By: Audrey Ledergerber
In certain circles, the Sabbath is not celebrated on Sunday nor on Saturday and not even in the day at all, but on Friday night. They not so much creep as strut out of their houses, carrying a vibrating aura of that contemporary genre referred to as trap music with them into their Ubers, which serve as the official transportation to and from their places of worship, which were architecturally the blood descendants of Gothic cathedrals, ornately adorned with buzzing neon signs that acted as the stained glass windows of the Olden Days, flooding the apparatus with the neon light of the drinking gods spelled out in beer brands and other alcoholic references. They take their Communion with tequila shots and limes and read scripture from the graffiti-d bathroom stalls. It is from these circles, these devout monks of college culture, that our story comes from.
The pregame started at 10:00 pm so Hannah naturally began drinking at 7:00 pm. This was logical, as it allowed her to get ready at a leisurely pace while sipping languidly on a screwdriver whose runny texture was an accurate indication of its vodka to orange juice ratio. Sitting at her vanity, a faux antique wooden piece that was made specifically to look much cheaper than it cost to buy it with red drawer handles decorated with a gold floral design. A three-piece mirror, for an omniscient view, with a flat iron, a curling iron, floral-scented perfume, makeup brushes, powder, a rolled-up dollar bill, insulin shots, body lotion, facial moisturizer, eyeliner, little hoop earrings, big hoop earrings, earrings that dangled with silver stars at the ends, and quite a few other knick knacks. What was meant to be a girl’s night became an all-the-girls-are-either-asleep-or-too-high-or-both-to -go-out-so-it’s-just-H-and-the-boy’s night. Which was just as well, Hannah could keep up, and even surpass them at her best of times. She is, in a word, a tank and I am proud to call her my friend. As it often does, the night began clear but slowly and then all of a sudden was overcome with a fickle haziness.
Around ten, a few of the boys showed up at Hannah’s house to play a couple of routine rounds of drinking games before hitting the bars, planning to meet up with more of the gang at the venue. They jovially bounced ping pong balls into red solo cups, emitting yells of ecstasy when someone had to drink, hopeful for a vice-filled night of fun, unsuspecting of the insidious future that awaited.
They Uber-ed to West 7th that night (per usual, Hannah’s Uber app is strategically connected to her father’s credit card), were dropped off with the rest of the TCU student body (21 and over students only, of course) outside of one of their regular bars, and joined the line for entry. As they waited, more and more of their friends pulled up, stumbled out of their own Ubers, and flocked to the line. While their faction was actually much larger by now, I’ll only introduce those pertinent to this particular point of view and temporal confinement of events: Hannah, the centrifuge, the life of the party; Bryan, the token Asian (he’s from Minnesota, but his fraternity never failed to thank him for diversifying their brotherhood); Charlie, a self-labeled Nihilistic Hippie; Tray, a self-labeled ‘Weed Jesus’, whatever that means; John, a man of few words but many actions (including, but not limited to architecting gaping holes in walls with skateboards); Ben, who had just spent the last semester living in whatever pub hadn’t kicked him out yet in London; and, finally, Daria, a confident gal who the last time I saw her was participating in a drunken game of barbershop with Bryan.
The bar was poppin’ that night, crowded with people of all kinds. There were girl gang groups, sipping on vodka cranberries and self-consciously glancing around as they danced, hoping to be noticed. There were satellite, predatory-like males that circled around and around. A couple of scattered couples. Groups of girls and guys that generally formed a small mob with awkward and chaotic, though not lacking in entertainment, dancing. There was a lone group of guys in cowboy boots and cowboy hats with button down shirts and levis that hung loosely around their lanky legs. As for Hannah’s group, it was a male-dominated cadre of belligerent drunks, a healthily balanced combination of enablers and enablers. The abundance of people made it crowded enough so that walking was akin to maneuvering an obstacle course, but not so much that you couldn’t make plenty of room via exaggerated butt movements. The venue was dim, and cast a blue shadow on its occupants, who were drunk and happy, or whatever that emotion is that comes in the grips of an altered reality.
Alas, that blind joy was egregiously intruded upon, zapped from the air like a wasp is bat out of the sky with one of those electric tennis rackets. It was business as usual for Hannah, Bryan and Charlie were off to the side in conversation with a couple of strangers while she was busy dropping it low with the rest of her party. She was just in the middle of rising from a particularly low drop when she sighted the still dance floor, which was now devoid of dancing figures. What? The rest of the dance floor succumbed to dimness, but there seemed to be a spotlight on the small tangle of people in which Hannah found herself enmeshed. She turns around just as Charlie fell to the ground. Her arms automatically reach out to catch him, but BAM—a blunt percussion right to her face as a fist meant for Charlie smacked her cheek. Goddamn it Charlie. Haley looks to the left and sees Daria’s face, angry and determined, her arms outstretched and her hands, her taloned claws, clutching the limp neck of an offender. She swings her eyes over to John, whose face was no longer coherent but a puffed-up hyperbole of what once was, blooming blood and purple, connected Siamese-like to a painted red fist with quickly swelling knuckles. All wheels turning, all things moving, motion making ripples through the mob. Then, a pause in the action. Is the fight over? Large figures shuffling them away.
Stumbling, tumbling, hobbling out, through opened doors and then the sudden but welcome feeling of freshly cold air, cooling the sweat and stinging the skin. Tray breaks off from the group, he has spotted a gathering of three guys, the barroom ruffians, around the corner of the building and approaches. It’s Tray against the three of them, but he’s drunk and not easily deterred. One of the figures, all cast in shadow, steps out. Tray grabs him by the shirt and jerks him to the ground, proceeding to, and I quote, “beat his ass”. But through the grunts and the thuds and the musical rhythm of impact and pain, the police had arrived, and their presence could be felt coming closer and closer.
“Away! Away!” someone yelled.
And away he flew. Tray and the other assailants scattered about, fleeing the scene of their pettiness like little cockroaches crawling away from an atomic bomb, unscathed and unaffected amongst all the wreckage. The image became clearer. Some of the confusion was subsiding in a way where the blurriness sharpened in the middle of the picture and spread out, clarifying the image as it went. There were two policemen, both lacking facial hair and so their faces were stark and naked against the black night. Their faces were doughy, but weathered, slightly eroded by lingering dissatisfaction, but still young and round. There were two points of clear vision: the stabbing light reflecting off the badges, and the illuminated white faces of the cops. The rest was unidentifiable from the shadow of night, a deeply distorted Caravaggio lighting. This made them more imposing, their presence more felt.
“And can you recount the events of the past half hour?”
Was it that quick?
“A couple’a guys started in on our friend Bryan.”
Boredom, grisly boredom stared back.
“Find an Uber home.”
But, dear God man, how!?