How the Fuck Did They Know?
by: Kyle Fournier
“So, how was it?”
“I don’t really remember much. I was completely fucked up... so it wasn’t great, y’know, but it was fine.”
Harry glanced at Jack and Jack glanced at Harry and Bill glanced at Jack and Keith glanced at Bill - all at exactly the same time. Harry’s lips curled up slightly and Keith snickered. I’d said nothing funny, but they were holding back laughter.
Fuck. They knew. How the fuck did they know?
The previous night had been the craziest night of my life. It had also been the most shameful night of my life. In that room with all of my friends, even though I was lying to them and trying to hold myself together, I was emotionally devastated. But at least most of my shame was private. No one else could know. Just me and... her. That foul, wretched bitch.
But they did know. How? Was it my eyes? My body language? How the fuck did they know?
My friends were being a bunch of goddamned tourists. It was our first night in Vegas and they wanted to go to the generic, overpriced Tao nightclub. Worse, they wanted to spend even more money than they had to and get “bottle service.“ Bottle service, of course, was a phrase used by those belonging to the club scene to describe a small table and a cheap bottle of vodka that could be owned by any guys or girls for one night for the completely reasonable price of $2,000.
My friends and I were not ladies’ men. Apart from nights of great exception, we had all been striking out at nightclubs back home for our entire adult lives. Why my friends thought they’d suddenly be able to pick up tons of hot girls at a Vegas club was beyond me.
I offered an alternative to getting bottle service. “Let’s just get some cheap booze at the ABC Store or something and troll the strip.”
Harry was immediately frustrated. He said, “Dude it’s our first night in Vegas. We have to go to Tao.”
“I’m not paying four hundred dollars for that shit,” I said.
“What the fuck dude.” Harry was adamant. Bill and Keith were sheep who would follow Harry off of a cliff if that’s where he led them. Fortunately for me, I sensed hesitation from Jack. He wasn’t interested in Tao or bottle service, either.
“Jack, you down?” I asked. “We can get into tons of shit on the strip.”
Harry, Bill, and Keith turned toward Jack. He looked at me. I had him.
“Yeah, I don’t feel like spending that much tonight,” Jack said.
Harry’s anger swelled, but there was nothing he could do. He did his best to make us feel like pathetic traitors before he left with Bill and Keith, but Jack and I were too excited to hang out on Las Vegas Blvd to care.
Once Harry, Bill, and Keith had left, Jack and I got ready to go out on our own. By the time we had showered and gotten ready, it was almost ten. We were feeling good. Having already toured the wonderful city of Las Vegas twice, I considered myself quite familiar with the strip. Jack, however, was a Vegas virgin.
I felt it was my duty to take the lead and show Jack a good time. Doing my best to build the hype, I put extra effort into describing how great the atmosphere would be and how much fun we would have. To get the most fun out of the night, I knew we were gonna have to talk to strangers. Being naturally shy, Jack would need some encouragement.
Jack and I left the room and headed to the strip-side entrance of the Venetian hotel. On the way, we made sure to appreciate our surroundings. With elaborate Italian architecture, art, and decor, The Venetian was one of the classiest casinos in Vegas. Especially impressive was the man-made river that flowed through several sprawling indoor sections of the casino.
Outside, we were immediately immersed in the gigantic party that was the Las Vegas strip on a Friday night. My favorite thing about Las Vegas was the fact that public intoxication was not only rampant, but celebrated. Back home, I’d get wasted and stumble between bars with some regularity and sure, I would cross paths with other drinkers like me. Nonetheless, though, I felt like the one who was far too drunk and far too out of line far too often.
As soon as we stepped out of the Venetian and onto the boulevard, I saw my brothers and sisters of boozing all around me. Everyone was getting rowdy under the bright lights of the city. It was time to get on their level.
Stone cold sober, Jack and I needed liquor and we needed it fast. Sensing an opportunity to get the social juices flowing, I decided to ask people we encountered on the sidewalk where we could find a liquor store. I found it amusing that we ended up getting directions from a police officer, mostly because I knew that it was likely that I’d soon be breaking several laws. Using convoluted logic, you could argue that my deplorable actions would be indirect consequences of the officer’s excellent directions.
The cop pointed up the strip and said, “A couple blocks north on the left. Better hurry, though, they close in five minutes.”
Fuck. We thanked the cop and started running toward the store. Sure, we could have bought drinks at a bar or something, but that would have defeated the entire purpose of skipping the club in the first place; we wanted cheap fun on our own terms. Sweating and out of breath, we arrived at the liquor store just before ten. Inside, there was a line of ten or fifteen fellow degenerates making last minute alcoholic purchases.
