-4-

Elie and the Impeccable Acquaintances

Perfect. Just perfect.

I had planned on spending the entire day with Jaclyn-an idea spawned by my dear friend Richard. We were supposed to be alone. Yet here he was in my space stealing who I was in love with.

I deserved Jaclyn's attention or at least I wanted it. Richard just smiled and the ladies came. How was he able to do it? Perfection. Richard was so damn perfect. He could do it all. He managed to purchase everything for the three of us and carried it all up the theater steps to where Jaclyn was waiting. I on the other hand was on my back.

Somewhere in the darkness, a lollipop or a Popsicle was laughing at me as it rolled under a seat. A group of preteens were laughing at me too covering their braces with one hand and snorting.

Staring at the black ceiling high above, I was afraid to get up. I wouldn't dare think what was keeping my head glued to the floor. Instead I thought about Jaclyn and Richard probably staring at me with wide eyes and fighting off a chuckle.

How embarrassing.

"Oh God Devon. You okay?"

I managed to lift my head just enough to see Jaclyn offering me a hand. I refused it politely pointing out the red goo that was webbing my fingers together. "Great." I stared down at my pants trying to brush the junk off of them. Pointless.

Jaclyn started plucking popcorn out of my hair. "You need to go to the bathroom."

"I know."

"Do you want me to come with you? I mean not inside but wait for you outside."

"You don't have to do that."

"It's okay. Richard will save our seats."

I followed behind her feeling hesitant and still embarrassed about what had transpired. I kept my mouth shut and just watched her legs move.

"That was one hell of a fall you took."

"Yeah. Well there was some trash on the floor and I tripped."

There was trouble navigating through the rather large hallway. Groups of grade school kids were making their way towards us and just like fish they went wherever they pleased stepping on our feet and bumping into us. It was a battlefield until we reached the restrooms.

"I never want kids." Jaclyn rubbed the tip of her sneakers. "They're just too much trouble."

"I always thought you would be good with kids."

She looked up at me. "You think too highly of me."

"I'll be back." I pointlessly reassured her as I entered the restroom and smacked my forehead. "Ugh. Like I'm going somewhere."

-

I stared at myself in the wide rectangular mirror noticing what appeared to be crushed M&Ms stuck to my neck. But that would have to wait. My clothes were the ones in need.

"Damn, what happened to you?"

I looked in the mirror seeing Elie approaching the sink next to me.

"Elie, hey. What are you doing here?"

"Taking a shit."

I grimaced at the answer. "No I mean-you never struck me as a guy who would go to the movies."

"Yeah well you're right. I'm here on a date." It was always amusing watching Elie remove the multitude of rings that occupied his fingers. I counted seven.

"How's it going?"

He shrugged. "Eh, I've dated better. She's one hell of a kisser though and stacked like you wouldn't believe."

"Are they hers?"

"I highly doubt it. But hey I'm not the kind of guy to discriminate." He nudged me with his elbow and walked over to the machine that dries hands. "So you here with someone too?"

"Yeah two people actually. Jaclyn and Richard."

"Wow. The chick you like?"

"Yes but Richard's here too and I think she's starting to like him."

"That's Richard for you. The man's a lady-killer."

Elie and Richard met once at a concert the radio station was sponsoring. As expected the two hit it off great despite their obvious differences. I guess if it wasn't for the music and girls, the two would probably have gotten bored of each other.

I pulled off my shirt and began spot cleaning the back of it while Elie replaced his rings. "But I don't think Richard will be a problem for you if he knows you like Jaclyn."

"He promised me he would keep his distance but I don't think he knows how to not flirt."

"I suggest you set him straight."

Pulling my shirt back on, a few pieces of popcorn fell out of my hair. "Set him straight? I already did that."

Elie cracked his knuckles. "No I mean if he causes problems you beat his ass."

I gave him a bored look and said nothing.

"What? That's what I would do. You can't let someone take your girl man."

When I opened the door, Jaclyn was leaning against the carpeted wall watching the movie-goers pass by. She turned to us and sighed heavily. "It's about time Devon. We're going to miss half the movie because of you."

"I'm sorry. Oh by the way this is Elie."I surprised myself with the quick introduction.

"You were making friends in the bathroom?" She grinned shaking hands with the DJ. "I'm Jaclyn."

"I know. Devon's told me a lot about you."

"Seems Devon has told the world about me."

"Just the guys he knows. That reminds me, Devon a couple of people at the station are throwing a party at my house. You know for the local bands? You want to swing by?"

