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His Exact Words
Let me give you some background information before I tell you the story. My brother sent me an email in early December, asking me if I wanted to come visit him in The States sometime after Christmas with my two best friends, Kai and Logan. I accepted his offer.
When I told them about the pure dead brilliant idea, they were psyched. I had only been to America once before to visit my brother, Dougal, so I w as excited to be visiting again. Kai and Logan had never been there, so they were just as pumped as I was. A few days after Dougal proposed the idea, the plans were set in stone. We bought plane tickets and everything.
We got to Dougal's apartment late on the 27th. We hung out with him for the first few days and he showed us around the city. On New Year's Eve, he informed us that he was planning on going to a party at his friend’s house and that he wouldn't be back until sometime in the afternoon the next day. But that didn't really matter to us because we weren't going to be in the apartment that much anyway.
When Neil told me about the idea, I agreed to it immediately. This was the exact sort of mini-vacation that I had desperately needed. I had to get out of Scotland because if I didn't, I was bound to go crazy. I knew it, Neil knew it, and Kai knew it. Hell, even my parents knew it. That's probably why they didn't really care that I was going to ship myself off to a foreign country a day or two after Christmas. Of course, I was free to make my own choices, I was 21 after all; we all were, but that didn't mean my parents still were nosy and opinionated about the things I did and what countries I ran off to for a week or so. But after all the rubbish that happened to me in November, they didn't mind. They understood.
Want me to tell you what happened? You know what? No, I'll tell you what our first mistake was. The first mistake happened right after Dougal told us where he hid the key and right before Dougal left to go to his New Year’s party.
“I taped it tae the side here,” he said, pointing to the wall lamp to right of his apartment door. “So if yese need tae get back into the apartment for ocht reason, all of ye will have access tae the key and this way it shouldnae get lost,” he told us. Neil looked up at the key attached to the side of the lamp and began to peel the tape.
“Nae,” Neil chimed in. He began loosening the key from its protective plastic blanket and shoved it into the front pocket of his jeans. “I'll keep it in my pocket. It's not like we're going to get separated.”
And those were his exact words.
We all ate dinner in the apartment together. Dougal left shortly after to go to his friend's party and we walked to Times Square about ten minutes after Dougal left. It was incredibly crowded already, but we were somehow able to squeeze our way into the warmth of the crowd. Even though we were so packed together that we could barely move, the build up to midnight was thrilling. Many popular American bands played and everyone was really nice and cheerful.
In fact, some people were so cheerful that they began to strike up a conversation with us. In other words, one nutty blonde chick began flirting away with Logan and continued to do so for the remainder of the night. Logan, completely interested in the airhead, turned his full attention to her and hung on every word she said. It was enjoyable to watch, yet after a while, Kai and I got a little annoyed. We couldn't tell if he was just trying to be polite, or if he was legitimately interested in what she was saying. Several times we tried to help him escape from the conversation.
“Aye, mate, how's awthing over there? Haven't talked to ye in a while,” I joked.
“Guid,” he said dismissively, without even raising his eyes to look at me.
His behavior was starting to get a wee ridiculous. I mean, she wasn't even all that pretty to begin with and she certainly didn't sound very intelligent either. There was nothing going for this girl, yet he continued to haiver with her for the remainder of the night.
Kai and I tried not to let this bother us, though. We tried to laugh about it instead and joked about how Logan and his girl were both being numpties. We even began talking to the people around us for a while and sang along to the performing bands that we knew. Yet every now and then, Kai and I would exchange a quick glance of annoyance after a particularly dumb comment.
When the ball finally dropped, everyone around us began kissing, as per tradition. Kai and I didn’t care that strangers were kissing, but we did feel awkward standing there while Logan made out with his new girl. They continued to make out long after the majority of the crowd stopped. It was weird and very out of character for Logan. He would never ignore either of us like that; he was the loyal friend, yet for some reason that just wasn't the person he wanted to be today.
Like us, a lot of people had planned to go to the pubs after midnight. We wanted to find a decent bar before it got too crowded. So, after the ball dropped, we planned on joining the fairly large group of people who began to flee Times Square to raid all of the nearby pubs.
“Aye, ready to go?” I asked. Neil looked eager to leave, probably because he didn't want to watch Logan sloppily make out with that blonde girl anymore.
“Aye!” he yelled above the crowd. He turned towards Logan and hit the side of his arm. “Let's get out of here.” Logan nodded. I looked around me to find the easiest way out. Neil shouted cheerfully in my ear,
“Atta boy, lead the way!” while gently shoving me forward. I didn't know where the hell I was going, but I couldn’t stop walking because he kept pushing me. His rude method was working, but ten meters before I managed to trip over something. I fell forward, accidentally falling onto some girl. She was wearing a white knit beanie on top of her way brown hair. Luckily, I didn't knock her to the ground or anything dramatic like that.
“Sorry, love.” I apologized as I awkwardly brushed imaginary lint from her arm.
“It’s okay…” She said as though she was weirded out, but then she looked down at where I touched her and laughed. She had a warm, welcoming laugh. I don’t know how else to describe it. She had warm eyes, too. Everything about her was warm, actually. I imagined she was fairly well liked. I gave her one last smile before I felt another harsh shove against my back. I tripped on someone’s foot, but luckily managed not to fall. Neil grabbed onto the back of my jacket to keep us from separating.
We finally made it out of the crowd about fifteen minutes later. A huge chunk of the crowd left to go to the pubs, but the majority of the crowd stayed to listen to the bands play and squealed at the idea of maybe being on national television. Most of the musical performances were famous rappers, but my friends and I didn’t like rap. We didn’t care about being on television either, so it all worked out. Well, it was supposed to work out.
“Finally!” I said, triumphantly when I finally got out of the massive congregation. I heard a girl whoop in response behind me. Neil let go of his hold on my jacket, except it wasn’t Neil. When I turned around it was some teenage girl who was the one who had apparently held onto the back of my shirt the whole time. She stood there with her hands up, waiting for me to high-five her. I did, out of politeness, but I was not happy. Neil, Logan, and his girl were nowhere in sight. A ton of people broke through the crowd behind us. I guess we started a train of people since everyone behind us was clinging onto each other in order to snake their way through the mob. It worked for everyone else, but Neil and Logan clearly couldn’t handle this difficult concept since they weren’t even there.
Naturally, I was frustrated and had no desire to climb my way back into the crowd, just to find my two friends when they’d most likely find their way out soon enough anyway. I decided to wait for them where they’d hopefully be able to see me easily enough. I leaned against the wall of a sticky building and waited.
I fancy a bit of drinking and Logan’s stupidity was pissing me off, so I wanted to get the hell out of that crowd. I was feeling a bit claustrophobic anyway. I was pushing Kai forward through the crowd but someone cut me off after he tripped and fell on some girl. I started laughing at his clumsiness but then I was somehow pushed back into the crowd. A guard told us we weren’t allowed to go through that way. Kai continued walking and aline of people walked behind him to escape. He didn’t notice we weren’t there. We tried getting out in the opposite direction, but wasted an incredible amount of time weaving through the crowd. Logan, his new girl, and I gave up and decided to stop when a halfway decent band began to play about 20 meters away from us.
“Eh MAH GAWD!” his girl shrieked, “This is my favorite band!”
“Oh yeah?” I asked curiously, “What band is it?”
“I think they’re called, like, The Bon? JOVI! That’s it!” she yelled, smiling and bobbing her head happily to the music. I glared at Logan and he just stood there with his arm around her waist, shrugging his shoulders. This girl is a twit and this is not The Bon or JOVI! or even Bon Jovi.
“Hey, numpty, I’m going tae go look for Kai fae a bit and then if I can’t find him I’m going tae go tae the nearest pub. Call me when you’re ready tae meet up with us and don’t bring the lass. I don’t want to see how much dumber she can get when she’s peshed,” I told him. I said this loud enough for her to be able to hear, but she was in her own little world, rocking out with The Bon. Logan looked over at her and noticed her oblivion, too. He looked back at me, nodding his head at me with sad eyes. He knew he was being pathetic.
