Taking Rosie Home by Bill Tope

Fifteen-year-old Rosie spends time at her sister's boyfriend's house getting high, but maybe takes it too far this time; by Bill Tope.

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After she had spent the last thirty-six hours with her sister and me, and Sunday morning had finally come round, it was time to take Rosie home. She regularly spent her weekends with Cathy and me - the boyfriend - at our apartment, a fact which did little to elevate the fifteen-year-old's GPA, no doubt. She rarely cracked a book.

On Friday night I had retrieved her from her mother and stepfather's home, about twenty miles distant. She was waiting for me out front of the house, as was usual. On the way home I stopped at Kroger's and we soon bounced back into the apartment with a weekend's worth of food, drink, and others comestibles. Rosie didn't come empty-handed: she brought a bounty of really powerful pot that seemingly was available only to high school students. As she marched through the door, Cathy looked at her questioningly and Rosie took a baggie from her pocket and shook it evocatively. Everyone smiled.

I didn't really know Rosie's parents, but I thought they must be profoundly stupid; else they told themselves that their little girl would never do drugs, in spite of all signs to the contrary. I had contributed in some small measure to that. Mindful of Rosie's increasing paranoia about her privacy being violated, I had for Christmas given her a shoe-box sized heavy-duty lockbox, to which she had the only key. Which didn't exactly elevate me in her folks' esteem.

She kept in that box only her most prized possessions: cigarettes, love letters, birth control pills, emergency No-Doz and, of course, her pot. As she entered the door she of course had her lockbox in hand. That first night, exhausted from a week of school, Rosie crashed early - midnight - and was soon softly snoring on the sofa.

The real party wasn't until the next night, Saturday, when her sister retired early; a dedicated student who rarely partied, she had a class even on Sunday, leaving Rosie and me to our own devices. Around 10pm we began smoking her dope, getting thoroughly stoned. After a single glass of white wine and a solitary doobie, Cathy padded off to bed. In addition to polishing off a six-pack apiece, Rosie and I resolved to drop some LSD I'd bought in the men's room at the recent Moody Blues concert - yes, in those days, I was a class act all the way.

"What kind of acid is this?" she asked, as though she would know the difference between the various varieties. Taking out the small packet, I thumbed away the foil wrapping and squinted down at the object in my hand.

"Mr. Natural," I replied, holding up eight hits of acid, each about one quarter inch square. I figured this to last for weeks. She took one, slipped it between her lips and chewed, as I had instructed her. Then she washed it down with another swallow of beer. I did likewise. We sat back, waiting for something interesting to happen. And when nothing did, we were both a little disappointed. I'd only done the drug one time before, at a party, and hadn't gotten too much out of it. But when Rosie began questioning me about acid, I told her I'd get some and then she could trip out in the comfort and security of my home. I thought I had been doing her a favor, in a twisted kind of way.

"It's been stepped on," she said disconsolately, lighting a cigarette.

'Don't get ahead of yourself," I cautioned. "This is the same acid they sell at all the Pink Floyd concerts." I knew that Pink was her favorite rock group. Besides, it might have been true.

She frowned, asked, "Then why aren't we getting off? We're not getting off, are we?"

I shrugged. "Couldn't be all the beer and pot and coffee and cigarettes and tequila, could it?" I asked sardonically. She stared at me like I had corn growing out of my ears.

"Of course not," she said, slurring her words a little. She paused a moment, then suggested, "Maybe we should take some more?" Now beginning to feel the vague tingling sensation allegedly associated with tripping, I readily cast caution to the wind and we eagerly gobbled up another hit apiece.

A half hour elapsed and aside from that vague tingling up our spines and a certain numbness in our extremities, we weren't really feeling anything. We had some more tequila; Rosie smoked another fistful of cigarettes. We got high some more. I cranked up the stereo, put on The Dark Side of the Moon, a favorite album of both of us, then a little Traffic - The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys - and a rap album by M.C. Hammer that Rosie enjoyed but which I hated. Rap was just then - 1982 - coming into vogue. In the course of our self-styled concert experience, we each ate two more hits of acid, earnestly waiting to get off. Still, it hadn't happened yet.

