I pretty much fidgeted around the apartment until Russell brought home a couple six-packs, and we started zoning out on a little MTV. Between bong hits and cigarettes, it didn’t take long before any normal person needed an oxygen mask to breathe in our living room. Not that I cared, but I was definitely buzzed big time when the first knock pounded on our door.
“Jesus Christ, Kenny, get some air in here,” Anna Haywood said as she marched in, her arms waving in front of her — not that that was going to help.
I jumped off the couch like my mom had busted me, which was an odd reaction since I hated my mom and actually liked Anna. I think I was just startled to see someone that old coming to my apartment. “I see you fixed the place up,” she said, chuckling, her voice raspy from Kool Menthols.
I wondered when she’d ever been there before, but then I got the joke and was in the middle of coming up with some smart-ass reply when Tina strolled in behind her. “What…what are you doing here?” I stammered like a complete retard.
“Wasn’t I invited?” she said, scanning the scene before nodding at Russell, whose pink half-closed eyes and slumped position could’ve been mistaken for a quadriplegic. “Who’s that?” she said.
He told her his name and then leaned forward in slow motion, twisted a beer off a six-pack, and reached it out to her. Fuck, I thought, I should’ve done that. “You’re early,” I said, even though I hadn’t a clue if that was true.
Tina popped the beer can, all the while holding Russell’s stare. Anna just shook her head.
Then all of a sudden, Featherly barged in with Danny Lopaca on his heels.
“In this corner…” he shouted like a ring announcer holding a microphone, “and wearing the puke-stained blue jeans —” which actually made me glance at my pants to make sure he was full of shit. “…I give you Kenny — The Grease Trap — Blass.”
Anna laughed, a little awkwardly, but I just ignored him; the last thing I wanted to do was encourage more teasing at my expense. And then I heard the unmistakable sound of bubbling water. Sure enough, Tina sat on the arm of our couch, next to Russell, her lips sucked tight on my bong. She finished the hit and coughed big time. Wow. I could count the times she’d talked with me on one hand, and now she’d left big smudges of spit and lipstick on the rim of my bong tube.
A couple more of the weekend waitresses arrived, along with one of the regular busboys. It was getting packed and noisy, and I was dizzy. Russell cranked up the latest Rush album on the stereo, Geddy Lee singing, “Big money goes around the world…” that piercing voice now loud enough to crack a window. Someone brought a couple pizzas, and people started to laugh and chew and cough, and I began to wonder if everyone had forgotten that Tom was supposed to come over.
“Yeah, we’re jamming now,” Featherly said, his fingers suddenly wriggling midair in sync with a blistering Rush guitar solo.
“De-Gen play last night?” Russell shouted over the music.
“Nah,” Featherly answered, barely loud enough to be heard. “I quit last weekend.”
I would’ve sworn he was high on something, but if so, it sure wasn’t from anything shared in my apartment.
“What?” I yelled, totally flabbergasted. “I thought you wanted — ” but I stopped mid-sentence because I saw Featherly look around the room as if making sure no one else had heard him.
“They were a bunch of dickheads,” he said. “They wanted me…” He hesitated. “They said I…I wasn’t…” Then he trailed off and took a couple seconds, Russell and I gaping at him the whole time, before he said, “Fuck them anyway; who needs rock ’n’ roll when you’ve got…”— he flashed a big toothy smile — “WrestleMania!”
“Yeah, man,” Russell said, and handed over the bong, his lighter flamed up and ready to go. Strangely, though, Featherly waved it off. So I grabbed it, and yes, even though I was disoriented and trying to get my mind around Featherly’s big news, I still wanted to taste whatever little bit of Tina remained on the bong’s rim.
“Hey, Kenny,” Featherly said as I spasmed to keep the hit down. “Don’t you think you should hide the bong and weed before Tom gets here?”
“What? Really?” I said, the whole room all of the sudden distorting in waves, everyone going up and down like they were riding a merry-go-round. This was only my sixth, seventh, okay, maybe eighth bong hit of the afternoon, so it could be argued that I might not have been thinking all that straight.
“Yeah,” I said. “You’re probably right.” I mean, Tom was our boss, and even though I was toasted, I knew enough to understand we — his Deli Delight crew — shouldn’t give him the impression we were a bunch of total waste cases. Problem was that Russell had already taken the bong back to the couch and was in the process of loading it fresh for Tina.
“When do you think he’ll get here?” I asked Featherly, or the middle fuzzy replica in the center of three fuzzy Featherlys.
“I dunno,” he said. “Tom was counting the register when I left.”
“Yeah, he likes that,” I slurred, knowing immediately I must’ve sounded like a goofball.
“That little Hastings kid was doing the kitchen cleanup, so it shouldn’t be too long.”
Our microwave clock said it was already 6:10. The plan, at least the one Russell and I had come up with, was to get to Kelly’s early, by 7:15, to make sure we got seats before the body-slammin’ began at 8:00. All at once I started to feel unsure of this whole thing. “Did Tom say he was really coming?”
“Of course,” Featherly said sharply, like I was annoying him. “You think I’d be here if he wasn’t?”
I was fried, but that stung. He was clearly distracted, his mind lost elsewhere, so I didn’t really think he was trying to be an asshole, but through my self-inflicted haze, his words seemed to say none of these people had shown up because they liked me. He wandered away and I saw Anna offer him a beer, which Featherly rejected just like he had the bong. He seemed more fidgety than normal, but his eyes also looked out of sync, one aiming slightly off from the other and neither looking anyone directly in the eye. I would’ve sworn he was high on something, but if so, it sure wasn’t from anything shared in my apartment.