Sometimes, you’ll be at a party and the sound system will blast so loud, the bass will make everything tremble. Your sternum rattles in your chest and the pulse is so hard you think your heart might start beating in time with it, instead of to its own tune. Me being me, I sometimes worry that the rhythm will disrupt the electro-whatever of my heart—you know, like the stuff they measure in EEG’s but for the heart?—and my heart will falter.
But it gives me that rush. You walk into the room and your chest wall quivers like a preteen at her first middle school dance and you think, damn, this might’ve been worth getting dolled up for. It’s that same rush I get when I’m putting my face on before going out and I get caught up in how grown-up I feel, how old and cool and self-possessed.
This party, it was getting there. It had that feel. The entire place reeked like beer and I stepped in a soggy patch of carpet. I passed a darkened hallway full of twisting limbs and things to regret in the morning. In stumbled in my tasteful wedges and Tucker caught me and pulled me out of the flow of traffic.
“A hotbed of sin,” he shouted in my ear. Tucker did that. Started off with a witty rejoinder, hoping to set a standard.
I shook my head. This was not exactly fertile ground for sophisticated conversation. “Where’d Luna go?”
“Succubae like her feed off this. Don’t worry, she’ll be fine.” I glanced at him, startled. He sighed, grabbed my forearm in that way guys do. You know, where they wrap their whole hand around your arm and their fingers and thumb overlap and you feel tiny and it’s quite clear you could never make them let go…they’d have to choose to?
Tucker’s not usually this dominant. He must've been buzzed. He pulled me to the kitchen. He sat me at the breakfast table and thrust a bottle of water at me. He nodded, “Crack it open.” I leaned back and tilted my head at him. He reached out and swiped it. “Seriously…sealed for your peace of mind and all that.” He wrenched the seal with his big dominating hands and took a long swallow then passed it back. I threw my head back and drank half the bottle. The “hotbed of sin” was not well ventilated and I was dehydrated.
I lowered the bottle to find Tucker watching the movements of my throat. I met his eyes, emboldened by earlier partaking. He lowered his, embarrassed. I felt a little burst of pride. Power, I finally had some power. His cell buzzed.
“Shit,” he said, flicking it open and closed. “That’s Paul. Listen—” he tossed his keys to me “—I’ll go get Luna. Get my car and pull it on to the driveway of that house.” He pointed out the back door of the kitchen, to the darkened house on a parallel street.
“Wha—?” I was confused by the sudden urgency and lethargic because of my sudden confidence in the way this party was going.
“It’s the Police. Move, soldier. Before all the runners clog up the streets.” And he was gone, tripping down the corner and around the stairs. I fumbled with the keys, knocking over a chair. I ran out the back door into the cool but damp night air.
It was the first time I’ve ever driven at night. Luna mumbled inanities in the backseat and Tucker glared at the glove box, until I flicked on the radio and someone started moaning about wasted chances. The music industry just doesn’t know how to connect with its listeners anymore.