We picked out a cheap gin and some ginger-ale. I had always found that a sugary carbonated beverage did well to mitigate the harshness of hard liquor.
Out of the liquor store and back on the strip, Jack and I were ready to get hammered. We took turns wielding the gin in one hand and the soda in the other. Jack took swigs of the gin and chased it with ginger-ale. I liked to go ginger-ale, gin, ginger-ale, myself. Different strokes. Either way, we were proudly binge drinking while walking down the strip. A large man with baggy clothes and kind eyes passed, bellowing his approval. “Hell yeah! Double-fistin’ son!” We laughed, gaining momentum.
I’d decided that the Bellagio fountain show would be a suitable jumping off point for the night. The enormous pool in front of the Bellagio casino hid dozens of mechanical water fountains just beneath the surface of the water that were invisible when inactive. Once the houly show started, however, the powerful water jets came out of hiding and shot bursts of water in time with whichever song was playing out of the gigantic music speakers all around. It was beautiful and free.
In front of the Bellagio, we were immediately accosted by a boisterous fair-haired girl and her beautiful but cold brunette friend.
“Take our picture!” The louder of the two was the fit young blonde. By fit, I mean in shape, of course. In her current state, she wasn’t fit for much. Simply put, she was under the influence of alcohol. A lot of influence.
I played it coy. “And what do I get?”
“Take our picture!”
Fuck it. I took the camera that was thrust in front of me and stepped back. I wasn’t in the habit of taking many pictures, but when I was tasked with being a photographer, I took pride in my work. I spent several seconds getting the framing and background correct. Apparently, I was taking too long.
“Take our picture!”
“Do you want a good picture or a fast picture?”
“I’m sorry. CHEESE!”
I snapped the picture and walked back to the two of them. The blonde leaned into me and cooed with excitement upon seeing the well-taken image.
The brunette finally spoke. “OK thanks. Let’s go, Bridgette.” I wished she had stayed quiet. She was the classic “Mother Hen” type of girl. Her duties for the night were to watch over the drunk blonde - whose name I had just learned was “Bridgette” - and make sure she didn’t do anything stupid. Damn. I was really hoping she would do something stupid..
If Jack had been even a halfway decent wing-man, he would have opened his mouth and helped out by that point. Unfortunately, he remained a passive bystander. I was going to have to maneuver the situation on my own.
I decided to lie shamelessly. “Oh, your name’s Bridgette? That’s my sister’s name!”
“Oh my god! What’s your name?” Bridgette leaned further into me. I took it as a positive sign, but I also suspected that she was using me as support in order to not fall over. It might have been a 50/50 split of affection and a dire need for stability.
“My name is Kyle. Nice to meet you. This is my friend, Jack. And you?” I reached out my hand to introduce myself to the brunette. She reluctantly took it.
Out of my periphery, I noticed three guys walking towards us. From their body language and sense of purpose, it seemed that they knew Bridgette and Danielle. I wasn’t intimidated or discouraged in the least. The three men approaching were small, frail, and dorky-looking. They looked just like Jack and I.
In a stroke of luck, one of them - later introduced as “Alex” - was wearing a soccer jersey with the team name “Tottenham” on the front. Jack’s greatest passion was soccer, and he despised Tottenham. With his stomach soaked in inhibition-killing gin and his lungs full of Vegas air, Jack cursed Tottenham and began a genuine but playful argument with the jersey-wearing guy. Even better, neither Alex nor his friends seemed to mind Bridgette falling all over me. They were more interested in Jack.
Bridgette and I stumbled a couple feet to the right - still close to the group, but far enough away to have our own private bubble of conversation.
At this point in the story, I feel the need to acknowledge the fact that many people might (accurately) say that I was taking advantage of a drunk girl when I was spending time with Bridgette. However, I’d like to state for the record that I was diligently swallowing mouthfuls of gin the whole time, doing my best to level the playing field. Furthermore, we met in Las Vegas. Consent might as well be implied in Vegas.
I didn’t waste any time. “I like you Bridgette.”
“I like you, too, Kyle!”
“Let’s go hang out at the Venetian. Jack and I have an awesome room.”
“Tell Danielle that we’re gonna go hang out for a bit, but that we’ll be back soon.”
Probably weary of leaving her bastion of balance, Danielle yelled over to her friend without moving a limb. “Danielle! Me and Kyle are gonna go hang out.”
“No you’re not.” In hindsight, I should’ve anticipated Danielle’s refusal.
Bridgette tried again. “It’ll only take ten minutes!”
“Five,” I corrected her.