“Awright, mate. I’ll see ye later.” I didn’t wait around. I actually found an easy way out of the crowd.
Some guy fell on me in the crowd earlier. He must have been British because he said, “Sorry, Love,” and nobody says that over here. Nobody even bothers apologizing in America. I thought his apology was cute, but none of my friends even seemed have heard him. They were too busy screaming and waving frantically at a camera nearby for some news station in the hopes of being on TV. I know it’s kind of dumb, but I wasn’t really in the mood to be loud and obnoxious. I didn’t want to get wasted. Honestly, all I really felt like doing was getting out of the freezing cold and crawling under my covers to read a book. I’m lame, I know this. I’m not like this all the time, though.
I was still in a bad mood from Christmas. My parents were angry that I didn’t fly out to our lovely home in Wyoming for winter break. I told them I had a paper to write for school. I attend NYU. My brilliant lying didn’t work, though, and they were really annoyed. They told me not to bother coming to see them after Christmas. I don’t blame them for being angry. I mean, I really do have a paper to write, but I also have a two-month-long winter break to get it done. I probably could have taken a week off to visit my family, but I just didn’t feel like it. I’ll see them in the spring, I guess.
Anyway, my friends were already kind of drunk. For some reason they believed they could drink alcohol secretly if they were surrounded by a massive crowd. That might have worked if they didn’t get completely wasted and if they didn’t start singing Auld Lang Syne—the song people always sing on New Year’s after the ball drops. They all had their arms around each other and were swaying obnoxiously, completely unconcerned about the fact that their Jack Daniels was being waved around in the air, out in the open.
I saw a cop nearby looking at my friends. He unclipped his walkie-talkie and began to speak into it. Even though I couldn’t hear what he said, his mouth formed the word “backup”. His face was serious, despite the joy that was all around him. He looked like the kind of guy who would punch you if you accidentally stepped on the back of his shoe walking down the street.
“Guys, stop. Put the alcohol away,” I said in a demanding, stern tone, but they didn’t take me seriously.
“Oh staaapittt, Grace! Staap tryin’ to ruin our fun!” My friend Hannah scolded with a drunken slur. Then she burst out laughing and the others followed.
“No, really, there is a cop right there and I think he just called for back up. Hide the alcohol and stop being so rowdy. You guys are going to get yourselves in trouble.”
Luckily, I wasn’t drunk. They tried getting me to drink earlier but I kept denying them. They were annoyed by my decision at first, but they left me alone after I continued to insist that I didn’t want to drink yet. I was going to wait until after the ball dropped, but they didn’t want to wait that long.
They were still laughing about nothing, so they didn’t really hear what I told them. I decided to leave it be. I thought, Who cares? I wasn’t drunk and, quite frankly, I didn’t give a crap if they the cops got them. I wasn’t having much fun with them anyway. The cop I saw before walked over about ten minutes later with three other policemen—one for each of my drunk friends.
“Hello, there. I’m Officer Mckee,” he said, holding up his badge for my friends and me to see. “I’m afraid I—” he began to say but was cut off by my friends’ laughter.
“OFFICER MAGEE?!” Hannah shrieked with amusement in her voice. “Ohmmahgod!” she hit me on the arm a little too roughly and fell on me to laugh hysterically into my shoulder. I gently pushed her away, finding the name somewhat funny, but I didn’t dare laugh.
Officer Mckee just stood there, taking the abuse. He looked unamused and annoyed, but I’m guessing he’s received this kind of reaction to his name before. The other officers looked bored, but one of them was snickering to himself. He made sure Officer Mckee didn’t hear or see.
“I’m sorry,” Hannah said after they had calmed down for the most part, “I didn’ meana innarupt ya Officer Magee.” She started giggling again, but stopped herself. With a bemused smile she said, “Please, continue with your award winning speech.” Officer Mckee sighed and began to unclip the handcuffs from his belt.
“I was going to be more lenient with you girls since it’s New Year’s Eve,” he began, “but after all that, I think I’m just going to take you down to the station.” All four of my friends stood there quietly for a moment until Hannah broke the silence again.
“Oh, so you’re gonna take me downtown, then?” she said to him in what she thought was a sexy voice. She thought she was being hilarious so she started laughing at herself and the others joined in again.
“No. The police station is actually just right down the street.” He said, not really getting the joke. “I’m sorry; I have to arrest all four of you for Disorderly Conduct and Public Intoxication. Now I want everyone to turn around and their hands behind their backs,” he said. He seemed bored. The girls complied.
“OOH GIRLS! Officer Magee is taking us down town! This is gonna be so much fun!” Hannah yelled excitedly from over the side of her shoulder and the others cheered gratefully with her.
“How much is the bail going to be for all of them?” I asked him as he was tightening the cuffs around my friend’s wrist.
“I’m not sure, yet. It depends how well they behave in the car,” he answered. “You’re not drunk, are you?” he asked, eyeing me suspiciously.
“No, I’m not,” I said, enunciating my words perfectly so he wouldn’t try wasting my time giving me a breathalyzer test or something. I think he believed me, though, and nodded. Then, while holding my friends by their cuffs, the cops led them out of the crowd. Some people cheered for them. They were probably drunk too, though. As I watched them walk away, I couldn’t help but feel sad. I’m not sure why.
I waited with my back against that sticky building for twenty minutes before I finally gave up. I understand that twenty minutes isn't a very long time, but I don't care. Standing around doing nothing for twenty minutes on New Year's Eve feels like doing nothing for five hours. I guess it was because there was just so much going on all at once. I just felt like a loser standing there, creepily staring at everyone as I waited. Even though it was quite noisy, I decided to call up Logan to find out where they were and what the hell they were doing. Surprisingly, he picked up.
“Aye, Fit like a min?” He asked cheerfully.
“I'm not too guid, Logan, but thanks for asking.”
“Whit are you haiverin about?” he asked, sensing my annoyance.
“Why didnae ye follow me out of the crowd? I thought you were behind me and I've been waiting for ye and Neil ever since.”
“I coudnae. Some auld nugget pushed me back and told me I couldne get out that way.”
“So whaur are ye now?”
“I'm listening to some bands play. Neil left to go look fae you fae a wee bit then he was gonna go find a pub. I'm gonna join him later.”
“So you're in a crowd of people alone?”
“Nae. I'm with that quine,” he said sounding somewhat ashamed. I could hear her through the phone, singing loud and obnoxious. The words she sang didn't even sound somewhat right.
“Aye, I can hear her loud and clear now.” I knew that comment would embarrass him, but I didn't care. He was being an idiot. Apparently he lost all his brain cells when he got on the plane to New York because he would never ditch his friends for some blonde quine who probably doesn't even know where Scotland is on the map.
“Aye...well I got to go. I'll talk to ye later.” He hung up before I could say anything else. I didn't know what to do with myself. Knowing Neil, he would probably look for me for about five minutes before giving up and going to a pub for a drink.
I felt weird out there. It was a combination of disappointment, loneliness, and homesickness. I guess it was the simple fact that even though we were all really good friends and have been for a long time, they still wouldn't care too much if I went missing. I'm like the cat that always lands on its feet, in their eyes. I feel like they have too much faith in me, but whatever. I wasn't going to waste my time looking for them when they wouldn't waste their time looking for me.
