Narrator: Junior Archvale
The dance floor was growing thinner. The rooms were gradually getting cleaner. It seemed that only the sober among us remained. The rest were merely empty bodies, disappearing one by one.
I had to wonder how many drunk drivers the spiked punch was putting behind the wheel. I cast blame indirectly upon myself, and that made it hard to breathe. I felt my own blame was sufficient enough, and dared not reveal that Brent was not to blame.
Joshua knew better, but he had other things on his mind. He had become a drone, moving around his house with surgical precision. And Penny followed in every way possible, always hiding her feelings behind a marmoreal mask when I was near.
Tension had been gripping the air for some time now, though I hadn't noticed. I was beginning to dread the evitable ends I had failed to avoid. We weaved our way through the dwindling dark rooms, looking for a girl I knew was gone. Too far gone.
I knew in my gut that they had left. Together. Adam and Leslie. I had an image burned into the back of my eyelids, of him leading her by the hand into the soundproof basement of his father's house.
Again, I cast the blame upon myself. And again, pain gripped me such that I could not inhale for a moment that passed too slowly.
Her voice was in my mind and in my ear, Are you a pig?, "CJ, nobody's checking the basement." She placed a hand on my shoulder, "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Crystal," I lied, trying to ignore the omnipresent warmth of the hand upon me. "It's nothing. I'm fine." I'd said it twice, and that made it a lie. If I said it a third time, it'd be denial.
Brent was hot on our tail, for once looking purposefully towards whom he reckoned were the most knowledgeable people in the room.
I put my hand on the doorknob of the door to the basement, paused, and turned around. I made eye contact with her, and quickly broke it for a mere instant to indicate Brent's presence.
She nodded, knowing what we might be up against.
I opened the door. "Ladies first," I said. I let her pass. Then, I spun on my heels, pushed Brent away from us as I stepped backwards down the stairs, and closed the door abruptly in his face.
"What the fuck? Let me in, you idiot!"
Crystal stopped her descent and looked back at me in confusion.
"Are you prepared to distract him if need be?" I asked.
"How would I do that?"
Brent banged his fist against the door. "Fuck you, CJ. Let me down there!"
"It's Brent," I stated.
"Oh," she said, realizing the obvious and implied method. "If I have to."
"Good," I said, turning to open the door.
"What the fuck was that for, man?" Brent was seething.
"The only safety precaution I see is putting my foot up your --"
"Shutup!" Crystal and I hissed at once.
"Damn it, Brent, you're not gonna like what you're gonna see," she warned him.
"I beg to differ," I added.
"Now's not the time to flatter me." Crystal laughed bleakly.
"What are you two talking about?" he asked.
"Nothing at all," I added. Then I muttered under my breath self-assuringly, "Nothing at all."
"Hmph!" he snickered, following us down into the basement.
I looked down the hall into the TV room, where Ashley was putting away the Dance Dance Revolution pads, and two people were still playing Super Smash Brothers. Neither Leslie nor Adam was in that room, as far as I could tell.
"Is anybody in that closet?" Crystal asked.
"Nope," Ashley shouted back. "Nobody at all."
I strongly hoped that they had left. The last thing Joshua needed was Brent and Adam fighting over a girl, as much as we'd all enjoy someone having the nerve to throw a punch at Brent.
I turned around, to see Brent attempting to open the locked door of the bathroom. He stopped immediately. "Leslie never locks bathroom doors. Her mother used to say it was bad luck."
Crystal visibly sighed of relief.
The lack of response from the occupant towards the jostling of the knob made me suspicious. However, Brent moved on.
I watched as he opened the door to the guest room, which was surprisingly empty despite the queen-sized bed, and then as Crystal led him away by opening the door to the unfinished half of the basement.
The tiled floor ended abruptly, giving way to cold cement and gloomy storage shelves. I could hear the furnace in the distance, and knew it was my chance to give the bathroom a second inspection.
Juliet came down the stairs then, "She called again. Something about a cocaine overdose. He's in ICU."
Fortunately, Brent was just out of earshot. He was clearly on-edge, and I was glad Crystal was with him to calm him down.
Intensive care unit? I assumed, putting my ear against the door to the bathroom. Beneath the door, I saw light, confirming that it was occupied. I could hear running water. It sounded both like a tap left running and a shower in progress. And then I heard the moaning. There was a man in there, either being -- no, damn it. Both of them, by the sounds of it, going at it. My eyes widened in horror.
"What's wrong?" Juliet asked.
"Close the door on Brent and hand me one of your pins."
"Okay..." she obliged. "What do you need one of my pins for?"
"Getting this door open," I said, indicating the hole in the locked knob.
She handed me a green, frog-themed pin, having unclipped it from her shirt, careful to avoid pointing the needle at me.
"Are you okay if it breaks?" I asked.
"Umm... why are you picking the lock to a bathroom?"
"Because Leslie is getting her brains fucked out of her on the other side," I stated manner-of-factly. "While the closest thing she has to a father is on his deathbed."
"Oh..." was all she said, and I took it was permission to risk denting the sharp end of the pin. Her face paled. There was no jest she could make to brighten things. Tears were in our eyes, ready to blur the future.
Left hand grasping the knob firmly, I closed my eyes, trying to pay attention to the metal in my right hand. I jostled it around, poking and proding until something felt like it would give way. Then, I have it a gentle push, and the lock clicked. The pin remained stuck in the knob.
Then, I put my ear to the door, hearing no reaction at all. I pulled my ear away, fearing where the sounds would send my mind, but knowing they'd be louder soon.
"Wish me luck," I spoke sternly.
Juliet reached towards me sympathetically, too sad to speak.
"Tell her to keep him busy," I said, my own voice growing weak. I tilting my head to indicate where Brent and Crystal were.
Then, as she covered her eyes and Michelle cheerfully began to descend the stairs above, I moved as fast as I could. In an instant, I was on the other side of the door, closed behind me, coughing in agony at the heavy smoke around me. A kind of smoke I'd never smelled before.
And I saw nothing, as more tears blurred my vision and watery orgasms drowned my ears. Instinctively, I fell to my knees and pressed my face against the floor so that I could breathe.
I never dreamt the bastard would hot-box the bathroom.
There I was: the genuine, cock-blocking buzz killer.