Bridgette yelled, “It’ll only take five minutes!” I heard Jack chuckle and I smiled wide. Any guilt I felt vanished. I took Bridgette’s hand and began leading her to the Venetian.
Danielle wasn’t having it. She barked at her friend, stating without any room for argument that she wasn’t leaving her side.
I decided that if having sex with this complete stranger would be impossible, making out would have to suffice. Jack continued arguing about soccer with Alex as I kissed Bridgette in front of the Bellagio water fountains. Without trying or possibly, even being aware, Jack ended up being a serviceable wing-man.
Danielle wasn’t happy about her friend locking lips with me, but there wasn’t much she could do without physically assaulting us. She was probably just relieved that we had stopped trying to escape from her dictatorial oversight.
After a couple of minutes of sharing love and affection with Bridgette, it was clear that the situation had played itself out. I got her phone number and told her how nice I thought she was. As I sauntered over toward the guys, Jack grinned at me.
Jack told me that Alex and his friends had a room at the Mandalay Bay and had been nice enough to invite us to their pool for drinks the following day. I looked at our new bros and sincerely thanked them. Featuring a huge man-made beach complete with real sand and machine-generated waves, the Mandalay Bay’s pool was the best in Vegas. Our new poolside plans increased my chances of seeing Bridgette again, too.
While scanning the neon lights of the Las Vegas skyline, I took a moment to pity Keith, Harry, and Bill. Jack and I had spent ten bucks apiece and were having the time of our lives. I envisioned the others huddled pathetically around a table in a dark corner of a claustrophobic club pretending to enjoy their bottle service.
Jack and I said goodbye to our new friends and continued north. I buzzed with alcohol and energy. I was not used to kissing strangers and making new friends so quickly. Swapping spit with Bridgette so quickly represented one my greatest accomplishments with the opposite sex to date. My confidence roared as I continued to pour gin down my throat, which served as gas for the fire.
It was around that time on that fateful night in Vegas that my mind began losing its ability to record memories. The next thing I remember is apologizing to Jack.
An hour or so had passed since we’d left Bridgette and her friends and somehow, I’d ended up acquiring and trying cocaine for the first time. I have no recollection of purchasing or using said cocaine. I do, however, remember being high. And I remember feeling sorry about it. Having never done any drugs harder than marijuana, I was surprised by my own actions. Jack reassured me in the spaces between my numerous apologies.
“It’s fine. It’s fine. Enjoy it dude. Whatever, we’re in Vegas.” I don’t know exactly when or how, but our roles had reversed. I had begun the night by leading Jack around. Then, after some murky point marked by the usage of a Schedule II narcotic, I was relying on Jack. I was still having an excellent time, but I was out of control, aware of it, and paranoid about some nebulous consequences that I believed must be looming ahead.
Back near the Venetian, we ran into Harry, Bill, and Keith. Harry yelled out, “Hey you assholes!”
“What’s up, how was the club?” Jack asked.
As always, Harry spoke for the group. “It was awesome. Dude, so many hot girls. So many.”
“Dance with any?” I asked.
I’d be lying if I claimed to remember any more of this particular conversation. Regardless, I can make reasonable guesses about the jist of what was said. Harry probably bragged and exaggerated about his experiences with girls at the club while Bill and Keith most likely nodded and smiled when they were supposed to. At some point, though, Jack definitely informed the group that I had snorted cocaine for the first time in my life.
My next memory is of scorn.
“Dude, really? What the fuck? You did cocaine?” Harry’s words were sharp. Bill and Keith were predictably disappointed with me, as well. At this point, I recall Jack expressing his disapproval for the first time. He said I’d wandered off and talked to some drug dealer on the strip for several minutes. I’d walked away with a business card folded up with white powder in the middle having already taken some of it up my left nostril.
Although they were clean at the time, my friends’ judgement of me for my cocaine usage would make them all filthy hypocrites within the next twenty-four hours - every single one of them. In fact, most of them would end up riding the white horse far longer than I ever did. Last I heard, Harry still gallops from time to time. Asshole.
My memory fails me again until we were all on the casino floor back at the Venetian. We’d come upon a group of girls who had just gotten back from a club. The only thing I recall from the interaction was the girls’ distaste for me. I was sloppy drunk but also sped up from the coke; I must’ve been horrible to be around. But I was sick of being around my friends and these stuck-up girls, too. I wandered over to a nearby slot machine and sat down. I made no attempt to insert money into the machine nor push any buttons.
“Hi.” I felt a soft hand on my right shoulder. A beautiful dark-skinned girl of Eastern European descent was standing beside me. The confidence I’d lost from being ostracized by my friends returned. A new Bridgette! I was in love again.