I started to feel pretty bad about myself once I got off the phone with Kai. I ditched my two friends for—for what? A stupid blonde girl who didn't seem to know anything. The truth is, I was feeling lonely. I wasn't this disgusting pig who latched onto the first girl that talked to him, just to get in her pants. I just wanted to be around a girl and, for a while, I was able to pretend that she was my Alina. Alina was the girl I dated for two years before she broke up with me in November because she didn’t “feel the same anymore.” Less than a week later she was going out with some other guy. It felt good to be around a girl. It made me feel whole again, even though this blonde girl wasn't anything like Alina. After a while though, even though I was surrounded by people and a girl who was acting as my temporary band-aid, the loneliness took over my entire body and crushed my soul. Twenty minutes after I had hung up with Kai, I decided it was time to cut her loose. “Aye,” I said and she looked up at me. It was at this embarrassing moment that I realized I never even learned her name. “What’s yer name?” “Cassandra!” She yelled and started laughing and twirling around. I swear to you, she was like an overactive Papillion. “Right. Listen, Cassandra. I've got tae go look fae my friend. He's lost somewhere and it's his first time in New York.” “Are you breaking up with me?” Cassandra asked with her eyes wide, tears accumulated in her eyes. “What? What! What?!” I shrieked. I was not expecting that. There is no way she’s being serious. But she was. At that very moment she began weeping and, trust me, she was quite audible. This woman was just a smorgasbord of emotions. One moment she’s twirling around, laughing, and the next she's balling her eyes out. What a twit. “Woah, listen, I think there's a huge misunderstanding,” I said, getting nervous. “You're a misunderstanding!” She yelled at me. “Get away from me; I never want to see you again!” I didn't know what the hell was going on. We were literally hanging out for a few hours. We were definitely not dating. A guy nearby started getting annoyed that we were talking during a performance. He looked buff and his head was shaved bald. He looked like Mr. Clean and, for a brief moment, I wondered if his head was cold. “I'm sorry, is there a problem here?” He was irritated. I started to say “no”, but she interrupted my response. “Yeah! That d bag just dumped me when we've been going out since forever! And on New Year's!” She let out another round of obnoxious cries. “Why would you do that to a girl, man? This poor thing. And on New Year's!” He repeated as that made the imaginary crime particularly heinous. “Aye, mate, we're not even going out. I've only known her fae a few hours. I live in Scotland, ye know. We wouldn't have even met before.” “I don't know where the hell Scotland is, but you better go back there in about three seconds before I punch you in the face.” Now, I don't know about you, but I thought this was a bit drastic. I mean, he really didn't listen to anything I was saying. I think he just wanted to win her over or something. He looked like he could beat me up really easily too, so I didn't know what to do: fight or try reasoning with him? I figured reasoning with him was the better option, especially in America, but it didn't work out so well. “Just listen to me—“ I started to say, but I was cut off by a punch in the face. Cassandra hopped up and down, clapped her hands and cheered, “Good job, Mr. Clean!” Meanwhile, I staggered backwards from the punch and the fight started to gain some attention from the people around us. A few people “oohed” at the hit. He tried to swipe in another one, but I ducked in time. Street fighting is something I grew up with back in Scotland, especially when I was younger. I wasn't the greatest fighter, but I at least knew a thing or two about throwing and avoiding punches. As I ducked down, I charged at him with all the force I could muster. He was a fairly big guy, but I was able to knock him down. Unfortunately, he knocked down a few other people with him. We were wrestling on the ground when two cops came and yanked me off of Mr. Clean. A third cop held him back as she cursed at me. This was probably the dumbest fight I had ever been in and it had only lasted for about a minute. Next thing I knew, I was being handcuffed and told my Miranda Rights for disorderly conduct in a police car. The same thing happened to Mr. Clean, except he wasn’t put into the same car as me. I didn't really care about being arrested. I knew I could just call Neil or Kai and they'd come to bail me out.
After I left, I went looking for Kai. I was kind of pissed off at Logan. He didn't seem to care that I left him and these past few months he has been a huge pain in the ass anyway. Logan didn’t care that Kai was missing and he didn’t have any intention on helping me look for him. This was the last straw; I had no patience or sympathy left for Logan after this point.
I decided to call Kai, but he never picked up. I checked for him around the general area that we were in, but, quite frankly, it would have been impossible to find him, even if he was really in that same area. I pretty much gave up looking for him after five minutes or so. Kai was a smart kid. I figured he’d be okay on his own, besides, I was sure he was going to return my call soon enough. So I gave up and entered the nearest pub.
It was a sketchy looking place. It was dark and quiet. There wasn't any music playing. All I could hear was the sound of my shoes slightly sticking to the tile floor as I walked over to the counter and ordered a beer.
“Sure.” The bartender sounded friendly enough, yet, at the same time, disinterested. He laid the cold beer on a coaster for me. I thanked him and swiveled around in my chair to observe the rest of the pub.
There were a few older men in the back playing pool. It was so dark that I couldn't see their faces from the counter, but I could see their silhouettes standing there, staring at me. Freaked out, I swiveled around again and took a sip of my beer. It tasted terrible and I was thankful for a moment that it was so dark. Who know what my reaction looked like? I didn't want to hurt the bartender's feelings.
There was a lady at the end of the horseshoe-shaped counter. She was staring at me. When I accidentally made eye contact with her she immediately stood up and abandoned her drink. She sat down on stool adjacent to me and, even though the lighting was bad, I could tell that she was much older than me. She probably could have been my grandma, to be honest.
“Hey there, kiddo.” She sounded like a pack a day smoker.
“Hi,” I said nervously.
“Can I buy you a drink?” I glanced over at my beer, then stared back at her in disbelief.
“Nae, thanks, I just ordered one.”
“Okay.” She looked away and appeared to be in deep thought. It was awkward and I felt like the guys in the back were still staring at me. It didn't sound like there was a game going on. Not sure what to do, I took another sip from my beer, even though it tasted like garbage.
“Hey there, kiddo.” She said suddenly. She put her hand on my shoulder. “Can I buy you a drink?” I tried to get the bartender to look at me, but he was too buy washing glasses to notice.
“Nae, I think I'll be guid for a while, thanks.” I looked over at her seat then back at her again.
“Oh!” She said as if she just remembered something. “Okay!” She rushed towards where she ditched her drink. She picked it up and hustled to my side again. She put it down next to me and said,
“Watch it for me, will you? I need to use the ladies' room.” I hesitated.
“Awright.” I watched her from my seat to make sure she went inside the ladies room. Once the door closed behind her, I turned to the bartender and asked,
“Aye, mate, how do I get her tae understand that I don't need a drink?”
“What do you mean? You don't want a free drink?” He seemed offended.
“Nae, it's not that, it's just that I don't need one right now,” I lied.
“I don't know, man. She always buys people drinks.” I don't think he really understood that she was being creepy and that this whole place was creepy, actually. In fact, this was the most depressing pub I had ever been in. I sat there staring blankly at my drink. I wondered if Kai was looking for me, I figured he probably already found a decent bar by then. That odd lady interrupted my thoughts again. She had been gone for nearly ten minutes. Then I felt someone breathing on my neck. I immediately jumped off the stool.
“Whit the hell are ye doin'?!” I yelled. It was the creepy lady. I wondered how long she had been standing behind me and if she even went to the bathroom at all.
“For a moment...” she began. I stood there, waiting for her to finish.
“Yes, whit are ye gonna say?” I was being kind of rude, but I couldn't help it. How can you be friendly after you feel some creepy woman breathing on you?
“For a moment...We were breathing as one.” She said. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply through her nose, her hands imitated meditation. I stared at her. The older men by the pool table copied her pose. Even the bartender had his eyes closed and began breathing deeply.
“Together,” she said with her eyes still closed, “We can breathe as one...two...three.” When she got to three, everyone inhaled dramatically through their noses, everyone except me. I ran.
After Hannah had sufficiently ruined all of our plans for New Year's Eve, I was feeling pretty down. It annoyed me how happy everyone else was. I hated that it was snowing ever so slightly and that there was confetti beneath my feet. I hated how lovey-dovey everyone was being. But the thing I hated the most was that everyone, absolutely everyone, was having a good time, except for me. Even my drunk so-called “friends” were having a good time, despite the fact that they were just arrested.
