short story1: party night

party night

Tyra knew that Connie wasn’t going to come.

Tyra was an optimist, there was no undoing that, but facts were needing to be faced, if anyone was going to get out of here alive.

The little Armenian guy with the giant-ass Hummer wasn’t about to back down, and his Ukrainian girlfriend apparently thought Tyra was a bad-ass or something, kept standing behind her, as if Tyra could offer anything more than wry commentary to the increasingly menacing Gangbanger Chicks. Who were, it seemed, intent on defending Tyra’s honor, of all things.

The lead Gangbanger � Eileen, or Elaine, Tyra seriously couldn’t tell which, even though she’d taken great pains to start keeping track of who was who � was insisting that Armenian Guy apologize, to Tyra, for something he’d said. Or done. Really, it was that unclear. Tyra had been there the whole time, had found herself with nothing better to do than to follow the drama as it unfolded. And still.

The Ukrainian was pretty, remarkably so. Pretty, and apparently bored to death with her diminutive boyfriend. She was leaving him to his own devices, while she entertained herself with Tyra. After a while, Tyra had run out of polite things to say about her outfit, her nails, her hair, all of which, by the way, were spectacular, and had finally asked Ukrainian Girl her name.

Tyra promptly forgot it, of course. It was foreign, Tyra recalled that much. Ukrainian Girl noted Tyra’s blank expression, repeated it for her, but it was no use. Tyra tried to repeat it to herself, aloud, something she’d read would help, but there was too much noise. Tyra needed relative silence to focus, and sticking a name to a face required focus.

No matter. Ukrainian Girl asked Tyra what her name was. When Tyra answered, that’s when the drama, such as it was, began.

There was apparently a very famous… Something, a model, or actress, famous was the point, named Tyra. Now, Tyra didn’t watch a lot of TV, didn’t read magazines or really get out much at all, in fact, so it was entirely possible that this other “Tyra” was quite famous indeed, and simply had not made it onto Tyra’s radar, yet. Fair enough. Though you’d think that Connie, with his OCD, would have latched onto the fact (if, in fact, it was a fact), that the “girl of his dreams” (his words) shared her unusual name with a celebrity. Then again, Connie was new, Tyra had only just met him last week. Felt like more, though.

Ukrainian Girl was so impressed with Tyra’s name, she called her Armenian boyfriend over for a look.

“Ari!” Or was it “Jerry?” Barry? Anyway, “Ari, come look!”

Tyra had suddenly wondered what she looked like, if she perhaps shared some feature with this other Tyra. Could be. Maybe this famous model was one of those “interesting” ones, with freckles, and an oddly-shaped nose.

Apparently not.

Armenian Boyfriend, he of the presumably microscopic penis, prompting the purchase of so ridiculous a Sport Utility Vehicle, took one look at Tyra, after hearing his Ukrainian Girlfriend’s beautifully Slavic enunciation of her name, and laughed his fat, sweaty little head off.

To be fair, Tyra herself had laughed, out loud, albeit privately, when she’d seen this little fellow descend from his massive vehicle. Half-expected to see a camera crew, capturing the obvious visual pun. But no, he, and his Hummer, were the real deal.

And now the tables, as they say, were turned. Tyra felt herself going red (truly red, as only natural redheads can), and hoped it was too dark to see. Whoever was throwing the party � Tyra had met him, he was nice, whatever he said his name was � believed in loud music and mood lighting, and there were both, in abundance.

Tyra was fine. Realized, almost immediately, that there was nothing actually funny going on, or about the way she looked. It was just that Armenian Guy � Tyra felt she knew him well enough, now, to use the familiar “asshole” � Armenian Asshole had simply found the juxtaposition of Tyra’s (allegedly) famously glamorous name, and her rather unassuming physical presence amusing. Tyra was five feet, five inches, the national average, she’d once read. Not exactly modelesque.

partynight.jpg

The compliments bestowed on Ukrainian Girl had not gone unheeded, though. No, she had taken them to heart, had formed a bond, of some kind, with Tyra, and quickly rose to her defense.

Wordlessly, as it happened, by throwing the remainder of her drink � it looked like water, or perhaps Vodka? She was Ukrainian, after all � into her Armenian boyfriend’s face. There wasn’t much to toss, a couple of tablespoons, tops, Tyra estimated, but that didn’t matter. It soon became clear that Armenian Boyfriend was not a boyfriend at all, but more of a passing acquaintance. Maybe less, someone the pretty Ukrainian Girl had merely hitched a ride to the party with.

This wouldn’t have really amounted to much, probably, except that Armenian Guy then did something that was apparently not very nice. Tyra missed it, watching someone she’d noticed coming out into the back yard, someone who had a very Connie-like air about him, but was not, it turned out, Connie.

Whatever Armenian Guy said or did made Ukrainian Girl gasp, hold her hand to her mouth in a perfectly Ingrid Bergman moment. THAT’S who she sounded like, Tyra realized… Looked like, a little, too. Ingrid whatever, one of Tyra’s favorite movie stars. Old movies, old cars, old men. Tyra liked her things old. Connie had a good twenty years on her, he just didn’t know it yet.

