"Baby?" Kay's overly chipper voice echoed in through the cracked door. Brian limply brought his arm up near his face to try and discern what time of day it might be. He was assuming that Kay was going to yell at him for being passed out in bed all day. Much to his surprise his watch was AWOL. "Sweetheart," Kay's growing voice and the distinct shuffle of her slippers on the hardwood told Brian that she was almost at the door. He quickly flipped his body toward the nightstand to try and read the clock, hoping for a miracle that would reveal it was a "reasonable" time of morning. The nightstand, or what was left of it, was mostly smashed on the floor, and the digital clock was lifeless, its cord pulled out of the wall. A pained sigh exited Brian's nose, as he tried to calculate some defense to his slack-assery. All that came to mind was that the overly familiar THUMP THUMPING was not just Brian's head pulsing, but the noise was softly echoing through the room as well.
"Honey Bucket?" Kay called as she swung the bedroom door wide, and strode into the room. "Are you still in bed?" As she asked the question she put both of her hands on her hips, and cocked her head in an overly adorable fashion. Brian wanted the conversation to segue from his drunken laziness to the noise reverberating through the room, but somehow the words failed to make it from Brian's brain to his mouth.
"Well, uh, I -" Brian muttered. Kay's stern face broke into a wide grin, and she giggled.
"What-EVER. Get up, you promised me we'd go walking downtown today." Brian had no recollection of any such promise, although even in his stupor he knew better than to try and argue the point. "C'MON!" She pouted playfully as she slapped the edge of his feet.
"Kay," Brian began slowly, trying to fully prop himself up in her bed. "I know I promised you, Baby, but can't we just hang here today? I'm still so tired!"
"Tired?" Kay's head cocked back to the side, and she shot him a grimace. "Brian Francis McConnell, what you are is hung over!"
"But I, er-" Kay's hand shot up interrupting his clumsy rebuttal.
"If not STILL drunk! Now get up, get dressed, rinse the puke out of your mouth, and meet me downstairs in ten minutes." Kay's back was already to Brian by the time she was finished, as she headed back toward the door. Brian let his head flop back down unto the bed, and launched into the possible options that would maximize his time spent sleeping.
"AND!" the edge in Kay's voice made his head rocket back up and lock in an upright position. He could see that Kay had leaned back into the room from the hallway. "IF you ARE NOT downstairs in ten minutes, then I'm going to send Callista up here to persuade you." She shot him a sugary sweet smile and a horribly foreboding wink before disappearing from view. Brian's head rolled back unto the pillow, and his eyes slowly shut. No sooner were they closed then a terrifying image of Kay's overweight amorous roommate Callista flashed through his mind. With an air of disgust and resentment, Brian tried to force his eyes closed. Again the image assaulted him.
"Fine, fine," he muttered rolling slowly out of the bed, "I'm up!"
When Brian finally made it downstairs, he was greeted by the sounds of giggling coming from Callista and Kay, who were sitting on the couch in front of the television. Brian could not discern what they were giggling about, but had a strong suspicion that he was better off not knowing. He did his best to ignore the whispering and guffawing, and crossed the room to his green sneakers. Before he even managed to lace up the first shoe, he discovered that the snickering was causing the throbbing in his head to worsen. Almost as if she could sense his misery, Kay's whispers exploded into full laughter. The urge to attempt some clever sarcasm flashed through Brian's mind, but it just seemed like too much energy. Instead he just snatched up the remaining sneaker in his left hand, and clumsily stomped outside through the front door. The resounding laughter that followed him was radiantly audible, even after he let the front door slam behind him.
As his hands fumbled with the laces of the first shoe, Brian realized that he was tempted to be angry about the laughter. By the time the laces finally conspired with him to allow themselves to be tied, Brian realized he was too tired to really be mad. In fact, he was guessing that the image of his disheveled self stumbling down the stairs was fairly comedic. He dropped into a crouch, and began to tie the other shoe. Before he had even finished his second attempt, the front door flew open, and Kay practically skipped out onto the porch.
"Are you ready, Mister Attitude?" Kay chirped with an obnoxious amount of zeal.
"Well," he muttered, glancing down at his untied shoe, "Sure, let's go." Dismissively he stood, and made the conscious decision that sometimes it is not worth the effort to tie both shoes. If Kay noticed, she made no comment. She just slid her hand into his, and gently pulled him down the porch. Kay did a prance a half step ahead of Brian, dragging him as she moved. Brian was secretly grateful, because her little maneuver allowed him the luxury of paying no attention to where he was going. He let his mind comfortably zone out, while they walked. Almost immediately he felt, on the edge of his mind, the answer to what the Thump Thumping was up in Kay's room. Before he had the chance to further explore the topic, Kay ruined the silence that Brian was observing.
"Can ask you a question?"
"Huh?" Brian responded, disappointed that she was going to make him pay attention.
"I want to ask you something, but do NOT get mad at me, okay?"
"Huh?" Brian offered again, "No. What?" Brian's mind was moving slightly slower than his mouth. "I can't promise that something won't upset me. If I get upset, then I'm upset. You know?" Brian paused to sort out what else was bothering him about Kay's Panzer Tank subtlety. "AND, you just asked me two things. Come to think of it, I'm already upset too!"
"C'mon," Kay easily dismissed, "How much do you remember about last night?"
"Is this the actual question? The one that can't make me mad?"
"Yes, Silly, what do you remember?"
"I remember fun," Brian rhetorically spat, still slightly resentful that he was talking about nonsense rather than tending to the serious work of figuring out the source of the noise. "There was lots of drinking, and people, and it was fun. You were fun!" Brian added the last part on the fly when Kay shot him a look of dissatisfaction.