As much as I didn’t want to, I knew I had to go back to my apartment to get the money to pay for their bail. I planned on making them pay me back in the morning, but they didn’t need to know that yet. I desperately meandered my way out of the crowd. Getting out of there was so obnoxious and tiring that the thought of walking to my apartment when I got out was dreadful. I decided to take a cab, even though it was only a few blocks away. It took a while to find one, but I didn’t really care. I just didn’t want to walk anymore.
When I opened the door to the apartment complex, the bell on the door rang cheerfully. The secretary, Susan, who’s always extremely happy and friendly, looked up at me. I could sense her staring at me, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t in the mood to pretend that everything was spiffy and full of rainbows. I rushed toward the elevator to get to my apartment. She finally looked away from me and continued to chatter away with a tall, young looking guy, probably about how pretty snow is and how unfortunate it is that she can’t go outside to play in it.
I hoped she would still be talking to him when I returned because I wasn’t in the mood to say goodbye, either. I stood in front of the elevator and waited for the doors to open.
Neil's older brother lives here in New York, quite close to Times Square, actually. His name is Dougal and he offered for us to stay in his apartment for the weekend, although he didn't plan on hanging out with us on Hogmanay. He went to a New Year's party at his friend’s house in Queens instead. Having no place else to go, I decided to go back to Dougal's apartment. That way, when I called Neil, he would know exactly where I was and then we'd be able to go to the pubs together.
Dougal told us earlier that the key could be found taped against the side of a wall lamp outside his door. Remembering this, I decided to leave my boring spot against the sticky building and began my trek to the apartment. It was a good fifteen minute walk, but it probably took longer than it should since there were so many people out on the streets, celebrating.
It wasn't until I was about a block away when I realized Neil had the key to the apartment. I knew I had to convince the receptionist to give me a spare key, which, in most situations, would be very unlikely. I, however, was good buddies with the receptionist and I knew she thought I was cute wee thing, so I decided to give it a try anyway. When I walked inside, the bell on the door rang, signaling everyone of my appearance. The receptionist at the counter gave me a friendly smile and a wave. She was a pleasant woman, probably in her mid-thirties. She had straight chestnut brown hair that she tied back in a loose ponytail. Her name was Susan.
“How are ye, Susan?” I asked, giving her a friendly smile.
“I’m good, although it’s kind of pathetic that I’m working on New Year’s Eve.” She said, but she still had this particularly cheery attitude about her. She’s one of those girls who’s always peppy. She’d find something to smile about even if her car blew up. You know, one of those kinds of people. I’m not a fan of those kinds of people, but I knew I should be nice to her anyway.
“Nae, love. I’ll see if I can sneak in a glass of champagne fae ye,” I told her, working my Scottish charm. It worked.
“Oh don’t be doing that, now. I don’t want to get in trouble,” she answered, although it was clear she didn’t really care.
“Aye, Could ye do me a favor?” I asked her, leaning with my right side against the counter. She smiled at me.
“Sure, what’s up?”
“Could ye give me a spare key to Dougal's apartment? That way I can bring yer champagne.” I heard the bell ring again as someone opened the door. I assumed someone left the building since Susan didn’t say hello to anyone. She looked back at me again and signaled with her finger that she wanted me to lean in closer, so I did.
“We're not really supposed to do that,” she whispered, “but for you, I'll make an exception since I know you two are friends,” she said in a giddy voice. The hilarious part is we weren't really friends, Dougal and I. Of course I knew him, and I liked him, but we never hung out alone together. Neil, or someone else, always had to be there. I didn't tell her this, though.
She got up and went into a separate office and returned less than thirty seconds later with the key.
“Thanks a bunch, Susan. I’ll see ye in a bit.” She smiled wide and practically hopped back into her chair. I put the key in the pocket of my tan colored jacket and walked toward the elevator. The elevator doors were closed and a woman was standing there waiting for it to open again. I stood behind her and waited, too. She looked lovely. She was wearing black leather boots that went halfway up her calf with a pair of jeans. As I was observing her, I heard the bell ring again, but I was too focused to bother turning around. The woman had what looked to be a black pea coat, but I wasn’t too sure. While I was trying to figure out what kind of coat she was wearing, the woman moved abruptly and took a white beanie off of her head.
I had seen a lot of people in the past few hours, so it didn’t really click until the elevator doors opened and she walked inside. I saw her face. It was that same girl I fell on when Neil pushed me to go through the crowd. She looked kind of irritated at first, but when she saw me her face seemed to soften a wee bit, but maybe I’m just imagining that part.
Behind me, I heard someone stumbling around. I went in the elevator next to the girl with the white beanie. This is when I noticed a young woman, probably in her late-twenties, stumbling towards the elevator. She was a redhead and wore entirely way too much makeup. I looked over at the girl with the white beanie. She looked grossed out by the drunken hot mess that was approaching us, and quickly hit the “close door” button in the elevator.
Unfortunately for us, the door closed much too slowly, and somehow, with her ninja like powers, the redhead was able to put her hand between the doors before they closed completely.
“Ah ha!” she said a bit too loud. She waved her finger at us. “This door thought it could close on me!” and this is when she let out the most maniacal laugh I have ever heard. The girl with the white beanie and I made eye contact for a quick moment. I immediately knew she was thinking the same thing as me: What the hell was that? Then I saw a wave of amusement sweep across her face. She started to giggle but quickly slapped a hand across her own mouth to suppress the laughter. I smiled at her poor attempt to keep quiet and she continued to look at me with laughing eyes.
“Whadoya think you're laughinat!” the red head snapped drunkenly. She began to fall backwards a little bit, but she caught herself using the wall of the elevator. Like a beautiful actress, the girl in the white beanie composed herself instantly and stared straight ahead as the doors closed. When the redhead wasn't looking anymore the girl in the beanie turned to me again and smiled.
