Chapter 1 – Nothing Left

God I need you to help me, please God help me, I can't do this, I can't believe I am actually going to say goodbye."

I quietly walked up the stairs, slowly and painfully taking one step at a time. I t was the end, I was going to see it through, finally I had been pushed to my limits. I crept into my little brother's room, standing beside his bed I bent my head down just far enough for me to whisper into his ear.

"Lance, I love you, I know what I am about to do will leave my pain with you, but I can't take it anymore. I'm not the same person that grew up with you, I no longer enjoy waking up in the morning, but even though I will be gone physically I will always watch over you as a big brother should."

With that said I bent down and placed my cold, moist lips upon his forehead. I was hoping he would wake up and stop me, but he just laid there with an absolute look of innocence. I backed away from him and proceeded out his door to the door across the hall; a door I had made my way to a million times to seek guidance from my mother, but this time it was different. I could barely lift my arm to push the door open, so I just leaned my side against the door until I had made a crack big enough for me to slide through. Slowly sliding through the door as to not creak the floor panels and wake my dogs, I found myself on my knees next to where my mom lie peacefully asleep.

"Mom, I don't know why I am doing this…" trying hard to keep myself from crying, "I just feel alone without a purpose in life. I can't take my problems any longer, I am so weak, mom, I'm sorry. You didn't fail mom, it's me; I am just not strong enough to make it."

I buried my head into the quilts, beside her body, begging to God to give me the strength to keep myself from weeping. I clambered up the side of the bed to stand on my feet again, I slowly tip toed across the room to the side my dad always sleeps on.

"Dad, you were great, you always knew how to make me feel better, or how to put a smile upon my face. I want you to know that I love you and this isn't your fault; nothing can keep me from ending the misery I call life."

I gently slid my fingers between his, my hand trembling horribly knowing this would be the last time I would hold my father's hand. I swallowed what felt like a tennis ball in the back of my throat, and that is when I couldn't hold it back anymore. The salty tears had found their way out, streaming from my blood-shot eyes. I pulled away from my father's side, I had no energy left to stand, I just fell limply to the floor beside my dog. I laid there crying for what felt like an eternity, until my dog turned and slid her long wet tongue across my cheek. I just laid there starring into her eyes, getting lost trying to figure out what she was thinking. It felt as though she could fell my pain, and as if she was sympathizing for me. I just scratched her behind her ear and kissed her on the crown of her head. I finally found the energy to climb to my feet again. I made my way softly to the door turning just to blow my parents one last kiss goodbye.

"I…" struggling to say the words, "love you."

It was time, I had built the moment up in my head to be so frightening, but it wasn't, I felt warm and wasn't scared of anything that was about to happen. I stood hanging over the sink starring at my face in the mirror. I twisted the pill bottle top off and threw the whole bottle back, making sure to swallow every one of them. The acidic taste of my father's heart medication made it very hard to not gag as I was swallowing them. It was done, my pain would be gone soon, but I just couldn't get rid of the feeling that I wasn't supposed to end it like this. I always thought it would be more dramatic than this, something bigger then dying of an overdose in my parent's bathroom. I turned and plopped myself on the toilet seat waiting for my life to end, waiting to take my last breath. My heart was vaulting from chest, every painful beat, feeling as though it might explode. Gasping for air to fill my lungs, never really felt as though I could pull in a complete breath. It was happening; my life was ending before my eyes, and that is when I found inner peace. The pain disappeared, and I was lost in my own world; I could see what was going on, but it would never register to my brain. I had something more important on my mind; I couldn't stop thinking about all the happy times I had with my family. All the fun things we had done together, the small things that brought the simplest of joy to my life. I had to stop. I couldn't go through with it, there had to be something I could do to save what I had left of my life, but it was too late, I couldn't think of anything to do. Franticly searching around the medicine cabinet for something that would cause me to throw-up; my eyes were too blurry to read any of the labels. It was over, I couldn't fix it, and that is when I feel to my knees and hung over the edge of the toilet. I plunged my fingers to the back of my throat, over and over again reaching further with each time. My heart was like a stop watch slowly ticking away as to tell me my time was up.

