Crawling along the slimy, wet carpet, I made my way into the bathroom and wedged what was left of the shattered wooden door closed. My leg ached and I debated a shower until I saw that the curtain had been ripped off. Lifting the toilet seat, I looked down and noticed a set of car keys submerged at the bottom. As I urinated on them I couldn’t help but wonder, “How did they end up in there?”
* * *
(Fourteen Hours Earlier)
I leaned back on the bedspread and cracked another beer, scooting closer to the ancient air conditioner that we had set at 43 degrees. C and D (two friends who shall remain “anonymous”) were standing a few feet away, arching their backs and spitting onto a mounted wall mirror, and then cheering on their respective descending saliva trails as if champion thoroughbreds.
“What are you two idiots doing?” I asked and launched an empty beer can in their general direction.
“Commercial in the Phils game,” D replied, dodging the projectile before it smashed into the TV. “What’s the plan for tonight?”
“I think it’s just us three,” C said. “We’re gonna need more than just this thirty pack. Aw c’mon, you’re cheating!”
“How can I cheat?” D said, wiping his chin. “We’re spitting on a mirror. And I just won by the way. That’s five points.”
An hour earlier we’d decided that we would award each other points for winning contests or dares. Whoever got the most points at the end of the weekend would win. We hadn’t assigned a prize, but it didn’t mean we wanted to risk losing. (This, by the way, was the same group as the James Motel outing; an event that had occurred a mere three weeks beforehand.)
We were in Ocean City, Maryland and staying at the Sea Breeze Motel, an establishment rated just higher than Auschwitz on Yelp. We’d requested the second floor as it gave us a better view of the abandoned lot across the alley, and found we were also conveniently located down the hall from a strung-out middle-aged whale and her sixteen-year-old metal-mouthed daughter, who we’d later discover rooting through our room.
Our downstairs neighbor claimed to be an attorney, and spent most of his time in a plastic lawn chair just outside of his door, yelling at passersby and occasionally retreating back behind blacked-out windows to snort whatever he could find. His hourly rates, I have a feeling, were negotiable.
Night was falling and we stood outside finishing the remainder of the beer as we watched the parade of Confederate Flag beach towels roll by. We spotted a small shack just across the street that sold cheesesteaks and decided to grab some food, a decision none of us knew would hold such importance.
After finishing our meal, we began to walk back across the street to the motel when we noticed two incredibly drunk women stumbling towards us. They appeared to be in their mid-thirties, and their sloppily applied make-up made them look like blind clown hookers.
“Oh my (hiccup) god, you look…you look just like Matt Damon.”
The taller of the “women,” introduced as Michelle, was gesturing towards C, who would only look like Matt Damon if you had been doing shots of formaldehyde all evening.
“It’s his brother Gary,” I quickly chimed in. “He doesn’t like to talk about it.”
“Gary (hiccup)?” Michelle said.
“Yes, Gary Damon. And where are you two gorgeous gals off to this evening? Don’t beauty pageant contestants usually have curfews?”
“Hah! Oh you’re a charmer, aren’t you? We had to run out and get more cigarettes but stopped so Celia could puke in that alley back there.”
I looked over at Celia, who was swaying on one heel while she tugged at the bottom of her stained mini-skirt.
“Well isn’t that lovely,” I continued, smiling over at my friends. “And where to now? Back to heaven with the other angels?”
“Hah!” Michelle said, and hacked. “Back to heaven. You are a charmer. You should be on like government TV or something. Like where they talk and shit about laws or whatever. Nah, we gotta get back for the sitter. He’s a retard so we can’t leave him by himself. Her kid, not the sitter.”
Suddenly, C, who was still beaming from the movie star comparison, decided to chime in.
“Can we come?”
I looked over at him and mouthed the words, “I’m only fucking with them,” to which he mouthed the reply, “Don’t mess this up for me.”
“You can do whatever you want, Gary,” Michelle said, to which Celia added an assenting belch.
“How about my friends?” C asked.
“Hell yeah,” Michelle said. “We’ll party back in our room if you promise not to wake the retard.”
We never did hear the rest of Celia’s sentence, as she ran back in the alleyway to vomit again. In the background, I heard D call dibs.
