[Act II archive]
“Dude, Andy, you look like shit,” Leroy said as he walked onto the back porch. “You didn’t even change out of your fucking work shirt.”
“I unbuttoned it, at least. It makes me look biz casual,” I said, giving the keg a few nursing pumps. I had staked out my claim next to the beer, as was what I tended to do at parties.
“Jesus, you fucking stink, too. Have you showered yet today?”
“Why? I have to work in the morning?”
“Fucking disgrace.” Leroy shook his head, then said, “Hey Sam.” I had forgotten she was standing next to me.
She appeared surprised and excited. “Hey Leroy! How are you?”
Leroy and I both agreed that we were working on the contents of our red SILO cups. All three of us took a swig. I gave the keg a few more courtesy pumps.
Leroy had just come out to join us, having driven separately. Sam had been kind enough to give me a ride, driving all the way back to Coffee & Water even though she had been done for a few hours. She pulled out her pack of smokes, dug around for the half of the one she had started earlier.
“Um, Sam,” I began. Without letting me finish, she presented one for me. “Aw, thanks,” I said, “how’d you know?”
“You always ask for a cigarette when I have one,” she said. “Every single time since I’ve met you.”
“You two are so cute,” Leroy said. He waved to someone and stepped inside the house.
“C’mon,” I said to Sam, “not every time right?”
“You’ve asked me for a cigarette a total of 37 times since I first met you 5 days ago.”
“Jesus,” I said, “how’d you keep track of all that?”
She shrugged, looked into her beer. “I don’t know, I just can. I’m different than most girls.”
I saw this as an opportunity. “I’ll say,” I said and slung my arm around her narrow waist. She very slowly brought her head to rest on my shoulder. The stereo inside changed songs, afforded us a few moments of silence. Again, I heard the high-pitch revolution of the dentist drill. It was really annoying and made me think of all those times as a kid I had my teeth drilled. I ran my tongue against my molars, each of which contained a silver filling. Some had started to crack.
I looked down at Sam. She seemed to be grinding her teeth. “Is everything okay?” she asked, smiling her crooked smile up at me.
I was about to tell her to stop grinding her teeth, that’s nasty, but the door behind us slid open noisily and Leroy and Doug and some other line cooks came stumbling out.
“What are you two doing out here?” Doug yelled. Sam and I split apart. Doug was a large man, and although he was a Teddy Bear in face and body, he could still command a room with his voice. Like whenever he would tell me to mop the grill line ‘today, Stool, today!’ Or tell me to stop farting around the customers. And co-workers.
“Stool,” he said, in good fun, “you’d better leave Sam alone. She’s a nice girl. Clean. Virtuous. A sweetheart. You two have nothing in common.”
“Ohhhhhhhh!” his posse yelled. Most of the party had gathered on the back porch.
“That’s not very nice, Doug,” Sam said. “We have a lot in common.”
“See what I mean?” Doug said. “You would never stick up for her like that.”
He was right, but I didn’t say that.
“No, I probably would.”
“Probably.” Doug finished his beer. “Ah, I’m all done with my brew. You need some, Stool?”
I had just filled mine before the whole party came out to make fun of me. “No thanks, I’m solid.”
“Yeah, solid like a brick shithouse,” Leroy yelled. The party erupted again.
“No,” Doug said, “I think you need a refill.”
Just then, three or four line cooks snuck up behind and lifted me, carrying me towards the keg.
“Hey, what the fuck guys?” I yelled down. Upon reaching the destination, they shifted their grasp, pivoted me at my ankles so that I was hanging upside-down. I had to grab onto the outside of the barrel to stop my face from banging into the keg.
“Guys, seriously,” my voice bled panic, “I-I get motion sick real easy!”
It was already happening, my world coming undone. I saw Sam. She had her hands before her mouth. Doug inserted the tap nozzle into my mouth. With his other hand he pumped. That was supposed to me my job.
“Drink up, Stool,” he said, then pulled the trigger. My mouth filled with ice cold light beer. Despite gravity, it traveled up my gullet and into the furnace. This went on for 45 minutes to an hour, I estimated. By the end, I and everyone involved were soaked in beer. They let me down and I puked off the edge of the deck. Or at least tried to. Later accounts provided that I in fact puked on myself and fell over. They have their story; I have mine.
Most of the party afterwards was a blur, locked into the vault of Blackout Wasted. It’s possible that Leroy, Sam, Doug and I got high in Sam’s car. Then she drove me home. Was it just the two of us or did Leroy tag along, too drunk to drive himself? It was unlikely, for Leroy did not tend to drink much, let alone when he was DD. I recall being thankful that Sam remained sober. In fact, I didn’t remember her drinking more than that first beer. But then again, I didn’t remember much.
Streetlights reflected and danced along the windshield as she drove me home. A slow mist began falling, distorting the harmony of the lights. The broken rhythm turned my stomach. I asked her to pull over. But we had already stopped. I fell out of the car heaving, vomited liquid and bile onto the parking lot. Then I lay there for some time, hoping Sam would just drive off and leave me to die. She did not.
The rain picked up and made me feel much better. After all, I hadn’t showered that day so maybe all I needed was a good spritz. The rain stopped and I stood up, wobbly, still unsure on my feet. Sam stood beside me with an umbrella. She allowed me to steady myself against her. I then recognized that we were in my apartment complex, so we made our way up to my place.
Once more, I blacked out, found myself in my twin bed, disrobed. Sam stood in the low light of a security lamp outside my window and removed her clothes. I questioned, as I always do, my fortitude, especially since I was drunk. She shimmied over to me, her body a straight line, an Ohio highway, rigid and wholly unremarkable. She crawled beneath the sheet and lay on top of me. The air mattress made sounds like flatulence.
She kissed me and it tasted of tin foil. I felt as if my cavity fillings were shooting electricity into my gums. This made me not want to make out as much.
The sex was methodical, as if she were a machine press stamping sheet metal. But I was that metal; I was the end product. And there was some victory in that. It had not lasted long – three, four minutes, maybe – and I passed out immediately thereafter.
I slept like a stone, except for one hazy moment in which I had woken up on account of the thunder outside and the rain droning against the window. A light shone into the hallway from the bathroom. Although I didn’t have my glasses on, I could make out Sam’s form in the mirror. But something was not right about it. Her face appeared shiny, metallic, and wide flaps protruded from either side. In between thunderclaps I heard the dentist’s drill, much louder than before. I shifted and the bed made a noise. The light snapped off. Darkness settled around me and I had to think, drifting far and far way, that it was just a dream.
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