It’s cold, extremely cold, which makes the long walk from the far corner of the parking lot seem even longer, especially since I’m not wearing an overcoat, the idea being that when I slip into the clubhouse it’ll look like I just stepped out for a smoke or something. I’m not crashing the party per se, but I’m not exactly supposed to be here either – I’m not a member of Sadaquada or anybody’s guest, and even if I was I haven’t paid whatever exorbitant fee they’re charging for this terribly exclusive event. But on the other hand the prime rib and russet potatoes were cleared away long ago and now the local elite are standing around, getting plastered, desultorily dancing and waiting for midnight. To me it’s the moral equivalent of sneaking into the stadium during the fourth quarter, because at this point nobody cares if I bought a ticket or not.
Why I’m here is another question. I suppose in the end it’s just my perverse desire to welcome in the new year by watching Pam’s new boyfriend give her a great big kiss at the stroke of midnight. Can’t wait. In the meantime there’s plenty of champagne.
And the next thing I’m aware of, or really want to be aware of, is that I’m handcuffed to a chair in the clubhouse office. It’s not much of a chair, just chrome and leather, and I could probably pick it up and walk out of here, but I’ve no doubt embarrassed myself enough already. I do remember being very, very drunk not long ago, which is funny because I don’t feel at all that way now, even though it might be better if I did.
There’s voices outside and I tense up as the door opens, expecting more trouble, but to my surprise it’s Pam, looking tired and angry, but also unexpectedly tender. Pam, I say, but she just walks over, bends down and unlocks the handcuffs, her long hair hanging. Thank God. How’d you get past the Gestapo?
Oh, for heaven’s sake will you just stop it for once.
Yes. Suddenly I’m filled with shame and literally hang my head. Yes, you’re right. If it means anything I’m very, very sorry.
The Club thinks they might have overreacted. I’m going to drive you to your apartment and you can come back tomorrow and get your car.
What about your friend, Mr. F. X. the third?
He thinks he may have overreacted a little bit, too. He’s really not such a bad guy, you know.
No, I think we all know who the bad guy is here, I say, rubbing my wrist.
It’s over now. Let’s get you home.
I look up at her smooth, angular profile as she scans the room. Don’t you have a coat?