When we reached the hotel, we crept into the room and saw Celia’s son asleep on a cot by the window. The babysitter was sitting nearby on the balcony having a cigarette and texting on his phone. While Michelle and Celia went to the back bedroom, C and I raided the fridge. We began shoving bottles of Corona into our cargo shorts and had almost a dozen between us before we ran out of room.
When we looked for D, we saw that he was sitting on the cot with the child stroking his hair.
“What the fuck are you doing?” I whispered.
“He looks so peaceful,” D replied.
“Okay,” I said to C. “This is creepy. We gotta get out of here.”
When Michelle returned she informed us that Celia wouldn’t be making it out because she was “tired,” a term we assumed meant, “legally dead on the bathroom floor.” She suggested we take the party to the beach and after checking with the sitter, who it turned out was incredibly high, we left. We never saw the child again, but I imagine he is in medical school somewhere.
We arrived at the beach and Michelle and C made their way up to an abandoned lifeguard stand. D and I began drinking the Coronas and before long we got bored. Then we remembered the contest.
“How many points for knocking over the lifeguard stand?” D asked.
“With them in it?” I replied. “I’d say twenty. Thirty if someone gets hurt.”
“I might need some help.”
“Split the points?”
We got down in a three-point football stance and, with a tribal yell, ran full speed into the base of the lifeguard stand. It was not as heavy as we’d anticipated and it immediately gave way. As we looked up, we saw C leaping from the top of the stand, and pushing down on Michelle’s shoulder to propel him out farther. Then the stand fell on top of her.
“Holy shit,” C screamed as he jogged back. “What did you do that for?”
“Um, twenty points?” D replied.
“Thirty,” I corrected. “I think she’s probably hurt.”
At that we heard a moan from underneath the stand and looked over to see that it had fallen on her leg.
“How many points to run into the ocean and avoid being pummeled by a maimed skank?” D asked.
“Forty,” I replied. “Fifty if you’re naked.”
“Wait a minute!” C shouted, looking angry as he watched Michelle writhing in the sand. “FIFTY? That’s way too much. It has to be together. And you have to be skipping. Oh, and hold hands.”
D and I looked at each other for less than a second and shrugged. Easiest fifty points ever. And off we went, skipping naked into the black Atlantic Ocean.
We floated around a bit and then sprinted back to shore, hopping naked over Michelle who was still lying injured on the shoreline. As we dressed, C undressed.
“I can’t be down this much,” he said. “That was fifty points apiece and the whole lifeguard stand thing must have easily been thirty. I’m going in.”
And he took off in our footsteps, again nude-hurdling the woman, and splashed into the surf. We immediately grabbed his clothes and flung them into the dunes. A few seconds later we saw a pale blur as C jogged past us and disappeared into the night without breaking stride. He’d seen us toss his clothes and spent the next twenty minutes searching for them naked on the beach.
Michelle’s leg looked fractured and we were nearly out of beer so we decided to head back to the motel. C managed to flag down a cab with no pants on and we sat in the back sharing the final Corona. Before leaving the cab, a lit cigarette was dropped and we couldn’t find it. We decided it would be fine and watched the cab pull away, smoke billowing from the rear window as it narrowly missed hitting the attorney from the room downstairs, who was wandering down the middle of the street with no shirt on.
* * *
I walked back from the bathroom and saw that the other two were still asleep. The room was destroyed and four more of our friends were due in town that afternoon. As I began to kick beer cans into the corner to make a path, I noticed a piece of paper lying on the floor with numbers written on it.
Point Totals (so far)
- “Spit game: Five points.”
- “Go home with random skanks: Ten points per skank.”
- “Steal beers: One point per beer.”
- “Molest child in sleep: Ten points.”
- “Go into lifeguard stand with skank: One point per STD.”
- “Push over lifeguard stand: Thirty points (due to injury).”
- “Skip naked into Atlantic Ocean holding hands: Fifty points.”
- “Cause small fire inside cab: Twenty-seven points.”
- “Steal skank keys and put in toilet: Fifteen points.”
Content with having solved the mystery, I put down the paper on the table and reached for some Tylenol. It was then that I noticed another entry on the back.
“Punch Carney while sleeping: Ten points per punch.”