“Die, zombie fuckers!” My fourth round of Zombie Hunters was in full swing when I heard a tapping sound at my window that nearly sent me jumping out of my skin. As usual, I was home alone in my upstairs bedroom and making due with my time like every Saturday night of my life.
I froze in place and looked over my shoulder and then jumped to my feet as I saw Kya on the other side of the glass. As she mumbled something I couldn’t quite understand, I rushed over to the window and lifted it.
“What the hell took you so long, Leonard?” Kya stepped into the room with her tall, spike-heeled boots leading the way.
“Why can’t you use the front door? Your reputation would be severely damaged if you were to die falling off my roof.” It would take a hell of a lot more than that actually because Kya was known for her carefree spirit.
She straightened her skintight jeans and smoothed down her jet-black hair that she’d added red streaks to only days ago. “I knocked on your door for twenty minutes, which you’d know if you weren’t up here with your TV blaring.”
I took in the sight of her slim hips, curvy ass, and tits that were way bigger than the time her bikini top had come off in my kiddie pool when we were only six. Back then, things were less complicated. We’d been best friends, and it wasn’t until eighth grade when everything changed.
She filled out with curves as I grew as straight and tall as a weed and just as weak as one in a strong breeze. Her popularity soared as a talented singer with one of the hottest garage bands in town, and I became the butt of everyone’s jokes with my horn-rimmed glasses and lack of muscle tone.
Luckily, my misery hadn’t lasted too long, though. By the time I was a junior, I’d grown so tall and lanky that I was damned near invisible.
“What do you need?”
She rarely came over, and when she did, it was usually to borrow something or ask a favor.
“Do I have to need something to pop in and say hi?” She walked around my room looking at my science fair trophies and the banner I’d gotten for attending the school’s mock trial.
“These days, yeah. I mean, it’s been a while.”
“Well, you don’t exactly darken my doorstep these days either.” She lifted her chin in a defiant way, and then her lips spread as if she couldn’t help but grin. “Okay, so maybe I do want something. What are you doing tonight?”
“Hanging here while my parents are gone and playing Zombie Hunters.”
“There’s a big party over at Seth O’Haver’s house. I was wondering if you’d give me a ride?”
“What’s wrong with your car?”
“My parents took the keys. I got in trouble for letting Laney Peterson drive my car. She puked in it, and until I pay them back for the cleaning bill, I’m shit out of luck.” She walked to the window and looked out to the rooftop where I usually sat to listen to her sing. “There are sunflower seed shells all over your roof, by the way.”
“Ah, yeah. I dumped them out there.” There was no way I would admit to sitting out there while her band practiced in her garage on the opposite side of the house. It was the only way I’d get close to the party that took place every other Friday of the month.
“Oh. So, will you?” She smiled sweetly as if to convince me.
“Sure, I’ll give you a ride.” I would have given my left nut to take her anywhere she wanted to go, but I was still at a loss for why she needed me. She had tons of friends, and any one of them could have gone out of their way to give her a lift.
“Perfect.” She flashed me a big smile with her red-painted lips and then walked to my bedroom door as I stood there like an idiot. “Are you coming?”
“Oh, right.” I didn’t bother changing clothes. I had on a plain white T-shirt that I usually wore under my button-downs and a pair of jeans that were so baggy and loose, they looked like I could fit another one of me in them. I put on my sneakers when we got downstairs and grabbed my keys.
“I really appreciate this, Leonard. I would have gotten a ride from Emily, but Noah already packed half the team in her car, and since most of my friends are used to riding in with me, they filled up everyone else’s cars fast.”
“Oh, it’s cool.” I really didn’t need her excuse and thought it really wasn’t that big of a deal. I’d dump her off and bail out before anyone could see she’d gotten a ride from me.
We walked out, and I unlocked her door and went around to the driver’s side.
When we were both in our seat belts, she reached up and put her hand on the dashboard, giving my car a pat like it was a pet. “I like your car, by the way. It’s pretty cool, even with the dent.”
My ‘86 Mustang SVO was my dad’s last attempt at trying to help my social life, but so far, the only action it had seen was when I backed into Kya’s mailbox. “Thanks. I wanted a new paint job anyway.” The car, which was originally a much glossier red, had oxidized to an unflattering pink on the top half, making it a two-toned nightmare that had earned the nickname Pretty Pony.
