So i drink a lot, right? sure you do too. drink's what we got on this odd earth. we got smoke, we got drink, we got eat, what we do with our mouth, what goes in it, but mostly: we drink. it's good to drink, the way beer always smells old even though it's lived less than you, and the way liquor smells like it's going to burn a hole into you.

This one time we were drinking, you'd want to hear about it. we threw a party. we always throw parties, see. a friend of ours owned an apartment not far off campus, and he was a man, the guy who bought us beer. eric and jason and matt and tony and marcus and greg (our man) and i threw them all the time. say every wednesday, and damn near every satuday. they pulled in cash, too, but that never lasted as we were always putting something in our mouths.

So this one time, before wednesday night rolled around we decided a keg was good, and the everclear we procured was spectacular, and mixed that liquor in with a can of kool-aid and all into this cleaned-out storage bin, and set it behind the bar with the keg. eric and i stood back there, and greg and marcus left for a hockey game as we got the party started. jason and matt had already arrived and were drinking and greeting people at the door, but tony was at his job until 11 that night, and would show up too late to be any good for this story.

Boy, when you go to college you expect parties, you can expect them every day of the week. but when you run yourself a party every wednesday, the first day people feel brave enough after tuesday, you get noticed. and this particular night just happened to be the big one, the big night we'd all remember. EVERYONE came. people i never met before came, all walks of them, putting down fives and getting cups for the keg. and we had some putrid shit in the keg. Nady Ice, the king of piss yellow alcohol branded beer. beer, they'd call anything beer. well we had it, and they drank it. EVERYONE put down a five, a big ugly one and we filled them into cups and put them on the bar and they'd take them off and down their hatches, and refills of this putrid shit. everyone... beautiful young ladies, 18 to 20 somethings of leg and class and lips looking at you for a refill, man, you son of a bitch! guzzling the jungle juice, me behind the bar with a bottle of leftover yuengling and spare cups of the piss for whenever i felt brave. the men hit on all of them, those ladies, they argued politics, asked about shoe sizes. it got nasty watching them work. few of them would get going anywhere. they didn't have a house with a keg and jungle juice. we did. i refilled more, smiling, thinking, baby, maybe you know who sidney bechet is, and wouldn't mind while i played that in the bedroom, gave you something tight in you, yes... refill another, then another, then another then shit, i thought about it, i didn't have time to imagine, or drink for that matter, too many people were coming in.

I looked around, checked the money cup. over 100 already, an hour or so in. a guy came from the beer pong table with the pitcher. eric filled it for him while i recounted the money. that's 100 plus. we got above that in the next five minutes, around 150. one-fifty divided by five while drunk makes you stumble to the bathroom for a real piss giggling. i got to the mirror in there. a lot of people won't make class tomorrow. all of them drinking the everclear too. i won't make class too. i never make it, not on days like this. i finished my beer in there, staring at myself. is that a zit? fuck. but they're drunk. what matters is they only see one part of you right now, buddy, they see the romance. they understand something they miss when sober. nobody knows how it works but it does. they're all beautiful. what have they got? they've all got something. they've all got zits and every one of them is going to piss in this toilet and look in this mirror like you buddy. hit on one of them. the next one that looks you're going to smile. you can handle it. it's your party, wednesday all night, beer all night, now grab that door handle, swing it open, gently.

I bump into about 40 people making it back around the bar. hell i need a refill too i say to this kind cute lady, and get her’s second but tip the tap so she gets it pretty on the top. greg and marcus come on over to the bar and i see them. they’re back, backup. the beer man and marcus his best friend. eric and i soon look around and get some backup behind the bar, from a friend of ours, elliot. elliot's a freshman who's never without his hat, and he's to the right of me and we're squaring away everything now. we're all there, marcus at the beer pong, greg relaxing large, and us meeting every lady on the planet.

To the right of elliot he comes up to the bar, pushed and pushing to slightly behind the bar he comes. a big guy, a gut, taller than us, what's up (he says). 'sup bro. refill? ok. elliot gets his refill. eric's got problems with him behind the bar, says it, and elliot echoes. what? the kid says. trouble, we're thinking. look man, this kid says, don't fucking touch me!

"You don't want to fucking touch me! you want trouble?"
"no man," elliot's saying back. "it's cool, we're cool right?"
"you just gotta move back away from the bar brother."
"ok, just don't fucking touch me man."
"no problem."

I got to piss again. i head back to the head. i cut in line (house rules), but there's a few girls in there shitting and vomiting all the everclear up. i head around to the bar area, up the stairs to the second floor and knock on it. opening up is jason. "hey man! hey... you think greg'll mind?" i can hardly smell it from drinking so much, but i sure smell it. i swish in and close the door. a few guys in there i met at one point, jason standing next to me with a laughing grin, and matt on the toilet.

