Mindy’s throws herself luxuriously upon the futon, her body drenched in burgundy lace. The silky haze of sandalwood incense permeates my apartment. We’ve dampened the room with deep noir and lit candles like the sexy single ladies we are. Vintage WHAM seduces the acoustics of the room. I pull the cork out of the bottle of muscato d’asti and pour two glasses. Molly steals the bottle from me and puts it immediately to her lips like the lush she is.
Mmmmm! She lets out a solid “ah” and makes like Alex Owens in Flashdance, arching her back and pretending to pour the rest of the bottle on top of her head.
“Long week?” I smile foolishly and kick at her protruding leg, knocking her balance slightly.
“God!” Molly laughs even as a frown mars her narrow face.
“What are you even wearing tonight?” my eyes run over her slim- trim-ready- to-win body.
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Did I call an escort service?”
Molly’s a total hard body. She takes care of herself. At least in the ways she can control, which unfortunately excludes her alcoholism and face. We’ve been friends for five years. I could say she’s just another stain of generation Y society, but it wouldn’t be fair to say she was one I wanted to get rid of. Time with Molly always lead to excitement and folly, without which, I’d be the most self contained human being on the planet. She was the one who initiated our bi-weekly drink-a-thons. She knocks back another large glass in one gulp, allowing the fizzy liquid to bloat her cheeks before almost spewing out with laughter.
“Ah! Ha! You couldn’t work up the nerve for that if you tried,” she leaned back and eyed me lazily, “I am seductive though, aren’t I.”
“Yeah. Maybe if you wore a cool mask,” I wrinkle my nose.
“What. You know there’s nothing more shocking than reality. Besides, it’s served you well so far.”
I was right, and Molly knew it. It had been her lack of facial perfection in an otherwise lovely body that kept her continuously in pursuit of improving all other assets she had. Thus, Molly was a great conversationalist, masking her insecurities with confident vibrato and an appetite for any opportunity to remain interesting. She was always the life of the party, having so many personal anecdotes, without which, she was simply your typical “but-her-face” in the eyes of the anonymous mass, to be ogled at from the neck down. It was cruel, but it was accurate. And it was drinking night, so I could blame it on the alcohol.
Molly raised her glass in toast to my little platitude, submitting in mock defeat to her already accepted circumstance. Raising my glass too, I took my first sip. Molly finished her first bottle and began uncorking the next, a liver’s-blood Merlot.
“So – no I know you’re not gonna drink any of this. I KNOW – how is life at the press? How’s the Rick meister doing?” Molly giggled. Tonight was gonna be rowdy, I could tell by her flush.
“Well. Again, Smalls, it’s not anything. Oh, but Mindy is boinking Curby,” I pause, following the awkward way that all sounded, “…finally.”
Molly fluttered her fingers, “Big surprise, there.”
I let her disinterest lead the conversation else where, not wanting to dredge up the circumstances of how I knew. Remembering my own sneaking about made my flesh crawl. What the hell was I becoming?
Molly doesn’t catch my expression, already laid out in her bed of libated stupor. I sit watching her, somewhat sadly, wondering what happened to her today. She was hitting the bottle harder than usual.
“Smalls?” I lean towards her, concerned.
Suddenly, the walls begin to tremble as heavy bass ignites next door. George Michael is affronted and I’m on his side. Molly startles up kicking her legs as she does so. The bottle she was holding twirls out of her hands, the lovely red Merlot spouting a cascade of juice into the air and inevitably onto the futon.
“Oh god! Oh god! What the hell?!” she screeches.
“Shit! Grab the wine! Grab it! Seriously, this guy is out of control!” Molly looks up as I stand. I brush past her. She grabs my arm.
“Wait I’m coming too.”
“Coming where? I’m just going to pound on the wall.”
Molly grins so wide her eyes squinch into little slits. Aw, no, that look is the beginning of a long night.
“Huh, uh! That’s frat boy’s place, right? We’re going over. I got to get a look at this prick. You said he was a fox.”
I cry pathetically, but she is unnervingly eager.
“It’s only natural we go over. And I’m curious, anyways. Ren! Seriously? He surfs porn on your wi-fi, bangs loudly and plays his music like he’s deaf as hell. He sounds like fun.
“For us both!” Molly bounces her shoulders like a little tramp and then roles her eyes, “Shut up, let’s go.”
I let her drag me out the door, full wine glass still in hand. My palms are clamming up and I’m wishing I had some of Molly’s heady fluidity. Clutching my glass like the holy grail, I think a prayer and swallow the rest of the moscato. Molly pounds the door like Xena warrior princess. She’s all out, and I’m still an anxious mess. My hair is flopping in my face and the tunic I’m wearing is barely covering my rear. How do I know? The wind is telling me.
“Smalls! Oh god! I’m not even dressed!”
“SHhh! Neither am I! You’re a sexy single lady, remember. No problems here.”
Admittedly that was the most unhelpful pep talk of my life. It was sexiness that freaked me out the most. If you’re sexy, people look at you – pay attention. Granted, if you’re a total dog it’s the same deal. I just wanted to live in the shadows of peripheral human interest. A shapeless, blandly normal human. Still, part of me, maybe even the terrified part, was enjoying the excitement.
