"How many sprinkles did you put in your coffee?" asked Smithy.
"Four," I said, exhaling a nimbus of cannabis smoke, "but I reckon you should go for five."
"I'm smoking green, init? You don't want to be left on level two."
Smithy had stopped smoking cannabis - or anything for that matter - the previous month after an asthma attack led to hospitalization.
He gave an understanding nod, and went about burning and crumbling a fifth sprinkle in to his coffee mug, hunched like a monkey picking bugs off another's back.
"If you're gonna go for a fifth, you may as well bang in a sixth," I said.
We didn't need a reason to get stoned, but tonight we'd planned a Nathan Barley marathon, having recorded it a few weeks earlier.
"Looking forward to this kicking in," said Smithy, sipping at his coffee mix.
"I bet you are," I mumbled, my peripheral vision starting to blur.
"Hold back on the Barley until then," he said: "I want to be laughing my balls off when it's on."
He sipped at his coffee.
"No doubt you will be," I said: "a nice weed brew does the trick."
"Oh I know. I was stoned all day at work the other day. I got a coffee from the diner and stuck a few sprinkles in before the staff came in. Only about three, I reckon. An hour later I was well stoned. It lasted ages."
He sipped his coffee.
"It does, don't it? You don't seem to be able to shake-it-off."
"Yeah, but that's not a bad thing. It was a fucking brilliant shift."
He sipped his coffee.
"You fancy a blast on Mario Kart while we wait?" I asked.
"An all tour cup?"
We played an All Tour Cup on the Game Cube, which took about forty minutes. Smithy was leading up until the last four races, which turned-out nightmarish for him.
"I think that brew is kicking in already," he said.
"Nah, it can't be."
His eyes were looking a shade redder than before the Cup.
"I'm telling you," he said: "I'm feeling a bit stoned."
"After forty minutes?"
"I know. I hope it isn't going to get too bad."
"Don't be thinking like that, mate."
"I know I'm just saying."
"You want me to stick on Barley?"
"Not yet. Give it a minute."
"What about some music?"
I threw-on some Blind Melon, who were his favourite band, hoping to facilitate a confluent transition to being mashed.
"There you go, lad. Get a bit of that in your ears."
"It's not getting better," he said.
"Of course it is" you're just feeling a little stoned."
"I'm just feeling uneasy, I know that. I've got a bad feeling about something."
"Not sure at the minute."
He ran his fingers through his mousy hair and looked at the floor.
"Try and relax, Smith. You're just going from one thing to another. You'll be fine soon."
"You're right," he said with determination, "let's play another race."
"That's the spirit, old bean."
As I was setting-up another cup Smithy put his controller on the table and his hands on his head.
"I just don't feel right."
"What about getting some fresh air, lad?"
"Yeah," he said rising and stepping over the corner of the black coffee table.
He darted passed me, whipped a right and out of the back door. He was back within ten seconds:
"Can you stand out with me? I'm a bit paranoid."
I followed him outside: he was definitely looking edgy; pacing like a trapped lion contemplating escape.
"It doesn't feel right my heart. It's beating too fast."
"It's just the hash kicking in, mate. You'll be over this phase soon enough."
"I think there's a problem with my heart."
"Honestly," I said, "there's no problem. You maybe shouldn't have went for the sixth sprinkle, like, but that's only going to make you too stoned for a bit."
"No, it's worse than that."
"Smith, it isn't, mate. Just take a few breaths. Look at the stars " it's a boss night."
He glanced upwards, but saw something more terrifying than I could and fled back in to the house making perilous noises.
I followed him. When I rounded the wall he was stood on the sofa, in the opposite corner of the room, backed-in like an unarmed soldier watching The Enemy take aim.
"I'm dying," he said: "I'm having a heart attack."
He ran from his end of the sofa the other, and then back to the corner.
"Call me an ambulance. I'm having a heart attack."
"Smithy, I promise you're not having a heart attack. You're just really fucking stoned, lad."
"I'm not. Call me an ambulance."
"You don't ""
"" call me a fucking ambulance: I'm having a massive heart attack!"