"Beat, beat, tick, beat, tick, tick."

It was so loud I could hear it in my head, just the sound of continual pounding. I couldn't save myself; it was over, each beat of my heart felt as though it were the end. That is when everything went black.

Chapter 2 – To Breathe Again

I felt this intense burning in my left arm, almost like someone had put out their cigarette on my wrist. I was starting to wake up when I realized that I was not in my bed but in a hospital and that the burning feeling was the IV sticking in my wrist. Immediately I felt this extreme feeling of happiness rush over me. I had done it; I must have thrown-up the pills right after I passed out. Reality set in quickly though, replacing that happiness with shame. I realized then that my family was aware I tried to kill myself, how could I ever be so selfish as to put them through all of this. I tried sitting up but my chest hurt so bad that I couldn't gather enough strength to pull myself up. I was starting to sense just how much pain I was in: my head was pounding like someone hit me with a hammer to the back lower portion of my skull, my throat felt like it had been raped by a pine cone, and my stomach felt like I hadn't eaten in a month. Through all the pain I felt the softest touch, as though the warm gentle hand of an angel were holding my right hand. I started to open my eyes but the sunlight coming through my room window was too intense for me to see right away. My eyes started to adjust and there was my angel, my best friend Elle.

Elle has had my heart since the first day of my senior year in high school, and after meeting her you would understand why. Elle is gorgeous; she is very athletically built, but could go from Jock to Knock Out in the matter of minutes. She has an amazing head of golden-blonde hair, and the bluest eyes with the right one having a small brown spot. I would always tell her I could lose myself forever in her eyes. Elle always has the affection of everyone around her, she just has that personality that you can't help but fall in love with. When Elle and I first met it was unsettling creepy yet comforting as to how similar we are, and how much we have in common. We listened to all the same no name bands together, we are those people who love a band until they are played on the radio and then they are too big for us. We spent most of our weekends going to all the local venues to catch our favorite band's shows or her cousin's band Fourth Unit try to make it big. Elle and I were asked on many occasions if we were brother and sister, which was odd because usually it was right after we kissed or were holding each other at a show. It would always leave us rolling in laughter.

"How long have…" I struggled to get my words out as though it were my first time speaking.

"Save your energy, the Doctor's said you have recovered but you still need to rest," Elle said in her reassuring tone.

"Where is my mom and…"

"They have been here all night with you and needed to leave to get food. It's been a rough two weeks on them, but they have been here every day of it with you. Many people have been here waiting for you to wake up."

Elle is always good at reminding me about how much I am loved, but also letting me know how completely wrong I was for doing whatever irresponsible thing I have done over the years.

"Two weeks, I've been out for two weeks?" I asked in complete bewilderment.

"You have been in critical condition for the past two weeks, you were brought here the day after Christmas and now it is January 9th. The first three days were the toughest; they didn't know if you were going to survive. You always were a fighter though, never knew how to give up."

"What have my parents said to you about me trying to commit suicide?"

Elle looked back absolutely flustered, "What are you talking about Zach, suicide?" She turned away from me, "Zachary you were in a drunken driving accident, Scott was driving both of you back from the Horse and he jumped the curb and hit a telephone pole"

"Elle, the day after Christmas I tried to kill myself by swallowing my Dad's heart medication. When did I go to the Horse with Scott? I spent that entire night in my bedroom upset about me and you breaking up and I couldn't handle it anymore so I decided to end it all."

Elle grow increasingly agitated with the more I talked about it. "The doctor said your memories may be affected by the accident, but I never imagined you wouldn't remember the day at all or the past year. We aren't broken up, we have been together since March 23rd 2005, and not only were you and Scott at the Horse, so was your brother Lance, Skipper, and their girlfriends. We were all there for the ten dollars all you can drink special."

"Elle, today is January 9th of 2008?" I asked looking for confirmation.

"Zach, you are really starting to freak me out! It is 2007; you were only out for two weeks, not a year and two weeks." Elle snapped at me clearly becoming more impatient with my questions.