With my judgment impaired, her affection seemed perfectly genuine. The next day, Jack admitted that he was almost fooled, as well. He said we were the happiest couple he’d ever seen.
The whore’s name was Alissa. She was small, sexy, and confident. Most importantly, she was giving me attention. I played the fools’ game of trying to seduce the prostitute while she massaged my shoulders. Eventually, Alissa admitted that her love wasn’t free.
“So you wanna take this party upstairs? You can afford it.”
I was appalled. I was heartbroken. I was even offended. I had never paid for sex and I thought that I never would. I was about to tell Alissa how I felt when Jack chimed in.
“You have to dude, I’ll pay you back half of whatever it costs. Come on, just do it.”
I still didn’t like the idea. It just seemed wrong. But... I was in Vegas. I was drunk out of my mind. I was on cocaine. And Jack was gonna pay half…
Reluctantly, but with a sly grin, I gave in. Alissa kissed me and grabbed my hand. We continued our tryst through the casino, joking and laughing.
“Sign here, sir.” We were in the hotel lobby and I was talking to the front desk guy at the Venetian. I didn’t know him, but he gave me the same look Jack had given me when I returned from making out with Bridgette.
The next thing I recall is being in the shower with Alissa. She had continued the massage she’d started back down in the lobby, but neither of us had clothes on anymore. I don’t remember the quality of the massage. I do remember, however, that Alissa looked incredible naked. She was young and lean, the type of girl you can really throw around - if you’re not incapacitated from drugs and alcohol, that is.
My memory skips again. We were on the bed. Alissa pulled a condom from its wrapper. She pressed her breasts into my face and straddled me while whispering in my ear. She was so hot. Unfortunately, my penis didn’t care.
Despite Alissa’s best efforts and my pleading with God, sex just wasn’t in the cards. Hours after finishing a bottle of gin and who knows how much cocaine, I had significant trouble simply walking on my own. Achieving an erection proved to be out of the question.
Emasculated and embarrassed, I laid in bed as Alissa dressed and gathered her things. She must have felt bad for me; she made no attempt to collect any money from me for the failed interaction. Instead, she opened the door and walked out, never to be seen again. I closed my eyes. I slept.
As my friends pressed me for details on my encounter with Alissa, I said as little as possible while reliving the events in my mind. When the finer details flashed through my mind, though, my entire body and face begged to cringe. I refused my muscles their right to cringe, though, and remained stoic. Or so I thought.
“So... you had sex with her? How long did it last? What positions?” Harry continued his prodding.
The questions were too pointed. They were fueled by motive and aim, not curiosity. I sensed that I had already been beaten and gave up my charade.
“What the fuck do you guys know?” I asked, but it came out as a plea.
Harry, Jack, Keith, and Bill burst out laughing. My ego shriveled to the size of my dick during my time with Alissa. After asking my “friends” what they knew and how they knew it, I came to learn that I hadn’t given myself away with a poor poker face or incongruent body language. A camera had done that. Before Alissa and I made it to the room the night before, Jack had rushed back first and stashed a fully charged and running camera on the dresser. That fucking camera recorded my personal rock bottom. Jack, Harry, Keith, and Bill watched the recording after I passed out.
Disgusted and dejected, I pulled on the clothes I had worn the night before, flipped my friends off, and sunk out of the room. I couldn’t bear to be the target of their ridicule for another second. My lip quivered as I walked down the hallway.
My mind was a whirlwind of negativity. I hated myself. I hated my friends. I needed to talk to someone removed from the situation - anyone. I reached into the front pocket of my jeans for my phone. It was empty. I checked the other pockets. There was nothing in any of them, except for a small slip of paper crumpled into a ball.
I unfurled the little ball of paper. It was a bank statement from less than eight hours prior. I had drunkenly withdrawn $1,000 from the front desk of the Venetian hotel.
Panicking, I sprinted back to the room. I hammered on the door until Keith opened it. I shoved past him, charging toward my pile of belongings that sat between one of the two beds in the room and the wall next to it. Ignoring the others in the room, I rifled through my wallet and luggage. Finding nothing, I opened every drawer in the dresser, tore apart the bed, and scoured the floor. There was no loose money to be found. Realizing the full extent of my mistake and misfortune, I collapsed back onto the bed. Discovering that my impotence had been documented was not my rock bottom, after all; I had found a new low. It was $1,000 lower than my previous rock bottom.
Just as the tears were beginning to well up in the corners of my eyes, I managed to crack an ironic smile. Jack had offered to pay half. He owed me bottle service.