Derek and Jamie met at a college party. They both went to Illinois State where Derek studied criminal justice and Jamie was studying to be a nurse. They didn’t meet on duty, but that didn’t mean the stereotype of cops and nurses shacking up didn’t apply.
Derek and Jamie were both in their senior year. Derek’s friend was having a party at his house off campus. Derek drank as much as any other college student, but he kept it in check. He knew if he did anything stupid, drunk or not, he could kiss his dream of becoming the police goodbye.
It was a Friday night. Derek went to his friend Tom’s one-more-year-before-it’s-condemned house. The siding was coming off, patches of the roof were gone, and the floorboards were stained with remnants of prior intoxicated party patrons. Tom wasn’t in a fraternity, but with the parties he threw, you’d have thought he was. Tom was already bald at twenty-two, had a slight beer gut but had arms like pythons which no one knew how considering he didn’t know what the inside of a gym looked like. Tom liked to party so that’s what he did.
At the time, Derek was dating Kelly, a sorority girl he had nothing in common with. He liked hockey, she liked soap operas, that kind of thing. She was pretty but lacked personality. The one characteristic that stood out was she was always the girl at the party to drink too much and vomit either on something or someone. They’d been dating about six months, which was long for a college relationship, but Derek wasn’t sure how much longer it would go. Typically, at parties like this, they’d go together and split up after Kelly would find someone’s unattended liquor bottle. This day, though, Kelly said she would meet him Tom’s but in the half hour he’d been there, he hadn’t seen her.
Derek went to the kitchen where the keg was always placed in a round plastic tub filled with ice. Derek filled a red Solo cup full of some cheap beer, noticing the ripples in the beer bouncing rim to rim from the loud rap music that was blasting throughout the house. He quickly chugged it all to get the night started before pouring himself another.
A few beers and a few songs later, Derek realized he hadn’t seen Tom yet. He was probably with his girlfriend Michaela. They’d been dating since sophomore year so if they were to sneak off to his room, they’d do it later in the evening. They didn’t feel the urgency to do it at a party like they once did. Derek walked around the party, checking the bathroom with moldy bathtub and broken sink, and then the other roommates’ bedrooms. Sometimes if they knew the party was going to go for a while, Tom and his roommates set up a Nintendo 64 in one of the rooms so they could take a timeout from everyone and play Mario Kart. He looked all around, but no Tom.
Derek went to up the stairs to check Tom’s room. He knocked on the ancient wooden door with white paint chips flaking off all over the floor. He couldn’t hear anything inside due to the music from downstairs thumping, so he gripped the handle to open the door. It’s not like it would be the first time he walked in on Tom and Michaela having sex and Tom always thought it was funny anyway.
Derek opened the door to find Kelly, naked, straddling some guy.
“What the fuck, Kelly?” yelled Derek as he looked at their clothes scattered around the room among old beer cans.
“Holy shit,” said Kelly, swinging her head around and jumping off the guy she was straddling, her eyes wide and bloodshot. “Derek, I thought you weren’t coming ‘till later?” she said as if it made a difference.
“I’ve been here for an hour. Now I know why I haven’t seen you around, Kelly,” said Derek, gripping the door handle so tight he thought it was going to tear out. The guy laid back in Tom’s bed and put his hands behind his head as if he were watching a show.
“You should’ve told me you got here,” said Kelly, sitting up on the bed pulling the covers up to cover her chest. Her pink lipstick was smeared all over her mouth.
“So you would’ve known to make it a quickie instead of taking your time? What is wrong with you?” Derek scoffed and turned to leave, not bothering to close the door.
“Derek, wait!” Kelly yelled after him.
Derek was at the bottom of the stairs when Kelly caught up to him. “Can you just talk to me for a minute, it wasn’t what it looked like,” said Kelly.
Derek spun around. “You mean you weren’t just riding some guy in my friend’s bed and blaming it on me because I walked in on it?”
Kelly looked down at the ground, not saying a word.
“Just leave Kelly, go home. This is going nowhere and you just made it a lot easier. I’m staying here because these are MY friends. You should take that shithead you were with while you’re at it,” said Derek, turning away.
“That’s all you want to do is be with your friends. You never want to come out with my friends,” said Kelly.
“Because your friends are like you. They all drink too much, get sloppy, and end up doing something that they would regret if they had any moral compass. But instead, they do shitty things and then blame it on someone else, like you’re trying to do right now,” said Derek, his blood boiling and his voice growing hoarse.
Tom was walking up with driveway with Michaela and his younger brother John. John was rolling a fresh keg in a little red wagon. “Another argument I see,” said Tom.
“I just found Kelly fucking this guy in your bed,” said Derek, pointing at the shaggy-haired drug dealer looking guy.
Tom turned to the guy and without hesitating, smashed his fist into the guy’s nose as his head flew back and bounced off the side of the house. Blood gushed from his nose and ran down his chin as he slumped down against the house, holding his face.
“Tom! Stop!” yelled Kelly. As she ran over, putting her arms around the guy.
“I’m calling the cops,” the guy said, looking up at Tom.
“Do it. I got two witnesses that say you hit me first,” said Tom.
“I didn’t even touch you,” the guy said.
Tom turned to John and John slugged him on the cheek just under his eye. Not hard enough to do a whole lot of damage, but enough to make it believable. Michaela rolled her eyes, knowing how Tom and John are. They both turned back to the guy. “I says ya did. Now get the fuck out of here before that nose is the least of your worries.”
Kelly helped the guy up as Tom and John walked the keg to the back door. Michaela stood next to Derek. “Probably wasn’t the first time she’s done it either,” said Michaela, crossing her arms.
“It wasn’t,” said Kelly, looking right at Derek. Kelly and the shithead walked down the driveway and up the block. Derek watched them until he couldn’t see them anymore and picked up a beer bottle and whipped it against the garage.
“I always hated that bitch,” said Michaela, putting her arm on Derek’s shoulder before walking up the back steps to the house. “Come on, let’s christen this keg. Forget her.”
Derek followed her up the stairs. They went to the kitchen where Tom pulled the spent keg out of the bucket with ease, setting it aside. He then picked up the new one and placed it in the bucket, adding more ice around it. Tom tapped it and after Tom cleared most of the foam, he gave the first cup to Derek. “Drink up, ‘lil buddy.”
Derek sucked down the cheap beer in anger. He filled up another, and another. Tom leaned over to Derek, “were they really in my bed?”
“Yeah, boozed and bare-assed,” said Derek, wiping some beer off his hand.
“Shit. I’ll just sleep at Michaela’s tonight. Ain’t the first time someone’s done the dirty in there when I wasn’t invited,” he said with a smile, as he raised up his cup to cheers. Derek smiled weakly and raised his, too. They downed their cups and filled them back up.
Eventually, Derek realized the beer wasn’t making his situation any better and decided to step outside. He walked out the back door and down the steps. He pulled out a cigarette and held it to his lips as he lit it. He scanned the backyard which was all concrete and gravel since it was technically one big driveway. It was littered with beer cans from the parties past. He looked at the garage where the side of it had silver duct tape that represented a hockey net, two posts four feet high and a crossbar that was six across.
It was already dark out and with the party going on, the occupants of the neighboring houses were either at the party or didn’t care about the noise. Derek grabbed one of the tattered old hockey sticks that laid on the wooden picnic bench next to the dumpsters and grabbed some empty Busch Light cans. He needed to let off some steam.