Coked Out Mortal Kombat Guy
Everyone at Alyssa’s penthouse apartment was in onesies.
I forgot it was a pajama party.
“You wear that to bed?” Alyssa asked in her pink bunny suit.
“I couldn’t wear my pajamas out,” I said. “If you know what I mean.”
A roll-your-eyes lie to insinuate sleeping in the nude.
“Whatever you say. Put your beer in the fridge. If there’s room.”
Before we started playing board games, about nine people, almost even men to women, mingled. In San Diego that meant shots, gossip, sniffing the devil’s dandruff, and puffing the magic joint. A coked-out lawyer named David went on and on about the Mortal Kombat video games. He had theories about future games and television shows. There weren’t enough narcotics in the penthouse to help me get through the conversation. He kept trying to unhinge his jaw. Like it was locked in place, and he needed to pop it. Three beers later, I finally escaped. My brain filled with more useless knowledge. Charlie ended the conversation when his girlfriend, an attractive dark-haired woman, asked him for some attention.
“Are you Alyssa’s friend, Brian?”
“I guess that’s me.”
“Anyone interested in doing some lines, follow me,” Alyssa announced.
Everyone, but Shannon, David, and me headed to the drugs.
“Cool if I go?” David asked.
“Thanks for being the best.” David kissed Shannon’s cheek before stumbling into the bedroom.
“Usually I’d partake, but I have to be responsible,” she said.
“Shoving things up my nose has always skeeved me out,” I said. “I’m not a fan.”
“Whatever. Tell me your California story,” I said.
“Everyone has a reason for running away to California.”
“How do you know I’m not from here?” she asked.
“The way you carry yourself.”
Shannon left Florida for California when her marriage with her high school sweetheart dissolved after her son was born. She practically raised him on her own. A twenty-four seven job that she did with little help from a few family members and friends. The friends that helped? They were doing lines in the bedroom. Shannon met Mortal Kombat guy a few months after settling in San Diego. They broke up a few months earlier because he did nothing but play video games. He vowed to change. Shannon gave him another chance, mainly because her son loved him so much. And besides being a gamer, he was a good man.
“What’s it you do for work?” Shannon asked.
I told her I was a trash collector.
“What’s that job entail?” she asked.
“Collecting people’s trash, touching it, and smelling like it all day.”
“It’s honest work. And great considering the weather out here is always perfect.”
“Tell me about your son,” I said.
Her brown eyes lit up. Every decision she made was with him in mind.
“I swear, he’s so intelligent. And just the sweetest boy.”
“He must have learned them from his mother.”
Shannon smiled. “Why did you run away to California?”
“Let the games commence,” Alyssa said as she emerged from the bedroom.
The rest of the party huddled in the living room and filled in Leah’s two couches.
“I guess you’ll have to find out later,” I said.
I took Shannon’s Instagram handle when she offered me her number. I didn’t want to be a home wrecker or a stepfather, but a little flirting is never bad.
Shannon and I rejoined the party.
We divided up into three teams and played Charades. Shannon wasn’t on my team, but she made eye contact with me every time she had to act something out. Which was every time it was her team’s turn. I wasn’t sure if her team was shy, she was ultra-competitive, or wanted the attention. I told myself to stop thinking and enjoy it.
After charades, we switched to some card game. In this one, you drew a card, and everyone pointed at whoever was most likely to do what was written on the card. For example, “most likely to end up passed out before midnight on NYE” is drawn and all players point at who they think is most like the card. Whoever had the most fingers pointed at them, got the card. Whoever had the least number of cards at the end of the game, won.
There was less opportunity to flirt in this game, but Shannon found a way.
A few times she pointed at me when a card was revealed.
This type of flirting always happens at adult parties. Hell, I’ve seen it at some kid parties. Somebody’s significant other feels underappreciated or misses the chase, and flirts at a social gathering. Booze is usually involved. I’d play along with Shannon. It wasn’t anything serious. Besides, Johnny Cage wannabe, David, was too coked out to even know what planet we were on. That’s a Mortal Kombat reference for the uninitiated.
I sat as they all joked, yelled, and hollered at one another. They told war stories of years past about why they chose to point at someone. Being brand new in California, no one knew me. Alyssa was my only friend at the party. Her and her friends had decades of memories together.
The game was boring.
Mainly because no one pointed at me.
At least not in large numbers.
After two hours and too many drinks, the game finally ended.
Everyone revealed their final card tally.
“How many cards do you have?” Alyssa asked me.
I clapped my hands and spread them apart like a magician.
Revealing zero cards.
“It looks like I won,” I said.
The horrified silence of the eight people around the table said more than words ever could.
“Damn bro,” David said. “You’re really good at this game.”
I shook my empty red solo cup. “It’s easy when you’re the new guy.”
“Cheater!” one of Alyssa’s friends said.
“Why wasn’t this disclosed beforehand?” her boyfriend asked.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” I said.
“More drugs?” Alyssa asked.
Most of the party went to do another round of coke.
I got up to get another beer.
Alyssa’s friend, Kacey, followed me into the kitchen.
Shannon lurked in the distance.
Watching me like prey.
“Alyssa talks about you all the time,” Kacey said.
I pulled a beer from the fridge and offered Kacey one. She nodded yes.
“Hopefully, bad things.”
“Why aren’t you two dating?” she whispered.
Alyssa emerged from the bedroom and turned on an old rap song.
She shook her ass.
Dropped it down.
Spun it around.
Then she used the wall as leverage to twerk.
“Anyone else? We’re about to start,” she said before disappearing back into the room.
“I don’t think I can keep up,” I said.
We never played another game. Everyone hung out, drank, talked, and did drugs in perfectly timed intervals until the early morning. Shannon kissed my cheek when she left and told me to message her some time. David gave me his video game username or handle. I don’t know. I haven’t played in years. David gave me an awkward hug goodbye. He left some drool on my shoulder. Soon, only Alyssa, Kelsey, and I remained.
We opened a bottle of dry red wine and threw on the movie, Walk the Line.
“One more line before we start?” Alyssa asked.
“There’s more?” Kelsey asked.
“I mean, it’s your last time. I stashed us a little for the celebration.”
“Last time?” I asked.
Kelsey and Alyssa rose from the couch.
“Her and her husband are trying to get pregnant.”
“Can’t be fucking up the insides with powder,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey and Alyssa visited the bathroom. I found my way to Alyssa’s kitchen. Rich people had the worst snacks. Fruits. Veggie trays with Greek yogurt dip. Where were the chips? The chocolate? I settled for a beer someone left at the party.
Kelsey and Alyssa threw on the movie. Alyssa cooked Brussel sprouts with balsamic dressing. She made a bowl for each of us. We ate on the couch. It was damn delicious. Way better than any chip. Kelsey fell asleep on the chaise. Alyssa rested on my chest. I stroked her long brown hair. The repetition made my eyes heavy.
Alyssa’s words woke me up.
I stroked her hair a bit more.
And fell back to sleep.
A kiss on my cheek brought me back.
“Come on, let’s go,” she said.
She grabbed my hand and led me to her bedroom. We fell asleep as soon as we hit the pillows.