For what it was worth, Coti, Maggie and I enjoyed a nice conversation during the car ride back to the hotel. That is, for the short bits of time when we weren’t interrupted by Bill and Gretch’s sudden and obnoxious outbursts. I don’t know what had gotten into them, but they kept sitting in the back, laughing, and giggling, and whispering, and shifting, and acting like a couple of adolescent jerks; a bunch of hyperactive kids suspended in loaded inebriation having just snorted a pound and a half of pixie stick dust!
“What’s up with you guys?” I asked in a decent manner, honestly trying to understand how every word that came out of my mouth had suddenly become the source of such extreme hilarity. The question warranted no comprehensible response, only more erratic bursts of laughter. “Whatever…” I responded in a melancholy tone, banking on my belief that ignorance is the best weapon of defense in these types of situations. Soon, their juvenile tactics would grow tiresome, and we’d cap off the night with peace and quiet back at the hotel. They had to, for they weren’t strong enough, not to outlast me, that is. Their deficient attention spans would not allow it.
“Hey, how about we get some breakfast before you guys leave tomorrow?” I asked, addressing Maggie and Coti specifically, for the two hooligans in the back had all but isolated themselves from any civil discourse with their perpetual urge to giggle.
“Oh, I wish, but my flight leaves early in the morning,” replied Coti. Dangit!
“I think I can do breakfast,” said Maggie. “I’d actually like that. Give me a call when you get up. How does 10 o’clock sound?”
“Sounds great!” I replied. Soon after, another string of giggles shot through the car. I just looked forward and shook my head, knowing the exact origin. I wouldn’t let their antics get the best of me, not in front of a couple of babes. I knew better than that.
We pulled up to the Holiday Inn and we said our goodbyes to Maggie and Coti for the night. I climbed back into the car to see that Bill had jumped into the front seat. I shut the door and gave him an annoyed look. He responded with a sudden burst of laughter. “You know, I don’t know what’s up with you guys, but it’s sort of starting to get on my nerves. You’ve been a bunch of gigglin’ little dingles ever since we got in the car!” And sure enough, my question prompted yet, another string of giggles. Ok, this is really starting to get out of hand. What the hell was so damn funny? I switched the music to the Smashing Pumpkins and screeched out of the Holiday Inn Parking lot. And wouldn’t you know it, they thought that was freaking hilarious too!
“I have an idea,” I thought to myself nearing a gas station down the street from the Holiday Inn. Maybe a different tactic, let’s say appeasement or compassion may work in my favor. Hey, it’s worth a shot at least…
“If I get you a drink, will you guys try to calm down a little bit? Please?” The lunacy started to die down, ending in a couple putters of laughter, putters that they tried desperately hard to hold in, a sign of progress. “What would you guys like?”
“Surprise me,” said Bill. Easy enough.
Two minutes later I exited the gas station with a Rockstar, a water, and a bottle of Mountain Dew. “This otta shut em’ up.”
“Here you go,” I said as I handed Gretch the water. “Here you go,” I said to Bill, handing him the Mountain Dew. I held onto the Rockstar; that would be sucked down soon enough. A few more putters of laughter were released from their mouths upon reception of the drinks. So far, it seemed as though my generosity had done nothing to aid the situation. In fact, judging by the growing occurrence of snickers, there was a good chance that it would only get worse.
“Gretch, type in the direction to the hotel on your phone,” I ordered as I pulled out of the gas station. She did as she was told, scrolling through and looking for the La Quinta Inn on the Google Maps app, at least as far as I could tell through the rearview mirror, although she still just couldn’t help but let out a few snorts every few seconds. Whatever. “We’re almost at the roundabout? Which way do I go? Gretch… GRETCH!”
“Sorry. Turn here,” she replied, her apology coming off as callous as she added a couple more snorts after the response. Bill was looking straightforward, his mouth super glued shut. Something was up.
“Um, I think this is the wrong way guys,” I said. Again, only intermittent chuckles over the Smashing Pumpkins filled the otherwise silent dialogue between them, leading me farther down a road to a modern, yet abandon office building, its parking lot so dark and empty that you could easily believe there was evidence of paranormal activity. “Dude, Gretch, I thought you said this was the way?”