I started her up, and we went down the street to the stop sign.
“Which way do I go?” I asked, revving the engine, which was the most impressive part of the car next to the clean interior.
“You don’t know where Seth lives?” She made a face like I had just told her I’d never seen sunshine or a pencil.
“No, I haven’t actually ever been invited.”
Her face fell, and while I expected her next move would be to show how much she pitied me or change the subject, she gave me a nudge. “Well, you are now, so take a right.”
I laughed not thinking she was serious. “Does that mean you want me to get out and walk you to the door? I’m flattered.”
She turned in her seat to angle toward me. “What do you mean? You’re coming in, right?”
“That would be a negative. I didn’t even know about this party until you crawled in my window, and I’m pretty sure that was a deliberate strategy orchestrated by the rest of the senior class.” It was like the other kids spoke a different language most times anyway, a language I wasn’t supposed to understand.
“You have to. It’s our senior year. This is not only the last party of the school year but our last party together as a class. We’re all going our separate ways after next week, Leonard.”
“I thought we did that our freshman year. Oh, wait, that was just me.” I had learned to laugh at myself before anyone else could, and so far, it was a pretty good coping mechanism.
“You know what I mean. This party is for the seniors, though. And since you’re a senior, you should come. I’m sure you’ll have fun.” She turned my rearview in her direction, straightening her eyeliner and lipstick with her finger.
“Look, I don’t mind dropping you off. I’m used to not being included, so I promise I can handle it. It’s not like I’m going to go home and hang myself.”
She turned the mirror back in my direction and sat back in the seat. “Leonard Michael Pace. I’m going to be so pissed off at you if you don’t go inside. You can’t just dump me off and leave. How will I get home?”
“I tell you what. If you need a designated driver, I’ll come back for you. But I’ll wait for your call in my bedroom. I’ve got important shit to do anyway.”
“Like what?” She didn’t look convinced.
“Zombie killing. It’s my favorite sport.” For me, it was my only sport. I had outgrown everything but mock trials, and that was only because I had law school in my future.
“Take this street and then the next right.”
I slowed down, following her directions, and finally pulled up to the house. “Here you go, curbside service.”
“No, I’m not getting out until you park and promise me you’ll come inside.” She folded her arms and didn’t budge, not even when I reached over and unbuckled her seatbelt and opened her door.
“Better hurry. Someone will see you in the pretty pony, and your reputation will be shot to hell.”
“No. We’re eighteen, Leonard. We’ve known each other our entire lives, and I want you to come inside and have a good time.” She gave me a pleading look. “At least go in and have a drink with me. One drink, and if it totally blows, you can leave, and I won’t stop you.”
I looked across the lawn to Seth’s house where every window was lit up, and music pulsed with a low thud. Laughter carried from behind the big privacy fence that led to the backyard, and there were so many cars in the driveway already, I was going to have to park around the corner.
“Fine. One drink. But only because this feels like every cliché teen movie I’ve ever seen, and I’m a die-hard Hughes fan.”
“That’s even more of a reason why you need to experience it. And I wouldn’t tell any of the guys you see their killer party as the next teen movie.”
“I’ll remember that,” I said as I pulled the car around the corner and found a spot to park, hoping I’d have an easy getaway if things went south.
She jumped out of the car and waited for me to unbuckle and reluctantly join her. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this.” I raked my hand through my hair and smoothed down my wrinkled shirt wishing I’d dressed to go out.
“You’ll love it.” She walked with me to the front door, and we went inside, both blending quickly into the ocean of bodies that made up our school.
Kya was immediately swallowed up by her friends, and even though she looked back at me, she was helpless to stop them. She called out over Seth’s head, “Thanks for the ride, Leonard.”
Seth gave me a hard look. “You had Pretty Pony Pace bring you?”
“Yeah, so what? Leonard’s a senior, Seth. Why don’t you be a little hospitable?” I could hear them talking over the music a few feet away, and before I could make my way out again, Seth came over and handed me a shot.
“Here, Leonard. Have a celebratory drink on me.” It was the sincerest thing Seth had said to me since I’d known him, but then I realized, other than “give me a pencil” or “give me your notes,” it was the only thing he’d ever really said to me.
I took the glass, and after giving it a sniff, I turned it back, downing the liquid that was so hot, it burned my throat. The others whooped and cheered. And I smiled, certain my cheeks had turned the same color as my car.
