Albert shepherded us all the way to an absolutely immense reception in the Park Plaza Castle which was basically utter chaos of giddy graduates and their families milling around from one sparsely placed crudité station to another inside a giant stone box. It was a lot of people and a lot of noise and we didn’t stay long.
Albert saw us into a taxi and told Court he’d see her later. After the door closed and the cab took off headed for Allston, Claire turned to Court and asked, “Is he coming to the party tonight?”
“He said he’ll drop by.”
“And you know each other from where?”
“He was taking some marketing classes and we hit it off right away.”
“Oh, he’s a student, too?”
“Getting a masters,” Court said.
“And here I thought, at first, that he was just the most charming good Samaritan I’d ever met.” Claire snorted like she was a bit disappointed to find out it had been a setup. “Well, but I suppose there won’t be too many folks my age to talk to tonight.”
“Not too many,” Court agreed, by which she meant none other than Albert.
What followed after a light dinner of take-out was Claire took a nap, and Court and Chris and Colin went out together to buy the booze for the party. I thought about taking a nap myself. My nerves were all jangly from everything, still, and I went up to my room to lie down and maybe read for a bit.
I tried calling Ziggy again, but got his machine. I paged. Then I picked up the phone and pretended I was talking to him. “It’s funny. On the one hand all I want right now is to be in the background, and I see the kind of pathological, toxic way that Claire feels the need to turn the spotlight onto herself, so the last thing I want is to be the center of attention. But I am feeling really… marginal right now? Does that make sense? It’s totally Court’s turn in the spotlight but I mean overall, I can’t figure this out. If what I need is to get back on the stage, why am I fighting it so hard?”
The answer was the dialtone changing to the angry beeping that meant “hang up the phone, asshole.”
The party got rolling before sundown. My impression was that most of Courtney’s classmates, or at least all the ones anticipating music biz jobs, were there. Some probably wanted to meet me, some probably just wanted to say they were there, some just wanted to party somewhere other than a dorm room or with their parents. The ranks of partiers swelled as more and more of them escaped from their family dinners. The amount of booze on hand also continued to rise.
Then at some point those assembled started to drink faster than new cans and bottles were arriving. You thought the last party we had was boisterous and noisy and rowdy? This one was well on the way to topping it.
I don’t remember consciously having a moment when I decided to drink over continuing to not-drink. There must have been one, but I don’t remember it.
Which gives you a clue how much I drank.
Liquor fixed my jangling nerves, though, for a while. Until someone–I really can’t remember who–started hinting that they were going to get out musical instruments and jam, and wouldn’t it be fun to jam? And didn’t I love to jam?
I did love to jam, but even the amount of alcohol I’d had wasn’t enough to make me forget that wasn’t something I was doing right now. It was something I was actively avoiding. I eventually avoided it all the way upstairs into my room again.
I lay on the bed feeling the room spinning in a not-totally unpleasant way. I felt kind of like I was on a Tilt-a-Whirl even though I was lying still. My tolerance was way down after not drinking for how ever many months it had been at that point. So I was very buzzed but probably not going to be ill. Tra la la.
There was a knock. It was probably Colin, coming to check on me. “Come in.”
No answer. I tried to sit up. Another knock. Now I realized it was coming from the window.
From the window…?
I slid it open and there was Ziggy. Or at least a strong hallucination, which said, “This new trellis is kind of flimsy so can I come in before I break my neck?”
I went into sudden panic mode and began trying to yank the screen free, until he got me to just raise it in its track (oh right, that’s how these things work…) and then pull him across the sill. His pants got dirty with dead bugs and soot from the windowsill, but neither of us cared much about that.
He kissed me long and deep and he tasted so familiar my heart twisted suddenly. Like my body finally figured out he wasn’t all in my head.
He flattened me back on the bed and I lay there looking at the very colorful ceiling while he went and shut the window and then turned my AC unit on. It was actually a white ceiling but the patterns in my eyes made it colorful in my ecstatic inebriated state. “You came,” I exclaimed.
“Not yet,” he murmured in my ear. My hands felt his hot skin. I’d missed the moment when he’d shed his shirt. “I plan to.”
“Good.” I tugged at my own shirt and with help he got me out of it.
I don’t remember a lot of what happened, which is probably a shame because if the impression that remains is accurate at all, it was some of the best sex we’ve ever had.
I remember flashes of it. His teeth on my skin. The sound of his breath as he thrust. The familiar feeling that I wanted to ask a question but couldn’t think of it.
I don’t think I had an orgasm. I think I was too soused. But that was fine. That wasn’t important. What was important is that he was there.
The question surfaced while we were snuggling together afterward, his body fitted against mine like two pieces of a tavern puzzle. I was probably sobering up some by then.
“What are you doing here?”
The dark chuckle. “That wasn’t obvious?”
“Fucking me, yeah, but–”
“Surprising you, you mean?”
“Oh.” I remembered the real thing that had been nagging me. The feeling that something was going on that he wasn’t telling me. “You planned this. You told me you weren’t sure if you were going to come, so you could do this.”
“Mm-hmm.” He licked sweat from behind my ear. “Was it okay?”
I let the question roll around in my head for a while, which meant letting him sweat the possibility I was going to say no, it wasn’t.
But it was okay. He didn’t know I had started to feel suspicious. There hadn’t been much time for my suspicion to grow. “When did you get here and where are you staying?”
“Yesterday. And we still have some time on our sublet, you know.”
I laughed. “Colin and I might have run into you by accident. What would you have done then?”
“I would have sprung the surprise on you a day early and we would have undoubtedly had a threesome with Colin,” he said matter-of-factly. “But I’m glad it was just us this time.”
We ducked into the shower together, then made an appearance at the party, just long enough to let a couple of Courtney’s acquaintances be starstruck, and for me to have another beer or three, and then we went back upstairs and had another round of fairly epic reunion sex.
I woke up more hungover than I ever remember being. I was lying there, wrapped around Ziggy, and what woke me was the unmistakeable hiss of a piece of paper being slid under a door.
I extricated myself from my still-sleeping lover with an apologetic kiss and tiptoed over the the door to see if I had imagined the sound.
I hadn’t. There was a piece of paper. It read:
Someone had slipped a joke daysheet under my door. It was a good joke, too, considering the state of debauchery we were in. But I couldn’t help feeling a little twinge of longing, just sharp enough to make my eyes sting.