"No way i'll tell. let me get some of that shit, huh?"
"oh yeah! sure bro! take a big hit!"

i put my beer on the sink. it's a pretty thing, jason's own bowl and nugs. a black bic lighter. i flick on the fire and pucker it on my lips, cup the hole, lower the flame and suck wind, wind turns to fire, wraps on the nugs, smoke lowers around the bottom, i pull my finger fast and suck, smoke shoots from the small devil's clarinet through my lips, mouth, winds down into my lung sacs, the blood in my body lifts it through on in me, to my heart, my heart takes it, pumps it around me, through me again, i pull the pipe away, pass to the right in times of war, back to jason, through them again. they take big, brave experienced hits, all of us.

"Aww fuck it's done! ahahahahaahahaa!" he packs it again. i lean back and laugh. yes, oh oh yes, you're right on buddy. zit? what is zat? jason's giggling as he sprinkles it in (do you mind if i test it? go ahead i say!) and it passes back around to me. i spread the fire on and bring it on through, pass it again now.

A man once said without it, when you wake up, you know already. you know what day it is. it's wednesday, the middle of it, the middle of the week the middle of the year the middle of the class and job and work and writing lifting running, the busses you get on and the cars you key, the watch you look at, where time tells you how far away you are to sitting down. without it you'll know exactly how great you'll feel every day. how bad you'll feel. then you take it in. illegal, death's clarinet, you play it with fire, pull it all in, pass it to a friend, rest back, forget about it. become what a human is when they forget to zip their pants, don't care about clothes or a car. concentrate on every second. tell yourself how much you're smiling. don't feel stupid, buddy. this is good, don't worry. you're good. don't worry 'bout nothin'. atta boy.

Then it's kicked again. all right! all right! i tell us what, we say, laughing. let's raid the 'fridge! i'm thirsty, let's tap the keg! we'll be right back up! we'll be right back! we got more! the rest of us leave, matt's still on the toilet... we get on down there, we all get some beer, except me. end of the keg. fuck, i got half a cup. i kill the cup and look at the jungle juice. i look at the jungle juice and scoop the second to last. elliot then gets the last for a girl. that's it. we're all done. eric looks at me piss tired, not as drunk as i.

"Yo," i tell him, "i'll get the back door. get greg and we'll get them all out of here."

I get back to the door and hold on to it. a guy's back there with me talking. how ya doin? great man, listen... i'm telling you, no shit... our kegs kicked. aw fuck. yeah man, sorry man, if i'd have known about you i'd have told them, i'd have said, hey fuck, get this cat a last cup. it's cool bro. yeah man, everything's cool... we're just getting everyone out now, you know? sure, i'll stay back here with ya. cool. i've got my handle on the door good and open it for the groups of friends who're leaving. greg's walking around the house with a maglite. he's turning it off and on and i'm turning the house's lights on and off. we get them going, then i fall down. the guy next to me helps me up. i wonder about my head, then open it (the door) for the next people. my head's ok. i'm feeling good, man!

We get about half of the million people out. then he's back, that kid from behind the bar. he's over near me, about a yard away. eric's holding him by the shoulder, nudging him back to the door. then it comes; a right cross, straight into eric's jaw, eric reels back, being a skinny kid, then another kid lurches in to push this guy away, and he throws another one! right into this new guy, and he's hit two people, when greg comes from between and raises the maglite high into the air and gets him right on the crown of the head. the guy looks up, looks around, sort of sad and confused, and we manage to push him out of the back door. everyone's looking around. i lock the back door and greg moves to the front and opens it up:

"We're going out the front door now guys! let's go! out the front! there's no beer! get out! the cops are going to come!"

They start shuffling to the front. the kid with the bruised mouth comes over to me. let me out, he says. it's a bad idea. he's not as skinny as eric but he's not big enough, and he wants to fight. i can't let him fight this guy out back. it's a big guy. i grab him and stop him. say, "no man, i know you can beat him, i can beat him, but we can't let it happen. think of the cops," think of anything, your skull your college degree how much you drank "you don't want to fight him, he's not worth shit!" yeah, ok, he says. then eric's over near me. i sort of hug him, knowing he's too mad to push back. i get to moving him away when we hear the back wall shake.

