Third Degree

I

October 31st, 2018

 

Casey didn’t feel right. I’m out of my element. She’d just gotten into the back of a white, striped Escalade. Don’t get me started on those disgusting political stickers littering the back windshield. Matt Chasing, her date, turned to look at Casey from the passenger seat, and asked, “You ready to get your freak on, Casey?” He was wearing an old-school marine costume, all blue and white. That dark and disheveled hair, white-smile, and grey eyes are about the only thing that would make me go to a…a party. Especially on Halloween.  

Feigning interest, Casey laughed, and said, “I’m a little nervous. You know it’s not really my scene. I’m usually studying on Thursday nights. It could be fun, though.”

The girl to her left, Rosemarie Higgins, gave Casey an incredulous look, before asking, “Are you fucking serioouus? Why’d we bring the nerd anyway?” She’s asking if I’m serious? As if that bunny outfit could be any sluttier, I can see through your shirt! And it’s pronounced “Serious”.

Casey looked at her lap, letting her long and dark-black hair cover her blush. Sounding annoyed, Matt snapped, “Shut the fuck up, Higgins. I think it’s cool she’s doing well in school. We are only in high school for one more year, ya’ know.” Casey looked up, stifling a laugh, and met Matt’s eye.

“Oh, it’s alright Matt. She’s not wrong. I’m a nerd, you should come to grips with that sooner rather than later.” Said Casey, before sticking her tongue out playfully. Shaking his head, Matt turned back towards the front as he swept his left hand over his shoulder, as if to dismiss Casey’s argument. He’s cute. Before the stunned Rosemarie could fire back, Matt turned the car-radio on, drowning any retort.

A blaring and catchy chorus helped Casey relax a little. Waterparks? I think so. I like them. Casey leaned her head against the window, noting the falling leaves. The cars motion combined with the music gives the dying leaves an odd sort of life. Unpredictable. Beautiful. I wish Matt had just brought me to the park, the one with the tall hill. I wish we could just talk without the frills of a party.   

Her reverie was interrupted as the driver, Jacob Ryan, shouted over the music, “Almost there! This should be dope…Kevin’s parties always are. But if it sucks, I got some extra party favors for a lil’ later.” Courtney and Rosemarie both let out their best faux-sorority-girl party-scream.

“You can always give me some now, Jacob! I’ll make it worth your while.” Shouted Courtney, louder than was necessary. Christ, I like Matt, but his friends are just…terrible. Grin and bear it, might even have fun. Open-mind time.

Laughing, Jacob asked, “Sounds good to me, just meet me out back and I’ll fix you up real-quick. Easy.” Matt gave Jacob a look, but Casey couldn’t see Matt’s face, as Jacob continued, “Hey man, don’t judge. You got yo’ girl I got mine. I’m keeping it PG-13 like you said.” The car hung a sudden left, pushing Rosemarie into Casey, and Casey into the window.

“Do we have to go fifty fucking miles per hour in a twenty, Jacob?” asked Casey, annoyed.

As they came to a stop in front of an extravagant and crowded stone house, Jacob turned the radio off, and said, “Sorry baby, I ain’t always great at going the speed limit. I’ll slow down on the way back, just for you.” He turned then, looked Casey in the eye, and winked. Ugh…Creep.

Laughing, Matt punched him playfully in the shoulder, before saying, “Alright, Casey, let’s ditch these losers.”

“Gladly.” Said Casey, giving Jacob a strained smile. Hurrying anxiously, Casey forced the Escalades heavy door open and stepped out onto the finely manicured lawn. Closing her door, Matt extended his lean and muscular arm. Casey smiled as she took his hand. Gonna be a target, a nobody like me showing up to a huge-ass party holding the hand of the star quarterback.

As the pair approached the pillared maw of the house-party, Matt asked, “You drinking tonight, Casey? I can go grab us drinks if you’d like. I won’t drink if you aren’t, either, so no pressure.” Is this a bad time to tell him I haven’t had alcohol before?

Biting her lip, Casey responded, “Yeah, I’m drinking. Is it okay if we start with something light, though?”

Letting go of Casey’s hand, his mouth curled into a cute half-grin as he replied, “Of course! I’ll go grab us some beer from the kegs. Any of the mixed drinks are going to hit waay harder.”  As Matt walked to parts unknown, Casey took a moment to gauge her surroundings. This was a lot less intense when I was focused on Matt. For a party that started thirty minutes ago, there are an awful lot of people here… Christie’s house really is gigantic, too. If only money and looks gave you a soul. That’s not fair, I suppose. I hardly know her, beyond the general air of superiority she bleeds. Maybe I can get to know her, we both have Matt in common, now. Good way to start a convo, right? Oh! There’s Matt and my first drink. Two firsts. Exciting day.

“What a gentleman!” exclaimed Casey, amused as Matt gave a little bow after handing her the bear.

“Well, my wish is your command milady!” said Matt, wrapping his arm around Casey. “So what do you wanna do?”

Casey feigned a thoughtful expression before answering, “I don’t know, what do people actually do at parties.”

Matt, taken aback, stepped back, finished his beer in a gulp, spread his arms wide, and replied “Mi’lady! There are sooo many choices!” Matt brought his arms down with each word, adding emphasis. “We could check out the pool! This pool, you will not believe…what a god-damn pool! Oh, and the beer pong tourney, just around the corner mind you, is straight fire! Hell, we could go play emo, sit by the fire place, stare passive aggressively at all of my fake friends, and talk about how we’re going to overthrow fucking Venus or some shit!” Casey was laughing loudly, covering her mouth in embarrassment at the small croak her nose made. “So, which is it, Casey?” Sooo cute. Fuck, I can’t even handle the cute. Too much! Overload! Focus on the question, Casey.

Pursing her lips, she started to nod slowly, as if she understood some truth that explained something significant, and said, “I can see you’ve thought a lot about this, I appreciate that.” The good-humored expression on Matt’s face fell slightly, shifting to confusion. “Honestly, the pool sounds nice. I was just planning to get drunk and hang out with you anyway. As long as it’s not the straight-fire beer-pong, I’m Gucci.”

Eyes bright, Matt announced, “The pool it is! But let me get some more beer quick.” Something tells me he’s gonna get there a little faster than me.