This was entirely too much for me to understand, I had no idea what Elle was talking about and it seemed as though the world I remembered before everything went black was gone. I remembered so clearly, going into my parent's room and my brother's room and saying bye. I even remembered reading all the warnings on the medicine bottle. There was no way it didn't happen; Elle and I hadn't been dating since this past summer. I hadn't been to the Horse in almost a year and I definitely wouldn't have been there with Scott, we hadn't talked since he started dating my ex-girlfriend about eight months ago. I had to still be out of it, or even worse dead. That is what this is, I am in hell, any minute now the room was going to start melting and Elle was going to turn into a hideous creature with wings and tear my heart from my chest. I didn't know how to feel, I didn't remember anything that Elle had said, but in her reality we were still together, the one thing I longed for since this past June. I am so selfish I can't believe what I was thinking, if Scott was driving and jumped the curb and I am lying here where is Scott at, I can't believe I hadn't worried about him yet.

"Elle, Elle, where is Scott, is he ok, have you heard anything?" I said in a state of panic.

"Babe, calm down. You got the worst of the accident. Scott just walked away with scratches and bruises, he feels terrible because he did this to you. He has been up here every day since being let out on bail. I am surprised your mom hasn't tried killing him yet, but other than that he is ok."

I had so much more I wanted to ask Elle about, but I was so overwhelmed with the idea that she was in my life again that I couldn't think of anything to say. I laid there for most of the day just slipping in and out of consciousness, all the while Elle stayed strong by my side. It was as though the clock was broken, it put me at a perfect comfort, helping me sleep. Maybe Elle couldn't stop tomorrow from coming and stealing all my time, but she put me at ease today.

Many people would come and go through my room in the passing days, each bringing cards, flowers, and smiles. Most were welcomed faces, people who I played softball or soccer with or would catch the routine happy hour with after work during the week at Kislings. Everyone seemed to live in this world that Elle continued to tell me more about; each person would have a new story that I didn't have any memory of over the past year. Stories of getting kicked out of concerts, driving through the city and egging the street corner hookers, or parties that always had someone getting in a fight and someone else passing out somewhere they didn't belong. The only thing I could do was give a fake smile and say oh yea I remember that time now, because I truly didn't remember any of the stories. My family and friends all talked vividly around me about happy times; times where the bad things that had happened over the past year in my reality hadn't occurred. The doctor's told me that being in such a high impact collision like the one I was in could cause serious brain damage and memory loss, but I didn't have memory loss. The memories I had never existed, the extremely painful and heart wrenching memories I had for the past year never happened.

This new reality was so much better than the one I remembered. Elle stayed each night at the hospital with me, and she would climb in to my bed and lay with me after the nurse made her final rounds. Each night it became easier to forget my past and look forward to everyone else's future, the hard part was falling to sleep. I was scared that as soon as I would find sleep I would wake back up in 2008 without Elle or this life, or not wake up at all.

"Zachary, I can't believe I almost lost you. I will always be here, no matter what happens. You are my other half, without you, I would be lost." Elle whispered into my ear as she pulled my hand over her heart.

"I know Elle. Like I always said since the first day we met. One day, one day we will be together because it's what God wants for us. We are soul mates and we will always be brought back together." I then traced I love you into the palm of her hand.

"One day Elle. One day."

Chapter 3 – Meeting the Dundalk Brew Crew

"Lance all I know is you better get your lazy ass up and get me a beer. How can you sit there on my welcome home party and make me get my own beer." I scolded Lance like I was his father.

"I already got one for you, bro."

Lance handed me his empty beer that he just finished. He is always doing stupid stuff like that, and he cracks himself up like it had never been done before.

"I know I will get you a beer, I am getting myself one too!" Lance said still laughing about what he had done.

It had been a month since the accident; we were all at my parent's house for my welcome home party. I told my parents not to go overboard with the party, but that has never stopped them. They invited every person from the neighborhood and every friend I have had since I was in grade school. It was a lot for me to come home to because my parent's house was just a town home in Dundalk, and it was the last week in January, so we were all cramped into my small living room and kitchen.

"So Zach, what is this shit I hear from Elle that you woke up and thought it was 2008. I know you had something wrong upstairs all along." Skipper said in a tone just loud enough for everyone to hear.

