Evangeline liked people. She liked to watch them, to listen to them, to smell them. She took into account how they interacted, how they moved, the words they chose. She fancied herself something of a freelance psychologist/sociologist/anthropologist in that way, which was, ironically the order in which she had burned through her first three majors at Shermantown Community College before she settled on history.
History was easier to understand—all of the stories already told, effects already yielded. It was also, of course, less fun.
Evangeline liked The Acapocalypse. From her first sighting of the golden rod flyer advertising auditions in perfect punctuation, spelling, and grammar, she knew the kids running it were serious and dedicated, which boded well for the group actually coming together, and actually performing. She figured she would go into the audition and sing her heart out—not worry about all the technical stuff her high school choir teacher tried to push on her. If they liked her for her, she would join their club. If not, then they’d expose themselves for not having a heart to go with their eye for detail, in which case she’d be just as happy not work with them.
She got in, and started getting to know her new groupmates. There was only so much she could glean from rehearsals, though. She needed to see them in a more relaxed environment. She wanted to see them wasted.
Katie both helped and hindered this effortt. She, herself, hadn’t drank a sip. From the moment she showed up at Evangeline’s door with a tray of fresh-baked brownies, Evangeline had a sense she would be a killjoy.
Within the first few minutes, though, Evangeline recognized something more in the girl. Andrew, the musical theatre nerd, had given her a ride to the party, and proceeded to remain attached to her with each passing hour. Fortunately, he didn’t share in Katie’s dry evening, downing beer after beer in what appeared to be an effort to tease her by being contrary.
Katie, in turn, glued herself to Russ the minute he walked through the door. Evangeline doubted he had combed, much less cut his hair since joining the group two months earlier. He wore a deep, dark stubble across the lower half of his face that night, and the red and black flannel shirt he seemed to rotate to a couple times a week. It was Russ that lured Katie into a game of Kings, during which Katie sipped prissily from a can of Diet Coke while everyone else pounded Keystone Light. Ordinarily, Evangeline might have called her on it, pressured her to at least taste a beer, but she got the sense Katie wouldn’t handle that so well, and besides that Andrew was more liable to make a scene on her behalf with each gulp from his own can.
Amanda and Josh had finally joined the game after what seemed like hours standing by the stereo, flipping through a binder full of Evangeline’s CDs, mostly acts they had never heard of, she assumed. There was something interesting about the two of them. When she first met them in auditions, she assumed they were sleeping with one another—there was just an obvious, and very comfortable level of flirtation, familiarity, and sexuality between them. But then that girl Carrie had shown up at the end of one of the rehearsals, and complicated things.
It was a party for The Acapocalypse, but no one had explicitly said that other friends or significant others weren’t welcome. Only group members showed up, but Evangeline took particular notice Josh hadn’t brought Carrie.
Russ nudged Evangeline’s elbow, bringing her back to game. She figured it was her turn and started to lean toward the circle of playing cards before he stopped her and whispered in her ear. “I’m gonna have a cigarette. Want to join me?”
“I don’t smoke,” she said. “But I’ll keep you company.”
A minute later Russ had Evangeline’s back pressed to the brick exterior of her apartment building, hand on the hip of her tight blue jeans, lips affixed to her neck. She let out a sigh. She liked parties.