Thursday, May 12, 2005

Stripper and Acid 11: Treachery

It was cold on the balcony, but I had on a rather ridiculous oiled canvas coat I'd been gifted by Sketchy Bill, so I was all right. Nadine snuggled right up inside it, and for a time we talked quietly and watched the lights of the city pulse gently with our heartbeats. I tried not to think about all the ones that were winking out, since it was 3am, nor did I allow myself to think about just exactly how high up we were. One of the good things about ecstasy is how easily you can live in the moment.

And it was one of those moments, finally. Our arms around each other, her head on my chest, I felt like I could stand there all night, just smelling her hair (faint scent of sandalwood) and feeling her thumb and forefinger rub the side of my spine. After a few minutes, I realized what we were saying wasn't even that important--we were both focused on the body rushes from the E, which can sometimes be set off by the vibration of someone's diaphragm next to yours, if you're very close. And we were, at last, very close. I'm sure the picture sounds mad: two people holding each other close, murmuring gibberish and getting blissed out looks on their faces...wait, that's pretty much every Cary Grant movie ever made...scratch that.

But we were happy, and although I couldn't feel my feet, I knew she would help me remain upright. We talked, and touched each other, and felt the vibrations coming from somewhere in our respective chest cavities. We were content.

Kevin came out on the balcony and talked for a bit in a rather worried voice about what was going on inside. I nodded reassuringly, and he went back inside.

I could feel a warm spot on my chest where her breath met my skin through the shirt.

Kevin came out again, substantially more agitated, and made it clear to me that things were really happening inside-Big Boy was getting angry that neither of the strippers were doing stripper things, and Shanna had made a couple of phone calls to people she wouldn't divulge. Kevin's music selection hadn't gone over very well, and in general the natives were getting restless. I nodded, looking him right in the eye so he could understand how interested I was, until he gave up and went back inside again.

I noted that her breath, the cold, or the drugs had made my right nipple hard. I pondered this for a bit, until our reverie (five minutes? two hours?) was shattered by Shanna's piercing voice. She was pawing at the curtains, looking for a way out onto the balcony.

By the time she was out there with us, we'd managed to extricate ourselves from each other's clothing to the extent that Nadine could face and talk to Shanna, who wasn't crying but appeared pretty scared.

Shanna: "Nadine, I'm worried about those guys, and I'm tired and I want to go home. I called your aunt, she's going to come pick us up!"

Nadine: "What?! I can't leave! I've taken ecstasy with Jefe!"

Shanna: "We HAVE to leave. I want to go home--it's late, and this party sucks!"

Nadine: "I can't leave. You go, leave me here with Jefe."

Shanna: "No! You have to come too! Those guys are really mad in there, and they're running out of beer..."

and here's where, in a very small part of my black, wizened little heart muscle, I'll always have a place for Nadine:

"Well, he has to go with us, then."

Shanna kind of eyeballed me, then looked back at her and said "Bobby's not going to like that."

She started getting that walleyed look again, and I suddenly remembered where I was:

my first thought was how impulsive "jumpers" are. People who survive suicide attempts often say they felt completely normal fifteen minutes before the incident, but felt a strange (and very strong) compulsion to do themselves in, in a relatively short span of time.

I looked down, and the results weren't pleasant.

We weren't nearly as high up as I thought we were, but still, the drop would most likely kill Shanna if she jumped. And all of a sudden, I was sure she was going to jump. All night long she'd been acting impulsively, I thought, and she was convinced she was on a drug that made people crazy.

And if she jumped, I was totally fucked. Break my plate, mama, I won't be home for dinner again. turn her attention to this, if it wasn't already there, might precipitate something that could have been avoided.

A dilemma. Should I tackle her? This was guaranteed to send her over the edge, mentally--she'd been assaulted (in her mind) several times that night already, and I had the feeling I was the only one she came anywhere close to trusting.

Should I yell for Kevin? That might tip her off, and wouldn't really help the situation when he got out there.

So in probably one of the most calculated goofy moves in my life, I grabbed the edges of my coat and enfolded both of them in a big, safe hug. I kissed Shanna on the top of the head, said "hey, everything's gonna be fine," and carefully moved the whole lot of us through the door.

Inside, people were arguing. Nadine's aunt was there, a rather leathery middle aged woman who was arguing with Big Boy, smoking a cigarette, and fishing another out of a red plastic cigarette case when we entered. Kevin was close to the door, with his boombox and a suspicious bulge in his jacket, giving me the "lets go" signal as subtly as he could. Shanna barged in and began yelling at Big Boy alongside the aunt: "Bobby, you can't go with us."

"Why not," shot back Big Boy, "HE'S going with you!"

"NO HE'S NOT," shouted the women.

My heart dropped, then rose a little bit when Nadine whispered "follow us."

A typical drunken argument ensued, where all parties held positions until someone out logic-ed them, then retreated to another, then back to the first when that became untenable. I checked the cooler, but didn't see any beer, so I edged my way around the room and finally made my goodbyes to the pissed off crowd at large. We were out of there.

Kevin and I took the elevator down to the lobby, and waited. No girls. We waited some more. No girls, but a suspicious security guard began to walk in our direction. Kevin flipped out the room key, and the guy aborted, but could still tell something was wrong. We wondered if they'd taken the other elevator down.

Of course, we missed them when we were checking the other elevator. Upon our return, we were just in time to see Aunt's hand, still clutching the cigarette case, closing one of the lobby doors. By the time we made it there, Big Boy was right behind us, hollering, and security wasn't far behind him. We left posthaste, but couldn't tell which way they'd gone. We ran to Kevin's car, followed closely by Bobby, who was yelling at us to give him a ride. This was absolutely impossible, because Kevin's car only had two seats, and I was finally catching on to the fact that Bobby was Nadine's boyfriend. Kevin squealed the tires leaving the parking place, narrowly avoiding hotel security, and we made a circuit of the parking garage. No moving cars.

I wanted to make another circuit, but Kevin said that Bobby was scuffling with security back there, so he pointed the car towards my house.

I was crushed. I knew I'd never see her again--my heart physically pained me, and I slumped so far over in the seat Kevin reached over to make sure the door was locked. We didn't say anything for some time--just tried to come to grips with what had happened, and listened to the thump of the windshield wipers. Finally, Kevin said "hey, I'm sorry about that. Who were those guys?"

"I dunno, man, just some assholes out for a good time."

"Who was the girl?"

"Nobody, I guess. Someone I met tonight."

"Someone you liked?"

"Yeah, but I didn't get her number. We took that E together."

"That really sucks, man. Well, here. I stole their beer."

We rode the rest of the way home in silence, sipping beer from cans and watching the lights change color on the roads.


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