High School Rooftops

It was nearing midnight on a cool Arizona night in February when I pulled my old drop-top Chrysler over to the side of the quiet Gilbert street. Jared and Alex stayed in the car while I shifted into park and popped open the door, screwdriver in hand. I moved to the back of the car, looking around the area to make sure we weren’t being watched, then dropped down to my haunches and detached the license plate, throwing it into the trunk.

    I hopped over the door and back into the driver’s seat, pushing my long, scraggly hair behind my ear as I shifted back into gear. My ear still hurt from the stainless-steel stud I forced through it just a few days prior but wasn’t about to ask my parents about the possible infection. As far as I knew they didn’t know about it at all and I’d planned on keeping it that way.

    “What’re we? Robbing someone?” Jared asked as we continued to our destination. Not even Jared would’ve been on board with that. He was a reckless asshole, but not a criminal. Well. If he was, then I was too. Misdemeanor level criminals at best, but we hadn’t been caught yet.

    I replied in my best cool guy tone, “Maybe.”

    Alex chuckled. “Dude. No. we’re not robbing anyone. Just messing around at a school.”
Alex and I had been at this high school a handful of times and knew the best ways to get on top of it. At sixteen, thirty-foot-tall buildings weren’t obstacles, they were challenges.

    We circled the school one time in the Chrysler, checking for security guards or police before parking and heading to the best climbing spot: a lunch table close enough to a pillar that had a huge lip at the top. I went up first and Alex lagged behind to make sure Jared made it up from behind. I was the scrawniest of the three of us, but also the strongest, so that made sense.
 Since 6th grade, Alex always looked to me like if the overweight 70’s Elvis were somehow a kid while Jared had a more Stallone vibe: facial anomaly and all.

    We didn’t really have anything we wanted to do up there, though that really wasn’t the point. Boys sometimes just need to spend time being boys. This night was no exception.

    “Andi is a nutbag,” I said, referring to a former momentary flame of Alex’s. 

    “I could have told you that,” Alex responded, curiosity piqued. “I did tell you that.”

    “Did you try to hook up with Andi? Dude! Seriously?” Jared chimed in, punching me in the shoulder. “That’s messed up.”

    I held up my hands, too slow to deflect the punch. “No! I didn’t. She tried to hook up with me.” 

    Alex picked up a rock from the roof and hucked it in my direction. It clanged against the metal of the AC unit next to my shoulder.

    “I was just trying to be a good guy! She was all upset about the breakup. She came on to me. I swear.” I put my hand up to the square, like that would magically convince them of the truthfulness of my statement. When no more rocks came my way, I pushed my hair out of my face again and stared out past my black creeper shoes at nothing.

     “Whatever,” Alex said. He meant it. Whether my story was truthful or not, it was a given that nothing was worth losing our friendship over. Not even when I snuck into his house with Jared a few years prior and called a phone sex line on his parents’ dime. That’s not this story, though.

    “I gotta drop one. Hold my legs,” Alex said as he stood and dusted off the back of his pants.
    I looked up at his hand, now extended toward me. I gripped it and rose to my feet. 

    “What the— You need to drop a what?” Jared said, his brow furrowed, though he followed us toward the edge of the roof, curiosity getting the best of him. 

    The roof of the school was edged with a two-foot wall. Alex turned around, facing me, and dropped his baggy jeans to his ankles.

    “Woah! Hey, hey, hey! When did you guys become queers?” Jared asked, still unaware of the tradition Alex and I began years earlier. 

    Alex sat on the short wall and I squatted down myself, pinning his feet to the gravel-covered roof. He edged backward and started to do his business. He had hung a little to far out over the ledge and started to slip over the edge. My eyes went wide with the realization I might have to explain any of this to paramedics or worse: Alex’s parents.

    Without skipping a beat I wrapped my arms around Alex’s legs, hugging them snug to my chest, using my weight to counterbalance the effects of gravity on his larger frame. His hands gripped my shoulders in a panic to stay atop the wall as Jared reached in making sure we both didn’t go over the edge.

    Before we were even safely on the right side of the roof, the ridiculousness of the situation hit us. The three of us gripping and grappling on top of a public school with one of us pantsless was too much and the giggles took over. We laughed so hard, tears flowed as we hoisted Alex back onto the safety of the roof.