I must look like a train-wreck to everyone at this party. Emaciated-chic melting into the couch with shaky hands and sweaty palms has never looked good on anyone. I can’t tell if the bass pounding from the stereo has seeped through my skin or if my heart has turned into a battering ram, using all of its power to break through my sternum. You think I would have learned after all these years-- benzos and ***** are never a good combination. But I still have at least fifty bucks to make at this party off of over-privileged, toxin-craving youth. Besides, it’s a bearable feeling, and I can just sleep it off on the couch here tonight.
I survey the room, attempting to remember where the stairs to the basement were located. After forcing my drooping eyelids to stay open, I watch a parade of lax bros make their way up the stairs and into the kitchen. They are a mess of scrawny limbs floating in pinnies and their air-filled heads are capped off with snapbacks. Their smugness is laughable and mostly, if not entirely, induced by massive amounts of *******. Please. The only reason people show up to this dump is because of the free ***** and the always-entertaining fight that is guaranteed to happen by the end of the party. Even then, the crowd is mostly freshmen, and they just don’t know any better.
A booming yooooo crashes down the staircase and stumbles towards me. I refrain from rolling my eyes.
“Hey, you!” I have no idea who this is.
“Whatchyew got tonight?” asks the greasy manchild with a few scraggly hairs bursting out of his chin.
“Depends on what you’re looking for,” I respond, wishing I had worn something other than an oversized sweater and leggings. You shouldn’t hide everything in your cleavage.
“How much you want for the zannies?”
Hoping to never see this scumbag again, I figure it wouldn’t hurt to scare him off by jumping the price to seven bucks a bar. But before I can even grab the plastic bag out of my bra, I’m momentarily blinded by piercing red and blue LEDs out the window.
“Aw, shiiiit,” he says as he races toward the back door.
I struggle out of the crevice in the couch and calmly follow the manchild, pushing my way through the crowd by the door. My car is waiting patiently for me in the cul de sac, and once I get past the herd of screaming freshmen, I’ll be in the clear. Anyone will move if you start throwing elbows directly into their ribs. It’s a nice party trick to use when the cops show up.
I’m able to make it onto the back porch, but I can’t seem to find the strength that is located in my legs. My strong limbs have been replaced by jellyfish tentacles. I grab onto the railing of the steps, but I learn quickly that it’s not going to help. I trip over my feet, the stairs, the air, everything, until I am able to lean heavily on the driver’s side of my car.
The booming yooooo reappears.
******* it. I can’t deal with this kid right now.
“I just gotta text that the cops are on their way back here. Better get out.”
****. I face the car and begin to fumble with my keys. While I attempt to find the one that will open this machine, I listen to the wail of sirens a few streets down. I finally retrieve it, but I realize by the time I start the car and head towards home, the cops will be here, and I can’t ruin my spotless record. The knee-high hedges lining the circle would never be able to completely cover me, and every other house on this street looks unfamiliar. I press a small, blue button and hear a pop in the back. Normally at this time, my common sense would **** in and tell me that the trunk of a car isn’t exactly a good place to hide, but I’m starting to feel the cold through the numbness. And the last thing I want to deal with is explaining to my parents how their angel has taken herself off of her meds to make some extra cash. Better get comfortable, I guess.
I lumber into the trunk, thankful that there are at least some blankets left over from the last time I went camping with my family. Breathing heavily, I pull the lid behind me. From here, several familiar voices grow frantic and demanding: Dump that **** now... Get rid of it... I don’t care how much you spent, I’m not getting caught with it... I roll gently onto my side, careful not to shake the car, only to rediscover the plastic bag filled with Xanax.
I freeze when I hear cars pull up nearby. The crash of heavy metal doors boom through the hectic sounds of the people trying their hardest to get out of the way. I listen to the rough growl of a sturdy boot as it kicks aside pieces of broken glass and plastic cups.
“You think that after the fourth time we’ve busted this house, they would get the hint,” says a stern officer. I imagine him as they type with a faded buzz cut, bulging muscles, and aviator sunglasses even though it’s well past midnight.
“Well, kids will be kids,” says a more seasoned member of the law. He sounds like my grandfather and has probably seen more terrifying images than an underage girl in skimpy clothing puking in a nearby flowerbed. It seems as though the stern officer is herding the party-goers towards the back of the patrol car.