The police officer opened the door to the detainment area where four drunk girls were lazily sprawled on the floor. They oohed at my appearance and grinned as the cop took off my handcuffs. He closed the door behind me and began to walk away, but I managed to get his attention before he left. “Hing on! How long am I going tae be in here fae?” I asked. “Depends on when your friends decide to bail you out,” he answered, not bothering to turn around to look at me. “Then when do I get my free phone call?” I was already anxious to get out of there. The cell was dirty and it smelled like alcohol, perfume, and sweat. I already felt a headache coming on. “In a bit.” He sounded like he was getting annoyed, so I let him go. I think he would have kept walking out of the room anyway, even if I did keep talking to him. I turned around and looked at the cell again. There were three benches that lined most of the wall, but none of the girls chose to use them. The ground looked gross. It was dusty and there were circles of petrified gum that seemed to be engraved in the tile flooring. I sighed melodramatically and sat down on the middle bench. They seemed to be falling asleep. They all had their eyes closed when I originally walked in, but opened them when they heard the cell gate open. I guess they decided they didn’t care too much that I was there because they closed their eyes again once I was settled in. Well, all of them closed their eyes again, except for one girl, who actually seemed to sit up at my appearance. “Looky here. A newbie!” said the only girl that seemed to be awake. But the others briefly lifted their heads to chime in a friendly, “Yaaayy.” And then sleepily went back to their resting positions. “I’m Hannah. Whatta fun place tahmee someone! JAIL!” she said. I’m not sure why she was so excited about that. “Hi,” I said, not really sure what else to say to this girl, “I’m Logan.” “Whattaya in for, Logan?” she asked, slurring her words. “I got in a fecht, somehow.” “Wow…” she said, beginning to zone out. Her eyes were wide like she was really impressed and nodded her head slightly for a good minute. She seemed pretty drunk to me. “Whatha hell isa fecht?” “Umm...” I stalled. “A fight.” “Oh.” It was awkward and quiet so I continued talking. “So, Why are ye here?” I asked curiously. She sniffed. “Ohyakno. Drankaliltoomuch. In public because thashowa roll!” I kind of figured that’s what she was in for. I nodded, but I wasn’t really sure what I was nodding at. “Are those your friends?” I asked, looking over at the other girls. “Yup.” She scooted herself away from the wall until she was leaning her back against the bars across from me. “There, now I can seeyabetta.” She smiled and closed her eyes. It was quiet and, for a moment, I thought she had fallen asleep like the others. She opened her eyes a minute later and interrupted the silence. “Where are your friends?” The question blindsided me. My friends? I had no idea. I began to feel guilty once again, but I didn't feel like dishing out all my problems to a drunk stranger. I was about to give her some made up answer, but she spoke before I could respond. “Why didn't they help you fight?” I broke the eye contact immediately and looked down at my feet. My shoes were old and worn. They used to be new-looking and white, but now they were an ivory tan color. She was staring at me. I could sense it. Her eyes burned into my skin. “They didnae help me in the fecht,” I began, “because I'm not worth fechtin fae.” “Whadaya mean?” She seemed concerned. I think it was at this moment that I harshed her mellow. “I quit them for some random girl,” I blurted. What the hell! I had just told myself that I was not going to dish out all my problems to a drunk stranger but here I was, thirty seconds later, doing exactly what I didn't want to do. I was truly pathetic. “Well thasallrite,” she said sympathetically. For the past two months every little thing had been weighing on me, pushing down on me, until finally everything caved in. “Nae! It's not awright! All I care about is mine ain sel! I've been bi***ing and moaning fae the past two months about whit? Some girl! This quine who I loved for what?! Nae reason! All she did was try tae 'fix' me! I'd tell her I loved her and then she'd tell me she wished I was more like some ither body. Why did I put up with that? Whit was so great about her? Why did I let it crush me when she told me she couldnae 'deal with' me anymore and that she 'didnae feel the same'? Then I was this depressing little s*** who roamed this earth, thinking the world was against me. I turned against my friends. I attacked them and now I have become so self-centered that even my friends don't want to be around me. I don't want to be around me. She ruined me. She stole awthing that made me who I was. She destroyed the very core of my being. Now what am I? Just some guy sitting in jail who ditches his friends for nae fockin' reason at all.” She was quiet for a while after that, and so was I. I didn't mean to spill everything like that. Every since Alina dumped me, I've been trying to be a closed book. I didn't want anyone to read me. But now, here I was, opening myself, pouring my words on the floor all around her. They drowned her and she had nothing to say. A few minutes passed before I realized that she probably wasn't going to say anything else. She just sat there, looking at the floor without really seeing it. I put my head back against the wall. I stared at the ceiling and counted the tiles until I got bored. I closed my eyes. I was about half asleep when I felt her scoot herself next to my leg. I looked down at her. She rested her head on my knee and closed her eyes. Even though I was in jail and all, I felt a strange feeling of contentedness spread throughout my body. I leaned my head against the wall again and went back to sleep.
When I left the creepy meditation pub, I was thankful that it was New Year's Eve. It made it very easy to blend in with the crowd. I wanted to blend in just in case the nut jobs from the bar tried to chase me down.
I felt safer once I was a few blocks away. As I walked down the sidewalk I could hear a loud, thumping beat. I knew there was a pub nearby, and although I wasn't a fan of obnoxious dance music, I figured anything would be better than what I had just endured.
As I approached the club, I could hear the crowd of people inside talking and laughing. The music drowned out most of the voices, though. It was so loud that I could feel the floor vibrating from the sound waves through the soles of my feet. The place was packed and was full of beautiful girls, yet I could barely turn around without knocking into someone. I knew this was probably a popular place to be on New Year's Eve.
The counter was crowded and there wasn't anyplace else left to sit down, so I decided to order a shot to start me off. It warmed my throat and as I soaked in my surroundings, everything seemed to put me into a good mood, especially after the previously mentioned incident. I'm not that into dancing, but a song I liked came on and, hey, I was in another country. Who cared how I looked when I danced?
I'm not sure how long I danced for. I wasn't really checking my phone. I ordered three more shots, but I was only a little bit tipsy. It takes a lot for me to get completely peshed. After a while I was sweating and out of breath, so I ditched the dance floor and stood by the counter to cool down. One of the girls I had danced with earlier, on the other hand, was completely wasted. She skipped over to my side.
“Yera gray danca.”
“Thanks, same goes with ye.” I told her, just trying to be polite. A guy sitting at the counter was suddenly lured by his girlfriend to go to the dance floor, so the drunk girl I was talking to stole his seat. I figured she was ordering another drink so I decided to glance around the room to scope out any girls I wanted to pursue. Everyone was beyond the point of being tipsy, though. I wanted to flirt with someone, not bring home a sloppy drunk that I found talking to the plastic plant at the corner of the club.
“Hey!” I heard the drunk girl yell. The people around her were snickering. When I looked over at her she was standing on the counter. She was incredibly drunk, wearing high heels, and standing on tall surface. I knew this was not likely to end well.
“Get down from there.”
“No! Catch me!” Then before I could even react, she jumped from the counter and swan dived towards me.
I couldn't help but laugh at that redhead. She was such a drunken mess and she had the strangest cackle I'd ever heard. I laugh at things easily, though, so maybe that's all it is. When that guy from the counter walked into the elevator, I immediately recognized him. Not because I had seen him two seconds earlier, but because once I saw his face I remembered he was the same guy who fell on me earlier—the Scottish one.
I was surprised to see him in the elevator. I'd never seen him in my apartment complex before, so I didn't think he lived there, but who knows. Then my attention wandered back to the redhead, who had lazily slumped to the floor. She reeked of alcohol. I had seen her around the complex before, but I never really talked to her. I always thought she was just an attention getter.
The doors of the elevator closed and I pressed a button for level 7. I looked at the guy next to me and waited for him to say his level number.
“Nine,” he said. His eyes darted down toward the redhead who began laughing hysterically and started pressing all of the buttons available. I don't even know what some of the other buttons were, but I could have guessed that you weren't really supposed to hit them. Afterward, the drunken redhead, began and jumping up and down on the elevator a few times.
“Have ye gone mental? I donnae think ye should be doing that,” He told her warningly. He looked concerned with his arms stretched towards her like he should catch her or something.
“Whaa?” She said over her loud thumping. “I cahnt undashtand ye auld faithful aksant!” She yelled in a poorly done English/Irish influenced, stereotypical accent. She continued jumping up and down.
“He said, 'I don't think you should be doing that' and neither do I, now stop!” I told her. I don't like yelling at strangers, but I will if you're doing something exceptionally stupid. She stopped. It was quiet for a moment as we all stood there, staring at each other. A loud shriek consumed us and interrupted our staring contest. It came from underneath the elevator. The noise was as painful and sharp as the sound of a train trying to come to a full stop. The elevator made a quick, sudden drop and then it halted altogether. Nobody said anything.
Nobody knew what to do or say. The redhead was probably too drunk to understand what had happened. She slumped herself down in the corner by the buttons and closed her eyes. After five minutes of silence and the elevator still hadn’t moved, the girl with the beanie turned to me.
“What should we do?”
“I guess we have tae wait.” I sighed and sat with my back against the wall farthest from the redhead. The other girl sat down on the wall opposite to me. “Do ye have any service?” She checked her phone and held it up in the air.
“Either do I.”
For a while we didn’t say anything to each other. She looked through her phone while
I’m kind of a pessimist when it comes to certain things, so I automatically assumed we’d be stuck in the elevator for a while. I felt awkward and bored, but I didn’t feel as lonely as I did before. At least I was with someone. The girl with the beanie was zoning out. I wondered what she was thinking about. I just sat there and stared at her for a minute as if the harder I stared at her, the more I could read her mind.
An abrupt, loud snore interrupted my concentration and broke the silence. The girl across from me looked up quickly and stared at the drunken redhead. She started giggling again.