"Sure why not." I shrugged watching Elie walk backwards.

"Awesome. Be there at 8, don't dress like a pussy and Jaclyn I expect to see you there too alright? There's gonna be a lot of chicks and I need someone to keep Devon innocent. "

Jaclyn laughed. "Uh yeah. I'll be there. Nice meeting you."

I waved Elie goodbye which sort of had a double meaning. While Richard was doing nothing to help me get with Jaclyn, Elie was setting us up. I had to thank him later.

-

As usual, the movie wasn't as good as the advertisements suggested. Throughout the film, Jaclyn dissected the plotline, questioned the characters and mocked the dialogue all while sharing a Dr. Pepper with yours truly.

I was caught between listening to her and savoring the tip of the straw that I more than willingly tasted. The thought of germs barely crossed my mind and as sad as it was, sharing straws was the closest I was getting to tasting her. The mixer of soda and strawberry lip gloss stayed with me until the credits began to roll and the lights came back on.

To my surprise, Richard was sitting several rows below us with the preteen girls that were laughing at me earlier. The guy had no shame.

Jaclyn noticed him too. "Did you see him walk down there?"

"No. He must have done it after he gave us our food."

"Hm. Well where should we head next?"

I bit my lip and thought about all the possible placed we could head to. Elie's party was at 8 and we still had several hours to ourselves.

"How about we just continue our walk?"

"From here to where?"

"Back to your place. That should kill some time."

"Alright."

As I began descending the steps, Jaclyn held my arm with a smile. "If I trip on anything you're going down with me."

I tensed at the dirty image my mind created. We passed Richard who was busy wooing the grade school girls when he glanced at us. "Hey. Where you guys headed?"

"We're going home." Jaclyn answered before I could. "It was nice meeting you Richard."

Richard looked as if he was going to say something else but Jaclyn pulled me around the corner. "He's gonna end up being a sex offender if he continues what he's doing."

"Who Richard? No, he's always been like that. He's quite the gentleman."

"Gentlemen are suspicious. I like Richard but the more I see how he acts the more I feel different about him."

"Where is all this coming from?"

"I'm just being analytical Devon. Don't take it seriously." She pinched my side.

That put me in a happier mood. Richard was not an interest which meant I was back in the game. I wondered if Jaclyn was even interested in him in the first place.

-

It didn't take long for us to take a pit stop on a bench that faced the city monument. A gold colored statue of the goddess Aphrodite in all her topless splendor stood in a lake of light teal water and was surrounded by porcelain cupids.

I watched as children made wishes and threw pennies into the water some aiming for Aphrodite's face. The air smelled of lilacs though there were none around and the dark green trees rustled in the breeze.

"This is a nice city." Jaclyn randomly proclaimed.

"Yeah."

"I'm glad I hung out with you."

"I'm glad I hung out with you."

Jaclyn smiled softly at me and pressed her forehead against mine. I just knew my entire face was red.

"Devon? When are you going to hurry up and get a girlfriend?"

The question caught me off guard and I faltered. "Uh. Uh, I don't know. I'm looking for one. When are you going to get a boyfriend?"

Jaclyn pursed her lips and leaned back seriously considering the question. She crossed her arms over her chest and looked at the pidgins wobbling around our feet. "I'll get a boyfriend when I gain my self-control back. When I stop getting drunk and showing up at your door." She blinked at the sky and turned to look me straight in the eye. "I'll get a boyfriend when you get a girlfriend."

My heart was killing me. I wanted so bad to just blurt out my feelings at that moment but fear was getting the better of me. I decided to change the mood.

"You think a girlfriend would stop you from coming over my house? You'd tear her apart."

"Since when did you start liking dainty girls? And I'm never an advocate for violence. Devon, did that fall in the theater mess with your brain?"

I laughed at her as she punched my shoulder. Another cloud of silence came over us and Jaclyn spoke first. "So what's Elie like? Is he like Elie Nixx?" She joked.

"He is Elie Nixx."

"What?"

"You didn't notice the voice?"

"Well now that you pointed it out yeah. You shouldn't be so shocked I only listen to your program."

"Really?"

"Devon you must have really hit your head. Don't embarrass me tonight with you forgetfulness."

I grinned at her and scooted a little closer. "I know your favorite color."

"Really. What is it?"

-

That evening, I couldn't stop my leg from shaking as I stood in the driveway of Jaclyn's house. She was on the porch locking the front door and looking amazing in a tight red dress that stopped well above the knee. The black boots were just as enticing.

