explored the highs & lows, stops & starts of a relationship with Black Beauties.

Leon died in an incident which would later be referred to as a "freak accident". As the grapevine thread its way through the corridors, the details told of an after-party party in the basement of his parent's house, too much Budweiser, too many bonghits and a flare gun. I didn't know anything about guns, be it flare, BB or .22, and looking down at him in the coffin with the left side of his face blown off and puttied back together, his hair, which was once long and always a little greasy, arranged over the top of his head in a heavily lacquered forelock to hide what was once the top of his skull, I decided then that I didn't ever want to. I did however later shoot a pistol, goaded by the mocking of my then husband. I held it, aimed at the target, squeezed the trigger and hit the bullseye perfectly centered, put the gun down and walked away. To this date, it is the first, last and only time I ever touched a gun.

The funeral was supposed to be closed casket and was until the end when we, Leon's most nearest and dearest, bereft and in the grip of teenage angsty-ness, begged the undertaker (a man whose name, I will share for comic effect only, lent itself well to his profession, "Leave your REmains at DeMaines") to let us see him one last time. As we looked down at him in horror, clinging to each other tearfully, we lamented how he was better off. It's funny that people say that, but few really want to die and most go to great lengths to avoid death.

We missed Leon, toasting him often during our own late night parties, with slurred rounds of Knockin' on Heaven's Door and Freebird playing loudly on repeat. He was the one of us who didn't take anything seriously, more than happy to administer the merry medicine from his golden acorn and have us join him in the purple haze where he floated above it all surveying the antics with the heavy-lidded gaze and benign smile of the perpetually stoned. When I think about it now he may have been the first buddha with which I had close ties.

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