Dwayne was what we called honest dumb. He made no pretenses that he possessed anything resembling intelligence. When he graduated high school with a D- average, his parents thanked their lucky stars, threw him a big party, and gave him one week to find someplace else to live.
You could say, and Dwayne often did, that it was his mama's fault to begin with. A person can't name their child Dwayne and expect great things. A person certainly could not, as Dwayne's mama did, name their child Dwayne Lee Ray and expect anything more than a life of Mountain Dew, chewing tobacco, and mild to moderate criminal pursuits.
Dwayne, being dumb, was never going to rise to boss-level at anything, even meth cooking, which is the career path he settled into once he moved out from under the ambivilant eye of his parents. He moved into a single wide trailer on the very edge of a large farm. The land the trailer sat on had been in contention for years. The county, not knowing exactly to whom it belonged, refused to maintain it. The farmer, unwilling to maintain it, refused to claim it. And so when Dwayne and his seventeen cardboard boxes full of concert t-shirts and porn moved into the abandoned trailer, no one said a word.
It might have been that they felt sorry for him. He was dumb, and everyone knew it, and he couldn't get in much trouble out there all by himself. That's what they thought, anyway.
Dwayne tried to get me to come out there, once. We were all sitting in the back of Dulin's Bar - Robbie and Heather and Peewee and his little sister Mercy, me and Mandy Dwyer, who I was desperately trying to convince that giving me a blowjob would not make her a slut and would absolutely mean she was still a virgin. I almost had her talked into it, too, until Dwayne came in and started spreading his stupid all over the place.
"You gotta come out and see the operation, man," he was jacked up and jittery, and looked like he'd lost twenty-five pounds since I'd last seen him.
"Dwayne, I don't mess with that shit."
"Aww, aww man! Me neither! I'm a businessman!" He smiled wide, his lips pulled tight over his teeth, what was left of them. He looked like his skull might split open if he kept grinning like that. He looked dry as bones.
"You're gonna blow yourself up," said Mandy Dwyer, and I turned to her and said, for everyone to hear, "I got something you can blow up." The men laughed and the women blushed and Dwayne stood there, grinning and confused.
I went home alone that night.
So did Dwayne. He went home and cooked up a big pot (or skillet or saucepan, or whatever the hell you cook meth in), and made some little mistake, and blew himself right the fuck up.
When the cops and fire department and paramedics showed up, they had to contend with random pieces of burning paper. Centerfolds floated through the air in various states of undress, burning bits of fantasy flesh. They called to you to get just a little closer, take a better look, before burning you with them. They found Dwayne, the top half of him at least, under an oak tree. He lay on his back, Miss December covering the smile on his face.
2 weeks ago