I Know You Have a Heavy Heart
Mark can see Collin's hand moving slowly on Angel's skinny thigh, but that's the only movement in the room—only Maureen's and Roger's hair blowing in the artificial breeze of the fan positioned in front of the couch. Every window in the loft is open as wide as it can go; noise from the street—shouts and sirens and wails and the barks of street sellers and street people—drifts in, filling the room like water, seeping along the floor.
"I am too, " Roger says, glances at the speakers—Angel first, then Joanne. Jo and Maureen are laying on the floor together; Roger is on the floor, too, but a ways away from them. Collins and Angel are on the couch; Mimi is stretch across the back. Mark is standing, skinny and awkward, near the window. He is the only one without sweat streaming down his face, even though he's wearing long sleeves—it's a thin black cotton shirt, probably Roger's (he only thinks that because it hangs from his shoulders like a burlap sack), and corduroy trousers. Everyone else is barefoot and in shorts, or skirts, in Angel's and Maureen's cases.
Collins looks up and grins: despite the ninety-plus degree heat, he is wearing his beanie. "Alcohol?"
"Just whiskey," Roger mumbles, and his head falls against the cement floor with a soft thud.
"No, there's some vodka," Mark corrects. "Just not Stoli. Absolut."
"Works for me, my friend," Collins says gravely; Angel giggles, nuzzles her lover's neck. Mark disappears into his bedroom and comes back with a nearly-full bottle of vodka and sets it on the floor. He walks into the kitchen, rummages through cupboard after empty cupboard, before finding the whiskey—cheap and mean.
"Pick your poison," he says, and sits next to the two bottles of alcohol, crossing his legs Indian-style.
Collins laughs, full and throaty. "We're all gonna be picking a poison. Everybody sit in a circle—Roger, do you have cups?"
Roger hauls himself to his feet with disproportionate effort and stumbles into the kitchen; Mark, after a few moments of watching his roommate, says, "Uhm... I think they're under the counter, Rog."
"...I knew that." Roger drops to his knees and drops out of sight for a moment, emerging with a pack of tattered, store-brand Styrofoam cups. "I emerge victorious!"
He flops down on the floor again, stomach-first, and props up his head with his hands. He is in a rare good mood, Mark notes, and the filmmaker smiles for a second. It is nice to see Roger enjoying himself.
"Right." Collins slides off the couch, pulling Angel with him; she perches in his lap, both arms around his neck. "We're going to play Slut."
Maureen, Roger and Mimi laugh; Mark and Joanne, however, merely look confused.
"...Don't tell me you've never played that!"
"Uhm... sorry?" Joanne says, cocking her head to one side. "What is it?"
Maureen giggles. "Hon-eeey," she says, exasperated, "you really don't know?"
"It's like—okay—I say 'I've never'... uh... 'had anal sex'. So anybody here that has had anal has to take a shot—and I pour. Whoever's drunkest at the end is the Slut. And the questions, obviously, all have to be sexual. Got it?"
"I think so." Joanne pulls Maureen into her lap and buries her face in her girlfriend's thick, beautiful red hair. Mark feels a faint stirring of jealousy when Roger wraps his arm around Mimi's waist. It suddenly strikes him that he is the only one in their circle of friends without a partner.
"Alright! I'll go first," Collins says, clapping his huge hands together. "I've never... dressed like a woman."
Mimi laughs and slaps him playfully on the side of the head, but raises her glass; he pours a generous helping of Absolut in Maureen's, Joanne's, Angel's and Mimi's cups. They slug down the alcohol willingly and plunk down their cups like champs.
"Your turn, Marky boy."
He thinks for a moment. "I've never... uhm... w-worn lipstick? Shit, I'm bad at this kind of stuff, you can't spring this shit on me like that!"
"Lame!" Roger shouts, but the girls take the shots of vodka and smile.
She glances around the room and smiles. "I've never... slept with a man."
Angel, Collins, Mimi, and Maureen raise their glasses—then, tentatively, Mark.
"...What?" Maureen says finally, breaking the silence like a rock dropped in a stagnant pond. "Are you fucking kidding me, Mark?"
The filmmaker shakes his head and bites his lip, but forces a smile. "Nope."
"Who?" Mimi says, immediately interested.
"I'd, uhm... rather not say."