“That’s no excuse,” says Stern Cop.
“So you’re telling me that you never went to a party or had a beer before you turned 21?”
“Well, that’s different. I was in control.”
Hearing your rights sounds much less dramatic in real life than it does on TV. For these underage drinkers, it’s a sped-up process that is muffled by their own sobs. The metallic clink of handcuffs echoes through the air and immediately hushes everyone. Soft Cop chuckles and gently closes the door, attempting not to startle the shaken-up criminals.
I am finally able to exhale as a car drives away, but I don’t feel as if I’ve gotten away with anything. I shift onto my back and look up at the roof of the trunk, illuminated by the blue-green light of my cell phone. Glancing down at the screen, I see the time: 1:47 a.m. I’m going to have to venture out into the world eventually.
As I gather my strength and roll towards the trunk release, I feel my keys in my pocket along with a tiny click. Immediately, my car begins to scream. I scramble for my keys, hoping that no one is here to witness the embarrassing mess I’ve made of myself. Once I finally get the car to calm down, I hear an intoxicating mix of chuckles and mild profanities strung together. It’s Soft Cop. He knows.
“Is everything alright in there?” asks Soft Cop as he knocks on the trunk.
What am I supposed to say? Yeah, everything’s fine. Just chillin’ out here. No worries.
“Uh... yes, sir. Just give me a moment.”
I unlock the trunk and start push it upwards, but Soft Cop has managed to get to it first. He is a tall, thick man with a glorious salt-and-pepper colored mustache. His soft eyes look tired like a basset hound’s. I see his name-tag–– G. Lewis. He looks like a Gary.
“Didjya get a little stuck?” he asks.
“Yeah.” I smile and try not to let my nervous laugh creep through.
Gary looks around the cul de sac and back into the trunk, reaching his chubby fingers towards me. As he helps me out, I notice that he’s a lot stronger than he looks.
“Sorry for breaking up the party tonight. Have fun?” he asks, tilting his head towards me, eyes curious and comforting.
“For a little. I didn’t get to stay very long.”
He nods his head towards my car. “If you don’t mind me asking,” he chuckles, “how’d you wind up in there?”
“I guess I just got scared. I didn’t want to get in trouble for being here.”
Gary finds this amusing and swears that by now, every other cop has left the area. He explains that he’s been left to make sure nothing starts back up. He shoves his hands in his pockets and kicks around an empty Miller Lite can.
“Listen, I can tell you’ve been drinking.” His voice has changed. I know this tone. This is the tone of Your Mother and I both love you very much, and we’re not mad. We’re just disappointed. He looks me straight in the eyes, concern written all over his face. “Correct?”
There’s no point lying to him, but who wants to be the one throw themselves under the bus? I’m trying to put the words together, but all I can manage is incoherent babbling.
“Don’t worry. You’re not in trouble,” he insists. “I just don’t want you driving away in this state. You seemed to have a hard time finding the steering wheel.” A smirk emerges on his face, eventually growing in size to a radiating smile. He’s proud of that one.
“Yeah, I guess I could take a nap in the backseat.”
“How about I just drop you off at your house. You can pick up your car in the morning. Sound like a plan?”
We look at each other for a second. No thank you is needed. No more words are necessary. I relax my shoulders and look up at the clear sky. I feel the wind blow, and I don’t seem to mind the biting December wind.
“Didn’t bring a coat?” asks Gary.
“Didn’t match my outfit.”
“You sound just like my granddaughter.” He laughs. “You even have the same blonde hair and big green eyes. It’s uncanny.”
He then stops and looks down on the ground, eyes growing wide and serious. I know what he’s looking at. I was hoping he wouldn’t see my stash that is now laying on the street: eight white pills in a plastic sandwich bag, sweaty from making a quick escape from under my sweater.
Gary sighs and lets his lips purse, still looking at the bag. The salt-and-pepper mustache takes over his mouth. He gathers his hands on his hips, shoulders hunching forward. He stays like this as I avoid the opportunity to make eye contact. After drawing some air into his lungs, he finally has the courage to look up with sullen and wet eyes.
“Well,” he says as he regains his composure. He kicks the bag into a nearby storm grate. “Let’s get you home.”
written for a fiction course i'm taking currently