Skipper is a jerk, which is about as close as you can get to describing him. He is the person that when you introduce him to new people, you have to immediately tell them he is a jerk and not to take anything he says to seriously. Although, as much of a jerk as Skipper is, he is just as good of a friend. He has been there for me through everything. It was no surprise to hear that he was driving the car behind Scott's and that he was the one who pulled me from the car and gave me CPR until the ambulance showed up. He was also great to have around because he is huge, 6'4" and 240lbs. No one messed around with you when Skipper was there with you. Also the guy is just naturally talented at every sport ever played, especially beer pong, which is the typical party game in our crew. We all call him Skipper because that is his last name, in fact I don't think anyone really knows what Skipper's real name is, his last name is always printed on the back of his uniform.

"Yea, Skip you heard right, I was the one in the serious car crash, almost died and you are the one who finds it hilarious that I thought it was a year more than it really was. Hey remind me again why we are friends and why my parents invited you to this party?" I said back to Skip with the most sarcastic smile on my face.

"You're my friend because I am so damn good looking, and I was invited because everyone needed me to sit on the beer pong table all night as the champion, and because your sorry ass needs a partner to win a game for you."

The rest of the party broke out into a brief trash talking session as to what twosome really was the best at the party.

Elle leaned over to my ear, "You're not really going to pick him over me as your partner."

"Baby, I would never pick anyone over you, why would I want to piss the Queen Bee off."

"That's what you better say if you want any attention from me later tonight," replied Elle with her devilish smile.

The party had been going on for a couple of hours now, and the crew had weeded out the casual friends and we were now down to just the eight of us. Skipper and his girlfriend Caitlin had been together for almost five years now, and everyone but Skipper knew they were getting married. Caitlin was the girl every guy wished they had; she is a guy in a girl's body. She is the only girl we all know who is good enough to play in our annual fantasy football league each year. Plus Cait is always helping set up and clean up every party. She's a great friend and not a bad softball player.

Then there was my brother Lance and his crazy on and off again girlfriend Emmy Sue. Lance and I are only thirteen months apart and looked almost like twins, but personality wise we are completely different. We have been each other's best friend since we were crawling. Lance is kind of loud, and he talks so fast that everyone is always asking me what he said because I am the only one who can understand him. The greatest thing about Lance is that the guy can cook, and I mean gourmet chef type of cooking. His girlfriend is crazy as in likes to have fun in a wild way. She is always up for anything and as long as people are around she is in good spirits. Emmy is from down south so that is where she got the name Emmy Sue, which I make it my personal effort each night to tease her about. Emmy and I clicked immediately. She was making a designated driver beer run with me in the car, and I started going through her CD booklet and she had all the no name bands I liked in there. I couldn't believe it. After that night Elle and I had our third wheel to go to our local concerts.

Lance and Emmy were on the pong table blowing Scott and my ex-girlfriend Kadence away. Scott has been my best friend since the beginning of high school. We pretty much are together every day. We were into all the same things, soccer, girls, getting high, and skipping dumb classes. The funniest thing that ever happened with Scott was when my parents pulled me aside one day and told me they thought Scott was a bad influence on me. I went over to pick Scott up at his house twenty minutes later and he told me his parents had just sat him down and told him they thought I was a bad influence on him. If I was getting in trouble it was a guarantee either he thought it up, or I dragged him into it. We didn't hang out as much anymore because of the accident and because he started dating my ex-girlfriend and kept it from me. Kadence and I dated all through high school, and it seemed like we were going to take things to the next level. That was until the lovely Christmas of 2004, when we found out she was three months pregnant. I was only 21 and she was just 22, and we both were still in college. I didn't know how we were going to afford a baby. Well Kadence had a miss-carriage in February two months later, and with all the stress and drama it just pulled me and her apart. Kadence is a good girl, she ended up graduating with two Bachelor degrees from Villa Julie College, and she just sometimes is a little annoying. She is famous for talking to you for an hour but never actually saying anything worth listening to for more than ten minutes. She has a good heart though, and she is always there for anyone who needs her, probably why she became a nurse.

"Zach, are you and Elle ready to step up for your Pong ass whooping?" yelled Lance in his drunken manner.

