I don’t know why I go to things like the Company party. I don’t like parties and holidays. Generally I think of festivities as a time to reflect upon the utter lack of a meaningful relationship in my life and how I’m going to die alone and stuff like that. Except Halloween, I like Halloween.
The Company rented out the Greyhound, a big club on Queen’s Row in the renovated bus station. It has a cavernous pool hall; a bar with expensive, crappy food; and a small bowling alley. They gave out three drink tickets to everybody and had a couple tables full of food.
I got a gin & tonic and some breaded calamari and hung out with Fred Schneider making catty comments about our co-workers’ outfits and spouses. Isn’t that what you do at work parties?
One gin & tonic led to four gin & tonics, and Fred Schneider and I were starting to get a little buzzed. Fred Schneider is really funny and mean when he gets drunk. Corine dragged us over to a pool table and made us play against her and a girl from AP whose name escapes me. While we’re playing Margo walks in with Evil Val Kilmer.
She looks great in Capri pants and a red blouse, and her hair is flipped back and held in place with a Gwen Stacy hairband. Evil Val Kilmer looks great, too, the fucker. He’s wearing a black polished cotton shirt with an asymmetrical white stripe running down – you know what? Who cares what he was wearing?
Margo hugs Gail and gets pulled into the bowling area while a waitress is magnetically drawn to Evil Val Kilmer to take his drink order. It’s like Dracula, he just kind of lifts his chin a little and she coasts over. He moves with a certain intention, like a fighter or a dancer. I’m not being gay, I’m just sizing up the competition. Hey, you know, he’s pretty fit – he could be a supervillain. Seriously, shit like that happens all the time.
“There’s your luv-aaah,” Fred Schneider says in a sing-song as he takes a shot, sounding exactly like Fred Schneider. He’s talking about Margo, not Evil Val Kilmer.
Corine notices this, arches an eyebrow. Corine notices a lot of things.
I drink some more and play some more pool. Gail introduces me to her husband, who thanks me for saving her life. I’m a little tipsy so I just smile and nod a lot.
Leaving Fred Schneider in the middle of a detailed deconstruction of Dragon Lady’s work wardrobe and its lack of both variety and aesthetics, I head up to the bar for another Tanqueray and tonic.
Evil Val Kilmer slides up next to me, orders a vodka martini and a cosmo. I’ll bet the cosmo is for him. We look at each other, do the nod thing.
Margo just scored a strike and is elated, pantomiming pulling a train whistle. “Whooo whooo! Pain train’s comin!” she yells. She’s a little tipsy as well.
I laugh. “She’s something,” I say.
“Margo? Yeah, she’s something all right,” Evil Val Kilmer says.
We watch her clapping as somebody records her score. She’s pointing at her bowling opponents, taunting them.
“Lot of spirit, anyway,” Evil Val Kilmer says. I don’t like his tone of voice. He changes gears, holds out his hand. “I’m Brett, by the way. Brett Eastman. You must be Mackenzie. Margo’s told me about you.”
I shake his hand without crushing it.
“Boy, nothing bad I hope.” I fake laugh.
“No, she thinks highly of you,” he says, and leaves unspoken “…but I don’t know why.” I’m kind of blown away by the idea that she could ever think about me when I wasn’t there.
“What do you do, Brett?”
“I’m in pharmaceuticals,” he says, sipping his martini.
Pharmaceuticals. Don't you hate him? I do. He’s probably involved in illegal drug testing that creates giant rat-men, or working on a super soldier serum. It’s always something like that.
“Brett!” Margo calls. “You’re up!”
“My lady beckons,” he says dryly. “Nice meeting you.”
“Yeah,” I say.
Margo waves at me, smiling. “Mackenzie! Come bowl! Bowl with us!”
I smile, wave her off. “Carpal tunnel,” I yell, pointing at my wrist. She scowls in a parody of irritation.
She thinks highly of me.
I down my drink and order another, watching her shimmy in victory after another strike.