“Do this for me”
The car rolled to a stop in front of a large house, its driveway dotted with party-goers. Max gave me a begging grin so wide I could almost see dimples through his beard.
“Come on, it’s a small crowd. Plus, there are people here from work, some guys who worked the haunt with us,” he told me, holding my hand the soft way boyfriends do. “You might have fun.”
But “fun” is the last word that came to mind when I stepped inside the muggy home, Halloween themed balloons littering the hardwood floors.
Feeling like a foreigner, I stuck close to Max as he started to mingle, giving a kiss to a pretty blonde dressed as a booty shorts-clad scarecrow. She placed her hand on his chest and called him “Maxy” as I looked away to survey the room.
If anything got me out of Max’s car, curiosity did. I’d pictured a potluck, homemade potato salad in the center of the plastic tablecloth.
Or an “Eyes Wide Shut” sex cult fantasy, every surface of the home covered in naked skin, ornate bird masks, and sweat.
But the party, with it’s chatting couples and dancing girlfriends, seemed average.
This is supposed to be a night of sin, I thought. Where’s the debauchery?
I tried to joke for tension relief. It didn’t work much.
“Do this for me,” Max told me, stooping to mutter in my ear like a parent embarrassed by their toddler’s tears in a store. He must’ve noticed the way my lips pursed.
Yeah, I should’ve tried harder to protest. Max didn’t have to coax me much to go inside. In his defense, maybe I did need to loosen up a little.
And, like any girlfriend, I wanted to be there for him, I did.
Yet no one can turn themselves into someone they’re not, or at least, they can’t and be happy. Max had to know this.
But, instead of communicating like a big girl, I said, “I’m gonna go outside and see if I know anyone.”
For whatever reason, the backyard was home-base for Seven Minutes in Heaven, minus the closet, the seven minutes, and clothing.
Maybe all the rooms upstairs had been filled and the party decided, “Once you’ve seen one person half-naked, you’ve seen them all,” before spilling onto the grass.
I found a seat on a weathered pool lounge, one of the only spaces not taken by a couple, and watched as a group started a round of strip volleyball in the shallow end of the pool.
In the dark, deeper end away from the floodlights, a bikini top bobbed in the little waterfall tumbling from a wall of rocks and into the water.
I did a fine job blending into the background, focusing on the most PG images I could — the forest beyond the fence, the small dog greeting guests — like an adult “I Spy” book. Nudity doesn’t bother me, so I zoned in on the game when a warm body sat beside me.
My hand met a random thigh as the plastic beneath me flexed to the ground under his weight and I stopped myself from tumbling into his lap.
“Hey,” the man said, brushing his dark hair off his shoulders. “I know I’ve seen you with a chainsaw covered in blood somewhere.”
Though I recognized a lot of faces from the theme park haunt we’d worked at, I didn’t remember his.
Maybe this unfamiliarity is why I let myself slip a little, turning to him instead of getting up and heading inside.
He was kind of hot, in an “I killed Sharon Tate” kind of way.
My new friend Manson placed a balled fist on the skin near my shoulder, which was exposed thanks to my mermaid seashell bra, and unfurled his fingers like a stretching cat.
He took my about-face as an invitation to run his nails, long, strong, metallic blue and each filed to a wicked point, down my arm.
I closed my eyes. Something was happening, but whether it was anxiety or arousal, I couldn’t tell.
“You might have fun,” Max had said, the same words I told myself as I relaxed into Manson’s touch.
But then, he let out a low moan — or was it a growl? — some animal noise causing me to bite back awkward laughter that said, “I can’t be here anymore.”
He stopped when I pushed his hand aside, shaking my head and standing.
“Fuckin’ prude,” Manson mumbled.
He now held a cigarette. The butt jammed between his teeth was stained with black lipstick.
“Why are you even here?”