In those days I was discovering my neighbors. Gradually, I began to learn their names. You see, being a quiet guy does not accelerate social networking. Add a raging addiction to computer games, and the overall prognosis wasn't heartening. Still, I made an effort to know people during loading screens when I had to dash to the shop.
So there I was one late night, killing hordes of programmed electronic criminals on my computer in my dark room. Outside, it was Thursday, but since I had rejected alcohol, I couldn't partake of the customary festivities so treasured of schoolmates. If you ask me, I socialized pretty well with the computer characters I wasn't killing.
My fun was interrupted when my phone rang. “Delilah”, alleged the caller ID. It was GalPal. Calling on Thursday night? Hmmm.
“Come to Angela's room right now!” she ordered, prior to salutations, and then she ended the call as abruptly. I shrugged and pulled on flip-flops. Angela's room was a floor above mine and the stairs offered a great impediment to progress (admittedly I wasn't too enthusiastic), and I was stepping to tunes with the tempo of Here Comes The Bride. Soon enough, coming into view of Angela's door, I beheld a strange sight.
Lucas was leaning against the door, and banging on it. The last I'd seen of Lucas, he was being dumped by Angela. Indeed that had been less than eight hours past. Now he was drunk and demanding to be let in. It seemed the door was locked. I approached carefully, with “Hi Lucas.”
Seeing me, Lucas backed away from the door. “I just wanna talk to her!” His eyes were red, sad, desperate.
I got angry, but not at him. Replacing him, I leaned at Angela's window, peeped in and saw Angela and GalPal seated comfortably on a comfortable couch of woven reeds, munching on assorted snacks arrayed before them and watching Family Guy, ostensibly with great amusement. “What did you call me here for?” I shouted, to defeat the combined din of the TV, their laughter, crisps crackling between their teeth and blood rushing with great pressure in my head.
“Oh thank goodness you're here. Get rid of him,” said GalPal, with an exasperated fling of the wrist.
“I'm not a hired gun!” Part of my anger was derived from the fact that I had to spell it out, and partly from what speaking through the window does to your ego. “And he just wants to talk, I think he deserves at least that.” As soon as I said this, Lucas sidled against me at the window and peered in. The smell of spirits in his breath was overwhelming. Yet he had visibly relaxed in my presence, probably assuming me to be on his side.
“He's drunk!” exclaimed Angela dismissively in her comfortable seat, “He just wants to fight.” She turned her gaze back to the TV. “Come on, help us out here.” The two girls returned to laughing at cartoons. Clearly, no one was going to open any doors for anyone to talk about anything.
I told Lucas that perhaps there would maybe be a better chance if he returned while sober. He nodded at me with a red gaze. “Tell me, man,” he slurred, “I hope you're not the clown dat Angie's goin' with now - that jus' suck, you know? Jus' some damn bullshit! I'm jus' sayin' man, you know? Right?”
I reassured Lucas, right there at the window, that Angela wasn't my type.
“I heard that!” exclaimed Angela harshly. GalPal laughed hard, but no one could tell if Family Guy was the reason.
Lucas shouted back. “I'll treat you right, baby-girl! I'm sorry! I love you baby!”
GalPal managed to laugh out instructions to me to remove Lucas from the premises “so people could sleep” - he was “disturbing visitors,” an apparent llusion to herself. Clearly, she'd missed the part where I said I wasn't hired muscle. I got angry, but not at Lucas, whom I told, quietly, that he was embarrassing himself.
This seemed to stun him. After a momentary pause for hard thought, he correspondingly changed tactics and lent vent to true visceral emotions: “Bitch! You can't acha me!” He declared all his birth names. “You's a ho'! Don't be kujaing ati me I take you back!” Etc, including slang too rough-edged for this blog. For jarring emphasis, he occasionally drove his fist at the metal door amidst his drunken angry pronunciations.
Later, in the silence during which he rubbed his fist, I interjected, firmly telling him to leave. For a while we exchanged harsh eye-contact, a silent dare, until it seemed we both had revolvers in our cowboy holsters. But when I rolled up my fist suggestively, he attained perspective and staggered away towards the stairs, murmuring things about goin' to get his crew. At this, I sighed with relief because I had recently become a pacifist and so couldn't have backed up my threat if it had come to that.
He got in his pimped out black car and started it. I watched him reverse, in frequent drunken halts, and by the time he was facing the gate, Angela and GalPal had abandoned their pretense at watching TV. They came out to watch beside me as Lucas drove away very slowly. The three of us leaned on the railing, looking down from a first floor corridor.
“That was, um, interesting,” said GalPal brightly, still slightly amused.
“I have to leave now,” said Angela darkly, “That one, he'll just come back.”
In my flying rage at both of them, I walked away without a word. There was a lot of socialization waiting for me in my room and I'd already wasted much time in the real world fighting the battles of others.