“Oh my god, she’s a mess,” she said. I looked at the redhead. The girl was right. She was a mess and her hair was all astray. It looked like someone rubbed it with a balloon. She had random braids in her hair with beads that you’d find in a children’s bracelet crafting kit. She had on tight leather pants with heels that looked like they were five or six inches tall. She wore a baggy gray tank top that was low cut and had a bunch of sequins on it. You could see her leopard print bra peeking through the loosely fit shirt, and I wondered if she intended for that to happen. She had a giant purse slung around her elbow, which was black leather and had a bunch of key chains on it like she was in the second grade.
“Aye, just look at that cheeky thing. Her heid looks like a fockin rats nest, nae?” She laughed, but I knew I was being a bit harsh, even if the nugget did just break the elevator.
“I’m sorry. That was a wee bit unfair. She seems…nice.”
“Yeah definitely…” she trailed off. She began to zone out again, but then snapped out of it.
“So, you’re Scottish, huh?” She asked, her warm hazel eyes looked up at me, melting my own.
“Aye, I’m impressed ye knew the right country,” I told her, and I wasn’t lying. Most people assume anyone with a British accent is from England.
“I guess I’m just talented like that,” she bragged jokingly.
I decided I liked her. Even though I had only spoken a few things to her, I thought she was pure dead brilliant. I didn’t care how long the elevator would be stuck for. This was honestly the best part of my night, just sitting here, talking to a beautiful stranger on a broken elevator as a drunk girl snored in a corner. I realized I didn’t know her name yet, but there was still plenty of time to ask.
“So, do you live here?” I asked. I knew there was a Scottish person who lived somewhere in the complex, but I never met him before; I just heard about him. He started laughing.
“Nae,” he said after he composed himself a bit. “I thought it was clear that I was from Scotland,” he said, still finding the question humorous.
“Well, yeah, but this is America. Everyone’s a foreigner here.” He thought about it for a moment and then nodded his head.
“I suppose that’s true.”
“Plus,” I added, “There’s a Scottish guy that lives in the complex but I’ve never met him before. I thought maybe it was you since your in this elevator and if you were in this elevator than that meant you, most likely, lived somewhere in the complex.”
“Oh, Dougal?” he abruptly asked.
“You mean Dougal?” He said again. “He’s my friend’s older brother. He has an apartment here.”
“Oh, then, yeah, I guess that’s him.”
“Earlier this month he invited me and my friend Neil—he’s his wee brother—to stay in New York with him fae a few days after Christmas and then he said we could stay until the third. Our other friend, Logan, came, too, but I’m not sure where he is at the moment. I was just going to go to Dougal’s apartment for a little bit, at least until one of my friends came to get me.”
“Did you lose them or did they lose you?” I grinned at him. Everyone gets lost in New York, especially foreigners who have never been here before. He paused for a moment and after thinking it over he finally said,
“Both.” He seemed slightly irritated so I decided to leave the subject alone.
“I lost my friends in the crowd, too,” I offered. “They were arrested for disorderly conduct and public intoxication.” I sounded nonchalant, which I guess I was. I kind of stopped caring that everything was going downhill. Just getting a break and sitting here talking to some Scottish guy about life was somehow therapeutic. “That’s why I’m in here. I needed to get some cash from my apartment to bail them out.”
He started laughing again.
“What! That’s rubbish! It’s Hogmanay! Everyone is going to be conducting themselves disorderly while being publicly intoxicated!” He put his head in his hands and laughed some more.
“What’s Hogmanay?” I asked, sounding stupid.
“Oh, sorry. It’s a Scottish word for New Years’ Eve.” I smiled. He was being so damn cute, him and his little words for things. I stopped checking my phone for service.
“What’s your name?” I asked suddenly.
“Guess,” he said playfully.
“I don’t know any traditional Scottish names.”
“It starts with a ‘k’ and you’ve probably never heard of it before because you’re an ignorant American,” he teased.
“No I’m not! If I was an ignorant American, I wouldn’t have known that you had a Scottish accent. I would have said it was an Indian accent or something,” I joked. He laughed.
“Yeah, that’s definitely an accent I can’t do.”
“My name is Grace,” I told him.
“Oh yeah? That’s a lovely name,” he said to me. We weren’t being very shy anymore.
“Thanks. And you’re name is, uh, I don’t know.”
“Kai,” he told me and he was right, I hadn’t heard of that name before.
“Is that short for Kyle?”
“Nae,” he laughed again, “Just Kai.”
“Well then, Kai, I think we’re going to have a lot of time to get to know each other because of that one over there,” I said, pretending to be angry with her. “But I don’t mind.”
“Either do I,” he said, “This is surprisingly the highlight of my night.”
Grace and I talked for a while, hours maybe, about random crap. She told me about her college life at NYU and the friends that she made there (all of which were currently drunk and in jail at the moment). I briefly told her about the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, the school I was currently attending. We joked around a lot and I actually became really comfortable around her. I wanted to sit next to her, but I figured it would have be better if I just stayed where I was. The drunk redhead continued to sleep throughout our chat, interrupting our conversation a few times with some particularly loud snores. But other than that, she was pretty well behaved for someone as peshed as she was.
“New Year's Eve is overrated,” she said.
“Ye know wit else is overrated? Watermelon.”
“What! No, I love watermelon!” She was appalled, but smiled at me. She was easy to talk to, easy to get along with.
“Aye, it's awright, but there's so many fockin' seeds and it basically just tastes like water.”
“No it doesn't it taste sweet and delcious.”
“How is it classified as a food? Do ye know that 92% of it is water? The rest is just sugar. See? It's not even nutritious!”
“Yeah, well, you're not nutritious!” She retaliated. I smiled.
“Guid one.” I was sitting with my back against the wall. My feet were outstretched. She copied my exact position, but slouched a bit lower so that she could playfully kick at my feet.
“Brilliant. Aye, Guess whit time it is again. How many points do ye have? Oh that's right, two.”
“Hey, time flies when you're having fun!” She said enthusiastically. We started a game where one of us would look at our phones to see the real time and the other person had to guess what time it was. You earn a point for guessing the right hour, 2 points if your guess is within 10 minutes of the real time, 3 points if you guess within 5 minutes of the real time, and 5 points if you guess the exact time.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, now guess the time!” I urged. I looked at my phone it said I had a missed call. “Hold on a minute,” I told her. I didn't recognize the phone number, but it was a New York area code. I knew it probably wouldn't work, but I tried to call the number back again. The signal faded. “Somehow I got a missed call, but I don't know who it is so never mind.”
“Alright,” she said. I looked down at my foot. She had one leg resting on top of one of mine. It's weird that I hadn't noticed when she stopped kicking my foot. “It is,” she paused, “3:16am.”
“Aye, I'm sorry, but that is incorrect,” I told her in a game show host way. “The correct time is 4:33am.”
“Wow, really? No wonder I'm so tired.” She was tired. I could tell. She yawned every time she finished speaking and her voice had become velvety and soft.
“Maybe we should take a hint from the redhead over there and go tae sleep,” I suggested.
I decided to lay down with my arm under my head, but my eyes were still open. She looked at me like she wanted to lay down next to me, but she didn't. She stayed across from me and mimicked the position I was in. We laid there, looking at each other until finally she broke the silence.
“Goodnight, Kai.” she closed her eyes. “Don't let the redhead bite.” I laughed and she smiled with her eyes closed.
I woke up on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance. The ambulance was stationary, though, and an EMT was sitting next to me, watching me carefully.
“Rough night, huh?” He asked.
“Yeah…” I said slowly. He helped me sit up. “What happened?”
“Witnesses say a drunk girl jumped on you from the bar counter. You blacked out for about ten minutes. I need to do a few quick tests to make sure you don’t have a concussion or anything.”
He pulled out a tiny flashlight from his front pocket and turned it on. He began performing typical concussion tests, but I felt fine. I’ve had a concussion before. This didn’t feel like one. It just felt like a head ache and soreness from where she probably landed on me.
