FRIDAY NIGHT, 11:00 P.M.
Afforded a modicum of privacy by the overgrown hedgerow bordering one side of the house, El Humidor enjoys a long, beer-fueled pee, a cigarette smoldering from his lower lip. Zipping up, he walks up the side of house back to the front, turns, and makes his way back the front stoop, from which billows clouds of blue smoke. He shoulders (politely) through the crowd of smokers and squeezes in the front door.
Nodding hellos, smiling broadly and saying "hey" at party-goers male and female alike, El Humidor makes his way through the morass of sweaty humanity in the front rooms of house. The stereo is blasting but what's playing is almost undistinguishable from the din of voices.
"So I told him of course I would but that I would naturally have to do the same for my husband--"
"You're going to want to disinfect that, before. And after."
"Him? Sweetheart, nobody's ever been that drunk."
"What are you trying to kiss me for? You didn't buy me any drinks."
"...my mom. Once."
"I rubbed it up to half mast, but nobody saluted. Truck stops are such a waste of time anymore."
"Like you were never broke enough to do that!"
"I think the bathroom is clear."
Humidor pauses to light a girl's cigarette in the passageway between foyer and kitchen, chats amiable for a minute or two until his red plastic beer cup runneth empty. Excusing himself, but promising to return, he pushes on to the kitchen.
The kitchen floor is slippery with a mix of spilled beer and dirt and grime. Someone's lighting a cigarette on the electric stovetop. El Humidor pauses at the sink, where a guest has procured a bottle of cheap whiskey. Cupboards are ransacked for suitable substitute shot glasses. A menagerie of mason jars, coffee mugs, and measuring cups result. A round is poured. A toast is proposed. An awkward silence follows when no can think of what to toast too, followed by just taking the shots to a general shrug.
Yelling his thanks for the drink, El Humidor resumes his migration. Aecca/Decca's Chamber of Reflections (the pantry) has been reappropriated as a sort of beer docking station, at the front of which sits a keg. Behind the keg lean Mudman and Jerry Rig. Rig's manning the tap and pouring beers. Mudman's saying hello to party-goers and pointing at the empty plastic pitcher full of cash, a paper scrap marked "BEER $" taped to its front.
Being a housemate, El Humidor cuts to the front of the pseudo-line and squeezes around the keg and into the alcove with Rig and Mudman. Rig nods and fills El Humidor's outstretched cup. Refilled, El Humidor perches on the desk at the back of the pantry and drinks. Mudman kicks the base of the keg and looks back at Humidor meaningfully. El Humidor nods, winks, signals at his beer.
When he's done with his beer he grabs a second plastic beer pitcher from a shelf and heads out into the crowd. He slowly makes his way back to front of the house, and eventually reaches "the sweet spot." The sweet spot is an vantage point along the wall between front door and the front window, from whence one can see all the way back on the right, through living room/dining room to the door of the bathroom, and, on the left, through the passageway by the stairs through the kitchen to the door of the pantry. El Humidor steps up onto a convenient chair, elevating him a few feet above the sea of drunken souls. He catches the attention of someone by the stereo and makes a turn-it-down gesture. The music cuts and is met with a disappointed groan from the mob.
"Ladies and genteelmen!!" shouts El Humidor, "it has come to my attentshone, hey, SHUT UP! It has come to the Keg is Empty! We already have a lot of money!" he points back towards the pantry. Mudman, grinning, hoists the pitcher of cash up like a grail. "But we need more to GET A SECOND KEG!" He pauses as a spirited cheer rises from the crowd. He holds out the empty pitcher as a steady slew of ones and an occasional fiver are tossed in. After a few minutes Humidor sits down at the top of the stairs, joined by Rig and Mudman.
"Man, where the fuck is Aecca?" asks Rig, pausing to sip his beer. They're counting the money.
"Outside?" suggests Mudman.
"Well, I am not venturing to thee public house on my own," says Humidor, "oh, okay, I count sixty-two dollars."
Mudman holds up a stack of bills, "eighty-five and some loose change."
They both look at Rig. Rig's face breaks into a slow, wide, smile. "One. Hundred. Eleven."