Tiny flakes of silver glitter sparkled as she approached me and I struggled with pulling the door open for her.

"You look handsome Devon." She pinched my chin before getting into the car. Her dress hiked up even farther.

The drive to Elie's house consisted on snake-like streets and an insane number of stop signs. The inside of the car was dead silent and I wondered if Jaclyn was nervous.

"You seem quiet."

"Just thinking."

"You look beautiful." I poked her thigh well aware of the teasing hem of her dress. She crossed her legs and kissed my cheek when we reached our eighth stop sign.

"Thank you. You've been to one of these things before right?"

"Plenty."

"Do a lot of people go to these things?"

"Yeah. It's about 4 bands and their entire fan base so about 500 people maybe?"

"Geez. Food, liquor and mischief?"

I nodded with a smirk. "Kind of all goes hand in hand when you're dealing with rock bands. That's why Elie likes me to have an escort. Hard to keep the innocence."

She frowned and turned back to the window. "I may need you to help me keep my innocence night." She said it under her breath and I completely understood why she was so nervous.

I never got to see what Jaclyn was like before she came home to me and now that that opportunity was coming up, I was a little scared.

We pulled up to a large gray house that sat in the corner of a cul-de-sac. Cars and trucks lined the street and I wondered what Elie's neighbors thought of this anything but little get-together.

A white SUV pulled up in front of us and a group of blondes in white mini-skirts hopped out of the car. Being the guy that I am, I stared until Jaclyn reminded me that the car was still running.

As we headed towards the house, I could hear a band already playing.

"Mono." I smiled. They were a band I actually approved of. Consisting of boys who loved to dress like 17th century aristocrats, they were all raised on the richer side of town. Everyone had their expectations but what blew me away were their lyrics.

It seemed the closer we got to the house the tighter Jaclyn squeezed my arm. She was mumbling something under her breath as we crossed the yard. A girl dressed like a rabbit ushered people to go to the backyard. The sound of laughter and water splashing echoed into the clear night sky.

Elie's backyard was flooded with all kinds of people. The prissy women lounged by the food stands and retreated into the house, while the hippies sat on the edge of the pool. There was a small group of grudge guys and girls talking near the barbeque pit and the punks were scattered like ants.

Jaclyn laughed as they threw each other into the pool. "I had no idea you lived like this Devon." I was happy to see her smiling.

"Come on. Elie's probably waiting for us." Beyond the pool was a shack that stretched farther than the width of the house. Poorly painted black and smelling like grass, this concrete floored building was a paradise for the local bands.

Elie had the placed wired by a professional and punched out the windows for dramatic effect. The shack was stuffed with bodies and a few rockers were daring to create a mosh-pit.

Jaclyn and I stood against the wall just as Mono finished up their song. We clapped and cheered along with the crowd until I spotted Elie making his way over with a girl under his arm.

"Hey you made it and you didn't dress like a wuss. I'm proud of you, Devon."

I only grinned noticing the girl clinging to his t-shirt. I figured she was a different girl considering her chest was practically non-existent.

"What's up Jaclyn? You diggin'the party?"

Jaclyn nodded clearly amused. "I like what I see."

"Damn right you do. Hey, I need to borrow little Devon for a minute you mind?"

"Go right ahead."

"Awesome. This is my girl Stacey. Keep her company will ya babe?" Stacey looked like a stick with a stock of broccoli for a head. She stood next to Jaclyn with a lazy smile obviously sizing her up. I could tell how uncomfortable Jaclyn was getting.

"So." Elie yanked me to the other side of the shack. "Are we getting anywhere?"

"With Jaclyn? No. But she made an interesting deal with me."

"Really?" He winked at a passing girl and tugged on his plastic top hat.

"She said she would get a boyfriend if I get a girlfriend."

"Wow. Well tonight may be your chance at love. I set up another little shack of mine in the house-a love shack if you will."

"No. Forget it. I'm not going that far with her."

Elie's dark eyebrows shot up. "Not going that far?! What are you a 13 year old? This isn't Sunday school Devon."

"I'm just saying I rather take it slow."

"Yeah take it slow and then you make your move on her 75th birthday." He grabbed my shoulders and turned me around. "Just look at her man."

But Jaclyn was nowhere to be found. She as well as Stacey had left the shack.

"They probably went outside. Anyways, you go look for her and make that chick yours tonight. Now get out of my face." He shoved me outside and into the sea of people who were currently dancing with one another.

