DISCLAIMER: The writer does not endorse or participate in underage drinking in any way, shape, or form beyond writing about it. However, he does acknowledge that it happens, and that this story depicts a situation where it happens.
It isn’t unusual for me to be out this late. It isn’t even unusual for me to be this far from home. What is unusual is how I chose to spend my late night. Normally, I would be sitting at a friend’s house, drinking hot cocoa or a mocha (never tea or coffee, at least not without a fight.) Stacy and I would be watching Netflix, or cramming for an upcoming test, or commiserating about a paper we’re definitely going to fail. Tonight, that’s all out the window — so to speak. And, ironically, literally. I climbed out my window to get where I am, so that my parents wouldn’t know. I even gave in to cliche and stuffed my bed so it looks like I’m still under the covers. Here’s hoping my parents don’t find out I’m nothing but a stuffed tiger and some extra blankets.
Anyway, let’s get back to the story at hand. I find myself at a club which boasts the dubious name of the Greasy Monkey. The spacious dance floor held bodies of all genders dancing with whatever gender they pleased. Booty shorts and skinny jeans and miniskirts mingled together, a blur of styles that fizzle together in between the music. I see my friend Stacy, the entire reason I find myself here this late, dancing with someone of an unidentifiable gender, with far more enthusiasm than she ever has for anything at school. She brought me here tonight to supposedly get over her latest romantic entanglement falling flat, but it’s clear she has an ulterior motive. Judging by her complete abandonment of me the second she got through the door, she seems to have the intention of getting me to, in her words, “loosen the hell up.” She and I have been friends for years, doing everything from Comic-Con to Gay Pride to playdates with our cats together. The gay guys were friendly at Pride, so they should be friendly here too, right?
I fiddle with the collar on my borrowed flannel shirt, shifting in my painted-on skinny jeans, trying to find some kind of comfortable position. I finally make myself leave the wall and head over to another excuse not to dance, the bar. I can’t buy myself a drink, of course, but that doesn’t mean I’m not drinking. I hope to god the standards in Maine are low enough that somebody decides to buy me a drink.
I saunter to the best of my ability towards the bar, barely avoiding the crowd of bodies on the dance floor thumping to the beat of some new Calvin Harris song, and took a seat on the stool. As soon as my feet leave the ground, a small ache begins to form in my ankle, no doubt from the shoes I wore tonight. They are nowhere near comfortable, but goddamn if they aren’t stylish as hell. As I settle into my stool, subtly checking out my surroundings, I almost instantly see a drink in front of me.
“Compliments of Mr. Anderson,” the bartender said, nodding his head towards a corner booth full of people. They seem to be of all ages, the youngest looking just over 17, curled up in a sparkly tank top and booty shorts against a man who couldn’t be under 40. He’s wearing sunglasses, a leather jacket, and a flannel stained with what looks a lot like blood. His mouth is rough, but upturned in a cocky smile as his boy toy draped himself over him. His friends, taking up most of the table, all look similar. Masculine clothes, sunglasses inside, bloodstains, and young men hanging off them. Only one person proves the exception to that rule. His shirt, clean and freshly ironed and much fancier than the rest. He looks like he just came from a business meeting, while the others look like construction workers. The only thing tying him to his friends is the smirk on his face. The smirk that says “I know what I’m doing,” “You’d better watch out,” and “Run” all at once. The smirk currently pointing directly at me.
He raises his hand slightly, and with two fingers, beckons me over. Knowing it’s pointless to avoid him, what with how small the bar is, I decide to just walk over and talk to him. Like Stacy would say, it couldn’t hurt, right? Knowing her, she would march right up to him, ask him to dance, and be on her way to his place inside of ten minutes! If I want to fit in here, I should be like her.
