“We have to do something about Roy, you know.” Olivia glares at me with resigned frustration, and takes a sip from the red plastic cup in her hand. “Like, now, Derek.” Someone screams behind me, and I hear a crash, but I don’t respond and she glares at me indignantly. Liv makes a point to look over my shoulder at the gathering cyclone across the room, but I don’t want to see it. Roy and I have only been here for a half-hour, but he’s made good time, going from zero to completely blotto faster than anyone had expected. I can hear him now, raving drunkenly at his brother, his girlfriend, and anyone else within a ten-foot radius. I’d thought this suite was massive when we’d first walked in, but that stupid bastard has managed to shrink it to the size of a padded cell.
“In a minute, Liv.” I’m starting to lose patience with her stonewalling, and when she tries to make a move, I put a hand against the wall to block her. “Come on, where’s Lisa? I need to talk to her and she told me she was gonna be here.” It hadn’t really surprised me, but of course I wasn’t just asking for myself. It’s not like I would have driven three hours and endured a precarious suite party-population three-dozen-ish, underage quotient indeterminate, musical taste thereof extremely questionable-only to turn right around and go straight home without getting what I want.
“And I told you,” snaps Olivia, “that I don’t fucking know, okay?” I can tell she’s about to really let me have it, but she’s interrupted when Roy’s younger brother R.J. hurries over to our corner. “You guys gotta help me,” he pleads. “I don’t know what the hell happened to him, but he’s gonna crash hard if we don’t get him away from here and everyone else.” I hear Roy hollering away at Nadia, and I look at Liv, who smirks.
“I’d love to,” she says, “but Officer Pendejo here is in my way.” There’s another crash and a holler from Roy, and I just shrug and let Olivia get away. “Look,” I say as we both put our cups down-both Coke, but hers with rum-“I’m not trying to be weird this time, all right Liv? Your sister fucking invited me, remember?” She shoots me another exasperated smirk, just like Lisa might, but says nothing as the three of us pick our way through the crowded, debris-filled suite toward the eye of the hurricane. The whole room is demolished; cups and bottles are strewn everywhere, half-naked people are writhing amongst the upended furniture, and I’m momentarily distracted into a completely different line of questioning.
“Jesus, why hasn’t anyone called the cops yet?” I ask no one in particular, but R.J. isn’t listening and Liv only rolls her eyes. “No te preocupes,” she says. “I’ve leaned how to avoid them over the past few months. It’s really easy when you consid-”
She’s cut off by another outburst from Roy, struggling in semi-captivity as we try to bring him down. “Goddamnitnadia,” he rages, “I dincome down hereto fuckinwatchyou chaseAlan allnighthefuck?” R.J. grabs one arm, I take the other, and two other beefy-looking guys I don’t know try to wrest control of his frantically kicking legs. His girlfriend Nadia is backed into the opposite corner, safe for the moment behind two more random surfer guys. Her boat-neck shirt is ripped almost all the way open, and she’s going redder by the minute, though not from embarrassment; her shrieking, savage Slavic curses are slicing through the alcoholic air at what is surely an authorities-alerting volume, and suddenly I’m wishing again for infinite reserves of automatic cool and heroic calm.
Roy is thrashing even harder now, and it’s getting impossible to keep hold of him. R.J. redoubles his grip, a sudden movement that steals my attention. “What the hell are they even arguing about?” I ask. “Fuck knows-just hang on!” he shoots back, but then a singularly violent yank of limbs sends us both in opposite directions. I let go of Roy and try to roll with the fall, but it happens too fast and my head hits the wall, hits it in exactly the wrong place and the next two seconds are black oh God it hurts like a motherfucker now the universe contracts to just the pain the PAIN and it throbs and aches and stop and my eyes clench tight. Someone’s groaning when I open them and there are streaks of light zipping around at eye level-maybe it’s table level, cause some stars orbit the keg cups in front of me-and suddenly Olivia’s here in my face.
“Derek? Are you okay?” She looks mildly concerned, but before she can say more, a bellow from Roy mangles the whole room. “Puta madre!” she yells back over her shoulder. “Shane, R.J., you guys-keep him under control, okay? Hijole!” She swipes a cup at random off the table and puts it to my lips. “Here, here Derek, have some water.” Liv seems worried for the first time tonight, like it’s finally gone beyond even her control. The liquid is cool on my face-I drink it down, don’t get it all and it’s dribbling down my chin, but she just wipes it off with her sleeve and looks me right in the eyes.
