I got a new pair of shoes.
I bought em on Thursday and wore em on Friday. The are white and black. Mostly white.
That night I went to a party and I was feeling pretty good because I looked pretty fly in my new kicks. They beam out from under the cuff of my jeans. They shine up from the pavement like beacons of hope. People would stop and point and gasp, struck by how sweet my feet looked when I passed them. The thought of unveiling them at a party was ideal, it had fairy tale qualities about it. I'm not sure i've ever had a fairy tale moment. Well look who’s wearing the glass slippers now.
It was a going away party for a friend. Everyone calls him T and he’s moving to California. He was raised in Brooklyn. Lived there most of his life, except for when he went to college in D.C., and that was a long time ago. When I told him there were mountains there, that he could see them from his windows while he sat and drank his beer, he said, “So what? I don’t give a shit about mountains.”
And he doesn’t, but he will soon.
Anyway, it was me and him and a few of his friends at an apartment above the bar. there was one woman there, she’s the one that paid the rent and was hosting the small event. There was chips and dips and chicken egg rolls and liquor and beer and my new shoes. We were all having a famously good time.
My shoes were a big hit.
At one point I thought there was too much testosterone in the room and for a minute I felt nervous and awkward, like I should quit while I was ahead, maybe go home and paint my nails or watch oprah or some shit. But my shoes gave me the confidence to persevere and when T put on a classic Notorious B.I.G. album and everyone started rapping along, I chimed in, screaming the chorus from the most primal depths of my large, drunken gut.
One of the guys got a little more drunk than the rest of us. I'm not sure how we all knew him, but he was pretty cool and slid comfortably into our small crowd. His name was Kevin. He was younger than us and couldn’t hold his liquor.. And after a few hours the host put him on the couch with a cup of water and we all watched him quickly drift into unconscious.
Then the guys went back to bumping chest. I started a conversation with a gay guy about how the neighborhood was changing, the host started cleaning up a little. The music blared at top volume.
Another hour goes by and we’ve slurred along to almost every classic rap album since 1993 when Nick, another kid I only sort of know but get along well with, explodes into the room screaming in his deep horse voice,
-We have to get downstairs, Kevin is bleeding! We have to get him to a hospital. HURRY UP!!!
We all barreled downstairs, some of us falling on the way. it was two flights and when I got to the top of the first flight I saw him lying there at the bottom. Not moving. Surrounded in a pool of his own blood.
I'm not sure why there was paint there, but I'm assuming that’s what he tripped on. how he tripped, opened, and spilled TWO cans of paint is beyond me, but I didn’t have much time to consider that at the moment. I was more concerned with finding out if this rather large kid was alive or not.
He was, with a busted lip and three missing teeth.
Nick was still screaming.
WE HAVE TO GET HIM TO A HOSPITAL!!! RIGHT NOW!!!
T, who was still upstairs when we found him, came down the stairs and groaned. Then he screams down to us,
I FUCKING TOLD HIS ASS TO STAY ON THE COUCH! FUCK THAT FOOL!! LEAVE HIM THERE!! HE’S AN IDIOT, I FUCKING TOLD YOU YOU STUPID ASSHOLE!!!
Then he storms back upstairs. T, it seems, is a firm believer in the Tough Love method.
I was holding Kevin up, telling him to spit out his teeth, while Nick was screaming about calling 911 and another guy was pleading with him not to and another guy, almost as drunk as Kevin himself, is screaming something nonsensical to the effect of, “lets just take him back upstairs I think there is more beer up there oh shit I got paint in my hair.”
That’s when it hits me, and I look down at my shoes.
Ruined. Paint covers them. Paint also covered my pants, my shirt, and, some how, my hair. but none of those mattered to me.
My new shoes are broken.
I filed that back in my “things to worry about later” folder, the one with my crushing debt and the passport application on my desk. The I put kevins arm around my shoulder and carry him to the street so we can sit and wait for the car. I give him a glass of water and a towel filled with ice. He mumbles something about how he cant go to the hospital. Nick is still screaming and some other guys are flailing their arms about and questions are shooting through the air and someone says they need another beer.
Eventually one of them walks him home. he refuses to go to the hospital. His teeth are wrapped in a napkin and are long and bloody, extracted from the root. We all worry if he is going to be ok and I promise to check on him before I go home. and I do, after a few more shots.
I walk to his house, which isn’t that far, with T, who is still angry but no more than usual. We ring the bell and wait. Then ring it again and wait. We call his phone and no one answers. He passed out. When he wakes up he will be in brutal misery. That’s for sure.
When I get home the sun is up and my apartment is filled with great, painful light. I kick off my shoes and see the splatters of paint, the ones that dripped on the toe and covered the heel; that slid to the side and dried for good. I hope the kid is all right. I can only take one loss at a time.