I could see it didn’t actually hurt and he knew exactly why it wouldn’t have surprised me if he had read my texts.
“Whatever, give me that.” I swiped the bottle from him and took another shot. This time it burned away the annoyance that was furrowed up on my forehead.
“That a girl. Though I must say, I’m incredibly curious as to see what texts you might be getting. Are you talking about me? Nice things I hope. You can get pretty mean.”
“Shut up.” I waved at him. “Just play some music from your phone.”
“Done and done.” He brought it out from his front coat pocket and laid it on the table. He made quick work of it, flicking through the screens until Queens of the Stone Age came on. It was energizing enough to go along with the increasing drunkenness I was feeling, but not eerie enough to make me feel more afraid. Not that I actually was afraid now that I was pleasantly drunk. Dex was right; it was curing what ailed me.
We talked about music for the next little bit, a usual topic between the two of us since we had very similar music tastes, until the booze made me sway a little. With his handsome face expertly lit in half glow, half shadow, I became more aware of how much, uh, looser I was feeling. The warmth was everywhere now and I leaned further across the table at every word he said. I felt like some stupid adoring fan but there was no way around it. I felt playful. I felt frisky. This was bad, bad news.
It wasn’t just me though. He had a bit more swagger in his movements. Plus he was giving me the eyes (it at least looked that way) and acting more flirty than usual.
Maybe this wasn’t the best idea. Or maybe it was the best idea ever. I wanted to find out, something sober Perry would never dare do.
“Let’s play a game,” I said after we discussed who was the better drummer, Dave Lombardo or Neil Peart.
He raised his brow and his bottom lip twitched. He was intrigued. “OK…what kind of game? Strip poker?”
Again, I couldn’t tell if he was taking the piss or not but I acted like he wasn’t. “Do you have cards?”
“How about ‘I Have Never?’ “
It was the good old drinking game where you take a sip if “never” is a lie. I was a champion in college. Mainly because the game got sexual really fast and then I never got drunk accordingly. It was a great way to get to know people better though.
“Now you’re trying to get me drunk…” he mused with a smile.
“You’re already drunk.”
“So are you.”
“Then this should be interesting.”
He pursed his lips and thought things over. Then he said, “We’ll see what you’ve got. I’m going first. I have never…shoplifted.”
He didn’t drink. But I did. God, it burned.
“Perry! I am appalled!” he said, slamming his fist down on the table in mock fury.
I wasn’t proud of it, but I told him I had shoplifted numerous times in high school. Makeup from the local drug store, actually. Not cuz I needed it or couldn’t afford it but because of the thrill. I guess, anyway. Young Perry did a lot of stupid things.
It was my turn. I racked my brain for things I could get out of Dex.
“I have never…been arrested,” I said.
He didn’t drink. That surprised me. Yet, I had been arrested, so I had to. I took another timid swig.
His jaw literally dropped open. “What the fuck? What for?”
“For the shoplifting! I got caught one time. They arrested me, called my parents…anyway.”
“What? Don’t ‘anyway’ me. That’s huge. Even I haven’t been arrested.”
“I know! That’s why I’m surprised.” I pointed at him.
“Wow, I have got to step up my game. You are out…bad–assing me right now.”
I gotta admit I was loving the look of astonishment in his eyes. It felt pretty freaking good. “Your turn,” I said.
He thought about it for a moment. I caught a wicked glint in his eye before he said, “Fine. I’ve never had a threesome.”
Wow. And he was just jumping straight to the point. Of course I never had a threesome before. I’ve barely had twosomes. He probably did though. He was just looking for an excuse to show off.
But he didn’t drink either.
“Huh,” I said. “Did you think I’d actually drink?”
“I don’t know, I didn’t think you were a shoplifting criminal either.”
“Oh, whatever. OK, I’ve never kissed a guy.” I couldn’t help but smile as I drank to that one. I watched Dex carefully. I could see the workings of his mind behind his heavy, drunk eyes. Finally he drank.
“Are you serious?” I asked incredulously.
He shrugged. “Does kissing your bandmate on stage count? He was a guy. And for the record, I didn’t like it. Much.”
I shook my head. “No. It doesn’t count.”
“Ah, rats then. OK, I’ve never had sex in public.”
And he drank to that right away, naturally. I didn’t though. No explanation needed.
Still, I had to ask him, “Where?”
“Where haven’t I?”
“OK, that’s enough,” I said quickly, not wanting to get the mental image of Jenn and him in the sweaty throws of passion in a public restroom somewhere. “I have never….told someone I loved them when I knew I didn’t.”
It was a fairly heavy question considering the brevity of the scene. I wasn’t sure why I asked it but I did.
