She squinted her eyes. If she had a signature look, it was that.
Actually, if she had a signature look, it would involve sticking her chest out, but as her twenties were winding down, she was trying to move away from that.
Except for last Thursday. But that doesn’t count. Dollar shots.
Dollar SHOTS, motherfuckers.
“Fantasy… football?” Melanie squinted again.
“Yup,” Josh replied.
“You were the one saying, ‘Spend more time with your friends… I need a night to myself… blibbety blibbety blu…”
“Did you just blibbety blibbety blu me?” she asked.
“Fantasy football? You are a grown man.”
“Annnd then some,” Josh winked.
“Clearly ‘fantasy’ is the theme of the night…”
“Mel, if you don’t want me to go, just say the word.”
“No. It’s fine. Just seems weird that you’d pick the first night I have off in weeks…”
“It was the only night that the guys could all agree on. I’ll make it up to you. Promise.” Josh kissed her on the forehead and beat it for the door.
Melanie sat. She sang that Beyonce song under her breath. You know the one. She tapped her fingers on the arm of the couch.
“Oh, screw this.”
In 3.8 seconds, Melanie was pulling out of the driveway in her Ford Escape.
Moments later, she spotted his tail lights just ahead of her. Growing up watching Magnum PI with her dad had taught her how to properly tail a car. It also left her with a mustache fetish, but that wasn’t important at that moment.
Josh’s car pulled into the sketchy bar that he had told her he was going to for his fantasy football draft. Melanie waited until he was inside to park.
She stealthily made her way over to the window. She peered inside and saw…
Not a soul.
Curiosity got the best of her, so she made her way over to the door. For reasons unknown even to her, she quickly bolted in, hoping to catch people in the act.
But she found herself alone in the place.
No patrons. No bartender. The only sound was Johnny Cash playing on an ancient jukebox in the corner.
As Johnny reminded that he killed a man in Reno, Melanie slowly made her way over to a door that she assumed led to a storage room. However, it opened to a dark and narrow downward staircase.
She had to know.
She used her phone for light and walked down the steps. The silence was almost overwhelming. She caught herself humming a familiar tune.
At the bottom of the stairway began a long hallway, with numerous doors on each side. She tried the first door. It was unlocked. She opened it to reveal more steps that led down into a large room filled with men in seats. They all stared forward at a giant screen. A Power Point presentation was in progress.
Suddenly, and in unison, the men said, “Your friend… is cute.”
Then again. And again.
Melanie was baffled.
She backed out of the room, closing the door behind her. She turned and —
“You must be Melanie.”
A tall man, with slicked back hair and a expensive suit smiled accusingly at her.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Joshua warned us that you were becoming suspicious of our fantasy football story.”
“Who are you??”
“That is not important. Since we have you here, would you like a tour?”
“You’ve seen our first class. For beginners.”
“I don’t understand.”
“All will be revealed, Melanie.” He walked over to the second door and opened it for her. She hesitantly peeked inside.
Long rows of tables were set up and men were folding clothes. Badly. A voice came over the speaker system, “Number 487, that is entirely too straight. Start again. NOW.”
A mousy little blond man mumbled a “Sorry, sorry…” and shook a sweater. Then he began folding it in a more messy fashion.
The man in the suit put his hand on Melanie’s shoulder and led her to the next room.
Rows of men were standing in front of toilets. The same voice on the speaker, “And now you are done, turn to wash your hands…” One man put his toilet seat down and was hit with an electric shock that knocked him flat on his ass. Melanie gasped. Then she looked closer and realized it was Josh.
“Hmm. That DOES explain a lot.”
The Man took her arm and led her to the next room.
A man in a white coat was making his way down a row of men. He would stop to ask each a question. He came to a tall red head. The man in the suit checked his file. “It says here that your anniversary is August 14th. When is your anniversary, Number 631?”
“It’s, uhm… August 24th?”
The questioner slapped him hard across the face. “Too close. Again! When is your anniversary, Number 631?”
The man in the suit guided Melanie into a bigger room. More men. Mirrors on each wall.
The men were all poorly dressed. Clothes didn’t match and were wrinkled.
The familiar voice on the speaker exploded, “Number 152, are those new socks?”
A chubby Asian man replied, “They… they were a gift.”
“Get him out of here!” the speaker voice boomed.
Suddenly a half dozen guards charged into the room and dragged the man off. “They were a gift! They were a giiiiiift!”
Melanie was shocked. She started to talk, but didn’t know where to begin.
“You have questions?” The man in the suit smiled.
“But, why? I just don’t understand. Why would men want to seem more pathetic to women?”
The suited man struck a wooden match on the brick wall and lit a cigarette.
“You want to know why? It is the reason for wars and for peace. It drives the economy. It fuels souls. Why, you ask. The answer, my dear, is quite simple,” he exhaled and the smoke floated towards her menacingly. “Pity sex.”
“What? You can’t be serious…”
“Did you see this big stain on my tie?” The suited man took a step closer to her and smiled hopefully.