"I think you may have played enough pong, you sound a little trashed," Elle said back.

"I can't help… I can't help it if no one can beat us," Lance managed to stumble out.

"You need to get some food in you, so I will set up for the next pong game but you need to put a pizza in the oven so everyone can grub," Elle told Lance.

Lance left the living room to start making a pizza for the few of us left that were still awake. Elle had set our ten cups up with beer and had moved to Emmy Sue and Lance's side to set theirs up. Skip and Scott were on the couch playing five dollars a hand in Texas Hold'em, while both of their girls were asleep on the couch next to them. Elle had finally finished setting up the table and Emmy Sue was back from smoking her cigarette outside.

"It's been almost fifteen minutes, what the hell is taking Lance so long with that pizza?" Skipper blurted out.

"I'm freaking coming, I am taking it out of the oven now," Lance screamed from the kitchen, obliviously forgetting it was three in the morning.

Lance brought the pizza into the living room having already cut the pizza into slices and putting it on a tray. It was clear as soon as he brought the pizza in that Lance was cut off from drinking for the rest of the night.

"You have got to be kidding me. You are such an ass Lance," I said laughing at him.

"Why, I even cut the damn thing for you?"

"Lance you forgot to take the plastic off of the pizza and the cardboard off of the bottom of the pizza," Skip said falling on the ground in tears.

Just then as in act of I don't know what kind of defiance Lance picked up a slice and started eating it. He ate the entire slice and then tried coaxing one of us into trying a slice.

The night was definitely one to remember, it was just good to be home again, even if I didn't feel like I was in the right time at home, at least I was there. The night turned out to be a baby-sitting session but it was a funny one. Skipper and Cait left around four because Skipper had work at five. Scott and Kadence left right after the pizza incident because they both were starving and didn't want plastic in their diet. Emmy Sue walked home because she couldn't take Lance being completely drunk again. I later found Lance passed out in the flower box outside the door pretend talking on the phone to Emmy Sue, but it was just the operator, so I helped him up to bed.

Finally it was just Elle and I, to sit and cuddle in front of the TV. It was almost five in the morning but I didn't care I had been waiting to do this for what felt like months to me, even though Elle swears we did it the day before the accident. We put on the Notebook and Elle twisted to fit the mold that I was in, it was the fifth time we had tried watching and finishing the Notebook. Just like the past four, Elle made it about a half hour in and was out cold. She always looks so cute when she sleeps, she drools a little from the corner of her mouth and makes her pillow wet. It is so adorable to see her wake up and find the drool spot and then steal my pillow.

"Good night Elle, There's a flower in your hair. I'm a flower in your hair," I whispered into her ear.

"I love you," she whispered back.

Chapter 4 – Trouble was Never too Far Away

I've never been blessed with any kind of luck what so ever. I've been teased that having no luck would be so much better than the lucky hand I have been dealt. It always seems that terrible things happen to me, like a black cloud resides over my head.

It was the week of Valentine's Day and Skipper's parents went on vacation to their trailer in Ocean City. His parents made the trip to the Ocean about three or four times a year, and every time they leave I am over his house so much I might as well have moved in for the week. The parties at Skipper's house get so wild that you don't want to miss one so you end up not going to work the whole week and staying to catch every minute. Actually that has just been me; I have lost two jobs because of Skipper's parents going away and me just never going into work. The last party we had at his house ended up costing his parents over ten thousand dollars because they had to completely remodel the kitchen and buy a new oven and refrigerator. Why should I have expected this night to be any different than all the other parties at Skipper's parent's house?

"I have driven around your block for almost twenty minutes now and I still can't find a parking spot. No, wait, I found one, can you call me a taxi to come pick me up from the spot I found and take me to your house," I said sarcastically to Skipper through my cell phone.

"Take off your skirt and get that thirty pack to my house and in the fridge as quick as you can, we only have two and half thirty packs left," Skip said facetiously back.

"Elle come on, every time we park I have to wait ten minutes for you to put your eyeliner, chap-stick and lip gloss on, you just put it on when we got out at the liquor store," I whined.

