It was pitch black inside the closet when I woke up, and the air was so thick with sweat and other body smells that it was difficult to breathe. Like a coffin, as always, but this time I'd buried myself with another human being.
Jasmine was in there with me, her arms and legs tangled up with mine, our skin stuck together with perspiration. We were coiled up like a pair of hibernating snakes, which was nice in its way, except that I had to piss as soon as possible or I was going to cause myself internal damage.
I tried to lift her arm and roll her off of me, but it was a complicated procedure. She groaned and mumbled in her sleep, and gentle disentanglement quickly degenerated to a get the hell off me' situation. She stirred and woke, and I said something really unromantic before finally managing to get out from under her and open the closet door.
One of my roommates, Kara, was standing in the open door of her bedroom when I burst out of the closet, naked and with significant morning wood. My need to urinate was so extreme that I didn't even react to her exclamation of surprise, and I made a quick turn into the bathroom. I flicked on the light, closed the door behind me and couldn't have counted to three before unleashing the stream.
Eric! There was some pounding on the bathroom door from Kara. Never, ever do that again! Pants! Wear pants!
I grunted an apology, and when I was finished, I made sure the coast was clear before going back in to check on Jasmine. She'd gone back to sleep, so I grabbed a towel and some clothes off the shelf and went back to the bathroom for a shower.
Fifteen minutes later I went out, fully dressed, to the living room. My roommate Dustin was sitting on the couch playing a video game. Morning, I said.
Morning, Dustin said. Kara says you've got a big dick.
It probably looks huge compared to yours, I said, in a deep, rumbling hangover voice. What do you hang? Inch and a half?
Funny, Dustin said, and continued to play his game.
I got a pot of coffee going in the machine. Down the hall I could hear Kara typing on her computer, and Nick and Angie, my other two roommates, talking in their bedroom. Jasmine was going to wake up to a full house. I got a bowl of cereal and sat down on the couch behind Dustin to eat and wait for the coffee.
Brought a girl home last night, eh? Dustin asked in his flat voice.
Guess so, I said.
How do you keep getting girls to sleep with you in that closet?
I don't know, I said. How did you pricks convince me to sleep in there at all?
He didn't say anything. By the time I finished with the cereal the coffee was ready, so I got up and poured myself a cup. Our phone sat in the kitchen where there was little hope for privacy, but I decided to call Ryan anyway and see how it went at the party after I left.
On the third ring there was an answer, and a soft female voice said hello.
Hey, Minako. It's Eric. You know, from Ryan's band? Hey, I didn't see you at the show last night. I though you were going to come take pictures.
No. Too busy.
Oh. Okay. So, can I talk to Ryan?
He's not here. Didn't come home last night.
Oh. Okay. Well, thanks anyway.
She hung up without another word. I took a sip of coffee and dialed Nick's place.
Nick, being the consummate professional and highly experienced band manager that he is, has no answering machine on his house phone. It rang about a dozen times before someone finally picked up. I didn't recognize the groggy growl of a voice that said hello.
Hello? Is that Jordan? There was no response. Hello? I asked. Who is this?
Who's Jordan? came the eventual reply. Is this Eric? It's Ryan.
Oh, hey dude, I said, not really surprised to hear my guitarist's voice. You crashed at Nick's, huh? Did Jed spend the night there too?
Yeah, he had to, Ryan said. It took forever for him to stop bleeding.
What? Bleeding? What the hell are you talking about?
Aw, it just went to shit after you left, dude. Hang on a second, I could hear him getting a glass, pouring tap water, and drinking. He came back a moment later. Sorry dude, he said in a somewhat clearer voice. I feel like hell. I slept on the living room floor after everybody left.
Yeah, yeah, no problem, I said. What happened to Jed?
Well, to begin with, the party got pretty heavy after midnight, Ryan explained. People kept showing up, and there were a few fights. Eventually the neighbors called the cops, and the cops came and cleared a bunch of people away. A bunch of us stayed though, including the Seriosity guys and a bunch of others. Anyway, Jed started yapping with the Seriosity guys, and everybody was pretty drunk, and some punches got thrown. Anyway, Jed got popped in the nose, and it took, like, an hour for it to stop bleeding.
What did you and Nick do?
I heard him gulping more water. I pushed around with them and the whole thing got broken up. Nick told them to take a hike, but they didn't want to go without their gear. They figured we would wreck their stuff if they left it here.
So what, did they haul their amps and drums out in the middle of the night?
No. Oh man, Eric, you're going to shit when you hear this.
I took a deep breath. Okay, what the hell happened?
Well, Ryan said, they didn't have any way to take the drums with them, but they wouldn't leave because they were sure their stuff would get trashed. Eventually they agreed they would leave, but they took collateral with them. You know, to guarantee we wouldn't trash their stuff.
You're joking. You must be joking, right?
Ryan laughed. It's insane, isn't it? I feel sick about the whole thing, but I figure if there's anything wrong with the guitars we can just kick their drums to pieces, right? The whole thing was just nuts, man. Completely crazy.
I shook my head. Just...when are they bringing the guitars back?
Um, this afternoon, sometime, Ryan said. They'll get their drums and amps, and we'll get our guitars back.