6 Hours Later

I awoke with a start. I looked about, discovered I was still on the sofa, still had all my clothes on - always a good sign - and was feeling a thrumming up my spine and into my neck. I turned my head and felt instantly dizzy, and I put my hands out before me to keep myself from slipping to the floor. Whoa! Moving slower now, I turned my head again and spotted Rosie, curled up on the love seat, her shirt unaccountably missing. Her jeans too. I blinked in surprise. I glanced at the television; in the days prior to cable and 24/7 TV, broadcasting stations regularly went to test patterns or white noise early in the morning. Such was now the case.

Finally getting my feet under me, I staggered to Rosie and shook her awake. At my touch, her eyes snapped open like window blinds. I startled. She moaned plaintively.

"What time is it?" she managed. I checked my watch.

"Six a.m.," I told her. She blew out a breath, licked her lips thirstily.

"Cotton mouth," she murmured, reached for a partially filled can of beer, took a swig and then make a face. "Ugh!" she said. "It's warm." Moving as if crippled, I walked to the kitchen, retrieved another of our endless supply of canned beer and handed it to the girl. I reminded myself that she was only a girl, despite the fetching vision she made in her skivvies.

"Maybe," I said, "you should get dressed." She glanced down at herself, then laughed somewhat shrilly.

"Whatsa matter, you afraid of me? Afraid I'm going to ravish" - it sounded like she said 'radish' - "your body? I hear every man wants sisters." She leered drunkenly at me. I picked her clothes off the floor, handed them to her.

"Get decent," I said shortly. And she did. "What time did you say you'd be back tomorrow... er, today?" I asked her.

"Noon," she answered. I nodded.

"Then we've got about five hours to get straight," I said. She shook her head no.

"Don't want to get straight," she replied contritely. Then she extinguished her cigarette, took out her bottomless bag of pot and began rolling a joint. I rolled my eyes impatiently.

"What're you doing now?" I demanded. Her face assumed the petulant expression of a fifteen-year-old.

"I'm just getting high," she explained irritably. Gone was the fetching teenager.

"You dropped four hits of very strong acid just a few hours ago," I reminded her. "Aren't you high enough already?"

"God!" she said. "You sound just like Ed," referencing her stepfather.

"Look," I said, trying to talk reason to Rosie, "you may not care for Ed or respect his opinions, but even a broken clock is right twice a day." She made an ugly face and stuck the reefer between her lips, unimpressed with my shithouse logic.

"Get off my case," she muttered darkly. "That sounds like something that Ed would say," she pointed out. "I come over here on weekends to get away from him."

"The reason they let you come over here is because they don't know that you do drugs over here," I explained.

Rosie seemed to turn this over in her mind for a moment, then, extinguishing the joint, she said, "Okay then, let's get straight. What do we do first?"

"First of all," I told her, "brush your teeth; you smell like a distillery and an ashtray." Her parents didn't even know that she smoked cigarettes, let alone pot. "And grab a shower, then put on clean clothes." She saluted me sarcastically and then left the room to do what I'd suggested.

11 o'clock

"I'm taking your sister home now," I told my girlfriend, back from her class, and gave her a quick kiss and drifted toward the door. The sisters exchanged good-byes and we were off. After driving for about fifteen minutes, I heard someone speaking. It was Rosie. I turned my head to hear her better.

"How do you feel?" she repeated.

"I'm alright," I said, shrugging and feeling my feet were now completely back on the ground. "How about you?" I asked

"I think I'm having a flashback," she said uncertainly. I stopped for a red light. "Don't you feel it?" she asked.

"No, I'm feeling norbal."

"Norbal?" she repeated, laughing.

"Uh... normal," I corrected. "See?" I asked, "I stopped in time for the red light." I felt very proud of myself. She looked a little pained, twisted her lips wryly.

