I was 20 and on the wagon following an unfortunate incident involving a shotgun and a chapbook of bad poetry. My live-in girlfriend wanted to party, however, and I found myself the sole sober person at a rowdy party.

Needless to say, I was not in high spirits and growing increasingly paranoid as people I did not know filed into the front door, largely unchecked. Among the revelers was a girl who couldn't have been more than 17 being carried into my bedroom, plopped down on my bed and promptly forgotten.

The screaming erupted as I was sitting on the back porch hate smoking Camel Lights and waiting for everyone to leave. Navigating my way past two dozen liquored-up teenagers, I pushed my way into the room. The passed-out girl had somewhat regained consciousness, but now a man about my age was also in the bed and fielding a barrage of accusatory declarations from other partygoers.

Nothing is worse on God's green Earth than drunk teens trying to argue their way to an equitable solution to a problem, particularly when it relates to a sexual assault.

"Shut up!" I demanded of everyone.

"It's cool, man," the man in my bed assured me. "We was just getting cozy. She's in to it. Don't worry about it."

"You need to get out of my house like right now, dude."

By this time, the would-be rapist had stood up and was walking somewhat aggressively toward me. I neglected to mention my brother Ray (not his real name) was also at the party. To paraphrase James Ellroy, Ray took great pride in his adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to life. While I was horrified that a man — we later learned his name was Eric — had assaulted a woman in my house, my brother looked upon the incident as an opportunity to engage in his one true passion.


Ray and three or four of our mutual loser friends corralled Eric out the front door. Five minutes later, they emerged from the darkness, bearing a now-unconscious Eric to a ratty couch on the back porch, where he was promptly relieved of his watch, wallet and shoes. OK, Ray has two passions.

At someone's suggestion, we identified Eric's girlfriend, called her, told her what had happened and asked her to come pick up her boyfriend. I may or may not have given Eric a parting shot or five as he was leaving.

The girl's friends took her away. I never learned her name, and I never saw her or Eric again.

My girlfriend eventually passed out on the aforementioned bed, and I spent two hours holding her hair while she emptied the contents of her stomach. Once I was certain she wouldn't aspirate on vomit, I retired to the living room, where I sat and smoked and stared at a half-empty bottle of Bacardi.

When dawn broke, I was still on the wagon.

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