“Sorry, I was checking my Instagram,” she said, followed again by another stupid chuckle.
“Instagram? I told you to—I thought you looked up the directions? Why are you on Instagram—you know what? Bill, give me my phone.” He picked up the phone from the center console and placed it in my hand. No eye contact was given. “What the? Why do I have 3 likes on Instagram right now?” Gretch’s chuckles increased in frequency, and Bill let out a couple of snorts himself through his mouth, now covered by his face. I typed in my pin number and opened the Instagram app, only to find this piece of art.
“What in the—how did this get on my Instagram?” I asked with fury building in my voice. “Bill, did you get into my phone?” Bill replied with a growing mixture of chuckles and snorts that sounded like he was trying to scream through a gag. Gretch was no better. “Dude, that’s my personal security! A violation of my privacy! My property! That’s my pin number for—IT’S NOT FUNNY! I could put you in jail for that crap!” The laughter only got worse as Bill rocked back in forth in his seat, his gut rolling up and down and a consistent rate. He finally opened his mouth, if only for a desperate gasp of air. “DON’T TALK!” He snapped his mouth back in the shut position, only to continue the verbal rampage against it.
“Gretch, get it together and call out the directions for me. I’m sick of this crap,” I hollered while throwing my phone back to her with the directions on Google Maps already loaded. I popped into reverse, whipped the car around and blew out of the parking lot, the music turned up to threshold hearing levels, just so I didn’t have to listen to all the Stupid laughing going on.
“Ok, which turn do I take?” I asked Gretch.
“This one,” she replied.
“I didn’t hear you.”
“You mean the one coming up?”
“No, the one you just passed!”
“Why didn’t you say so?”
“I did say so, but—NO! Not here—Za—we just came from there!”
“Damn it, Gretch!”
“Go around again!”
On our third trip around with Gretch hollering directions, Bill giggling like a little school girl, and music blasting, we managed to find our way onto the correct turn off, although who really knew for sure. I’ll tell you what, all these roundabouts were really starting to piss me off! “What’s this? Another one—are you kidding me?”
“I think you take this one.”
“Are you sure—“
“Are you sure?”
“I can’t hear you!”
“Wait! Not this one!”
“Turn the music down—NO, NOT THIS ONE!”
“Well which one then??”
“I don’t know! You have to go around again!”
The heavy blast of distortion coming from the speakers mixed with Gretch’s voice and Billy Corgan’s bleak lyrics seeped into my brain, infecting it with a poison that induced psychosis. My teeth grit and my stare hardened, petrified by the destruction forming inside my head, a destruction I was hoping would come to fruition with each passing—
“This one—you’re in the wrong lane!”
With the madness!
I’m in love with…
“Screw this!” I swerved the Benz over to the exit, illegally crossing lanes and cutting off a line of cars in the process. I’m sorry, but there was no way I was going to make another damn circle around that stupid roundabout! “Dude, Gretch, this is the turn off to the movie theater—we’re going the wrong way!”
“Just go through the parking lot!” I drove through the parking lot, just as she instructed, only to be thwarted by a grass median separating the movie theater parking lot from the La Quinta Inn. I stared into the bright neon sign across from me, building a rage inside my body equivalent to that of Jim Harbaugh’s after a blown play call, one just waiting to explode. Bill still hadn’t said a word. His mouth was clasped shut by his hand bolted over it while sweat and tears squirted out from his beat red face, unable to control the involuntary and violent shake of his body. Innocent bystanders not knowing any better would believe they were looking at a strangled boy, screaming desperately for help with a girl in the back seat showing no signs of shame in expressing the “humorous nature” of the situation. The end result was sudden, angry, intermittent outbursts, matched word for word with a series of honks.