Back in the day, look far enough and even brawls were born. they've been around since the greeks became merry and wine and folk cheered in the same space. in america we had the west, we had duals, and then we had ragtime. new orleans, 1914, basin street, around the red light district. you had fellas like jelly roll morton, jass's first, and we have the bars thrashing. someone comes in, you have the house run rag, and a big brawl, over all that music going, and here it was again, shaking down the walls, outside 3 of his friends from the football team show up, fists percussion, a girl scared knocking on the door, "let me in! they're gonna kill me!"

Eric grabs the handle and they rush in. three of them, their friend a little behind. they ask me:

"Who hit who?"
i don't think. i improvise. i jass jab my finger to the front of the house, "there's they goes! they ran out front!" i jog in line with them, open the door for them and they go out, and i get it locked behind them.
"ok!" i yell, "get the last one out the back!"

Too late. greg and him are on the ground scuffling. the front door starts shaking. i grab the handle. over my shoulder, the bolts break off and suddenly i'm holding the whole door. i see their arms coming around for my shoulders. "fuck! i yell, fuck fuck fuck!"

everyone looks, three of them
and me. i do

What anyone would do when there's a staircase close to them. i shoot up there, the jass stops, the door's been broken down. i should be down there. why run away? i'm strong. just keep going up, turn the corner, see the bathroom, get in and lock it. matt's passed out on the toilet with his pants down. i put my ear near the door. i don't even have to. my shoes are shaking, my knees. my ankle's sprained. you can hear it down there. what a brawl sounds like. bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang again over in your ear inside you through you, in the bathroom, wanting to open the door, scared and high and your heart in your throat. are your friends all right?

"HEY matt! matt!"
"we have to get out of here!"
"there's a fight, a big fight going on down..." i can't even speak i notice, my words aren't even coming out. "a fight man, downstairs, we have to get you out of here. can you walk?"
"yo... yeah... a fight?"
"that's right, are you ready?"
"we got to go, you go out the front and i'll help."
"let's go."

I open the door slow, and we move downstairs. the house is mostly empty. marcus, greg, eric, jason, elliot, and a few girls are in the kitchen yelling about things. "i got him good!" greg says. matt leaves out the front, not needing to bother with the door lying at our feet.

We start cleaning up. someone called the cops and everyone ran. we're all cleaning and everyone's talking about it. greg fell to the ground and then i yelled "fuck fuck fuck," the three came in and tackled random people in confusion, one tackled eric bad, marcus backed away, a girl in our house now nailed one in the head with her stiletto, greg ran out front, the mob followed a fight on the lawn, then a housemate came out (adam) and announced he called the cops, and that was it, here we were cleaning the house. we put the keg into a shopping cart we once stole (i'll tell you about that later too), and wheeled it out of the back of the house, dumped it in a dumpster, and got back in.

We cleaned up and sprayed down, put what was left of the door back in place, and the last of us boys (the girls ran shortly before we got the door on) hid in the back bedroom as greg talked to the cops. no officer, there was no party... yes, they just crashed in, a few of us are hurt, the door is broke, we want to press charges. elliot started freaking out. elliot's a strong, smart black kid from around the same place in Philadelphia i am. he came to college for an education, to get away from this. to get away from kids like this. i calm him down, i say brother, i'm from philly too, we've been through the same fire. i understand. there's no jass, no rock, no rap and no beer or weed that can stop a fight from hitting your gut. no friends or women that can keep you from feeling alone right then. run up into a bathroom, any excuse you have, get hit by a fist, a big greedy fist, this wednesday, the door broke down, the last party we'll ever throw. a mirror will crack you under, the toilet makes you lose, every door is hard to open. a big fight in a small house, nobody together anymore. but see, we say, we all have our backs, we were all against them, we all did something, we're all okay. it was almost even a little funny. even though you can hear all the pounding and shattering in the house, all the people screaming, fuck fuck, the door down, you got tackled, no jass, just sad and mad, doesn't matter where you were. eric and marcus talk about that girl's kick with the stiletto. what a kick. but nothing happy about it that night. just a lot of talk. a lot of looking at your own knuckles. a lot of thinking about how easy it is to lose and be a loser.

Is that it? football players? what about the women? those nugs? don't you even remember tuesday, buddy, or thursday? why the fight? does it really matter that much? why did you run away this time?

You test the fat on your gut then. you promise to work out more. you turn up the music and joke more. so scared about not being the winner. never more scared while you're alive.

But, outside of yourself, right now, there's everyone, five or six of them, just as big as you, joking about how you fucked up and they fucked up, checking the hardness of their knuckles, reminding you as long as they're ok, you are. eric, i heard you kicked ass. yeah, i did a little. greg comes in, the police are idiots.

Nothing you can do. but tell as many women as you can. at other parties.

Wah wah wah, there's no capitalization, wah wah wah...

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