There was a pause. Then he reached for the bottle and took a small swig, wincing.
He cleared his throat and said, “Well, that was certainly, uh, poignant. I’ll bring it back around again. I’ve never been skinny dipping.”
We both didn’t drink.
“Interesting. Too bad the water is freezing here,” he said with a wink.
“Ha. All righty. Next one I hope we don’t both suck at. Let’s see… I’ve never been cheated on.”
And I said it before I even realized what I said. This question is normally standard, I mean it’s a common occurrence these days, sadly. It’s just that in Red Fox, Dex’s old college friend Maximus had brought up the fact that Dex’s ex–girlfriend, Abby, had been cheating on him. He found out. They fought. And she died later that night from driving drunk. In Maximus’s opinion, Dex had a hell of a time trying to recover from it. He still didn’t know if he had.
Dex had never known what Maximus had told me, so my reaction to asking the question (which was a face full of ‘oh, shit, shouldn’t have said that’) probably told him all he needed to know. His face was pained. Almost angry. He knew now.
I quickly covered it up by reaching for the bottle and taking the biggest gulp possible. I wasn’t lying either.
The flash of animosity and regret quickly disappeared from his eyes as he saw what I was doing and curiosity took over. I noticed he didn’t drink. I didn’t blame him, though he probably felt like it.
“Who cheated on you?” he asked.
“My boyfriend in college. Mason. He was a dick.”
I sighed and felt like drinking again, just to get through answering the question. I wasn’t still hurt; I mean, it had been a few years now, but the feelings could sometimes feel fresh. I didn’t want to get into them here and now, when I was feeling vulnerable. Dex had the right idea by lying.
“Uh…I don’t know. I guess I wasn’t attractive enough for him.”
“That’s never it,” he said quietly. “It was something else.”
“OK, it was something else then. Whatever, who cares. He didn’t love me enough. He didn’t want me, I don’t know. He’s an asshole, that’s all I know.”
“You never found out why?”
I gave him a stupid look. “Don’t you think I fucking asked?”
“OK, OK, no need to get mad here. It was your question.”
I rolled my shoulders, trying to get the building tension out and stared at the wavering light of the lantern. “He said it just happened. It was a study partner of his. He just didn’t have the balls to tell me he wasn’t in love with me anymore. He broke my heart and I’ll never forgive him for that. It really fucked me over.”
I glanced over at Dex. He was looking into the forest with a strange look on his face. Maybe he was relating.
“Should we play something else?” I asked. “This took a turn for the suck.”
Dex looked down at the phone to check the time. “Sure. I was having fun.”
I gave him a small smile. “Sorry. I know I brought it on myself.”
“Hey, it’s all good. I learned something new about you. Might explain why Perry Palomino is perpetually single.”
It might. It still smarted to hear him say that though.
“I had wondered, you know,” he said softly. “I was sure you’d just have to show your face at a concert in Portland and have a crop of guys in studded vests to choose from. I went to an Anthrax show at the Memorial Coliseum, way, way back in the day. I saw many Perry ‘types’ over there.”
The truth of that was I rarely went to concerts, even to my favorite bands, because more often than not I had to go alone. But I didn’t tell him that.
Dex reached into his pocket and brought out his pack of cigarettes. He offered one to me.
“Why would I want that?” I said asked while shaking my head and pushing the pack back towards him.
“I dunno. We’re camping, drinking whisky out of the bottle, seems like the time when everyone smokes.”
He lit it, taking a puff and blowing the smoke to the side of him. The light breeze carried it away into the darkness. “How about Truth or Dare?”
That game was no better than the one before, but at least you had the dare element, which could get pretty exciting, or at least funny. Frivolity is what we needed. I agreed and we were off and running.
We stuck to dares for the first few rounds to put enough distance between us and I Have Never. I dared him to take a large shot, he dared me to sing along with the next song on his playlist, I dared him to run around the picnic table, while he dared me to take a large shot and squawk like a chicken.
Then it was my turn again.
“Truth or dare?” I asked, leaning forward on my elbows, swaying slightly.
“Dare,” he said without thinking about it.
“I dare you to kiss me,” I said. I don’t know why I said it. OK, I knew why, but it still surprised me to hear it coming out of my mouth, especially when we were just talking about cheating and all that. And, you know, it wasn’t like me to be so blunt.
Dex, too, was taken aback. He barely showed it but I could tell he did not see that one coming. Good. It was about time I saw him shocked at something I said, though I guess the arrest and shoplifting story did a good job of that.
I watched him carefully, keeping a drunk, breezy smile on my face in case he was too freaked out about it. I took on the role of the teasing temptress. All in good fun, nothing on the line here, no one’s feelings at stake. I was breezy.