“I—hate—Bill— I—hate—Gretch—I—hate—them—so—much— I—hate—them—so—baaaaaad—They’re—so—stu—pid—they’re—so—dummmmb—they—will—pay—I—hate—Bill—I—hate—Gretch—I—hate—Bill…”
“Will you guys shut up? People are trying to sleep!” My deduced answer was a firm no, for the two just couldn’t control themselves as we walked through the lobby of the La Quinta Inn.
“Elevator’s here, huhuh,” said Bill.
“I’m taking the stairs. There’s no way in hell I’m riding up that thing with you guys!” I turned the corner and made the arduous trek up to the 4th floor. “God, what an embarrassment,” I muttered under my breath. At this point, I wouldn’t be caught dead with those turkeys.
After four long and grueling flights of stairs I swung open the door to our room and presented my haggard self to Bill who was jogging in place with his hands over his crotch, spitting out giggles during the whole process. “What is your problem?”
“I have to go pee, heehee!”
“Well that’s just too freaking bad, cause I’m going next!” Gretch exited the bathroom and Bill made a move for it, only to be stonewalled.
“Noooo! Please, I have to go baaad, hoho!” I sent a mighty shove his way, thrusting him back towards the bed before I ran into the bathroom, slammed the door, and locked it behind me. “Zack, please,” he begged, banging on the door. I ignored his pathetic plea and took my sweet time taking a whiz.
“Oh man, I think I have to go number 2! In fact, maybe I’ll just go ahead and take a shower right now,” I taunted, even going as far as to turn the shower on. The banging eventually died down, and the complaints had even stopped for the moment, filling the bathroom with silence… beautiful, wonderful silence. “Wow, my tactics actually worked—finally, a moment of peace. It feels good to win one every now and then.”
I stepped out of the bathroom a minute later. “Alright Bill, you can use the bathroom now. I hope you’ve calmed down and learned your—why in the world are your pants down?” I walked over to examine the situation. “Hey, that’s my Gatorade! I don’t remember getting a lemon-lime… wait a minute—oh my God, are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me??” Bill waddled his way to the bathroom with his pants around his ankles and the bottle of “Lemon-Lime Gatorade” in his hand, again with an unabated giggle. “That’s freaking disgusting Bill! Get rid of it now, before I really lose it—You’re spilling it everywhere!”
I stood amongst the wreckage of a hotel room gone awry, my posture straight, hands on my hips, face taut and head shaking, trying to sort out my thoughts of irritation into a lecture of substance for Gretch to understand; Gretch, who sat snuggly up against the edge of the bed, of whom I still hadn’t given full eye-contact. “How could you let this happen? You’re in the same room and you let him pee all over the place!” Gretch remained silent, her eyes lowering down into her lap in deference. I actually may be getting through to her… Ok, take it down a notch. Don’t be mad, just be disappointed. That works every time.
“The sad thing is, I was actually starting to like you Gretch. And believe it or not, but I had even gained a smidgen of respect too, but it’s pretty obvious that you two have a little bit of growing up to do. I’m not even mad anymore! I’m just—oh crap!” A sudden revelation struck me. “I forgot my shirt at the wedding! Quick, where’s my phone? Maybe I can text Beth before its too late.” I darted my head back and forth for a moment until Gretch pointed to the nightstand where my phone sat. I snatched it, nearly knocking Bill’s iPad off in the motion. Although she wasn’t laughing, there was still an unacceptably large smile on her face that was poorly covered by her lazily placed hand. “Wait, there’s a text.
What does she mean black pics? There’s only—wait a minute… what is this?” I swiped my finger across the notification, revealing this gem.
“You posted. Another picture. On my Instagram?” Bill was out of the bathroom now, his stare only feeding my frenzy, a furious rage that was rattling my head, turning my eyes inside out, had my teeth grinding and growling, bracing for an explosion. Gretch let out a snort, the first of a long chain reaction between her and Bill that became exponentially worse over a short period of time. The snorts turned to snickers, to chuckles, to giggles, to laughs, and then to a couple of immature brats floored and gasping for air, nearly choking on their own tears.
