A screech, shouting voices, a blinding flash, a sparkling tornado swirling into the jar, then whommp! The force hit Sam with a jolt, throwing him into Ben and Sock, and all three crashed back onto the plush carpet.
“Whooeee! Got another one! Fine work, my friends!” Sock jumped back to his feet, hands in air. “C’mon, c’mon, high five! Group hug! C’mon!” He was hopping around like a triumphant boxer.
Moaning and grumbling, Sam and Ben struggled to their feet, Sam twisting the lid onto the still-trembling jar in his hand. Ben leaned on a barstool and looked at Sock. “You’re just glad we caught him before we had to go through with…what he called us here to do. I mean, what kind of guy with this much money”—looking around the luxurious hotel suite with its fireplace, wall paneling, and huge picture-window view of the Space Needle—“wants to use it to pay for…“ He shook his head as if to clear the thought. “Nice place, though.”
“Yeah, man!” Sock was rooting around in the cupboards. “Mini-bar! Let’s dig in! We don’t gotta pay for it!” He started pulling little bottles out of the fridge.
“Hey, check this out!” Ben was sliding a panel, revealing a huge flat-screen TV over the mantel. He touched a few buttons on the wall; the lights dimmed, and the fireplace whooshed into flames. Sock vaulted over the back of the leather couch, tiny bottles clutched in one hand. “Turn on the game, bro! Let’s live it up a little, we deserve it.”
Sam demurred. “We really should turn this in,” he said, lifting the jar to eye-height. “I know the Soul is in there secure, but somehow something called Kama Sutra Coconut Massage Oil seems so…well…insecure.” He stared at the jar for a moment, and shuddered.
“Nah, there’s no hurry, Sam,” Ben said, tearing into a three dollar bag of chips. “Anyway,”—gesturing toward the window—“it took the Soul so long to call that escort service, it’s getting dark. DMV’s probably closed. Wow,” munching more chips, “reaping always makes me sooo hungry.”
Sock was already tippling out of a mini-bottle of Jack Daniels and flicking channels with the remote control. “Yeah, chill it, my man!” he said, patting the couch between him and Ben. Sam grimaced and went over, putting the jar on the coffee table in front of them. His heart was still pounding, and there was a dull roar in his ears. He always felt this way right after a reap, hyped up. Maybe a few drinks and a little TV would settle him down. He twisted the top off of one of the bottles and stared at the fire.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, I did not know they had this kind of porn on pay-per-view!” Sock whistled between his teeth as the three of them focused on the screen, which was suddenly featuring a lot of naked, intertwining body parts—all of them recognizably male, writhing in time to pulsating, cheesy disco beats.
“Uh,” Ben gulped. “Well, obviously that’s what this Soul was into, why else would he have called for three guys to come over.” His eyes fixed on the screen. “Three, young, hot, virile, …” His voice trailed off as he stared, slack-jawed.
“Heh, heh,” Sock chortled, “Now that’s a position I’ve never seen.” He sounded a little hoarse. He threw his head back to take a gulp of Canadian Club, but his eyes returned instantly to the TV.
Sam found himself stroking the small bottle of Wild Turkey across his lower lip as he watched the action. He took a quick swig, and felt the sweet warmth spread down his throat and into his chest. He was both dazed and hyper-aware, sensing the nearness of Sock on one side, Ben on the other. The smoky fragrance of the leather couch mingled with the vapors of liquor and the tang of male bodies. His eyes blurred and closed; he sank back into the couch, shifting surreptitiously, suddenly uncomfortable. His ears were filled with the hissing of the gas fire. And, from the surround speakers, the gasping and moaning, and mad disco throbbing, seemed to be reaching a crescendo.
On his right, he felt a warm pressure and heard “Uhhhmm.” Ben. From the left, a cough, a “Yeahhhhh.” Sock. He felt the couch cushions shift beneath him, movement on either side, then a hand on each knee, and, even in the darkened room with eyes closed, he could sense two shapes closing over him. One half of his brain was thinking, “What? No! Pretend you’re asleep!” while the other half was moving his arms upwards, to grasp a meaty shoulder with one hand, and the back of a neck with the other, as the sounds from the TV and the ones in real life merged into a humming, slurping, thumping, scary, fantastic mingling.
The red siren of light blared onto his eyelids, forcing them open. A flare of agony slammed them shut again. Sam grimaced and tentatively tried to move. Bare skin stuck to … something, a fleshy dead weight on his leg, a wiry scratchy one on his shoulder. His brain, over the stabbing pain, moved on with its assessment. Okay, sight? Bad. Touch? Bad. Next up, hearing? He strained his ears and could only hear a breathy rumbling. Smell? Wincing, he inhaled deeply. Sweat, booze, and…coconut? A sweet, oily, coconut—WAIT. WHAT?
Sam’s eyes shot open again as he struggled to sit up, pushing aside Sock’s heavy arm and jolting Ben’s head off his shoulder. His eyes focused in horror on the table, strewn with tiny bottles, littered with empty snack bags, and smeared with…oil? He looked at the jar of Kama Sutra Coconut Massage Oil, lid off, spilling its contents onto the glass tabletop; touched his own chest, coated with the same fragrant substance, and looked left and right at his buddies, who were groaning and blinking in the light, their bodies patched with shiny oil. His mind flickered back to the heat, the slickness, the hot, dreamlike…
He dropped his head into his hands, sighed, and steeled himself for another day of reaping.