"Don't cry, man."
"But it's still not over yet!"
"Your girlfriend likes it!" Rusty said.
"She likes that Johnny Depp is in it," Jimmy argued. "She's blind to everything else that's horrible about this movie!"
"Guys," Claire said with an annoyed sigh, glancing in succession at the two boys sitting on either side of her from her place on the couch in Rusty's family's apartment. "I can't hear the movie."
"The movie's three fucking hours long!" Jimmy said. Rusty's parents, the mother cleaning their dishes from the pasta dinner the five of them had enjoyed tonight, and the father reading the newspaper on the dining table nearby, didn't seem fazed by his language, hopefully because they agreed with him. "And it's a Jerry Bruckheimer movie! Seriously, how much cerebral stimulation could you possibly expect to be missing?"
"You're going miss some stimulation of a different sort if you keep at it, buster."
That shut Jimmy up, but expressly because it did, Rusty pointed and laughed at him with a loud and victorious, "Ha!"
"Fuck yourself," Jimmy said with a spiteful turn in the other direction, towards the parents.
"Mom!" Rusty shouted. "Jimmy told me to go fuck myself!"
"Did he have a good reason for it?" Sandra Gutierrez said as she shut off the faucet and wiped her hands with a small towel. She shrugged and added, "I'm just curious, Rusty."
Rusty leaned back against the peach-colored sofa in mild shame. "I laughed because Claire threatened to cut him off from sex if he didn't shut it."
Claire nodded. "But that still doesn't excuse all the talking during my movie."
"Your movie isn't even that good, though, Claire," Marcus said. "You said so yourself."
"Yeah, but this is only my second time watching it." She reclined, like Rusty, against the sofa and added, "The second time's a lot like the first time, except a little less painful since you at least know what to expect."
"I don't know," Jimmy said with a tiresome glance at his watch. "I was there with you the first time, and you still look like you're fighting back the pain even now."
"What exactly are we talking about here, Jimmy?"
"I'm not saying you don't enjoy the pain a little," he said with a casual but knowing glance at his girlfriend. "Otherwise you wouldn't even bother watching this damn movie again. Am I wrong?"
"Am I wrong?" he repeated needlessly.
"You're not wrong, Jimmy," Rusty added. "You're just an asshole."
"I know you're both shamelessly competing for my affections," Claire said, "but I sure appreciate that you can work together to make Big Lebowski references when you argue." That's when her phone rang, and after making a quick check of who it was trying to contact her, she turned to her romantic rivals and said, "It's Holly, guys. I'll be right back." She lifted herself off the couch and into Rusty's room on the right side of a short hallway, behind which she partially closed the door.
"She didn't even ask us to pause it," Rusty remarked while Jimmy focused his hearing on Claire's phone conversation.
"That's because she knows I'm right about this movie," Jimmy replied, while reaching for the remote to lower the volume slightly. For the next minute or so, he managed to successfully eavesdrop on Claire while feigning a bored interest on the film being watched.
"He did?" he heard Claire ask excitedly. "Did he like it? …That's great! …No, of course not, I'm not stupid…He's not going to find out, Holly…It's fine, really, he's in the other room watching Pirates 3 with Rusty… Oh, you mean Kent got for that his birthday, too?" Jimmy clutched his fists and bit his lip at the mention of the name. "Boy's got good taste. Tell him I said hi. Bye." The second he heard her hang up, Jimmy practically jumped out of his seat and ended up startling Claire just as she was making her way through the doorway, and with his physical presence and the glare on his face he successfully made her backtrack inside the room. "Jimmy," she said rather stupidly.
Rusty appeared behind him while he began berating her. "Send Kent a little birthday present, did you?" Jimmy said. "Without telling me?"
Claire scoffed. "First of all," she said with an index finger in the air, "I did tell you I was planning on sending him something. I said we should put both of our names on it, but you wouldn't have any of it."
"Maybe you shouldn't be talking about other guys when this one," he said with a beating of one fist on his chest, "is still making love to you!"
"If you could call it that," Rusty said.
"Shut up, Rusty," Jimmy scowled as Rusty's parents appeared in the hallway behind their son.
"Second," Claire continued while lifting another finger, "even if you didn't want to do it, I still would have, because Kent's my friend and I care about him."
"More than you should."
"What's going on?" Sandra asked.
"Nothing," Jimmy said. "Private talk. The rest of you can leave."
"This is our house," Marcus said.
"And this is our relationship."
"Barely," Claire said softly, a comment that caused Jimmy to nearly instantaneously turn his head back towards her.