The look that Collins shoots Mark is a little too knowing for the filmmaker's comfort, but he takes the vodka willingly, welcoming the burning in the back of his throat and the momentary stinging in his eyes.
"Mo-mo, your turn," Joanne mumbles against her lover's neck.
"I've never... given a blowjob."
"Seriously?" Angel's question is directed at Mark. He laughs and nods, rolls his eyes. "Yeah, seriously."
"Answer the question!"
Mimi, Angel and Mark raise their glasses.
"Mark! Shit!" Collins says, his eyebrows raised.
"What?" Mark is uneasy and a little defensive, Goddamnit, he thinks, if they're going to ask questions like this, they're going to get unexpected answers.
He takes another slug of alcohol and this time his eyes don't water. "I like how nobody's surprised that Mimi and Angel have done it," he says after a moment, but he grins at the dancer, and she smiles back. "It's part of the job, dahhhling—or, at least, it was."
"Rog, your turn."
"I've never, uh..."
"...finished a song," Collins mumbles; Mark smiles and Mimi snorts with laughter, which, in turn, causes Angel to practically collapse in a fit of giggles.
"No, asshole. I've never... uhm... shit..."
"...you're a liar," Mark says, one eyebrow raised. "That is definitely not true."
"Shut up, Mark! I've never—uh..." He glances at Collins and laughs. "Baked ganja cookies."
Collins cracks up and holds up his cup—so does Joanne.
"Seriously, Jo?" Angel asks, cocking her head to one side.
"Yeah! Junior year of high school."
"Alright, Mimi, your turn."
"I've never... slept with more than one man in a night."
There is a pause, then Mark raises his glass.
"Jesus Christ, Mark!" Roger yelps—everyone's eyes are wide, but Collins and Maureen are both laughing.
"Goddamnit, if you're going to ask questions, don't be surprised when you get answers!" Mark is blushing and flustered.
"Well shit! I expected it to be Maureen!"
"Alright, alright, I think Slut's about over—and I think we all know who the Slut is here!" Collins says loudly, slapping his thigh in a pantomime of hilarity.
"Ahh, shut up," Mark mumbles, takes another sip of his vodka (just for good measure) and blushing—deeply.
"Alright. Time for another game," Maureen announces. "I think... Spin the Bottle?"
"Oh, God," Mark groans, but there is no other objection. "Are we in some bizarre universe? Am I thirteen again? 'Cause we're playing fucking Spin the Bottle."
"I hope not—my evil twin would get really frustrated—I can't grow a goatee." Roger laughs, tugging Mimi closer.
"I, uh," Mark says, stands, "will be right back."
He disappears into the back of the loft, bypassing the bathroom for his own bedroom, across from Roger's. He is searching in his dresser drawer for the joint he had been working on earlier that day when he hears Roger speaking from the door.
"Looking for this?"
He is standing in the doorway with the joint between his thumb and forefinger; the younger man freezes for a moment.
Mark keeps his face expressionless when Roger tosses the blunt out the open window.
"Why the hell do you need that? You're half drunk already!"
Mark hears the others fall silent.
"Shut the door," he implores, and Roger does, stands there with his arms folded across his broad chest.
"I just... wanted it, alright?" Mark is too tired to pretend or be defensive.
"Yeah? What the fuck is stressing you out so bad that you need to come in here and get—"
"Roger, shut up."
"—stoned? What?" The older man takes a step forward and Mark steps back.
A step forward, a step back. Roger's hands at his shoulders, tearing buttons off of Mark's shirt in his haste, Mark's hands below the musician's belt buckle, a sudden moan tearing from Roger's throat—
"Why did you lie?" Mark asks, very quietly, and Roger freezes.
"About... about Joanne's question."
"I'm not gay," Roger says immediately, stiffly, and Mark's heart plummets.
"It sure seemed like it then," he says in that same quiet voice. "Since you were the only sober one."
"Shut up." Roger takes another step forward and Mark's heart is suddenly beating unnaturally loudly in his thin chest. For a moment, he is sure that Roger is going to hit him.
But no. The musician only stares at him for a moment longer before he turns, leaving Mark to try and decipher the emotions written across Roger's face like a code.
Regret. Guilt. Disgust. Shame.
And—he doesn't know if this is true or real or not—fear.
It takes him a moment to rejoin the group outside.