"You should be glad this is the only make-up I wear, and if you don't like it then you don't have to date me."

Walking up the street to Skipper's house is always an eye opening experience. Skip's house is probably the only house that doesn't look like a circus act. All around is a barrage of white trashiness screaming at you, with just a hint of the ghetto. There are always six or seven little Mexican kids just running around with no parents in sight, and across the street no matter what day of the week it is there is a Hill-Billy throw down going on in the front and back yard.

When we got to the front porch of Skip's house I had this rush of deja vu overpower me. I just froze and no matter how much I told my legs to move I just couldn't, it was like watching a live movie.

I walked out the front door yelling back to Skipper, "Maybe had you made more than just one cup then we would have won and my shoulders wouldn't hurt from carrying your sorry ass all game."

I lit up a cigarette and just sat on the porch watching the small pieces of tobacco burn and flitter away from the cherry through the humid, night air. I sat mesmerized as the cigarette slowly burned away. I was beginning to realize how intoxicated I was, but the party had been going on since 8p.m. and it was now a little past 1 in the morning. Just as the alcohol was leading me into a euphoric state the front door burst open. Scott was hurled out the door with Lance quickly following after him. Lance jumped on Scott's back and began punching him in the side of his face. Lance got three or four blows in before Skip could pull him off of Scott. I immediately jumped between the two of them so Scott couldn't get any free punches in on Lance. They both emanated of Miller Lite, and were screaming obscenities at one another. I finally was able to push Scott down onto the front lawn, when Emmy Sue stormed out the front door and threw Scott's keys at him demanding he just go home.

"Are you just going to stand on the steps all night and gawk at the redneck show going on next store or are you going to come in with the rest of us," Elle asked me.

"I, I, I'm coming inside, I just felt really weird for a moment," I replied while shaking off my confusion.

The things I just saw felt so real, it felt like I was standing there watching it all unfold before me. I felt so uneasy; a terrible sinister feeling was enshrouding me. I made it to the landing just inside the front door when the queasy feeling was at its strongest. I dashed to the bathroom upstairs and began to spew my Double Decker tacos into the toilet.

"Are you ok? You know Skip is going to rip on you all night about getting sick before you even had your first drink?" Elle asked me as I made my way down the stairs to the living room.

"Yea, I just had this terrible feeling rush over me, I don't know if it's my hypoglycemia or the pain pills the Dr. gave me."

"Dr. Parker said the hydrocodone could make you sick if you didn't eat within the hour before taking them. What time did your mom get you Taco Bell?" Elle asked.

"She got me lunch like around 2 or 3 today, but I really don't think it was the pain pills, this feeling was just so much different than anything I have ever felt."

"Sorry to break-up this estrogen affair but can we begin the beer pong tournament already or do you need a Midol for your cramps little girl," Skip said taunting me.

"Yea, let's get started I don't want to be here 'til 4 in the morning like last time," I replied.

Everyone gathered around the kitchen table, there were some uncommon faces here tonight, each one with their own unique background. It was like being at a party on the island of misfit toys sometimes at Skip's house. It was the usual draw of cards to see who you were stuck with for the night as your partner in the tournament.

"Ok for our new comers tonight, each person draws a card. There are 8 pairs of cards. After you draw a card match it with someone else's card and that is who your partner is for the night. Since it's my house we are going by house rules. If you bounce it in a cup the other team loses two cups. If both partners make their shot they get balls back. If they hit the same cup game is over and losers drink the table and turn in their man card for being such a girl. Same cup rule also applies if anyone hits a cup that has already been hit and still has beer in it, so make sure you drink up when your cups are hit. Each team is allowed only 1 re-rack and no rebuts during the game. Two loses and then you're out of the tournament. Everyone pull a card," Skip announced to us all.

I never liked pulling a card I always waited until the last card was left. It felt more like destiny to me then, as though I played no role in picking my partner at all. Everyone had picked a card and the only person who didn't have a partner yet was Skip.

"Looks like its going to be us donkey, hope you can puke and rally, because I am on fire tonight," Skip said to me.