It was Ukrainian Girl’s theatrical gasp that drew the attention of Gangbanger Chicks. That’s not fair, actually, Tyra politically corrected her internal narrative. “Mexican-American girls” was more like it, though as she thought this, she did notice that all three had no eyebrows, just sharp painted lines, and didn’t smile, at all, not even at each other, no matter what. Tyra had noticed the small group earlier, had wondered if parties were always this eclectic, out here in Eagle Rock.

The lead one, Eileen or Elaine, looked like she was going to crush Armenian Guy like a bug. She’d lumbered over and loudly announced her name, whatever it was, thus establishing, in Tyra’s mind at least, her leadership position among the three, who all wore roughly the same size, XXL.

Please don’t crush him like a bug, Tyra thought, then wondered if she’d said it out loud, because suddenly everyone turned to look at her.

“Um,” Tyra managed, before it became clear that everyone was looking at her because Elaine or Eileen had followed up her pronouncement of who she is by asking what the hell was going on. And that would appear to have everything to do with Tyra.

Ukrainian Girl started in, but was quickly out-gunned by the tiny, but very loud � and now, it became clear, very drunk � Armenian guy.

“What the fuck you say,” he said, or asked. “This one, de name, I say only!”

This seemed to make sense, to Ukrainian Girl. Maybe there was something to the relationship, after all. She shrugged, looked to Tyra for her take on it.

Tyra looked at Elaine/Eileen. Maybe not the best thing.

Tyra’s face, Connie had mentioned more than once (and he was not alone in this opinion), was one of those faces that looked to be perpetually on the verge of tears. Tyra was, truth be told, a bit of a crybaby, yes, but though she was feeling a tad apprehensive, there was nothing yet that warranted an actual outburst, or even the threat of one.

Heavens no. The last time Tyra had actually wept from humiliation was in grade school! Or no, it was actually this afternoon, when that guy at the store had noticed her checking her reflection in a mirror and chuckled to himself. As if to say, “Nothing you can do about that mess!” To be fair, he was having a conversation with someone on a cell phone, so Tyra couldn’t be absolutely sure that his chuckle had anything to do with her. But still.

In any case, Tyra’s naturally “I’m gonna cry” face was all Eileen/Elaine needed. “The fuck you talkin’ trash to my girl here, fuckin’ Iraqi fuckin’ sand nigga?”

Tyra couldn’t help but note, inwardly, that no one had ever actually referred to her as “my girl,” before. Nor had she ever heard this particular racial epithet, either.

Irene, as Tyra later learned was actually her name, had recently lost a younger brother in the war. So now was not a good time to cross her, and especially not a good time to look anything remotely Arabic. Which, unfortunately, Armenian Guy did. Plus, he lacked diplomatic skills.

“Fuck you, fucking fat wetback bitch!”

bloody1.jpg

It was at this point that Tyra had to admit to herself that Connie was not likely going to show up, at all. And that’s a shame, because Tyra’d had a special feeling about tonight. Connie’s “dream girl” comment, as absurd as it was, had stuck. That’s what Tyra was thinking, when she’d checked herself in the reflection, at the store. Cell Phone Guy’s chuckle had broken the spell, but Tyra had seen something, had entertained, for a brief moment, the idea that she could, possibly, be someone’s dream girl.

Tyra’s reverie was not long lived. No, it was broken, along with the relative calm of the party, and Armenian Guy’s nose, with Irene’s apparently indestructible forehead.

And then, there was blood. Blood, and loud talk. A rush of people, well-intentioned, but received with mixed reactions, from the various participants.

Ukrainian Girl cowered, inexplicably, behind Tyra.

Irene and her two friends, having righted whatever wrong they’d perceived, simply walked away.

Armenian Guy sputtered, dripped, and swore.

And a strange man pressed close, asked Tyra if she was alright, several times in a row. Tyra nodded, then muttered “I’m okay,” then finally shouted, “YES! I’M FINE! I’m fine.”

Lacking sufficient cause to doubt Tyra’s ringing endorsement for her well being, they’d all left her be. Armenian Guy was escorted out by two large men, had seemed ready to leave the party anyway.

Tyra lost sight of Ukrainian Girl, for a moment. Felt a pang of regret, found herself admitting that she’d wanted a chance to chat some more with the exotic creature.

And suddenly, there she was, coming out from behind Tyra.

When Tyra found her, she laughed. They both laughed, relieved, acknowledging the shock of violence that had just erupted mere inches from both of them.

Tyra wiped an eye, and Ukrainian Girl nodded vigorously, said, “I know! I know, eh? Crazy!” Touched Tyra’s shoulder, a true comrade.

It occurred to Tyra that not only did she register, and more significantly, remember, Ukrainian Girl’s name (Mia), but she also felt an overwhelming desire to ask Mia a question. So she did.

“You want a ride home?”

Mia smiled. A smile so sweet, she didn’t have to answer, or speak, or even nod. All she had to do was walk a few steps toward the exit, turn, and wait for Tyra to catch up.

* * * * *

copyright � victor bornia

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