Carefully placing my feet back on solid ground, I sway a little to the beat of the Rihanna song and put some confidence back in my hips as I reluctantly make my way towards the corner booth. As I get closer, the man’s eyes light up with a kind of happiness that almost looks hungry, like a shark circling its meal. He slides ever so slightly into the booth, jostling the boy with the gold tank top and silver hair. In moments, faster than I think, I arrive at the table. Without blinking, every eye in the booth swivels towards me in unison. If I had been smart, I would have turned around and ran right then. But, being me, I don’t know much beyond making coffee, playing guitar, and petting my cat Roo. I tried making cat vines with him, but he was too interested in batting the camera and glaring at my mother. He never seems interested in doing much of anything beyond hitting stuff and glaring at my mother, however. I think he’s offended that she doesn’t adore him. Although, he isn’t helping matters much. My mother and he have been fighting for more than three years, ever since the day we got him on the last week of summer before freshman year of high school.
Back to reality, I focus in on the scene in front of me. As I slide into the booth, a small giggle is heard among the younger patrons of the table, sending heat into my cheeks for what would not be the first time. As I shift around in my seat, once again searching for a position that feels comfortable, I realize one thing. It’s not as bad here as I thought. The man next to me smells like a friendly combination of wood and danger, and that makes sense to me in my head. When the waiter comes around, I giggle with the rest of the boys, and I actually borrow body glitter from the friendly one with bright green hair. The DJ plays Bad Romance, and I dance my gay little heart out in my seat, even getting the boys to sing along with me. A waiter wearing a ton of eyeliner hands another round of drinks out, and I tell them I like handing out. I’m funny, right? I just feel kind of free. I let the table know, and Mr. Anderson smiles his toothy grin at me.
I sway to the music, at this point whatever the Chainsmokers are doing right now. That’s a weird name, Chainsmokers. What’s next, Addicts Anonymous? What, not funny? I laughed. This is a nice bar. Mr. Anderson is a nice guy. tHis Is FUn.
Somebody says something to me and the other boys, and a giggle erupts from my throat. The group began to get up from their seats, and oF COurse I follow wIth a smile. The blood on their shirts isn’t that bad, it’s only really one splotch in the middle. I wonder what happened to put so much blood on their shirts. Maybe they’re just doctors, and they had to operate on someone before they came here. In their regular clothes. Without washing up. TotAlLy.
Ooh, a Whitney Houston song! I have to dance with somebody, in her honor if nothing else. I immediately turn to Mr. Anderson, once again looking at me like I’m the weak prey to his alpha predator. I’m intrigued by it, but that can wait. I have to dance!
I lead him out to the dance floor, and my face breaks into a triumphant grin when the glittery twinks follow.
Oh, I wanna dance with somebody
I drop his hand and drop low to the beat of the song, feeling the lyrics in my bones. That could be the drinks, but it’s prOBAbly just tHe BAsS.
I wanna feel the heat with somebody
His body heat presses up against me and we move together, his predatory vibe now going beyond the eyes alone. And was it just me or were those fangs I saw in his mouth?
Yeah I wanna dance with somebody
I mouth the lyrics of the song as I dance, getting more into the rhythm every minute, and he at least seems to be enjoying it. Soon, I DoN’t ReAlLy ThInK much about it anymore.
With somebody who loves me
And as things were getting more and more interesting, someone taps me on the shoulder.
Of all the people who showed up to the club that night, the most unusual had to be the ghost of Whitney Houston. She had a shimmering glow around her, and was wearing a purple lip (totally not her color) but otherwise I was pretty sure it was Whitney. She smiled a toothy smile and dragged me by the shoulder to the opposite side of the club, out the doors, and onto the sidewalk. As I turn to her in confusion, she hugs me tightly, simultaneously barring me from going back in and offering some kind of comfort. I thought she was taller than this, at least from what I had heard. Her voice reached my ears, talking about stranger danger, blood and something about risk. I barely heard her, and it quickly faded into blackness, without so much as a warning.
24 HOURS LATER
Oh my god. What the hell was that night? Stacy won’t tell me anything beyond the fact that I kept singing Whitney Houston and calling her Whitney, and that I was super drunk. The most I can tell about that night is that apparently, this group of dudes were arrested for murder from that club. I think I’m happy with never going back to that place again. Stacy says she might go back, but I’m content with hot cocoa and Netflix for life.