Finally, the door swings open to reveal a massive party underway. But we aren’t being greeted by Ryan. It’s some guy named Chuck, with a heavy surfer accent and incredible auburn mutton chops. Oh hell yeah, girls, come in! Guys there here!
Oh, yeah. This is happening. We literally are living the quintessential frat pack/ 80’s bro-bachelor party moment…from the surprise strippers’ perspectives. Mutton chops notices my empty wine glass.
“Hey cutie. What are you gonna do with that?”
I think of trying to break it against the wall and pull one of those bar fight weapon deals, but think better and hustle Molly along.
“Not what you’re thinking,” I call back over my shoulder.
We weave through the entourage of men until we find the bathroom. I shove her inside and lock the door.
“What are we doing?” I’m pressing my hands to my eyes.
Molly has hit her high, I can tell, and she’s bouncing to the music. “Oh, man, Renea. This is awesome! It’s like we stumbled into a movie.”
“Yeah,” I agree. Then with intense sarcasm, “I just hope this isn’t one of those date rape scenarios.”
Molly slapped my face and then kissed me hard on the mouth. Her lips bitter with the remains of Merlot.
“Babe! I made it through four years of college without getting into a situation I didn’t want, I think we can handle it. This music is awesome! Come with me! I’m gonna find Ryan man.”
“I’ll just stay here for now. I think I have to pee.”
I sit down on the toilet. Molly, says whatever and dashes out the door, completely taken over by the need to dance to the beat and apparently “find Ryan”. I lock the door and just sit tight. It’s debatable. I could stay here until the shenanigans die away, or just make the mad dash out, buns flapping in the open for all eyes to see. I take this adventure to heart and make friends with the linoleum.
Much Later. . .
My god, they’re inhuman! My eyeballs are falling out. So tired.
Still later. . .
I must have passed out hard. What time was it? I had no watch. Argh! The ache in my hip was telling me I must have been laid out for a couple hours.
No sounds. My heart starts jogging a bit and I stand up and look, red eyed, in the mirror. What I observe is a predictable mess; dead-weight hair, dry chapped lips, and a tired, sunken complexion. Aw, whatever. I press the door, listening, and gently twist the nob. I’ve forgotten to unlock it and an angry metallic noise threatens to reveal my position. Crap. Trying again, I unlock then turn and the door mercifully swings open without a sound. Before me lays the devastation caused by wanton, human indulgence. Empty beer bottles, sprawled sleepers, nasty food crud, and etc. There’s already too many pictures painted of this scenario for me to need to lay out the details.
Snoring comes from the two sofas in the living room where three guys have strewn themselves. I eye them warily as I head toward the front door. Then stop. Oh man, where’s Molly? I feel disgusting from the bathroom floor and the built up beer-breath atmosphere that is settling into my clothes. The air is heavy as I scuttle around the apartment, not finding any sign of Molly until I come to where I deduce is the bedroom. I cross my arms, shivering and feeling now like I do actually need to pee. Why did everything with people always lead to this? The bedroom. I feel like an underage child walking into a rated R movie. Half of me wants to dart.
I press my ear. Nothing. I just need to make sure she isn’t in here; make sure she’s okay. I unhinge the door, coming unhinged myself, and silently step in.
But there she is. Molly, the ultimate “make it happen” girl, had made it happen for herself. She lay on the bed, half covered beside my neighbor. Both asleep.
“Oh my god”, I can’t help mouthing.
I look around, the hint of dawn casting a delicate blue glow into the room. I’d always thought his bed would have been right on the other side of the wall from mine, but now I realized that his headboard lay against the opposite wall. Strangely this unnerves me. I wonder if he sits and stares through the wall at me, too. There are posters on the wall, two of them;The Beatles and Jimmy Hendrix. His space isn’t what I’d anticipated. It’s kind of awesome. Instead of the frat stereotype, Ryan seems to be more of an artistic spirit with respect for the old school. He loves his music. Piles of vintage records line the bottom of his walls. Also, a fan of Hayo Miyazaki. Ok. That’s a surprise. There is no personal work of his own, to prove himself an artist, but his fandom is apparent.
I stand entranced for a moment by the space that was once a mystery to me, some of the magic falling away. But then there’s reality again, shocking my brain. My eyes rotate towards the two warm occupants and horrible hook controls me once more. It’s like a mime in my head, frightening as hell, it’s pseudo expression painted like a clown over it’s pervasively knowing face. I’m a mask of myself. A voyeur in the guise of shy disinterest. Because I must…
I stand and watch them do nothing but sleep. Witnessing the remains of a private moment. Invading the space not meant for a conscious mind. I suppose I am feeling more intimacy now in this silent moment of private espionage, than probably even existed between them to begin with. How unaware they remain while sleeping, a moment of true innocence. People are so much more vulnerable when they can’t see themselves. I hide this moment away; it is mine now. It no longer belongs to the two slumbering subjects.
I’m back in my own bed. What a mess. I’m such a creep. But I can’t stop thinking about those two, still sleeping together. There’s something wrong with me and I think it’s manifesting in these bizarre moments I’ve been having. I must have looked like one of those home invaders, standing over their prey ready to take from them what their victim isn’t willing to give.
I just want to sleep it off, but now I’m suddenly frightened.
Thank god tomorrow is Saturday.