Friday, May 15, 2009

The Streak - 30

Evan, Matt and Joe walked back into living room. Sugar was tickling Melinda's neck while the others sat stiffly, as though awaiting news from a surgeon. Evan saw from the looks on their faces that they craved some kind of reassurance.

"It's OK," he announced.

"You OK?" Kyle asked.

"I'm OK."

A cheery melody erupted from the vicinity of Kyle's groin. He sat immobile, ashen, not sure what to do.

"Aren't you going to get that?" asked Jackie.

"You can get that, Kyle. It's cool," said Evan. Boy, could he use a bump or two.

"I can get that? It's cool?" asked Kyle uncertainly. The alarm repeated its idiotic music.

"It's cool, Kyle. You can get your phone," Evan insisted, winking extravagantly.

Kyle was at a loss. He reached slowly into his pocket and withdrew the phone, gripping it wonderingly like a moonrock. The alarm grew louder in the open space.

"Like I said, Kyle. It's cool to get that."

Kyle tremblingly stopped the alarm and put the phone up to his ear.

"Uh, hello?" he said, fixing Evan with a panicky stare.

"No, Kyle. I mean you can really get that. You can really get your alarm."

"Oh, I can really get it?" said Kyle finally, ignoring his imaginary caller.

"Yup, for real, for real. Everybody's cool with it."

Kyle put away his phone. He pointed back and forth at Matt and Joe and looked to Evan for additional affirmation.

"Everybody's cool," Evan repeated.

"These guys are cool with it?"

"I swear to you on Babe Ruth's grave."

"They, uh..."

"Let's ask them." Evan turned to Matt and Joe. "You guys want some blow?"

"Yeah, sure," said Joe, puzzled. "Is that what the phone call was all about?"

The tension broke at once and everybody laughed. Kyle took out the bullet and tapped out its contents onto the glass coffee table. Evan and the men took seats around the table and everyone leaned forward in happy anticipation.

"The alarm is for discipline!" said Kyle as he carved out seven lines.

"The alarm is 'cause you're such a freak," said Jackie.

"You really are a freak of nature," added Sugar.

Evan felt compelled to defend his friend. "It's to try to trick us out of our compulsions," he offered. "To civilize desire."

"That's a losing battle if I ever heard one," observed Melinda.

"It might be sick. It might be stupid," said Evan. "But fuck it, he's the one who's holding."

"Not for long," said Kyle. "Lisa baby, I'm gonna need to get into your stash."

"It's an innovative approach, Kyle. Bravo," said Joe.

"You guys had me worried," Kyle said. "I thought you were narcs."

"We look like narcs and we think like narcs but we are not narcs," said Joe.

"And that's what counts," added Matt.

"So what are you?"

"We're going to take leave of you fine people in fifteen minutes and at that point it will be entirely up to Evan to judge whether telling you who we are and what our mission here tonight has been is consistent with his values and his persona," said Joe.

"Pressure's on, Ev."

Lisa came back from her room with a pill bottle half-filled with cocaine and tossed it to Kyle.

"Help yourself," she said.

"You're the best."

Kyle refilled the bullet and rolled up a twenty-dollar bill. He handed it to Jackie, who got on her knees at the corner of the table, leaned in, held back her curly hair and deftly snorted her line. She mopped up the residue with the pad of her index finger and rubbed it on her upper gums, then placed the bill back on the table and sat back on the couch. They each took their turn in this procession, each kneeling or crouching according to body type and inclination, tapping the tip of the rolled bill two or three times on the glass, pointlessly unrolling it and rolling it back up, plucking at their noses and pinching them after; a parade of idiosyncratic variations on ritual.

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