A Friendly Reminder

By twelve Brian was telling people to go and buy more beer, goddammit. Who brought the fuckin wine? Waste a money. I did. What're you gay? Took it from my parents. Yeah well no one's drinkin it. Give it to the girls, they don't care, just wanna get fucked up. Hey Megan, come drink this bottle a wine, make yourself useful. Chop chop. Fuckin andele! She doesn't want it. All she wants to do is smoke. Typical. Who d’you think she'll fuck tonight? Who cares—her pussy smells like dead fish. Megan, he said your pussy smells like dead fish. She gave you the finger. Whatever. Was that like an admission of guilt? Was that an admission of guilt, Megan? Listen, can you play beerpong with wine? Winepong? I don't know man. Well that's what we're doin. Take this and fill up those cups. How do you open it? What the fuck. Who's goin for more beer?

"Awe, why didn't you?" Evelyn asked, smiling, face flushed.

"I don’t know," Steven said, feeling sheepish in spite of the ethanol, "I didn't know if you would want me to."

She sipped from her red-pink concoction and smiled again. "I like when you text me."

They'd been chatting for half an hour, Steven and Evelyn, just the two of them on the couch in the living room, first about school, class, teachers, classmates, and now (obliquely) about feelings. The surrounding commotion was scarcely noticeable, at least from Steven's perspective. He couldn't say whether Evelyn's bedroom eyes were deliberate or merely the byproduct of intoxication, but he was affected nonetheless, feeling twelve feet tall. He said:

"I'll do it more often then.”

"Text me now."


A plastic ball came bouncing over and came to a stop at Steven's feet. He bent down and picked it up and, selfconscious about his throwing action (awkward, feminine, betraying a total lack of athleticism), tossed it back into the kitchen. "Good man!" someone called back.

"Yeah," she beamed, "just whatever comes to mind."

Steven's heart fluttered. What sort of invitation was this? He took his phone from his pocket and frowned at the screen. "Ok. Let's see." He looked at her. She smiled, her lips shimmered. He started to type, erased it, laughed. Hmm.

"Yo, Morgan!" Mark was shouldering his way across the living room. He stopped, like the ball, at Steven’s feet. "Hope I'm not interrupting anything important," he smiled, a joint burning between his fingers. He'd changed into a wifebeater since Steven last saw him.

"Not at all," Steven lied.

"Hey dude, you got any cash on you?"

Steven dug into his back pocket and came up with a twenty, a five, two ones.

"Beer run," Mark announced, flexing his polished bicep and marching toward the front door, "let's go."

Steven, feeling somehow dutybound, shrugged coyly at Evelyn and followed Mark outside and into a Golf belonging to a kid called BJ, who Steven knew only vaguely through rumors that he'd raped a freshman over summer. BJ acknowledged Steven with a subtle nod—"Sup man"—and Mark got to work rolling another joint and Jay Z thundered from the speakers as they took off in the direction of the nearest 7-Eleven.

Steven sent Evelyn a text while Mark was inside getting the beer with his money: To be continued :). He felt almost relieved to have been pulled away, forced to quit while he was ahead, knowing he'd have eventually, inevitably, said something stupid. The pressure was off now. And anyway, he preferred to take it slow, especially with a girl like Evelyn.

"Nope," Mark said, getting back in the car sans beer. "Fucker threatened to call the cops."

"For real?" BJ turned the engine back on. "Thought you had good luck at this one."

"Depends on the guy.” He pointed. “There's a Sunoco a few minutes that way."

The cashier, a bald man in his forties or fifties, baggy black pants, tall, skinny, pale, face like a skull, walked over to the entrance. He opened the door and stood glaring out at the Golf.

Steven said, "Oh shit."

Mark lowered his window. "The fuck are you lookin at?"

He gestured and said something they couldn't hear.

"Fuck you, motherfucker!" Mark howled, and BJ accelerated out of the parking lot with violence, tires squealing.




Michael Howard

Michael Howard's essays and short stories have appeared in a wide variety of print and digital publications. His website is michaelwilliamhoward.com. He recommends B'Tselem.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 20:50