I have no idea how I managed to get this drunk. I don’t remember drinking that much tonight. On second thoughts, maybe it has been a few. Adam just seems to keep handing them to me — cocktails, beers, sparkling wine — and now that I think about it, I feel like I probably haven’t been without a drink the whole time I’ve been here. And those cocktails before were strong too, I think. I remember thinking that a couple of times. I think. It’s kind of hard to remember now.
It’s not like I’m paralytic or anything. I’m just a little hazy, my words sound a little slurred. And I keep losing my train of thought. And my balance, I keep losing my balance.
It’s definitely not intentional. I don’t even drink that much anymore. Back in the day I used to party fairly hard. But since I hit thirty I’ve slowed it down substantially: a couple of glasses of wine over dinner is pretty much as rowdy as I get.
It’s not like it’s that kind of party, either. It’s all pretty civilised. Lots of guys from Paul’s work. Lots of civilised people making civilised small talk. I catch myself swaying a little bit and hope I’m not making a fool of myself.
Adam’s been talking to me for the last couple of minutes, but somewhere along the way I must have tuned out. He’s standing at the kitchen bench making cocktails, so I offer to help him cut limes and mint. Maybe working with sharp knives isn’t the brightest idea right now, but I think having something to concentrate on will help.
“Get Paul something good for his birthday?” I ask.
“Sure did,” Adam replies with a sly grin. “I organised something special for him.”
I can tell from the way he replies that it must be something dirty. “What is it?”
He just laughs dismissively. “It’s a secret,” he replies. “I know he’s gonna like it though. And it’s something we can both use.”
I know I’m not going to get any more out of him; he’s pretty cagey when he wants to be.
I feel a hand rest on my shoulder as James’ voice behind me asks, “Where’s your boyfriend tonight?” He tries to make the question sound casual, but I recognise that tone in his voice. He’s always asking about Kenneth, and always fawning over him whenever he’s around. I bet if he had half a chance he’d try it on with him.
“He’s here. Somewhere. Must be out in the living room entertaining the accountants.”
“I bet he’d be good entertainment.” There’s that tone again.
“Give it a rest man!” I’m trying to make it sound jokey, but to be honest I’m pretty annoyed at the way James is always either trying to creep onto Kenneth, or just insinuating a bunch of stuff about him. James can be a real dick sometimes; it’s part of the reason we don’t hang out that much any more. But I’m pretty used to it, and it’s not worth getting into a whole thing about.
Paul comes in, grabs Adam from behind, and plants a kiss on his neck. He whispers something in his ear, and Adam turns around and kisses him. “Can you take over from me with these mojitos?” he asks.
“Sure.” He grabs soda from the fridge as Adam wanders off into the living room. He starts to mix the drinks, and I see him glance down at where I’m fumbling with the knife trying to cut mint. “Hey bud, how you doing there?”
“I’m pretty good,” I reply. “I drank more than I meant to.”
Paul laughs. “That’s what parties are for. How about you leave the knife-work to me.”
I think that’s a good idea. I set the knife down. “Maybe I should go see how Kenneth is doing. Rescue him from the accountants.”
“He’s fine. He can take care of himself. Besides, the accountants are actually not bad, if you can believe it. Grab yourself another drink, dude. You’re already half-cut so you might as well make a night of it. Maybe we’ll have you dancing on the table-tops by the end of the night.”
A couple of people walk in and start talking to Paul about something. I lose track pretty quick. I look around for James but he’s disappeared, so I wander back out into the living room. No sign of Kenneth; I wonder where he’s got to. Maybe the shop talk with Paul’s workmates got too much for him. Or maybe he’s outside smoking. He does that occasionally when he’s drinking. I do a one-eighty and head to the back yard, where I find a few people milling around chatting in the warm night air, but no sign of Kenneth.
I turn to head back inside, and Paul’s there in front of me. He pats me on the back and hands me a mojito. “Hang out with me out here, Cole,” he says, “while I have a sly cigarette.” He sits down on the steps and I sit down next to him. It feels so good to sit down. I could almost lie down on and go to sleep right here on the concrete pavers.
Paul is rambling away, I’ve kind of lost track what he’s talking about.
The music sounds louder all of a sudden as the door to the house opens. A couple of guys I haven’t met before are laughing hysterically.
Paul greets them: “Ray, Dougie! Come grab a seat. What’s going on?”
“Man, someone is fucking upstairs, bro!” I don’t know if the one talking is Ray or Dougie. “Sounds like someone’s really getting it.”
“Didn’t know it was that kind of party,” the other one laughs. “Maybe I should go join in.”
“Whoever that lucky bottom is, he’s wailing so loud you can hear it over the music!”
They suddenly go quiet, and stop laughing. Is it just me, or do things seem to have turned awkward all of a sudden? O shit, maybe it’s Adam up there. I look at Paul’s face but it doesn’t give anything away.
“I like my guests to have fun, you know,” Paul chuckles. “Glad whoever’s up there is having a good time. Talking of fucking at parties, how was that trip to Fire Island?” Even for someone as half-wasted as me, that clumsy attempt to change the subject is pretty obvious. I wonder what’s going on up there. I wonder if it is Paul fucking.
Ray and Dougie start talking all about their sex holiday. I try follow the conversation but before long I’ve lost track again. I sit there trying to listen for a few minutes but I’m starting to get bored. Plus I feel like if I don’t move soon I might actually fall asleep here. I struggle to my feet, wobbling a little bit. “I’m going to go inside.”
I walk back into the house. I look back and see the guys laughing. Is one of them shooting looks at me? Are they laughing at me? Or am I just paranoid? I’m probably just paranoid. To be honest, it’s really hard following what’s going on by this stage.
I circulate through the living room, but still no sign of Kenneth. I turn and head into the kitchen, and grab myself a glass of water from the tap.
A pair of arms wrap around me from behind. I crane my head to find that it’s Kenneth. He kisses me on the neck. “Hey babe. How you going?”
“Where have you been?” I ask. “I was looking round for you.”
He looks confused. “I was just out in the living room.” He sizes me up, with . “By the looks of it, maybe you couldn’t find me because you can’t see straight.”
I try protest for a second, but then I realise that I am actually pretty far gone.
“Maybe we should get you home,” he suggests. I nod at that, and rest my tired head on his shoulder for a second.
“We’re gonna get out of here,” Kenneth says. I look up, and find Adam standing there. “I think this one’s about ready to pass out.”
Adam looks at me sympathetically. “Glad you had a good night, bud. Thanks for coming tonight.” He gives me a pat on the back. “Now get outta here, before you vomit on my kitchen floor!”
Kenneth looks at me with an apologetic expression. “Hey babe I’m really sorry. I know I said I’d drive, but I actually had a bit to drink. So I think we’d better get a cab or an uber. It’s all good though — hand on heart I promise I’ll come pick up the car tomorrow.”
Adam laughs at that, though I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it’s so predictable. I’m sure he does this every time. I tell him it’s all good. Kenneth gets his phone out and orders an uber.
I’m giving Adam a hug when Paul comes in. “Good timing,” Adam tells him. “These guys are just leaving.”
I give Paul a drunken hug. “Happy birthday, man.”
As we’re headed out the door Kenneth says “see you tomorrow,” and that gets another laugh from Adam; again, I’m not sure what I’m missing there. But I’m probably just too drunk to get the joke.
Outside, waiting for the uber, Kenneth asks me, “Did you have a good time tonight babe?”
“Yeah.” I rest my head on his shoulder again. I’m so sleepy right now. “You?”
“Had a blast.”