“I’m sorry Derek.” My head is throbbing like death but I try to manage a glare back. It’s not much, but she softens. “I’m sorry my sister’s not here to see you. I thought she would be, I swear. She told me-” Suddenly Liv’s cut off by another deranged roar from Roy. “BITCHwhatTheFuckingFUCK!!?!” There’s a brutal ripping sound and then another shriek from Nadia and as more and more people get sucked into this maniacal melodrama I decide I want out.
“Liv, I’m leaving.” I claw at the wall and try to stand, but the merciless, painful pulse won’t stop-after three tries I spin around and feel like the world is falling out from under me before Liv yells “Derek!” and then a quick jerk sets me straight.
“Be careful, damnit!” she says, almost crying now. I can’t look at her, but when I turn back around I realize that I’m staring right out the open fifth-floor window, right down to the blinking lights of Coast Highway. Cars and vans and trucks-trucks, shit, every four-by-four I think I see down their could be theirs. Addisons’.
“Liv, are your cousins coming? Huh?” She must see the fear, the righteous angry fear that clouds my eyes, and doesn’t even bother to confirm my worst fears. She knows I know. Oh fuck, my head’s in pain. Can’t let it get to me, though. Need to be able to drive back. Or at least drive to a hospital-No.
“No, no I gotta go. Now. I’m sorry. Tell Lisa I need to talk to her, but somewhere quiet and sane.” I lurch toward the door, pushing past through and around the entire room in violent motion, everyone’s goddamn crazy and I need to get the fuck out of here. The suite’s behind me now with a stairwell in front. Good-especially if they take the elevator. Four, six, seven steps and I’m through the door, but Ooooooooh that’s a bad, bad angle on those stairs, D. Be very careful, but it’s hard to keep a good grip on the rail and move in the right direction simultaneously, you know? No no, chill. Do it. Left, right, left, don’t look dow-OWmyHEAD-stepstepstepSTEP aaaannnd-
HA! Hahaha!!! I take the last three steps with a clumsy jump and tumble through the stairwell door into a brightlylit, carpeted hallway. It’s deserted, and I only crash into the wall twice on my way to the elevators. I slam my palms into both “down” buttons and wait for them. It’s excruciatingI’m making a massive gamble, considering the Addisons will probably be coming up one or the other-nodon’think”both”…but I’m feeling way too dizzy now to keep going down more flights of stairs. I know punching the button again won’t make the damn thing go any faster, but I give it a few more jabs anyway, and then realize how dumbandangerous it is to stand right in front of the doors, right in the path of imminentvicious doom. Fuck, what was in the cup?am I ondrugs? Am I on drugs, young man? It aches a little to turn my head too fast, but I know there’s a tiny alcove behind me, on the farside of a vendingmachine, so I start to move back that way littlebylittle.
I barely take two steps before the near elevator starts to rumble its way toward my floor. One steplater I hear the far one creeeeeaaak to life, and my heartbeatheart begins to raceRaceRACE, fueled by a horrible fear. Oh shit, oh shhhloow down, slowdown coolit…nagetting tired again, but won’t close my eyes. Don’t dare. The two elevators are only four and three floors away. Can’t give up now. Just a little longer. Now only threeandtwo floors. Little more. Now two and one. Headache little moreand the righthandoors slide open with a squeak and I’m fuckingterrified but thankGODit’s empty and I almost fall right in before thinking again and push “B” for the basement parkinglot and stand as close as flat as I can against the side wall, hiddenby the closingdoors and ohpleaseplease
“…because he better fucking be in there, Chris-she said he would-” oh SHITSHITMOTHERFUCKING BASTARDS PLEASE NO No no and thenthe doors shut and they missme and I’m on my waydown Down DOWNNNnnn…ache. HEADwhat’sThis? Oh parking garage. Christ whatarelief. And justas deserted toowhat time is it? Few steps to the car. Okay. Elevator close behindme. Fine. Let’s go D, let’s hustle man. One foot two foot NO fuck you foot. Where’s the Civic? Where’sthe OH excellent, I see it. Keys. Keys? MotherfuckingKEYS?? KEYoh okay, ok, keys in the pocket now in the doorkeyhole.
Sit down. Carefulock the door. All thedoors. They won’t lookhere NoNothey won’t. Take. It. EasyOWTHROBITCH-Easy. Easy D. Not easy E. This can’t be E. Not happy. No. Just tired.
Tired. Maybe takeafew minutes and slee