Once upon a New Year’s Eve, he and I were naïve, attractive freshmen at an invitation-only house party. Bouncers guarded the front and back doors. Tuxedoed frat brothers hurried in and out of the kitchen like cocktail waiters, divvying out bottles of champagne and gallon jugs of spiked punch. Blunt roaches, red cups, condoms, and cigarettes bobbed around skinny dippers who cheered for me to loosen up. I undressed to the music of their wolf-whistles. I went cannonball into the suspiciously warm pool. I kept up with their drinking pace, shots served to us from the diving board, unknown flavors I forced down like bad medicine. I stayed in until I was ready to vomit.
With my dress on inside out and soaking up the water that stank of latex, I stumbled to a place where nobody would find me unless they were searching for me. At the edge of the woods in the backyard, behind the broken jacuzzi filled with empty liquor bottles, I was bracing against a tree, calculating the positives and negatives of lying facedown on the ground, when he fell hard nearby. I only heard the collapse and saw the aftermath. He rolled onto his back so that his head rested on one of my tree’s massive roots. He had a pretty boy face made for the silver screen, and the heels of his hands were scraped and dirty. He introduced himself as Don Corleone, questioned my motives, why I hadn’t offered him my friendship or invited him over for coffee, why I dared to disrespect him on his daughter’s wedding. He’d been stalking me, I think, waiting for me to lose track of my friends, like a wolf pouncing on prey separated from its herd.