"Fun?" the tone signaled to Brain that he had fumbled his response. "Brian you don't remember anything, do you?"
"What? C'mon Kay, I remember last night."
"Do you remember hitting on Georgina?" Brian guessed that the look on his face must have clearly telegraphed his answer, because Kay just kept going. "Do you remember getting into a fist fight with my cousin? No? How about when we played Drinking Jenga and you decided that you needed to insult and berate everyone at the party?"
"Wait, I remember that, I pulled 'movie quote'! I was just quoting The Big Lebowski!"
"No, you idiot!" the switch to a hard edged tone caught Brian by surprise. "I'm talking about the part of the evening, maybe a half hour later, where the game ended because you made Missy and Franny cry."
"Oh, um, I guess I don't really remember that."
"Brian," alarms sounded in Brian's head as Kay's voice became gentle and saturated with sweetness, "No one thinks you're more fun than me. I swear. But there are limits, you know, and lately things have been going a little far."
"Kay, you're making a huge deal about one party!"
"Oh Really? Then this wouldn't be the third time in two weeks that you have forced someone to leave my house crying?"
"The only crying I remember was that time the bat flew at Missy, and that wasn't even my fault!"
"First of all, you pushed her into the living room with the bat! And second of all, you laughed for nearly twenty minutes because she was upset. How is that not your fault? Huh?!"
"Fine. Whatever, it WAS my fault. But that was only once. Who cares, it was just Missy. Geezum Crow."
"Brian," Kay sighed loudly and long. Brian could see that the conversation was far from over based on the glint of seriousness in Kay's eyes. "That was one time. Last night was two time. The party last Sunday, when you broke all of Callista's plants, was three. Three times in two weeks."
"Hmmm," Brain responded genuinely surprised. "I broke all of Callista's plants? I wondered what happened to them. Interesting."
"You are totally missing the point. You get too drunk, you get mean, and you don't remember it the next day. It isn't cool, Brian. You're stressing me out and you're pissing off my roommates and my friends. It needs to stop."
"Kay, you have to admit, sometimes your friends are a little over the top." Kay stopped short where she was standing, and pulled her hand out of Brian's grasp. Although oblivious when he made the statement, Brian suddenly realized that the wrong words just exited his mouth.
"Are you saying my friends deserve the ridiculous treatment you give them? That they're asking for it, or something?! What is wrong with you? Seriously!"
"Kay," Brian responded softly, trying to retake her hand in his, "That's not what I meant."
"You need to be aware of what you're doing, and you need to be aware of what you're saying. It is NOT okay for you to mistreat people. Especially MY friends." Brian wanted to respond, but had enough sense to keep his mouth shut. He knew that Kay was not finished. Past experience taught him that she was just regrouping during a dramatic pause. After a few more solid beats, she continued.
"You need to make sure that you are not going to be out of control. I cannot stand you being mean." The look on Kay's face cut into Brian in a way that he was not anticipating. He knew that he got out of control on occasion when he drank, and he did not really care. The fact that he harangued Kay's friends made it more funny that tragic, by his way of thinking. And yet, standing in the suburban sidewalk faced with Kay's look of anger and disappointment, he found himself regretting his actions. He actually found himself wishing that he would find a way to be better for her. He knew that he had to convey that sentiment to her. If for no other reason, than so that she would know he understood what she was saying, and that he was willing to set aside the bullshit for her. The opportunity to put his thoughts into words was lost when Kay's cell phone began to chime from her purse. She gave Brian one last stare, coupled with a sigh, then answered her phone.
Brian tried to maintain his composure, but was secretly relieved that Kay had taken the phone call. He did not want to say anything that was going to further disappoint her, and was grateful for the chance to gather his thoughts. Watching as she turned away from him on the phone, Brian was struck with a deep appreciation for Kay, and the various things that she did. He thought about the way that she spoke to him, the way that she always made situations twice as enjoyable as they would normally be, and even the way that she called him on his shenanigans all left Brian feeling grateful and impressed.
"We have to go!" Kay said simultaneously flipping shut her phone and breaking Brian's entire train of thought.
"What?" Brian said, still grasping for a way to work his feelings into the conversation.
"I guess Lisa's boyfriend left her at the Mall. He just left her there! Can you believe that? What kind of tool leaves someone at a mall?"
"Slow down. Lisa's at the mall?"
"NO! She was ditched at the mall, by Mike. Supposedly he dropped her off at the door, because he was going to go park, and he drove off. He just left her there."
"Um, alright," Brian said hesitantly.
"Not alright! We have to go get her!"
"Right now? I thought we were going to walk downtown. Something about ice cream and shoe shopping, remember?"
"I know, but we can't just leave Lisa. She needs us."
"But, right now? What if we just walk and get some ice cream? We could finish talking, maybe? And then go get Lisa."
"Brian! What if it were me at that mall? Huh? Would you want to make me wait while you got ice cream?"
"That's ridiculous! I am way too considerate to ditch you at a mall."
Kay did not answer right away, which Brian took to be a sign that she was considering the ice cream plan. Brian was really hoping she would go for it, so that he would have the opportunity to try and explain how much he felt for Kay. He even started a mental checklist of points that he wanted to make sure he clearly expressed to her. Right about when he got to the fourth item on his checklist, Kay let out a small laugh. Brian put the list on hold, and moved a half step closer to Kay.
"You know what," Kay said softly, "Forget it. I'll go get Lisa myself." Without making eye contact, or any sort of personal interaction, Kay moved passed Brian. She accelerated into a brisk pace back in the direction of her house.
"So, I guess I'll just hang out in bed till you get back?" Brian asked hopefully.
Over her shoulder, Kay called back, "Don't be here when I get back."