I dialled 999 on my phone.
"Are you really sure?"
I hit the call button.
The woman on the other end took some details and passed me through to a man from the ambulance service:
"Hello, how can I help?" he asked.
I thought for a second.
"Yes, my friend thinks he's having a heart attack," I said.
"Why does he think that?"
"He drank a hash brew with six sprinkles in it."
By this time, I was feeling a little stoned, too. The hash brew I drank, with the four sprinkles, had taken hold and I was starting to feel uncomfortable talking over the phone.
"Ok. Can you explain a little more?"
"You take a cup of tea or coffee; burn and sprinkle hash in to it. Give it a stir; leave it for a bit. At the end it's a good idea to swirl the drink and pick up any stragglers and then throw it in your mouth so you don't leave any in the cup."
"Thanks for that. Is this cannabis yeah?"
"Yeah," I said, subconsciously mimicking him.
"And did he take a lot?"
"Erm," I thought, "he had six sprinkles and I had four. But I smoked a joint, too, so you know?"
"No. How's he doing now?"
I popped my head in to the living room where Smithy was ripping the God Father poster from the wall and breathing heavily. He wrapped the poster around his shoulders like a cloak.
"He's not feeling too good about it all."
"What about his heart rate?"
"Smithy, what's your heart rate like?"
"It's going like the fucking clappers. Tell them to hurry up."
"He said it's beating very fast."
The ambulance man took my home address and told me to be ready for their arrival.
"They're on their way," I said.
"Help will be here soon, mate: you're going to be fine."
Smithy took-off the poster, folded it up, placed it on the seat and sat on it. He thought for about ten seconds.
"I think I'm feeling a bit better," he said.
"Yeah, I think the heart attack's cleared-up."
"Can that happen?"
"It must be able to."
"What about the ambulance?"
"Smith, I was too stoned to call the thing in the first place. I don't fancy calling them back."
"Don't worry about it. We can just ignore the door when they come."
"Are you kidding me?"
"What else can we do?"
"If we don't answer the door, they'll think we're both in trouble and come through the fucking thing. We're going to look like right tits sat here stoned."
"Maybe just speak to them when they come," I said: "tell then what happened?"
The sound of the ambulance's siren became audible in the distance.
"Is that it you reckon?" asked Smithy.
The siren grew louder.
"I reckon so."
"Shit," said Smithy standing up. He picked-up the Godfather poster, put it under his arm like an old man at the races with a newspaper, made his way to the living room door and peered down the corridor. Blue flashes clawed at the mottled glass. "Shit."
He walked to the door and opened it. Two paramedics " a man and a woman " were stood alert.
"Where is he?" they chorused.
"He's me," said Smithy.
"Oh. How're you feeling?" asked the male paramedic.
"A lot better now the heart attack's stopped."
"Well do you want to get in the back - we'll quickly check you over?"
Smithy shut the door. I sat back on the chair, browsed the TV recordings and found a trove of Nigel Benn fights. For four hours I sat and watched them, drank three cups of tea and smoked two joints.
The door opened and shut. Smithy walked in with eyes as red as Thai curry.
"Yeah," he said taking a seat.
"What went on?"
Smithy lifted off his t-shirt revealing sticky discs on his podgy body. He started peeling them off.
"They said I had a panic attack""
"" because the weed?"
"Yeah. That news triggered another panic attack in the ambulance, so they took me to the hospital. I was so bad that they had to put me in a wheel chair when I got there " I was going mental."
"Jesus. You must've been bad?"
"I was. Everyone in the waiting room was staring because I was panicking so much. Some were stood-up proper looking. They put me in a bed and hooked me up to some monitors: I thought I was dying."
"Yeah, I was fucking shitting myself. But then they told me my heart rate was high, but not acting dangerously or anything so I calmed down a bit. Soon after they left me I realised it was just a massive whitey."
"That's no place to have that realisation."
"Exactly, so I asked them if I could go to the toilet and just buggered off."
"Yeah. The worst thing was I had to walk past the people who'd seen me come in. They looked well confused."
"Oh well - you managed to swim away. Barley?"