And we're back to square one, with no drums for Jed to use.
Yeah. He was silent for a moment, and then asked in a brighter voice, Hey, how did it go with that chick? Jasmine, right?
Yeah. Um, pretty good, I guess. She spent the night here.
Speaking of the devil, I heard some thumping noises coming from the closet down the hall. It sounded like someone was trying to dress in a dark, enclosed space. Then the door opened, and I heard her stumble into the bathroom.
She just woke up. I looked to see if Dustin was paying attention to the conversation. Tell me something, I whispered to Ryan, Is it wrong to sleep with a girl when she's drunk? Like, even if it's her idea?
He hesitated. Like, really, really drunk?
Yeah, I guess.
It might be uncool, he said. I'm no lawyer, but if it was her idea, you're probably not in any real trouble, you know? Why? Do you think she's unhappy?
I don't know, I said. The sounds coming from the bathroom sounded a lot like retching. I haven't talked to her yet. Look, I'm going to head over there as soon as I can. I want to be there when the Seriosity guys show up.
Okay, he said. I'll talk to you soon.
I hung up the phone. Dustin didn't look up from his game, but if he had been listening, I appreciated his discretion.
Jasmine came out a few minutes later. She looked like hell. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot, and everything about her posture suggested agony.
Hey, I said. Do you want coffee?
My puke was purple, she said.
Yeah, the raspberry wine cooler, eh? I said. Man, that stuff will kill you. Can I get you anything?
Does anyone have a cigarette? I think I lost mine last night. I can't find them in there, she said, gesturing back toward the closet.
Yeah, just hang on, I said. I went to roommate Nick and Angie's bedroom door and knocked. Nick opened the door and I asked if I could bum a smoke.
He grabbed one from his pack and passed it out to me. Who is that girl? he whispered as he handed it over.
Mind your own business, I told him, and closed the door.
Come on, I said to Jasmine. We'll smoke it downstairs. It's too crowded in here.
We grabbed our jackets and left the apartment. It was cloudy outside, but it still seemed far too bright for our shriveled, dried-out brains. Jasmine lit the cigarette with her lighter, had a few drags and passed it to me. I took a drag. It made my stomach queasy, but I had another and passed it back to her.
Rough night, huh? I said to make conversation. I guess there were some fights at the party after we left. Cops and everything.
Sweet, she said in a disinterested voice. She looked around, up and down the street. Where the hell are we?
Um, Garden Avenue is a few blocks that way, I said, pointing down the road. We walked here last night, but you might want to catch a bus or something. Or did you want to come along with me? I'm going to head back over to Nick's place.
Um, no, she said. Her voice sounded lifeless. I think I'll head home. I feel like shit. She looked up toward the window of my apartment on the third floor. Why do so many people live in your apartment?
It's a long story, I said. It's a crap situation, and I'm moving out at the end of the semester. For the time being, I just don't hang out there much.
Sure, she said, passing me the cigarette, but why do you have to sleep in the closet?
Once again, it's a long story, I said with a bitter smile. We smoked the rest of the cigarette in silence.
When it was finished, she flicked the butt out into the street. I think I'll get going, she said.
Um, okay, I said. Look, are you cool with... I gestured vaguely up toward the apartment. You know, are you cool with last night?
She looked at me blankly. How do you mean?
Well, you know, I said, not exactly sure of what I was trying to say. We were both kinda drunk. I just wanted to know if you...I don't know...regretted anything.
I'm cool, she said. You?
Sure, I'm good. Should I give you a call later on?
She nodded. Yes, but not today. I feel like hell. I'm going to sleep.
We hugged and she gave me a kiss on the cheek, and then she left to find a bus back to the south end of town. I went upstairs, drank another cup of coffee and brushed my teeth, all the while ignoring comments and questions from my gang of roommates. Somehow they all thought it was funny that I had found yet another girl willing to sleep in the closet with me. It didn't seem to occur to them that it was because of their stupid bullshit that I'd been cornered into using the closet as a bedroom in the first place.
I made my way to Nick's place. Ryan let me in. The house hadn't been cleaned yet, and the kitchen and living room were filthy. The floor was covered with empty bottles, spilled snacks and wrappers. The carpet was in awful shape from people coming and going without removing their shoes. All in all, the place looked like hell.
Jed, Ryan and Nick were sitting on the living room chairs playing video games. Jed looked especially rough. His nose was swollen red and he had the early signs of black eyes.
Man, you really got clocked, didn't you? I said when I saw his punched-in face. Too bad your moustache didn't absorb the damage.
Kiss my ass, man, he said in a nasal voice. Where were you when we needed you?
Banging a groupie, I said. Well, not really. She didn't actually see us play, so I don't know if she counts as a groupie. What happened, anyway?
Those guys talk a lot of shit, that's what happened, Nick said. They've got some serious egos in that band. Jed told them to shove it, and pretty soon everybody's pushing. I think it was that Doug guy that threw the actual punch.
Yeah, Jed said. It was him.
Anyway, Nick said, They should be back here any time to get their gear.
I popped my knuckles and sat down on the couch to wait.
2009 Nolan Whyte