Kya grinned big. “Have fun, Leonard. You deserve it.” She mingled with her friends while I walked around, trying the punch and coolers and being stared at by many. No one talked to me, not even when they were passing me drinks, and I was okay with that. I tasted a few, especially the ones that smelled like a regular punch, and before I knew it, I was about to fall on my ass.
I found myself near the banister, looking up at the winding stairs and growing woozy. Suddenly, before I could hold it back, everything that had gone down made a violent climb back up. I turned in time to grab a vase that was sitting on the nearest table but dropped it, shattering it into a million pieces before puking all over the floor.
Heads turned, and everyone laughed even though most were trying not to hurl too. Seth and some of his other jock friends ran over and made a scene chanting Pretty Pony over and over, and though I was still woozy, I ran up the stairs and into the bathroom.
I washed my face and rinsed my mouth, preparing to go back down and face the music before finding an opportunity to slip out of the party.
I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been able to hold my liquor, and I would go down as the guy who puked on everyone’s senior party. I should have stayed home and not listened to Kya. I could have been leveled up on my game and chilling in my room content to be alone instead of facing traumatizing shame and mockery.
Being invisible sounded good at that moment.
“Leonard?” Kya’s muffled voice came from up the hall, and then a soft knock sounded on the door.
“I’ll be out in a minute.”
The knob turned, and Kya walked in, putting the small pin she’d picked the lock with back in her hair. “I’m sorry that happened. I should have never encouraged you to drink, Leonard.”
“It’s okay. I just overdid it a bit. I guess Seth wants to kill me. That vase was probably pretty expensive.”
“It was a cheap knockoff from the five and dime. Besides, Mrs. O’Haver’s taste is so shitty, you did her a favor.” Kya giggled and then reached forward to move my hair from my face. “I’m more concerned about you.”
“No need. I’m resilient.”
“You know, when you say that, you don’t look as convincing as you sound.”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“Hey, it’s me. Kya, remember? The girl who you used to tell all your dreams to. You’ve got a big future ahead, bigger than anyone else in this house, in fact.”
“Yeah, and college is going to be great, right?” I feigned being enthused. “I mean, I can’t wait for all of the parties and fun. I’m sure it’ll be just like high school. Instead, I get to be invisible to a whole new group of people. But hey, at least that whole Pretty Pony nickname shit won’t follow me, right? I guess they’ll all have to make up something new, but I have a feeling they’ll be able to see the invisible V on my forehead.”
“V as in virgin?”
“Yeah, I’m probably the one guy in the entire senior class who hasn’t gotten laid this year. I hoped it would happen. You know, I’d find a nice girl who knew and liked me, maybe who could even love me. I’d treat her like a queen, you know. Take her to senior prom, make out in my car, but there aren’t any girls who would be caught dead in my car or with me for that matter.” Not only that but the only person I ever loved is you, Kya.
“And yet, I came to a party with you in that car.”
“Because you needed a ride. Not because you missed me as much as I’ve missed you all these years or because you really wanted me to have a good time.”
She moved away from the door and walked to where I stood at the sink and took my hand. “Come on. Let me show you how much I care, Leonard.”
At first, I thought she would walk me out, take me out the back exit, and walk me to my car on the corner. Instead, she walked me out into the hall and down to a bedroom at the end of the hall.
Before I could ask what was going on, she moved forward and put her arms around my neck, her tall boots making her even taller and nearly my height.
“What are you doing?”
“Showing you how much I care.” Her mouth met mine, and my eyes rolled back in my head as she kissed me without any hesitation. I was thankful the O’Haver’s had strong mouthwash, and even though she tasted like alcohol, the kiss was nice and turned me on.
By the time she walked me to the bed, I realized what was going on, and her hand on my hard cock was enough proof that I wasn’t just imagining things.
I lay back on the bed, and she straddled my hips, taking off her shirt, and then she lifted my hands, resting them on her breasts as her eyes met mine with a look that told me it was all right to touch.
I played with her tits as we made out a little, her hips grinding mine through our clothes, which I couldn’t wait to get out of. But I wasn’t sure we were going to go that far. Surely, she didn’t like me enough for that, and I’d take what I could get.
But then, she blew my mind. She slipped down and went to work on my jeans, and before I knew it, her lips were on my hard cock.
It was my lucky night, and all of my fantasies were finally coming true.
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