Rory could not believe the crowd at The Bacchanalia. He had seen crazy gatherings in Williamsburg before. There was the yuppie, Miami Vice party goers at Club New York. There were the walking dead at Daddy O’s. None, however, brought the anger the way The Bacchanalia did. There were people from Rory’s past that he had wronged and each looked to be wanting a piece of him. There were middle school rivals, spurned girls, and a bunch of dudes dressed in flannel. Rory saw Allen and made his way through the crowd without giving off his sense of fear and guilt.
“This place is hopping,” said Allen.
“Hopefully, I don’t die here tonight.”
“Naw, relax, you’ll do the right thing.”
“I don’t know, Allen, this might be more than I can give. Maybe the Chupacabra has me this time.”
“Look, you’ve simply got to make amends. Let people know you are sorry for the way you treated them and get on with life,” said Allen.
Rory and Allen walked over to the bar. There was a guy walking around with a video camera. Rory recognized him from high school. He was working on a movie about middle aged people partying and Allen had given him the heads up about this party. The three of them had never been too tight in high school, although they were probably more alike than either of them ever realized.
“What’s up, Rory?” said the camera man.
“Nothing. Good to see you again. Sorry I was such a dick to you back in the day.”
“Thanks. Can you say that again? I didn’t have the camera running.”
“Eff you, want a drink?”
“Sure, what will it be?”
The bartender heard the camera man and yelled out, “It’ll be a Ricki-Ticki-Smack-Me.”
Before they could question the bartender, he had poured four glasses of a chocolatey looking drink. The quantity could have been a shot or an easy sip. Everyone but the bartender took their time. Nearly as quickly as they drank it, the mood in the room changed. Instead of three white guys singing the blues, Charlie Pride took the stage and The Bacchanalia went from angry to happy. He motioned for Rory to come to the stage and whispered some lyrics in his ear. Rory had not sung in public sense the chorus teacher in high school pointed out that he was off key. Tonight he waited for his part and belted out, “I’m just me…” Everyone went crazy. Charlie took the rest until the song was over.
Charlie handed the mic to Rory. “Everyone, I have to say one thing,” said Rory. “I’m sorry.”
The crowd nodded and went back to listening to Charlie Pride. There was an old couple, like ninety year’s old, old dancing in the middle of the floor. The flannel dudes were yucking it up with Rory, the cameraman was filming, and Allen came into the room holding a real live copperhead. He went on the stage with his snake in one hand and another Ricki-Ticki in the other hand and started dancing the Semi. He stepped from side to side and brought his hands, with thumbs extended, up to his chest and looked to the opposite direction of each step. He wore the snake like something from Flavor-Flav and chugged the last of his drink before the first step to the left. He was feeling the good vibes that were flowing through the room and there was something hypnotic in his dance. Charlie was smiling, the bartender was smiling, the copperhead was smiling, and then it happened.
Rory’s third Ricki-Ticki was the one that accomplished something few ever thought they would see. While listening to Poo-Poo, Rory’s non-stop talking basketball teammate go on about something, Rory took that last sip of the Duffy concoction and let loose with the biggest smile. He was grinning from ear to ear and the whole place stopped. Even Charlie Pride could not keep the show going. The copperhead slithered back to wherever Allen had found him and the doors to The Bacchanalia opened. Everyone raised an arm towards the door and looked to Rory and Allen.
Through all of their adventures, Rory and Allen had never quite understood their calling. In some ways they had been called to help others. In some ways they had been drawn into a spiritual quest that left them with wisdom and not dogma. They learned of personal responsibility and the value of leaning on others. Tonight was the end, they learned to be happy. Forgiveness has it’s way of unburdening a soul. Everyone forgiving Rory for his past idiocy felt good, but Rory and Allen both knew it was their ability to forgive themselves that made the greatest difference.
They walked to the parking lot and climbed into the cab of the truck. Rory turned to Allen and said, “Damn, that was fun.”
They turned west on Richmond Road and drove away for the last time…smiling…