"Don't you start that," he growled. "Don't you dare."
"Start?" Claire said. "I'm threatening to end something here, Jimmy."
"Can you two take this outside?" Rusty said. "As poetic as the thought of you two breaking up in my room sounds on paper, watching Claire develop bad memories in here is not something I want!"
"Thanks." With a small smile on her face, Claire began walking in Jimmy's direction, though her gaze was obviously not on him. "You're sweet."
"He's a pervert," Jimmy said as he blocked her path with his arm, and when she tried to go the other route, he moved his body in unison with hers.
"Let me through."
Rusty grabbed Jimmy's shoulder. "Move! You heard her!"
"Don't make me punch you."
Rusty and Jimmy shared mutual glares, and then the former turned quickly to his parents. "He raped her!"
"What?" Sandra gasped.
"It was not like that!" Jimmy and Claire said in a strange sort of agreement.
"Then what was it like?" Marcus said. "On second thought, I don't care. Get out of this house, Jimmy."
"Innocent until proven guilty," Jimmy said with a bitter glance at Rusty's father, although seeing as Sandra was the lawyer, she might have been the more appropriate recipient of this comment.
"Somehow I'm getting the feeling you're not the innocent type, kid. Now leave, before I call the police."
"You don't know the circumstances, Mr. Gutierrez. It's a lot more complicated than this hapless piece of shit is making it out to be."
"Fuck you," Rusty said.
"As if you want the cops in this house any more than I do," Jimmy laughed. His grinning ended abruptly with a sudden turn back to Claire. "Now, we're all going to settle this like adults, right?"
"You really are hanging by a string, Jimmy," Claire said with a sigh and a shake of her head. She crossed her arms and turned the other way. "Send him home, you guys. I'm not leaving this room until he's gone."
"It's fine," Jimmy said with equivalent disdain. "I can remove myself." The Gutierrez family made way for him to pass through, and they heard him slam the door to the apartment and were able to see him pass by the window on his way to the outside of the complex.
Claire sighed and let her head hang down, which was partly why Rusty was so quick to comfort her. "Are you all right?" he asked her, gently lifting her chin with his hand while his other hand rested on her shoulder. She nodded and smiled as a tear traveled down her cheek. "Told you he was an asshole." She laughed quietly.
"You know," Marcus began as he and his wife sent the teenagers in the room deeply concerned looks, "I would really like to know the details of this so-called rape."
"Well, this was a nice birthday," Kent nodded and smiled, with all his gifts in a rather haphazard pile on the table in front of him, except for Holly's, which was wrapped around his finger. "Thank you all, for everything."
"It's not over yet," Rod said.
"No kidding," Rick added. "Holly still has to do the nasty with Kent." This statement received shocked looks, as expected, but by now Holly was starting to get used to Rick and his questionable behavior.
"In time," Holly remarked, caressing Kent's shoulders as she stood behind his spot at the dining room table around which everyone was gathered. "In time."
"I was referring to this," Rod continued with an annoyed glance at both Rick and Holly as he pulled a small red box out of his pocket and slid it across the table to his son. "Open it," he suggested, as though the task he'd put before the birthday boy was such a mystery.
Kent opened it slowly, inadvertently giving the maximum dramatic effect to the moment. Inside he saw a small golden key with a tiny black pad of buttons attached. He gasped, though probably not for the reasons his father was hoping for. As he removed the metal item from its box for closer examination, he pondered out loud, "Are these…is this…?"
"A car!" Holly said, wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her head next to his with glee.
"A Porsche," Rod clarified.
"…Oh," Kent said blankly, dropping the keys loudly on the table.
"Dude," Mike said.
"I don't know why he looks unhappy," Rick said as he and the others began to take notice of the look on his face. "I mean, he's obviously not thinking about all the pussy he's going to get in that thing."
Holly looked back at Rick and raised an eyebrow.
"Your pussy, of course!" Rick said with an embarrassed laugh. "Just because he'll be getting a lot of it doesn't mean it's all going to belong to different people!" He turned to Rod as the party guests' thoughts merged with those of the recipient of this extravagant gift. "Um…where is this Porsche that you speak of, Mr. Thomas?"
"In the garage, dumbass," Rod answered.
"Don't insult my friends," Kent grumbled.
"Because Rick is so worthy of praise. What's the matter, Kent?"
"You just insulted my friend, that's what's the matter!"
"No, this is about the car," Rod sighed. "Please, tell your old man why you think this is a shitty gift."
"It's not shitty…" Kent said. "It's just…a sports car, Dad? Really? You saw this and thought it screamed, 'Kent'!"
