The rusted out Death Star of the Explorer was two light years away from the store across a trash-strewn parking lot. We took two calm steps from the store door. Then, like the truly guilty, we ran like fiends. Once back in the Explorer, the Man looked at our faces and laughed.
“You’re all bad, bad, bad men.” He crooned with a smile. “And you’re all going to do hard time for the crime.” No one said anything. It was shifty grins all around, with the invisible panic disappearing in a rush of adrenaline. Laughter burst and cracked again the steel roof like hail. The invisible laurels of law-breaking victory rested on our triumphant brows. Gradually, the endorphins slipped away and silence fell over the group. We were rolling heavily over the over-inflated speed bumps, when Secret, frowning intently, addressed the next problem.
“Well, where are we going to keep it?”
“Not in the car!” The Man said simply.
It was the monkey wrench of practicality. I hadn’t even considered that the scheme would actually work. I had been busy planning my alibi, deliberating about which attorney I would call from jail, and thinking of the fastest getaway route from the store on foot. Despite my epic theoretical knowledge, and Secret’s peerless computer skills, I had thought the whole project was an afternoon’s diversion at best, one that would easily fail upon a mere cursory inspection. To adapt, I quickly opened my tool box of solutions, banishing Plato’s dialogues to the back of my mental cave. With my brow furrowed, I thought intently about where we could hide our booty.
“I know some girls in Liggett that could store it for us…” Party said slowly.
“No way. They’ll drink it.” Sweet stated calmly in rebuttal. His eyes were cast upward. Since his comment wasn’t about online gaming, it was the most relevant thing he had said in weeks.
“I’ve got an extra backpack in my closet.” I noted. “If we kept everything in there, we could put in the nether-reaches of a closet, even all of our closets on a rotating basis. Put some dirty laundry on top of it, whatever, no one’s going to go through it.”
“It could work…”
“I’ve got lots of dirty laundry.” Sweet said proudly. “I haven’t washed my clothes yet, and I’m down to going commando, baby!”
“Well, at least you don’t leave your undies in the bathroom. And, bat-boy, we know you don’t know how to do laundry. I like the backpack.” Secret said. “I just think that we’re going to need some sort of code word for it when we want to use it, so that we can talk freely in front of other people, but not let them know what we’re up to.”
“Excellent. I suggest, ‘cabal’s secret stash of booze backpack’ or ‘booze backpack’ for short.” Sweet said, cackling.
“You’re a real idiot.” The Man noted calmly.
“Wait - I have an idea. A good idea.” Secret said, interrupting a potential round of insults. “Since all of our ‘dry’ friends are always using this term to show how studious they are, we should use it for our own education.”
“Is it - the library?” I said in my most sarcastic voice. I was exhausted by those two words. I heard those letters bandied about at all hours of the day by the do-gooding responsible students that wanted to be prepared for class at all times.
“Exactly.” He replied. “For example – ‘I need to go to the library to study some Russian history...’ – really, I need to drink some vodka.”
“Or – ‘I need to study fluid dynamics at the library’”. Sweet stated, smiling.
“Excellent.” I said quickly, before I heard seven analogies from different disciplines about ‘studying’ or ‘research’. “So that will be the code, and let’s keep it secret to the cabal for now.”
Unlike everything else, it remained secret. The library remained hidden under my bed for several weeks, because I had the most books. But because of Longhorn’s erratic crusading coming and going, and because no one liked him, the library moved. Eventually, going to the library meant hefting its weight of knowledge down three flights of stairs to the cracked cement of the tree shrouded back dorm slab, where many a pint of facts was digested.