“Jesus,” Molly said, finally giving into her subconscious burden, “do you guys feel that?”
“What, honey?” Faye asked while trying to remember if her hair appointment was at eleven or one tomorrow.
“I don’t know. It’s like…well, you know when you’re on the Gravitron at the carnival, and it takes a minute to get used to the spinning. But, once you get used to it, it feels unnatural to stop?”
“Yeah, I puked on that thing when I was five,” Johnny said.
“You also puked last night, dude, doesn’t prove a thing,” Chet responded. Johnny just gave him a cock-eyed glance. Both knew that tequila-induced vomit in one’s twenties was far different from a kid’s corndog flavored upchuck at a carnival. But Chet was like that; he just had to pretend to be witty.
“Will you guys shut up?” Faye said, “Molly, what are you getting at, Sweetie?”
“Well, I feel like we’re all spinning and we need to do something to stop it.”
“Why?” Johnny asked.
“Do you want to spin for eternity?” Molly asked.
“What’s better about stopping?” Chet asked with a smirk.
“When you’re spinning, everything is a meaningless blur. Sure it can be fun, and that lightheadedness is sort of a high, but you can only see things as they really are once you stop. You can only focus when you are still.” Everyone was surprised at Faye’s explanation – she wasn’t known for being a thinker.
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to say, Faye.”
“Ok. Pretending for a second that we all agree we need to get off the Gravitron,” Chet said, “how would we even do that?”
“The spinning stops when you are more grounded. The spinning stops when you find your roots – when you find your point of origin,” Molly said.
“Well, how?” Faye asked, the hair appointment far from her mind now.
“I don’t know,” Molly shrugged. “I guess that’s why I’m asking you guys.”
“I know what we need in order to be at our point of origin,” Johnny said, his eyes sort of glazed over. “We need to be honest. And we need to act honestly.”
“Where did that come from, Johnny?” Chet asked.
“No, I think he’s right!” Faye almost shouted.
“Yeah, I think so too,” Molly said. “We constructed this ride we’re on with all these lies and bullshit.”
“I’m not a liar!” Chet objected.
“We all are, man. We’re never completely honest with each other,” Johnny said.
“That’s because it’d kill us! We’d unnecessarily hurt each other’s feelings.”
“Would it? Or, do we just pretend that each other is so fragile because secretly we’re just pussies.”
“You know I don’t like that word,” Faye interrupted.
“Regardless,” Johnny continued, “we need to stop being pussies.”
“Again,” Chet said, visibly annoyed now. “How?”
“You guys up for a little experiment?” Molly asked. They nodded in turn. “What if we said and did exactly as we pleased for one night? Now, you have to understand: to be that honest with your words and actions can alter our lives and relationships forever.”
Silently, they glanced from pair of eyes to pair of eyes, as if they were playing a poker game. No one wanted to be the first to agree to it, for that person would be held most responsible for the outcome.
“Ok, I’m in,” Chet finally said. And once he did, the others agreed, too.
“So, how do we do this?”
“And when do we begin?”
“We all go back to the apartments. It begins when we arrive and it lasts until sun up.”
The two girls were roommates in one apartment on the fourth floor, and the boys were roommates in the apartment directly across the hall. All the stories of how they met and came to be roommates and friends were to be swept from their minds for the night.
“I guess I’ll go first,” Molly said, once the four were seated in the girls’ living room. “Faye, sometimes I want to scalp you and hang the bloody skin on my wall as a souvenir of my victory.”
“Jesus, Molly! Have you been just waiting to say that to me?”
“It does sound like you rehearsed it a thousand times in the shower,” Chet said.
“Are we doing this or not?” Molly asked.
“Fine,” Faye said, “but where is that anger coming from?”
“Is it really such a surprise?”
“Well, yeah. I thought we were best friends.”
“We are, but sometimes you are such a rotten, princess-y little whore and I want to punch you in the face.”
“What the fuck did I do to you?”
“Senior prom. You knew I wanted Jeremy to ask me, but you flirted with him like crazy until he asked you. I so wanted to pull a Carrie on you that night.”
“You knew Jeremy would never ask you.”
“Because you were a fat, ugly beast back then, Molly.”
“I was just a little…”
“Oh, there was nothing little about you,” Chet chimed in.
“That’s it, isn’t it?” Faye asked. “You have a chip on your shoulder because I’ve always been prettier than you.”