"Actually," Rod replied as he calmly removed the keys from Kent's hand and put them back in their box, "I saw this car and thought it would make other people scream, 'Kent'!"
"See?" Rick said. "Pussy!"
"Do be quiet, Rick," Iris muttered.
"Everybody else in this family knows I'm the outdoorsy type," Kent explained, a rather unfortunate thing to have to do the parents that had been raising him for sixteen years now. "I figured, if I was going to get a car, I'd probably get some kind of truck, something with four-wheel drive, something I can take out into the wilderness, something…practical."
"You don't even have your license yet, man," Mike said.
"Pussy is practical," Rick said in what was nearly a whisper.
"God, Rick, would you give it a rest?" Iris moaned. "We know the chicks will dig his ride! …No offense, Holly."
"Why would I be offended by that?" Holly replied.
"Do you not dig his new ride?" Tom asked her.
Holly shrugged. "A car's a car, as far as I'm concerned."
"I'm not saying I won't use it, Dad," Kent said, reclaiming the keys. "Just that, you know, eventually I plan to get something better suited to who I am. Really, it's a great gift."
"I should've known you'd hate it," Rod said with a bitter sigh.
"I don't hate it!"
"You hate everything I do for you."
"That's not true!" Kent said. "Sure, you could stand to do a lot better when it comes to a lot of things…but nobody's perfect!"
"Let's not do this," Gina said with understandable caution, stepping between father and son. "Kent, there's one more thing. One more birthday surprise, but it's not just for you."
Kent turned to Holly and took her hand in excitement.
Gina paused to build up the surprise she'd mentioned, and then, when the tension was about to reach a critical point, finally broke the news. "We're going to be visiting Aunt Theresa and Uncle Calvin again."
"Plane tickets are already booked," Rod said.
"When are we going?" Kent asked, fidgeting around in his chair.
"Two weeks," Gina said.
"Two weeks! All right!" he exclaimed, before his attentions turned to the girl whose hand he was holding. "When, in two weeks, exactly?"
"We fly out the day after Christmas," Rod said. "And here's the catch: they don't even know we're coming."
"This means I won't be here for your birthday," Kent sighed as he and Holly shared a sad look.
"Great," Rod said. "Now he's going to bitch about this, too!"
"I'm not!" Kent said. "I love Calvin and Theresa, you know that! And the fact that we're going to surprise them, I love that even more! I love being in Jersey, being away from all this for a change!" He looked from his parents back to Holly. "I just wish I could be here with you for your sweet sixteen."
"You will," Holly said, placing her hand over her heart. "In here." This cheesy but nonetheless true declaration of their affection for one another received an appropriate "aww" from the rest of the houseguests, even Rick, who somehow managed to look past the fact that Holly had just called some attention to her ample breasts. "And also," she said with a genuinely proud smile, "we have these things called phones now that we can use to talk to each other from far, far away."
Kent kissed her on the lips, which received a slightly less universal "aww," and then told her, "Me and Alexander Graham Bell are going to make sure you have the best birthday possible while I'm away."
"Or," a more contemporary Alex added, "you could, you know, try this even newer thing called online chatting. Hook up a webcam, it's like you're there."
"I apologize," Kent said. "I seem to have neglected the fact that we live in the twenty-first century now." He turned to his parents and asked them, "Do Aunt Theresa and Uncle Calvin have web accounts we could use while we're back there?"
"I do," Rod said with a raise of his hand, "but if you think I'm going to let you two waste precious hard drive space with your incessant and frustratingly unresolved flirting, you'd better hope Calvin is more accommodating."
"You two really should get with the program," Alex said. "I know you use e-mail and Google and stuff, but guys, social networking exists for a reason. Not putting you down," he said with his hands up in case the couple thought he wasn't willing to abandon his cause, "just trying to help you get the most out of your relationship."
"We'll consider it," Holly said. "But personally, I like not having skanky pictures of me floating the interwebs just waiting to be ogled by some creep I've never met."
"Are you suggesting there are skanky pictures of you elsewhere?" Rick asked. "Ever done anything with that cell phone you might not want the rest of us to see, Holly?"
"That's for me to know, and Kent to find out."
"Well," Kent replied, the blankness of this response masking the surprise underneath, "happy birthday to me, then."
"Come on," Holly said, patting him on the shoulder and thus cueing him to rise and follow her as she left for his bedroom. "Let's go celebrate your big day with some more naughty writhing around each other's bodies."
"Thanks again, everybody!" Kent shouted before disappearing back upstairs.