"Yeah," she said, "but you stopped a block in front of the light." I glanced up the road, saw that we were indeed 500 feet from the intersection. Pressing the accelerator I moved us forward again, shook my head.

"Maybe not quite norbal," I conceded.

"What exactly happened last night?" Rosie wanted to know. I cast my mind back to the night before, was shocked by visions of Rosie doing a strip tease! I shook my head, tried to drive the thoughts from my beleaguered mind. I loved Rosie - like the sister I never had - but never would have countenanced anything untoward happening between us. Besides, she was twelve years younger than me, and I was co-habbing with her sister! My own scant experience with hallucinogens told me that a user wouldn't do anything under the influence that they wouldn't do when straight. I prayed that was correct. Rosie, on the other hand, had a teenage crush on me, but would she betray Cathy? Again, I prayed.

On top of all that, I was ten minutes from Rosie's home and still under the influence. No, that's not right. I was tripping my ass off! I decided to take personal stock. My glance landed on the fuel gauge - nearly empty! Yikes! I suddenly veered off the road and pulled into a filling station. Misjudging the distance, I drove over the curb, jarring the hell out of both of us.

Rosie said, "My mouth hurts from all this smiling. When will it go away?"

"Just imagine walking into Ed's house in full psychedelic mode," I told her grimly. "That should wipe the smile off your face." As I pulled up to the pump I looked into Rosie's face. Her eyes were big as half dollars, and her pupils the size of dimes. I slipped out of the car and fueled up, then walked into the station. I got into line behind three other people: a stunningly beautiful Black woman, an obese redneck type in a flannel shirt and a policeman. Oh, no, I thought. Lost in my own paranoia, I zoned out, then thought I heard somebody talking.

"Help you, Hon'?" asked the ageless cashier, smiling indulgently. She had obviously dealt with drug addled customers before. I glanced around: the cop was gone, as were the others. I let out a grateful sigh. The cashier checked the register, checked again, said, "Fifty cents, Hon'." I blinked. She smiled kindly.

"I... uh, I'm gonna' get some more gas, I think..." and I ran back out the door to the car and added more fuel. I glanced through the windshield. Rosie seemed to be asleep. Good, I thought. Maybe that would help straighten her out. Pulling up at last to Rosie's home I killed the engine, shook Rosie awake.

"Get ready to run the gauntlet," I told her as we walked up the path to her front door. Rosie's mother, Tammy, greeted us at the door. Rosie, I thought, was walking a little stiffly. I hoped we could pass muster.

"Hi, kids," said Tammy with uncharacteristic ebullience. "Come on in." Usually Rosie and I said our good-byes at the door; Tammy rarely invited the man who was living in sin with her eldest daughter to enter the sanctum sanctorum. She had been married to Ed, I remembered, for about one year. For about as long as I had been dating Cathy. I had narrowly escaped having to attend the wedding. I decided to go with the flow. Tammy displayed us like trophies in the living room, which was filled to bursting with Ed's family, the four sons and three daughters from his first marriage, plus other people I'd never seen before.

"Who are these people?" I whispered to Rosie. Out of the side of her mouth she whispered back,

"No clue." One thing for sure about the group: they were heavily imbibing Ed's generous stock of liquors. In fact, they were all - including Ed and Tammy - in their cups. Here it was - I looked at my watch - two minutes till noon, and they were all shit-faced. In fact, every one of the twenty or so people in the living room gripped a highball glass or a beer, and in every mouth burned a cigarette. Still, everyone seemed much too wound up to just be a little tipsy. Before I departed for home, I asked to use the bathroom; there was something I wanted to check out.