I don't know why but I just knew that's how the cards would play out. I sat watching the whole night go by as though I wasn't really there. I watched game after game go by, and beer after beer go dry. I knew where the night was headed and felt powerless to stop it from going there.

"I don't know what is wrong with you but you have been like a stranger to me all night. You know a girl like me needs a constant supply of attention. Are you ever going to snap out of it?" Elle pleaded with me.

"I am sorry sugar, I just feel like this night has happened before. It's just so odd, I just feel like this all is something I already done before, like it happened last week or a dream I have had."

"Zach seriously your freaking me out, maybe you should lay off the shots because you're starting to sound crazy. It's your turn on the table and please don't tell Skip any of this because I can't take listening to him make fun of you all night about it," Elle replied.

"I won't I promise, but I am telling you now. Lance and Scott will get into a fight and Lance is going to throw Scott through the door after Skip and I lose this game by one cup," I said back to Elle.

"I am sure sweetie, you and Skip haven't had a close game yet, and with you two playing against M.I.A. and his stoner friend Lefty I don't see you losing now," Elle said mockingly to me as I walked into the kitchen.

The game started out strongly in Skip's and my favor. We both hit our first shots and got balls back. I then went on to hit my next shot while Skip missed his.

M.I.A. and Lefty both got their nicknames for obvious reasons. M.I.A. was famous for being at the party one minute and then puff like slut magic gone the next. No one ever depended on M.I.A. for a ride or to put money in for beer because you never knew if he would be around long enough to do either. Lefty was called that because he was left handed and because his last name was Lefteamiss. Lefty was in the Iraq war when an I.E.D. exploded near his convoy and caused serious damage to his back. Since then he has spent every day cursing George Bush and getting stoned to help with his pain.

M.I.A. and Lefty both missed their shots giving the balls back to Skip and I with a 3 cup lead. I again made my shot and Skip missed his. This time Skip was much closer, hitting the rim of one of the back cups instead of just shooting an air ball. M.I.A made his next shot and Lefty missed badly to the left of the table. Skip tried to bounce his next shot in but Lefty swatted it across the room. I then drained the back cup.

"See Zach, I told you that you would beat them. You only have 1 cup left and they have to make the next 5," Elle said reassuringly to me.

I started to think Elle was right and that what I saw earlier was just me being a little out of it from the hydrocodone. That would change very quickly. M.I.A. made his next shot and while Skip was busy talking trash Lefty bounced his shot in, leaving us with only 2 cups left. M.I.A. and Lefty got balls back and just like I knew would happen they both made their last shots ending the game for Skip and I.

"We got winners for the championship game," chanted Lance and Scott.

I started out the door with my lighter and cigarette in hand. It was as though I had no control. I knew fate required me to be outside on the porch.

"It's like you don't even care that we lost, like your glad we aren't on the table anymore. You've been such a bitch tonight," Skip said to me as I walked out the door.

I didn't even hesitate or think, I just immediately replied with, "Maybe had you made more than just one cup then we would have won and my shoulders wouldn't hurt from carrying your sorry ass all game."

I lit up a cigarette and just sat on the porch watching the small pieces of tobacco burn and flitter away from the cherry through the humid night air. My mind went blank just waiting for the inevitable to happen. I sat mesmerized as the cigarette slowly burned away. I was beginning to realize how intoxicated I was, but the party had been going on since 8p.m. and it was now a little past 1 in the morning. Just as the alcohol was leading me into a euphoric state the front door burst open. At that moment it was like time stopped and I had an endless period to contemplate about whether this was all really happening. I knew what was coming next. Scott was hurled out the door with Lance quickly following after him. Lance jumped on Scott's back and began punching him in the side of his face. Lance got three or four blows in before Skip could pull him off of Scott. I immediately jumped between the two of them so Scott couldn't get any free punches in on Lance. They both emanated of Miller Lite, and were screaming obscenities at one another. I finally was able to push Scott down onto the front lawn, when Emmy Sue stormed out the front door and threw Scott's keys at him demanding he just go home.

"Take your drunk ass and your yappy girlfriend home. I don't know how Zach even can stand to be around you two after all you two have done to him. I don't know why Lance didn't beat your ass sooner," Emmy Sue screamed at Scott.