El Humidor whistles. Rig slaps the pile of cash into Humidor's hand.
"Two Fifty-eight. Good haul. Good plan, Rig," says Mudman, handing his pile to Humidor.
"Yeah. Thanks," says Rig, then turns at Humidor, "now, remember, make a big show of taking the cash with you when you go."
"Yes yes yes, El Humidor remembers!" replies Humidor, "but who is, how you say, riding shotgun with I? Where IS Aecca/Decca?"
"I'll go," says Mudman.
"Good, let us go, you and I, then," says El Humidor, standing.
The three housemates trundle down the stairs. Holding the fistful of money in the air, El Humidor declares loudly over the again blasting music that more beer will be on the way, for which he receives a loud cheer from the crowd. El Humidor makes a theatrical exit through the front door, Mudman in tow.
"Be back before you know it!" says Humidor as they pass through the porch throng, "here, hold this," he says, handing the stack of cash to Mudman and fishing his van keys out of his pocket. El Humidor comes to a stop as he reaches the sidewalk, his attention drawn to the left as if by some black hole of gravity. Mudman, starting to count the cash for the zillionth time, almost bumps into him from behind, follows his gaze. The two stand there, soaking up the scene before them.
"Oh, hey guys," says Aecca Decca. Decca's standing out in front on the sidewalk, beer in one hand, other hand casually stuffed in a back pocket. The girl he's talking to smiles slightly gives a tiny wave to Mudman and El Humidor, rocks back and forth on the roller blades she's wearing. Cargo pants, plain yellow t-shirt, pixie haircut. Bengali features.
"Hey," says Mudman.
"Uhhhhh," says El Humidor, steeping off the walkway and on to the sidewalk, "we're, off, uh, to get that second keg," suspicious eyes looking at Aecca, then the girl, then Aecca.
"Cool," says Aecca, noticing Humidor's looks, "uh, this is Creet." He motions at the girl, then looks at her, "these are housemates, El Humidor and Mudman."
"Nice to meet you," says Creet, a friendly grin.
"We'll, uh, be back soon," says Humidor, jingling his keys as he walks backwards to his van.
"Yeah. Soon," says Mudman.
"Okay," says Aecca, turning his body to face Creet again. El Humidor and Mudman walk a few car lengths down the street and clamor into El Humidors dilapidated van. They drive to the bar from whence the procured the kegs. They park in the back, head inside, order themselves up a couple of beers.
"We drink these, then we head back, agreed?" asks El Humidor. Mudman nods.
The two drink in silence. El Humidor spins around on his barstool so he's facing away from the bar, look around the place. "Where IS everyone? It is Friday night!" he asks with a healthy dose of sarcasm.
"At our party," says Mudman, with a boastful tone.
"Oh, right! I forget! Silly me. Silly El Humidor," he claps the empty beer down on the bar, "shall we go?"
Mudman shoots the rest of his beer in a long swallow, "yeah."
The two get up. El Humidor leaves a whole five dollar bill as tip! They return to the van and head back home. Mudman throws open the back door of the van and the two of them wrestle the keg out. With no small amount of wrangling, they manage to actually lift the keg up to their shoulders: El Humidor in front, Mudman behind. Then, like heroes bearing the spoils of war, they begin their march back into the awaiting party. As the cheers begin to rise, first from the front porch, then from inside the house as the word of the second kegs arrival spreads, Mudman murmurs to El Humidor, "I don't see Aecca/Decca."
"What?" Humidor says over his shoulder. The crowd has spilled down the steps, buoying the two of them now into the house, like an amoeba absorbing some protozoa.
"Aecca/Decca. Is he here?" repeats Mudman over the growing din.
The keg has now been entirely separated from Mudman and El Humidor, and is sort of bobbling its way back towards the pantry, where Jerry Rig can be seen holding the tap above his head like a poised sacrificial dagger. As the crowd's bum-rush jostling begins to push El Humidor and Mudman away from each other, Humidor hollers at Mudman.
"Fuck that guy, let's get drunk!"
Words & drawings by D.D. Tinzeroes