Mike's reflective shoes.

Right after I graduated high school, I started spending a lot of time with my friend Mike. Mostly, we'd play punk rock in his basement, with Mike on a drum set that came out of a dumpster, and myself banging out power chords on my guitar. When we got bored with that, we'd drive around, digging in dumpsters and getting harassed by rednecks. Mike was probably the punkest guy I ever knew. He wasn't some dumb rich kid who shopped at Hot Topic and secretly aspired to be a successful rich guy. No, Mike was a high school dropout who dug in the trash, made his own clothes, and aspired to be punk as fuck forever.

Mike was the only person who I ever actually saw smoking crack. We were sitting in his bedroom one night before going out for a night of dumpster diving, and had just finished smoking some weed. Mike dumped the ash out of the pipe, and then popped in a crack rock.

"What the fuck, man?" I asked, concerned that my good friend was about to smoke crack.

"Don't worry, man," he said, "I can't afford to smoke this shit. This is just something my brother stole from some guy."

I'd always wondered if crack instantly turned a person into a crazy person, or if it took a lot of smoking to get them to the point where they wandered the streets talking to themselves. Mike didn't seem any different after he smoked his rock. He just seemed like Mike.

As far as I knew, he never became a crackhead. He came from a family of potheads, and I never knew any of them to be too interested in anything else. When his brother was in a serious car accident and was prescribed a bunch of powerful pain killers, he sold them all for weed money.

Mike loved to make and modify his own clothes. While most of my clothes-modification experiments consisted of me safety-pinning things to other things, Mike learned to sew. A routine dumpster-diving expedition once landed us a fine bounty of brand new clothes intended for obese women with preferences for extremely loud clothing. For a while after that, our clothes were often lined with pieces of that bounty: leopard prints, plaids, and plastic imitation snake skin. In addition to lining things with other things, Mike would paint his clothes, add spikes or straps or zippers, and sometimes briefly set his clothes on fire because he liked how it looked afterwards.

Another time, he glued bike reflectors to the bottom of his combat boots.

Mike was a young guy, several years younger than myself, but he had already had a number of run ins with the police. It seemed to be common in his family. One day, Mike was walking around outside when he saw the police driving nearby. He wasn't carrying any contraband, and he hadn't done anything wrong, but the sight of the cops scared him. He started running, and when the police got too close, he jumped into a ditch so they wouldn't see him.

They didn't see him, but they did see the reflectors on his shoes shining in their headlights. They arrested him for resisting arrest, since he was evidently trying to hide from them.

I haven't seen Mike in a few years, but when I did, he still had his mohawk and leather jacket. Everybody else I knew had gotten rid of them long ago. Punk as fuck, I tell you.

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