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There was noise around back so Rosie and I headed behind the garage. Hank's was in a clearing surrounded by skinny trees, and I remember the woods were breathing green and buzzing with mosquitoes the way they did in spring. The trellis on the garage was covered in honeysuckle trumpets. Hank was presiding by the pool. There were cans of beer floating in the water and moths circling the submarine lights, trying to find a way down.
"Sam and Rosie! Rosie and Sam!" Hank smiled and we smacked our palms together, fingertips pulling at each other on the way back. Standard greeting. Hank had prominent canine teeth that gave his smiles a wolfish insincerity, though I don't think he could help it. I really think he was happy.
He and Rosie smacked hands and he handed her a beer. He fished another out with a blue plastic net. "Kept it cold for you." He handed it to me and I tipped pool water off the top. Hank and I had been in the same playgroup in lower school, before our mothers had a falling-out. We had an easy friendship that came from having pissed in the woods together before we knew to look for differences in our equipment.
Rosie smacked him on the arm. "Who's inside?"
"A lot of people. Davis, for one," Hank said, knowingly.
Rosie waltzed ahead of me, towards the door. "Lucky you," she said.
Even without a party, the Carter house was wild. The rest of us lived in New England saltboxes full of folk art. On my parents' door was a plaque showing two geese holding a banner in their beaks. It said: Welcome to Our Happy Home. In the Carters' house the couches were made of leather and there were feathered dream catchers hanging over all the windows. It was hot from bodies inside and there were dozens of people, laughing and dancing or, at least, faking it pretty well.
I spotted Davis showing off for the guys in the corner, Timmy and a few others. Someone had found bottled beer in the fridge and he was opening the tops using the crook of his elbow. He popped the top and a red welt developed on his forearm.
"Yeah!" said Timmy. "Yeah, yeah, yeah!"
Davis had crescents of dirt under his thumbnails and floppy hair that fell in his eyes a lot. I think he understood the effect.
I sat next to him and he offered me the bottle he'd just opened.
"I've already got one." I took a sip from my can, which smelled like chlorine. Davis swapped it for the bottle.
"You just got upgraded," he said, and leaned back into the couch so the sides of our legs were touching. He took a sip from my can.
I could feel blood pumping along every inch of my right leg. Back then my mom only let me shave up to the knees so there were soft blond hairs across my upper thigh. You couldn't usually see them but just then they were standing straight up.