Someone had brought a boom box and was playing 103.7 The Freak, a hip-hop station that was growing bigger across the county. It felt disgusting having to slide my way through the tightly knit throng of writhing bodies.

I managed to spot Stacey taking shots with the hippies and asked her about Jaclyn.

"She said something about needing something to help her relax. She's really bitchy." I blinked as her arm fell over my shoulder. "I think she went inside the house."

"Okay. Thanks." I shrugged her arm off and moved passed her only to be grabbed around the waist. "Will you stop?"

"I want to help you find her. Maybe we can straighten out her attitude together."

I sighed at her grabby hands and continued up the back porch steps and proceeded into the house.

The inside and outside of Elie's property were a perfect match except the pitch of giggles were lower. The entire house smelled of a mix between booze and sweat that seemed to cling to my clothes much like Elie's broccoli-headed girlfriend.

"Maybe she went in here." Stacey wobbled in her 3 inch heels and stuck her head in a room filled with intertwined partygoers.

Ignoring her, I went to the first bathroom that was near the kitchen. A powder room that I discovered was occupied by two girls and a punk guy. I checked the living room where the sounds of squeaking leather and breathing nearly choked me to death.

I feared what was awaiting me upstairs and hoped to God that Jaclyn wasn't caught in the middle of anything. As I ascended the stairs, Stacey followed behind me.

"Hey there you are!" She giggled at my visible uneasiness. "It's sad that a shy guy like you can be so damn cute!" She slapped my ass and I nearly stumbled on the stairs.

Reaching the top, I turned around. "Look, I don't know whether you're always like this or it's just the alcohol but I am not interested in you. Go back to your damn boyfriend and leave me the hell alone."

Thinking she got the message by her speechlessness, I continued to the second bathroom which was much larger. Thankfully no one was inside and I turned around bumping into Stacey yet again.

"Stacey didn't I say I wasn't interested in you?"

"Hush." She closed the door behind her locking us both in the restroom. Biting her neon pink lips, she gazed at me through her mess of hair. "Do you want to hear a secret Devon?"

"N-no."

I looked on in both horror and curiosity as she lifted her flimsy dress over her head and threw it to the floor revealing everything. She wore no bra or panties and stood before me with a smirk on her face.

"I'm not a real brunette."

I fought the impulse and averted my eyes however Stacey moved closer. "Now tell me Devon, are you a real redhead?"

Her spider-like fingers reached the buckle of my jeans and I panicked pushing her behind me into the bathtub. She grabbed the shower curtain to support her but the entire thing broke and fell over her like a blanket.

Before she could get back up, I ran out of the bathroom nearly tripping down the stairs and out onto the porch where the beat of 50 cent's "Candy Shop" played at full blast.

I sighed to myself figuring Jaclyn must have gotten scared and left perhaps daring to walk it home. I felt like an idiot for not being there to reassure her. I was actually hoping tonight would bring us closer together.

Defeated, I sat on an old lawn chair abandoned by a man dressed like a can of soda. The swimming pool's surface was like a pot of boiling water with everyone diving in and splashing about like maniacs. Someone was blowing up black balloons and through them into the mix.

One happened to roll near my foot and I kicked it refusing its company. I watched as it spiraled into the air and descended near the boom box were a small group was drinking.

I gasped noticing a pair of brown legs submerged in a puddle of guys. Standing up to get a better look, it was definitely Jaclyn who was sitting on a guy's lap as she drank from a clear bottle.

As she moved to the beat of the music, the guy held her against him whispering in her ear making her smile. She was catching the attention of a few other guys who dared her to chug the bottle in her hands.

Remembering what she said earlier, I approached the group pushing away the idle hands resting on Jaclyn's waist, shoulder, and legs. I yanked the bottle of Smirnoff away and threw it into the pool earning me the chance to be called some rather confusing names.

"Hey man, don't be such a weebler." A guy wearing noting but cargo pants shouted as he made a house of cards.

Ignoring the disapproval, I grabbed Jaclyn's hand and tugged her away from the boys only to find her pulling away from me. She giggled and covered her face trying her best to stand up straight. "Let me go I'm having fun."

"You wanted me to protect you remember."

"I don't need your protection Devi. I can handle myself." She tried to rejoin the boys but I grabbed her again hating the picture of her leaving with some other guy I don't know.

"Get off of me!" She pushed against my chest causing me to stumble backwards and into the swimming pool.

The music and drunken laughter suddenly became muffled and I could no longer see Jaclyn's glaring face; only cigarettes, balloons, playing cards, and lots of light blue.