"Sure," said Ed, but don't be long." I stared at him. "You know how it is at a drinkin' party." He giggled stupidly. Repairing to the bathroom, I immediately opened the medicine cabinet, peered inside. It was just as I'd suspected: every kind of pain pill, muscle relaxer, mood elevator, downer, upper and so on, were present, in copious amounts. I checked the smoked-glass vials; some were made out to patients who didn't even live here. Hostess gifts, perhaps? Several pills, capsules and tablets lay in the sink; ostensibly the other partyers had found the trove as well. I didn't feel quite so guilty now, but I did feel a sort of melancholy sympathy for my teenaged friend. I'd had no idea what she had to contend with. For a moment I burned with a righteous - and hypocritical - indignation. I resolved then to be more circumspect in how I related to Rosie - and to other people, for that matter. To not encourage her to be such a free wheeler. I felt she had already been cured of her affection for hallucinogens, but nothing said that I had to provide her with beer while she was still a teenager. Closing the cabinet door, I walked back into the party.

"Have a drink!" I was offered libations by at least a half dozen partyers, who seemed almost desperate to get me to join in their fun. But I begged off. "What's the matter? Don't feel like partying?" Tammy asked me in a loud voice. I looked her in the eyes, saw pupils which were the size of pin pricks, wondered if this were the woman I'd see in Cathy in twenty years, when she was Tammy's age. It gave me a shiver. I shook my head.

"I'm driving," I explained shortly, and walked back out the door.


  1. It’s always good to read a story where the MC changes for the better, and this piece conveys that believably. The descriptions are well-done, and the dialogue is excellent. A very good story.
    -D. Henson

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Mr. Henson. I’m a big fan of your work and can’t wait to read more of it. I’ll admit I had to do a web search to discover what “MC” meant. I guess I haven’t been about this work as long as you have. Thanks again. bill

  2. Makes my mispent youth seem quite innocent. I know about stopping five hundred feet early though. Glad the numerous transgressions didn't lead to sex with Rosie and that the story had an interesting implication about where the drugs, drinking, and smoking came from.

    1. Doug, when you speak of your own misspent youth, I’m not certain whether you’re comparing it with the Rosie’s or the narrator of the tory. So you’ve made one or two 500 foot stops yourself, huh? Hawley, you are a wild man. Thanks for your comments, they mean a lot. bill

  3. I also enjoyed this story's crisp, clean prose. It is interesting that his girlfriend Cathy escaped all of the debauchery. These polarities between siblings are common in dysfunctional families. Well done, bill.

    1. Hi Rozanne – thanks for your comments. You know, I’ve been waiting very patiently, I feel, but you haven’t yet penned another great piece of fiction. Really, I couldn’t get enough of “The Train to Modena: Suzanna’s Story” It’s the best fiction that I’ve read on FOTW to date. So, chop-chop! Thanks again.

  4. Sorry, Bill, the above anonymous comment was from me.

    1. Hi Bill, I am publishing two sequels to this story. Flavia’s story on Dec 2, Alessandro’s story on Dec12. Thank you for your kind words.

  5. This story began with a light touch before gradually moving to more serious, and sad, issues. I too was glad that the narrator saw his own part in this, and made a decision to be a better part of this girl's life. I have to admit that I laughed out loud at "but you stopped a block in front of the light." Well done!

    1. Thank you for your comments, Barbara. It does my heart good to know that a reader “laughed out loud” at a scene or a piece of dialogue in something that I wrote! Your know, your short story was the first story I read on FOTW and “Mountain Girl’s Honeymoon” remains one of my favorites. And isn’t it time for you to have another story on FOTW? I’m eagerly looking forward to it. No matter the venue in which it appears, I’m anxious to read more of your work. Take care.

  6. This is a really good story that communicates an absolute undercurrent of danger (which was honestly stressing me out at one point!), yet you somehow managed to make this same character evolve in a short amount of time--and in a still believable way. Thank you! I look forward to more!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Eric. To be honest, I was a little stressed out reliving the experience in my own mind. Thanks for reading.

  7. Well done Bill! I confess to a few flashbacks of walking into convenience stores in my youth in a similar state of mind. I also recall vividly walking into a room expecting no none and then being confronted with a ton of people. This is extraordinarily authentic writing.

    1. Thanks for your comments, David. I think you and Doug Hawley must have partied together back in the day. Thanks again.