“You know what? I’m sick of this crap! This ends now you little—“
A momentary lapse of reason swallowed the room, leaving each of us in a completely delusional state for the immediate seconds that proceeded. The next set of words came out like a flashbang explosion, a high-pitched ring that slowed the pace of time with a calamity of chaos enduring in the background. My coveted punch card, the one I’d been saving just in case of an emergency, was now gone; demolished, shred to pieces, completely disintegrated, obliterated… burnt to a crisp. I cracked open my Rockstar and took a mighty swig, fuel for the carnage had just begun.
“You guys are sick! Both of yas! If it were up to me, I’d kick ya both out of the damn hotel! Yea, you think it’s all fun and games don’t ya? Don’t ya?” A few more curses, uncontrolled in my release of fury left my mouth between phrases. “Yea, I’m out of punch cards, and guess what? I. Don’t. Care! I don’t care! I’m going to continue to yell, I’m going to continue to scream, and I’m going to keep on using swears, thanks to you. You think I just drove out here just for the wedding myself? No, I could’ve flown my ass across the country, saved a bunch of time, and money! But I didn’t. Why, you ask? Because I did this for you. I did this for you!!! And now you’re acting like an animal—No, I take that back. You’re acting way worse than that. You… you’re like…”
“What?” Interrupted Bill, a question that obviously left his mouth without balancing the consequences in his head. “We’re acting like what? I swear you do this every time. Every time—”
“YOU’RE ACTING LIKE BEN WOODWARD!!!”
Jaws dropped and an immediate silence filled the air, an air that had become still, still with the stench of death, the subtle resonance of vibrating bodies being the only audible sound heard and felt after the revealing of a shocking truth; the terrible (my God was it terrible!), but honest truth.
“That’s right. I said it!” I pounded the rest of my Rockstar and stood, a warrior against a pair of brutes stung by the blow of brutal honesty with nothing but the hope that it was I who would crack, I and only I to fall on my sword, to admit defeat and seek forgiveness for the insidious behavior on display and the vile temperament sprung from dark corners of the La Quinta Inn and Suites, Room 421, a space forever fouled by the indecency of two demonic creatures. They waited, and waited, and waited some more for a confession, but it would not come. It would never come, for my words—yes, my words; they would stand the test of time. They would stand a thousand years and then thousands more. They would in fact hold for eternity; they could and they would, for I meant every… single… word of it.
It started with a slight snort, sharp and short, released from the nostrils of Bill, breaking the minute long silence in the room, a deviation I wasn’t the least appreciative of. I stared him down as a crazed serial killer staring down his next victim. Another snort shot across the room. I darted my head a quarter turn, my facial expression unfettered. Gretch stared, the whites of her eyes showing and her mouth clamped shut, desperately trying to hold back a burst of noise, possible diarrhea of the mouth. Another Snicker came from the other side. I whipped my head, then another. I whipped it back. Then there were giggles, followed by the rolling of guts, and then without warning, the sudden outburst of full-fledged laughter. It wasn’t finished either. The innocence of laughter transformed into ineffable screams of lunacy, the culmination of madness, anarchy, and all other destructive forces in the world, all sourced from the lungs of two individuals on a possessing mission, hell bent on making my life completely miserable. I hadn’t seen such a disgusting display of inhumanity since the movie “Grown-Ups” starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Ben Woodward’s favorite, Rob Schneider… you know, from “The Animal,” a movie of which I’m sure they’d find hilarious and react accordingly.
“Oh God…” I said to myself in a pitiable retreat under the protection of the covers. “I give up…” I buried my head between the pillows in desperation to save me from the cacophonous bellows coming from my counterparts. The hoots and hollers continued long into the night and by miracle I eventually drifted into a slumber, haunted by the apparitions sending ghostly howls across from me, only to greet me once again in my dreams… dreams that turned to nightmares matching the hell I found myself currently trapped in.
I woke up and sat at the edge of the bed in the aftermath of a war zone, a cluttered destruction with clothes, sheets, pillows and various bottles strewn about across the unrecognizable floor. “Dear God, what the hell happened?” Two bodies lay across from me, unable to decipher whether they were a pair of corpses or two axis soldiers exhausted of all energy from a furious battle the night before. For the moment, neither outcome mattered, for their sprawled out and motionless bodies were still many hours from full replenishment of a life that had recently been sucked from their spent bodies.