“You’re lucky. The girl who landed on you got a pretty bad concussion, but you seem to be fine. I don’t suggest drinking for the remainder of the night, though,” he said when he finished the examination. “Do you feel pain anywhere on your body? I just want to make sure she didn’t break any of your bones.”
“Nae, I’m awright.” My arm did kind of hurt but it wasn’t that bad. It didn’t hurt enough to be taken to the hospital or anything. He looked down at my left wrist and picked it up suddenly. I winced and said “ow” against my own will.
“It’s swollen. You probably sprained it. Don’t worry; you don’t have to go to the hospital. I know that’s pretty much the last place anyone wants to be on New Year’s Eve. Just let me wrap it for you.” I decided to comply and held my hand out for him. When he finished wrapping it, he put my left arm in a sling. I thanked him and a little while later he let me go.
I didn’t go back into the club. It was so packed in there that someone was bound to knock into my arm, so I stood outside for a bit, just thinking. I paced the sidewalk in front of the club a few times until some busy New Yorker knocked into my arm without turning to apologize. I writhed in pain and was pissed that I had gotten exactly what I was trying to avoid by being outside. I didn’t know where anyone was and I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I was thinking of calling Kai when my phone rang. It wasn’t a number I recognized, but I picked it up anyway. It was Logan.
I woke up twice. The first time was because Hannah's friend was violently vomiting in the toilet at the corner of the cell. So, that was pleasant to hear. The second time I woke up, there was a rattling sound of keys against the cell bars. I opened my eyes to see a police officer opening the cell gate. I looked down. Hannah had changed positions. She was laying on the ground using my foot as a pillow. “Wake up now if you want to use your free phone call,” the officer said. It wasn't the same officer that arrested me. It was some other guy who had a thick, dark mustache. He looked at his watch, bored. I felt Hannah sit up beside my leg again. “OHMAHGOD IT'S OFFICER MAGEE!” She shrieked. Her friends were sitting up, too, and they cheered with a friendly, “Yaaaay!” like they did when I first entered the cell. They still seemed tired, but they looked like they sobered up a bit. “Hello, again, Ladies.” He smiled but he still seemed uninterested. Hannah managed to stand up, using my leg to balance herself. She was still a little drunk, but not nearly as bad as she was before. “Where are the phones? I gotta call my fran.” “Anyone else coming to the phones? Last chance.” I stood up and followed them out. We went out a set of doors and walked into a secluded hallway where four pay phones hung against the wall. The officer gave me a few quarters. I thanked him and immediately dialed Kai. Hannah called someone on the pay phone furthest from me. We both stood there, quiet. The phone rang and rang, but Kai never picked up. It rang so many times that it finally went to his voicemail. I hung up the phone. Unsure what to do, I turned to the police officer. His name tag said, “Officer McKee” not Officer Magee. I decided to just address him as “Officer”. “Officer, I can't get through to my friend. Could you by any chance give me a few more quarters to call my other friend? I promise he'll pick up. He always picks up.” He stared at me, unmoved by sob story, but handed me more quarters anyway. I thanked him again but he waved me off. I dialed Neil this time. As the phone was ringing I heard Hannah mumble to herself, cursing out some girl, who I guess was the girl she attempted to call. She turned to Officer Magee. “I dono who else to call. Nobody's gonna pick up. It's New Year's Eve. Who's going to pick up?” She sounded like she might cry. I couldn't blame her. I wanted to get the hell out of that dump as soon as possible. The thought of not being able to leave that place that night was unbearable. The phone continued ringing and for a moment I thought he wasn't going to pick up at all, but Neil answered the phone right before it went to voicemail. “Hello?” “Aye, mate, it's Logan,” I tried to say as cheerfully as I could. “What do ye want?” He said demanded. He sounded angry, sad, and disappointed all at the same time. “Look, I'll just cut tae the chase.” I sighed. “I'm in jail. This guy picked a fight with me and I was arrested for disorderly conduct er something.” “What do ye want me tae do about it?” “Could ye bail me out, mate?” It was silent on the other end of the phone. After a moment I heard a loud, exaggerated sigh. “Whatever, man. Where are ye?” Officer Magee had given me a business card with the police station's information on it. I recited what it said to Neil. “Awright. I typed it into my phone so I can show it tae a taxi driver and hopefully he'll know where that is.” “Oh wait,” I said, uneasy of how he'd react to this next part. “Could ye maybe bail out four other girls, too?” “What?” His voice was stern and annoyed. “Aye one of them is kind of my friend now and her friend won't pick up the phone so I was wondering if ye could bail all of us out.” It was silent on his end of the phone. I looked up at Hannah. Her eyes were pleading. Officer Magee was staring me down, ready to snatch the phone from my hands. Neil sighed again. “FINE, LOGAN,” he said, defeated. “But ye know what? This is it. I'm not dealing with anymore of your bulls**t after this,” he snapped and hung up the phone. His words were like knives that sliced into my skin. After I'd hung up, Officer Magee walked us back to our cell and told us he'd come get us if anyone showed up. “Is he coming for you?” Hannah asked. I nodded my head. I was slouched on the bench looking down at nothing. Hannah looked concerned and sat down on the bench next to me. I felt like crap. I felt like Neil was disappointed in me, like everyone was. “Is he coming for us?” Hannah asked, rewording her original question. I nodded again. Hannah and I sat in silence on the bench while the other three tipsy girls chatted away. Fifteen minutes later, Officer Magee came in and told us a “young man named Neil” paid for our bail, all of ours. We followed him out to the lobby and sure enough, Neil was there. He still looked angry and disappointed. He was wearing a sling on his left arm. “Neil,” I began to say, but he cut me off. “Awright, everyone. Let's get a fockin' cab.” We followed him outside. It was cold and not as noisy and crowded as it had been before. The girls and I stood there and watched as Neil flagged down two cabs with ease. “Okay two per cab.” He ordered. .The girls dispersed fairly quickly into separated cabs since they wouldn't have been able to fit in one, anyway. Neil walked over to me. He had a fist full of cab money that he held up for me to see. Then he grabbed my wrist and forced it into my hand. “Happy fockin' Hogmanay,” he sneered and began to walk away. “Neil!” I yelled. My voice was shaking. He turned around and glared at me. “Neil, listen to me. I'm sorry,” I paused. “Please. Let me pay you back.” I meant that in two different ways, but he just stood there, his eyes, angry. Looking at him and seeing the anger that overtook his body made me feel like I was going to break down. I looked away for a moment, biting my lip to prevent Alina from destroying my soul again. When I looked back, Neil's eyes were softer and his eyebrows read that he was concerned. I was going to tell him I was sorry again, but I couldn't speak. My head was clouded, I couldn't think. I could barely breathe. It's amazing how much damage one girl can do to you. He finally spoke. “Awright, Logan.” He hit the side of my arm with his hand in a manly way, but rubbed it gently as if he understood. His eyes were forgiving. The gesture was small, but it made me feel much better, almost instantly. I felt less guilty, and I was glad we didn't have to have some stupid sob fest. He walked over and stepped into the cab he had flagged down. Two of the girls were waiting inside. “Son, are you ready now? Can we go?” The cab driver asked impatiently. The door was still propped open and Hannah sat inside the cab, waiting. I turned away from where Neil's cab was and looked my own cab driver. “Yeah,” I told him, “We can go now.”
I stepped into the cab and sat down next to one of the girls. She had curly dark brown hair and smelled like Jack Daniels. I wasn’t tipsy anymore at this point, just bored, sober, and tired.
“Where do ye girls live?”
“Les go to your place.” They both fell into a fit of giggles.
“Nae.” I said, unamused. “Where do ye live? I need tae tell the cabbie.” To my surprise, she recited the exact address that Dougal’s apartment was at. Apparently they lived in the same apartment complex as him.
“Really?” I asked. She nodded. “That’s where I have tae go, too.” I told her. Unsure of what else to say, I decided to look out the window for the rest of the drive.
