Narrator: Faruq Kadir-Nayak
The lights were dim in the dining room. Joshua had just set out a shrimp ring, two bowls of salsa labeled 'mild' and 'hot', a large bowl of black and white corn chips and a small pile of paper napkins.
Now that he was gone, I approached the bowl of punch. It was pink and filled with floating chunks of melting ice cream. Intesting.
My back to the dining room table and to the dancing crowd in the living room beyond, I hastily dug a hand into my left back pocket. I withdrew a silver flask, twisted off the cap, and tilted it upside down; liquor spilling into the giant bowl of fruity punch.
"What are you doing?" came a voice from behind me, as I innocently stirred the punch. It was CJ.
I didn't know what to say. Was he asking a rhetorical question? Was he chastising me? Was he pleased at what I was doing? Think fast, Adam, I told myself.
"You're spiking the punch, aren't you?" he sounded amused.
"I know, I know," I said. "You warned me this wasn't my sort of party. Told me this wasn't my typical kind of crowd. Assured me I wouldn't be able to hook up with anyone, no matter how hard I tried. And then you forbid me from bringing even a single joint--"
"My date is a lesbian," Cameron blurted.
"I am not!" I yelled at him, mock-outrage. "Take it back!"
"Not you," he rolled his eyes, "Penny."
"That's perfect, dude," I assured him, casually, "'cause you're a man-hating dyke too! At least, on the inside. Why not tell her you can even--"
"She knows more about my strange talent than you do."
"Now zip it, before I find a new friend to share all my deepest secrets with," he snarled at me. "Look, I heard a voice."
I was confused, "Huh?"
"Amidst the dance music, I heard a voice with uncanny clarity. And nobody else did. The track has no lyrics," he sounded serious, but I couldn't help wondering if he was pulling my leg.
"And what did this voice say?" I ventured, as I dipped a chip in the hot salsa.
"It was a woman's voice. She asked me: Are you a pig?" he immitated the voice. It was eerie.
"Am I a pig?" I asked, not sure whether I was asking for his opinion, or asking which one of us the question was about.
"No, she was asking me if I think I'm a pig."
I paused, and made sure I was done chewing and had his eye contact, "Dude, you're serious about all this?"
"Quite so," he acknowledged.
"Well, you are on quite a few pills, so, who knows?" I had to say something. "Tell your psychologist. It can't be anything else. You abstain every drug I can think of, coffee and tea."
"Yeah, I will. And you keep this between us. You know I've got leverage."
"Of course," I said, giving him a wink as he turned to leave. "Now, tell me something..."
He spun back around on his heels to face me. And he gave me that signature, penetrating stare of his. I didn't flinch at all. Instead, I punched him lightly on one shoulder, "What's with you and Joshua's bro?"
"It's not what you think," CJ said, mysterious.
"Good -- I knew you'd save yourself for me."
CJ met my grin with a shudder, "In your pathetic dreams."
"Dreams you'll hear through the wall, bitch," I teased. It was the usual banter I gave him. He was never sure if I meant it, and that's what amused me. Except now, I wasn't sure either.
"She hurt you ba-a-ad, Adam, didn't she?" he had the audacity to ask.
My body seized up, and I dropped a chip right into the salsa by accident. Damn it. Damn her. "No -- just, no. Don't go there."
But it was too late. He'd walked away. And nobody was there to watch me cry. Beneath the dim chandelier, I forced myself to eat that fallen chip. It wasn't spicy enough. Nothing ever was... except her.
"Who knows how many people's old lovers are on the arms of the other guests," said Kieth, his voice soothing, as he came around the corner.
Had he been listening the entire time? Wasn't he supposed to be stuck to that couch, dry-humping the other fag?
His serenaded companion followed him through the dining room and into the kitchen. As he did so, I felt a hand slap my butt, the exact back pocket where I'd returned my flask, and then he knocked on the hollow bottle.
Angry, at the three of them, I left the dining room and danced my way through the now-crowded room. The music was up-lifting. I gave Penny a smile, and told Joshua it was a great party so far. And then I found her: the doll-faced girl with the bright pink hair.