Tomahawk Mountain

By Jeremiah Maxwell

Tomahawk Mountain didn’t really exist anywhere, it was just a made up place shared between two best friends.

Tom came up with the name after watching a western movie that came on late one night when he was stoned and flipping through channels. Now, he and Jim used it as a codeword of sorts. Visiting “Tomahawk Mountain” meant going to go smoke a bowl or two and forget about worries for a few short hours. Smoking marijuana wasn’t the only thing that Jim and Tom used to do together, but to the two boys it served as the perfect refuge from their busy high school careers.

Both Jim and Tom’s parents were involved in their children’s school. As high school became more of an independent venture for Jim, the more his parents resisted any changes occurring within their son. Tom’s parents were both teachers and took liberal but ubiquitous concern with their son, but Jim’s father was a tax attorney, a grueling man, his mother was an accountant and doted on her three children. Her joy was driving her three kids from one after-school activity to another. Jim couldn’t wait to get out of the house sometimes in the morning, and since he and Tom were neighbours, they often walked to school together, rather than hitch a ride with someone from the neighbourhood. They usually talked about one of two things, Battlestar Galactica, or girls—but this only vaguely and in that awkward adolescent wishful way.

Tom was a little more realistic about girls than his best friend. Although neither of them had yet to be with a woman, let alone one of the girls from their class, neither had an obsession, like some of the other boys in their grade, to part with their virginity at the earliest opportunity. There weren’t any secrets between the two friends, but Tom always harbored in his heart the love for a girl he had met in the third grade. She had moved away two years after, before middle school and had promised she would be his girlfriend over long distance as long as he wrote her letters, but they had fallen out of contact some time around the last summer before high school.

It was during a conversation about girls one afternoon in the park with the big rocket ship overlooking the sprawling suburbs where they lived, that Tom told Jim about Julia and his plan to someday go to Florida and find her. That afternoon, Jim had managed to talk a demented hobo who often hung around the pier, to buy him a pack of cigarettes in exchange for three of them. He exhaled complacently as Tom slowly unfolded the story of his childhood romance. White wisps of cloud rolled across the sky like the caps of a choppy seascape. Tom had finished rolling a joint and handed it to his friend to light. Jim rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as if he was contemplating it, but let his friend continue with what he was saying.

Jim sparked the joint and inhaled strongly. He held his breath and handed it to Tom, who finished his sentence before puffing on the joint. The two boys exhaled together and grew quiet. Somewhere, a dog was barking and a young girl was giggling. The afternoon seemed to grow long with the shadows and something seemed to come over Jim. He didn’t really understand the feeling, but it felt a bit like the sound of bells peeling in the distance. Over the horizon, a flock of migratory sparrows swarmed from tree to tree, as if not one that they landed on could provide the right kind of shelter. The seasons were changing and the birds were growing more and more restless, as if the cold were chasing them out of the land.

The boys rode their bikes down the rolling hills in a languid fashion, as if time were the only thing pushing them forward. As they got closer to their homes and the evening became orange with dusk, they each hastened their pace a little, perhaps both anticipating the warmth of a home-cooked meal.