Our cab reached the apartment first, but Logan’s cab arrived immediately after.
“Weird, huh?” Logan said to me once we all got out of the cab. I nodded.
I opened the door and the bell on it jangled loudly, but the guy behind the desk didn’t look up. He had headphones on. We all walked toward the elevator and I pressed the “up” button.
“I don't think the elevator is working. A few people waited ten minutes and the doors never opened. Try taking the stairs,” the receptionist suggested. He must have seen us walk past from the corner of his eye. He took off his headphones. He looked like he was in his late forties and, sadly, was not the friendly woman who was usually there.
“Well some of us are still a little drunk and I know I'm sure as hell tired, so I think we'll just wait a bit and if it doesn't open, we'll hike up the million flights of stairs,” I told him. He went back to work on his computer, or maybe he was just watching a movie.
The girls weren't really drunk anymore. They were a little tipsy, if anything. Only a minute had passed before one of them grew tired and sat down in a chair in the lobby. The others followed her and did the same, except for one who just sat down right in front of the elevator. Logan sat down next to her. I chose to stand, but leaned my back against the wall. Everyone was zoning out, bored and tired. I'm not sure how many minutes passed until we heard a pleasant “ding” noise. I stood up straight and walked in front of the elevator. Logan and the girl next to him looked up and the rest of the girls looked over, too.
The elevator doors opened. There were three people laying on the ground, dead. One of them was Kai. My adrenaline began to rush and my heart began to beat at an alarming rate. Nobody said anything. Suddenly we all heard a loud snore.
“Kai, what the fock are ye doing?!” I yelled. “Get up, I thought ye were dead.” Kai didn't get up, though, and the snoring stopped suddenly. One of the people in the corner by the buttons got up and ran out of the elevator. She had red hair and dressed like a hooker. She ran towards a potted plant that stood next to the elevator doors and threw up in it.
The girls lounging in the lobby chairs said “ew” in unison. The receptionist didn't even look up, he had his headphones on and was focused on the laptop in front of him.
“Well...” I said, “at least we know she's alive.” Her audible vomiting successfully woke up Kai and the other girl. They sat up slowly, confusion spread across their faces.
“Aye, what the fock is going on? Why are ye on the floor?” I asked. The doors started to close again but I put my hand between them to prevent the elevator from actually going anywhere. When Kai saw the doors closing he got up immediately and ran out of the elevator.
“Nae, nae, nae! Don't let those doors close! This elevator is definitely broken.” The girl followed him out and I let the doors close after everyone evacuated.
“Jeeze, how long is she going to throw up for?” Logan asked, bewildered.
“Wait,” I said, “Were you stuck on the elevator?”
“Aye! Fae hours! We were sleeping on the ground, not dead. It’s like five in the fockin’ morning; what else do ye expect us to do?”
“Why didnae ye just call one of us?”
“There was no service and I guess the brilliant receptionist over there didnae realize that the elevator hadn’t opened in a good five hours.” He paused. “Wait, Susan is gone? I guess she forgot about me.” The redhead stopped throwing up in the plant and abruptly got up and left the complex.
“Kai, this is my friend Hannah: the drunk one,” said the girl who was in the elevator with him. She gestured towards the girl who was sitting next to Logan. “And, actually, my other drunk friends are over there in the lounge chairs.” We all started talking to each other, and soon enough we all came to learn the full story of what happened that night.
When we lost Kai earlier that night, he went to the apartment to hang out until one of us came to get him, but he never made it to the apartment. He and this girl Hannah were stuck on an elevator for the majority of the night. Hannah’s plan was to get money to bail out her friends after they were arrested for drinking in public. Meanwhile, Logan and I were stuck in the crowd with this airhead girl of his until I finally left and had my own little adventures at the pubs. Apparently Logan ditched the girl, but got in a fight in the process and ended up getting arrested. When he was brought to jail, he ended up in the same cell as Hannah’s drunk friends. He tried calling Kai but he couldn’t answer the phone because there wasn’t any service on the elevator. I told everyone the story of how my arm came to be in a sling.
After we figured this entire thing out, it was close to 6am so we decided that 6am was a good time to go to bed. All of us were tired and Hannah’s friends were practically falling asleep in the lounge chairs.
“Awright, let’s just take the stairs,” I suggested. Everyone groaned, but stood up anyway and followed me to the stairwell. We only had to walk up a few flights before Grace and her friends reached the level their apartment was on. Kai, Logan, and I all said goodnight and continued to climb onward.
“I have never loved walking up stairs so much in my life,” Kai confessed.
“I have,” I told him.
“Aye, It’s better than being in jail!” Logan stated.
“I suppose that’s true.” We climbed the rest of the way in silence. When we reached our level, I looked out the hallway window.
“Oh, look, the suns coming out,” I said, pointing at the window.
“Awesome,” Kai said sarcastically. I pulled the key out of my pocket. I probably should have left it taped to the lamp, but I guess, in the end, it didn’t really matter, now did it?
I didn't see Kai after that night. We didn't even exchange phone numbers after the elevator incident, but I suppose that would have been a little creepy of me to ask anyway.
We were strangers. Just because we talked for a few hours, didn’t mean I really knew him. For all I knew, he could have had a girlfriend. He could have just been a very, very polite person, but for some reason, I doubted that. I felt like we had some sort of connection, as corny as that sounds. But either way, I decided to not tell him that I had planned on studying abroad for a semester at the University of Aberdeen after winter break.
Actually, even though my winter break ended in late January, I was still allowed to take advantage of my opportunity in Scotland. I was allowed to fly out there anytime during winter break to settle in to my new dorms. I never told him this, though. I mean, just in case he didn't really like me, it would have been awkward to have mentioned it. I didn't want him to feel pressured like he had to hang out with me.
I left America after the first week of the New Year and then traveled around Scotland for the remainder of the month. My Scottish roommate showed me around Edinburgh but, other than that, I traveled mostly on my own. I never saw Kai or any of his friends around Scotland, or even on campus, for that matter. I mean, it's not like I really expected to see him. I never even found out what he was studying.
My first day of classes was on the 24th. I shared a class with my roommate and she treated me to dinner that night to celebrate my arrival and to also introduce me to a handful of her close friends. They were all very nice and friendly and joked that they couldn't understand my accent. I didn't think about Kai for the rest of the night or even the next day.
My second day of classes was pretty laid back. It didn't start until noon so I got to sleep in after the night out and was fully rested for class. When I walked into the room, I showed the teacher the form that I was supposed to show all of my teachers on the first day. It basically stated that I was a study abroad student. The teacher looked to be in his fifties. He had a scruffy chin and dark gray, wispy hair. After looking over the form for a moment with a puzzled look on his face he shouted out,
“Aye! Class! Sit down will ye?! We've got a study abroad student with us fae the semester!” He was a bit bizarre, but seemed very friendly and welcoming. A few people cheered at his announcement. One awkward guy in the back clapped loud and then abruptly stopped when he realized nobody was going to join in.
“WATERMELONS ARE OVERRATED!” A guy yelled. Everyone began snickering at the spontaneity of the comment. I agreed with him; Watermelons were overrated, and then I felt like I had this conversation before. I looked over to find the guy who made the comment.
It was Kai. He grinned at me.
“It's not even nutritious.”
And those were his exact words.
Auld = old
Awright = alright
Awthing = everything
Aye = yes. can also be used as a conversation filler.
Coudnae = couldn’t
Didnae = didn’t
Fae = for
Fecht = fight
Fit like a min? = how are you?
Guid = good
Haiverin = babbling chatter
Heid = head
Hing on = hang on/wait
Lass = girl
Mine ain sel = one’s self
Nae = no
Ocht = any
Quine = girl
Shouldnae = shouldn’t
Some ither body = someone else
Tae = to
Wee = little
Whaur = where
Whit = what
Yer = your
Yese = you (pl)