I grabbed for my phone sitting on the nightstand next to Bill’s iPad. “9:15, still some time before I meet Maggie… and I’m still getting likes on Instagram. Those bastards…” I set my phone down again next to the iPad and placed my head in my hands. “Never in my life would I get on Bill’s iPad and do something like that. Never, at least not to a friend.” My head shot up in realization. “Bill’s iPad… I wonder if he even has a password on that thing?” My curiosity was too overwhelming, and with a swipe of a finger, full access was granted to every application located on the iPad: Safari, Notes, Music, Facebook… even his camera.
Pernicious thoughts scorched my head of the potential disasters to be created with such a device. “The dastardly deeds of the night before must not go unpunished,” said a dark voice inside my head. “Just really quick. They won’t even know until it’s too late…” More and more thoughts popped into my head, guiding me towards a decision of wrongdoing, acts that were too good not to pass up. Besides, it would be ridiculous to let them get away with such childish behavior. In a daring maneuver, I clandestinely snatched the iPad from the nightstand and snuck into the bathroom, locking the door behind me, unbeknownst to Bill and Gretch, both of whom were still temporarily disabled.
With my pants half down, I placed the iPad under my backside, trying desperately hard to contain a giggle of my own. Within three attempts, I had snapped a perfect picture, and two rosy red cheeks were plastered across the screen of Bill’s iPad. A couple of manipulations later and the round mounds of posterior flesh became permanent wallpaper for Bill’s iPad. I snuck out of the bathroom, undetected of any mischief and set the iPad back in its proper place. Nobody was the wiser.
“Crack,” the sound of an opened can of Rockstar caused a slight shuffle in the bed, prematurely waking Bill from his slumber. “Oh hey Bill. I’m going to go get some breakfast with Maggie. Make sure you clean all this crap up before we leave.”
“What the heck time is it?” He asked.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you go check on your iPad?” As I turned for the door, I caught a glimpse of Bill reaching for the device. I swiftly made my way to the exit before any substantive blowback could be felt.
“Oh my… what in the, UGGHA! AH, GARGAOL…” Many more illegible words came out of his mouth, a verbal representation of vomit. I was easily able to interpret the translation as I made my escape from the hotel. “Mission success.”
“You know Maggie, I just don’t get it. Those guys can be so immature sometimes. I mean, I try to set them straight, and I even worry about them from time to time, but it’s like no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to get through to them,” I explained over a bagel sandwich at a local café in Muskego. She nodded her head like she understood exactly what I was saying. “Their behavior just isn’t acceptable, plain and simple.”
Aside from our dealings and frustrations with the demented duo, Maggie and I caught up with the new and exciting details of our lives, happy to see that each of us were becoming successful in our own ways. It was really nice to get my mind off those two for a while.
“So where are you going after this?” she asked.
“Well, I actually don’t quite know to tell you the truth! I guess I have cousins around and stuff, but I haven’t talked to them yet, and… hey, what about Kassie? She said I could come up to the organic farm if I needed to, didn’t she?”
“Yes, she did! Do you need her number? I can give her a heads up that you might be heading that way.”
“That’d be great! Let me get my phone out and get it from you—what’s this? Notification: 5 likes on Instagram—Oh no…” In my rush to leave I forgot that there was another iPad left unattended at the hotel, one without a password. I nervously slid my finger across the surface of my phone to reveal its horrific image, an image that was once normal but had been augmented into a disgusting display by some evildoer with the sole intention of making me look like jerk. And clearly, she was successful in her endeavor.
“What’s wrong?” asked Maggie.
“Gretch. She hacked into my iPad. She got into my Instagram… She’s a criminal, just like her brother.”
I lowered my head in defeat, my body weakened, as if every ounce of energy had been sucked out of me by a parasitic bug.
“I can’t win… I’ll never win… ever…”