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How are you? I hope your summer is going well. Hard as it is to believe, I miss your sardonic sense of humor and strange habits, like when you wear your Red Sox cap with your Chicago Cubs vintage t-shirt. I know I’ll see you in a week when I get back from L.A., but I just had to write.
I’m in the hospital as I write this. Before you ask, no, I’m not sick. But I might as well be. Since I haven’t written you since the last day of school (remember? I came over to your house and we stayed up until one-thirty watching layers of horror movies), I’ll recount the events that have occurred up until this point.
As you know, I headed to L.A. with my best friend Veronica and her family in early June. All we cared about was the sun, the shops and the studios. One day, Veronica and I attended her bachelor uncle’s beach party. Denver had rented all of Pacific Beach for his 25th birthday; however, stray party crashers were there. Veronica, indignant, marched right up to them. There were two of them; a blonde, petite girl with short, flipped-out, Charlie’s Angels-esque hair, and a tall, slender blonde guy that looked like Leonardo DiCaprio circa 1998. They looked about twenty years old.
“Pardon,” Veronica said in her impeccable British accent as we joined the crashers at the barbeque, “but I don’t recall you being a friend of Denver.”
The Leo twin shrugged, already mid-bite into his hotdog. “I’m a new friend of your…boyfriend, Denver? We met at the…party on Sunset last night. Did he tell you? Because he just invited me on the spot, so he probably didn’t tell you…”
“Smooth,” Veronica folded her arms over her chest in triumph. “Denver’s my uncle.”
“Oh, well, he’s just so young that he looked like he could be your age…” Leo simpered. Just then, Denver came along.
“Hey, Spencer! How’s it going?” Denver fake-punched him. “Who’s your lovely guest?”
“I’m Chloe,” the girl spoke, removing her Chanel sunglasses. She was the poster girl for European style—black, knee-high boots, crème minidress and a turquoise satchel from the latest Italian designer.
“Cool. The DJ’s playing all the wrong music,” Denver scrunched his face in disgust as the Beatles trickled onto the stereo system. “Come on, man! Get some Top 40 in there!” He sprinted off.
“Believe me now?” Spencer leaned a hand against the grill, flashing a megawatt smile at me and Veronica while Chloe lit a cigarette, looking bored. Spencer’s crimson Lacoste polo matched the ruby hue of the grill.
“Nah,” Veronica and I said in unison. “You’re still the infiltrator in our eyes,” I added, chugging some Snapple. “But as long as you’re here, I’m Stella. That’s Veronica.”
“Enjoy the party,” Veronica gave a cute wave at Spencer, stroking her signature platinum blonde French braid. She and I went off to check out the indoor pool decorated as Boston Harbor, where in mere hours, Denver and his college buddies would re-enact the Boston Tea Party for the audience—I mean, the guests.
“Ah, you know I will, ladies!” Spencer raised a half-empty champagne flute and merrily kicked his feet in the sand.
Hours later, while waiting for the “show” to commence, Veronica and I took seats on lawn chairs right near the edge of the pool. The scene was perfectly set; there were several mini-buffets of expensive sushi, shrimp cocktail, lobster and scallops; mini ships floated in the massive pool that was bigger than half a football field. To top it all off, the whole room had been dimmed and spotlights, meant to highlight the “stage”, were adorned on the center of the ceiling.
“We meet again,” Spencer rejoined us, pulling up a lawn chair. Chloe wasn’t too far behind, swiping caviar from an unsuspecting waiter’s tray. “Can you believe Denver’s re-enacting this? It’s interesting, but kind of strange…” he airily sipped a glass of wine. The Chardonnay’s reflection paralleled that of the chlorine levitating from the shimmering pool.
“Spencer, why are we here?” Chloe said indifferently, mindlessly texting on her Sidekick. “You graduate from NYU tomorrow, and you still have to take a few online classes to make up for that month you were gone in Vegas. Don’t forget about working on your resume to get that Coté position at the French broking firm.” What was she, his mother?
“Going for Wall Street?” I asked.
“Yeah, something like that,” Spencer said. “My uncle actually offered me a position on his Manhattan firm, so I won’t have to flee to Paris; he says I’m next in line with my IQ of 145. I mean, I had to pull a few hidden strings to beat out my cousin, Polo, for the running, but it all worked out—” A sullen looking stranger had approached us as Spencer trailed off. He had the air of inebriation.
“What is wrong with you?” The stranger exploded at Spencer, stomping a boot-clad foot on the tiled floor. Spencer was speechless. “Couldn’t handle the competition, could you? The only way you win is by eliminating the enemy, right?” The stranger, whom I figured was Spencer’s cousin, laughed maniacally. He addressed Chloe, Veronica and me but kept his steely gaze on Spencer. “The only way he won was because he framed me for stock fraud. Not even Father believes me now!”
“It’s not like you haven’t committed stock fraud in the past,” Spencer rebutted weakly.
“I’m done with that now! You are such a Peter Keating,” Polo uttered simply. Soon the two were engaged in mortal combat. Veronica and I were appalled, although Chloe looked at the scene as if it were very familiar. They fought brutally, using wine goblets, lawn chairs, Swiss Army knives, golf clubs…any nearby weapons, really. The whole ordeal halted when Polo managed to deck Spencer into the shallow end of the pool. This produced a distinct splash, followed by a vivid sprinkle of B Positive as his cranium hit the ocean floor.
Meanwhile, the crowd toasted and set off firecrackers into the sunroof, all for what they believed was the opening show. I still can’t shake the feeling I had as the paramedics arrived. The ironic melody of “Pon de Replay” still echoes every time I think about that “party”.
Veronica, Denver and I followed Chloe to the hospital; we waited while Chloe visited Spencer’s room. The heartbeat monitor was, well, dead. No one dared go in but her. She left the door ajar. Veronica and Denver went to grab some vending machine food after awhile but I stayed, listening.
“Get up, already!” Chloe was beyond tears. “You know you’re my best friend. I still have so much more to learn from you…I should’ve stopped you instead of encouraging you.” She paused. Spencer didn’t reply; he couldn’t. “I made you do this, just like you made me love you. You never knew either, did you? I’m sorry.”
At this point I felt awkward for eavesdropping so obviously, so I relocated and found Veronica and Denver in the café. That’s where I am right now, Jersey, writing this letter to you. There’s a reason I told you and not anyone else; I think you’d understand more. When I was on that bench moments ago, I learned something; it was something I think you already know, something that broke my heart. I didn’t want to know, but now I do. I may as well share with you an apology for acting so wretched that last night I saw you. I’m sorry I took advantage of your intelligence and forced you to help you with my final term paper without properly thanking you, and I’m sorry for what happened after that. I wasn’t rejecting you; I was afraid of what I felt for you. That’s why I haven’t texted or called you all summer.
I’m afraid what happened to Chloe and Spencer will happen to us; I can only hope it doesn’t, because you’re always so straightforward. I don’t know how to end this letter, short of saying, like I said, I miss your biting sarcasm, odd penchant for classic novels, witty banter and refreshing naïveté. The world would benefit from more people like you. I hope I can, when I return from vacation.