“I can concede that you’re prettier. But, the problem is that you act like your shit doesn’t stink. You make damn sure everyone in the room notices you, and if they don’t, you think there’s something wrong with them. Your entire identity is wrapped up in people thinking you’re pretty. Your whole fucking world would crumble if you gained ten pounds, or if someone thought you were just average looking.”
Molly was about to continue when Faye punched her on the side of the head. Faye didn’t really know how to throw a punch, so it landed awkwardly and did more to hurt Faye than Molly. Still, the surprise of it through Molly off-guard and stopped her talking.
“Now we’re getting somewhere!” Chet squealed.
Johnny, less comfortable with violence than Chet, said, “I’ve got something to say.”
“Are you about to tell me you secretly hate me?” Chet asked.
“No – that’s more of a thing between girls. I was going to say that for some time I’ve been wanting to tie Faye up in the basement and fuck her raw until I’ve had my fill.”
“Holy fuck! Does everyone either hate me or want to fuck me?” Faye said with disgust.
“Well, that is the persona you’ve developed,” Chet said.
“You too, Chet? Isn’t any goddamn one of you a real friend?”
“All friendships are just relationships of convenience or circumstance,” Molly said.
“You’re just a cynical little bitch, Molly. Still, I’d fuck you, too,” Johnny said.
“Then let’s do it,” Molly said.
“Come again?” Johnny said in disbelief. Over the years, the friends had developed a silent boundary around such impulses.
“Tonight’s the night that anything goes, right?” Molly asked. “If you check yourself, then you won’t be doing this right.”
With that go-ahead, Johnny began to scoop Molly up and take her into the bedroom, but she insisted they do it right there in the living room, in front of the shocked eyes of the other friends. Chet watched the display wide-eyed, while Faye pretended to cover her eyes, like a toddler who watched the scary part of the movie through splayed fingers. Molly was more violent about the act than Johnny was – surprising no one. When it was finished, the two performs separated from each other like boxers in a ring.
“I always knew you were a wannabe slut, Molly,” Faye said.
“Better than being a self-righteous tease,” Molly retorted.
“Can I have a go, Molly?” Chet asked.
But Chet knew what the night was all about, and he knew that his asking permission was akin to still being on the carnival ride. So, he grabbed Faye and began forcing her to do what he wanted. She objected fiercely, of course. Johnny and Molly couldn’t watch, but they did nothing to stop it. In fact, they were hungry from their own foray, so began cooking the easy-bake pizzas from the freezer. Luckily, Chet didn’t take too long to finish.
He got up to take a shower and left the sobbing Faye on the floor. Molly and Johnny helped her onto the couch and put a blanket over her.
“I can’t believe you two shit-heads didn’t help me. That monster.”
“Anything goes tonight, honey,” Molly said.
“Yeah, I know – sex, violence, hatred – it’s all okay tonight, right? But what if, deep down, I actually give a shit about you assholes? What if, secretly, I would have protected you? Is that part of this ‘anything goes’ crap, too?”
Molly and Johnny looked at each other with a seething pang of guilt. But it was a realization. They knew who they were. They were the people who did not help.
“You know, I always wondered about those news stories where someone is getting raped or beaten and no one does anything about it. People video it on their cell phones, but they don’t stop it. I always abhorred those people, “Molly said.
“Well guess what, baby – that’s you,” Faye said, wiping her nose.
The timer went off on the pizza and Johnny and Molly both got up to check on it. Neither one wanted to sit with their guilt any longer. Faye heard the sounds of the shower being turned off. The idea of seeing Chet again turned her stomach with the sort of rancid force she had never experienced before.
“Well, anything goes,” she thought. When she heard Chet’s hand on the bathroom doorknob, she jumped up and grabbed a knife from the counter. She lunged at the surprised Chet in the doorway. The knife went into his chest with much more ease than she would have predicted – chock it up to Molly’s obsession with keeping the kitchen knives razor-blade sharp.
At first, Chet just stared at Faye. He was surprised, yet not really. She was more surprised than he was – surprised that she could actually go through with it. Everyone was motionless. Finally, Chet collapsed on the floor and the blood pooled underneath him.
They knew he would surely die if they didn’t call for help, but to call for help meant that they were back on the Gravitron. They didn’t know which choice to make to save their souls. On the one hand they were finally seeing themselves as they really were. But alternatively, the stark reality of themselves was horrifying. They knew the next choice they made was for keeps: live honest lives as the beasts they now knew they truly were, or get back on the ride and spin for eternity.