“Please pace yourself,” Steve pleaded with Marty.
Steve wasn’t sure if he was mentally capable of weathering another night of blackout Marty. That’s because blackout Marty was a demon from hell, sent to turn the world to ashes.
Over the last three weekends, as a direct result of Marty’s blackouts, Steve had washed four different people’s blood from his clothes. There was Marty’s, of course. His bleeding was a question of when and not if after the day’s festivities had begun. Once they ended, it usually resulted in Steve either carrying, subduing, or being attacked by Marty. There was Steve’s own blood, too. He cut himself after wrestling a broken Jameson bottle from Marty, who, at the time, was chasing Steve’s girlfriend’s cat with it, all the while his initial unhinged cackling escalating to a crescendo of shrieking, convulsing, wide-eyed laughter.
There was also a pledge’s blood on Steve’s clothes. Marty did not physically harm the pledge, but rather caused him to have a stress-induced nosebleed while attempting to harvest some of the pledge’s pubes with rusted hedge trimmers he had found in the fraternity’s shed. Marty justified the size of the instrument because he “needed a lot” for a drug test he thought his upcoming summer internship required of him. In actuality, Marty had just imagined receiving the drug test news in a whiskey- and cocaine-fueled, paranoid fever dream. He also did not have an internship lined up for the summer yet. Why he wanted pubes specifically was anybody’s guess, but no one bothered wondering, because to peer into Marty’s drunken rationale was to look into madness.
Steve arrived just in time to drag the pledge out of the room and fend off Marty with a sharpened mop handle. The handle had been, in fact, sharpened by Marty himself a few weeks prior for the purpose of throwing it at a hot air balloon that was in a slow descent over the rooftops of Greek Town and set to land on the school’s nearby rec sports fields for some random school event.
When trying to reason with Marty — who had spent that day breaking in the new thermos his grandmother got him for his birthday by drinking forty-eight ounces of Irish coffee — about why in the world he would ever want to take down a hot air balloon (aside from the inherent awesomeness of the spectacle that Steve couldn’t admit to in the moment), blackout Marty’s reasoning was, as usual, both irrational and disturbingly, insistently fervent.
“Hot air balloons are God’s mistake.”
Steve was long past the point in his and Marty’s friendship where he even tried to figure out where Marty had come up with that. Marty murmured the nonsense as if he weren’t even talking to Steve, but rather repeating to himself a justification that had been whispered to him by some unseen evil spirit that inspired Marty to take up arms against the hot air balloon that his dull, glazed eyes were targeting. “Unseen evil spirit” was often in Steve’s top three possible explanations for why blackout Marty did anything.
Steve didn’t take the mop handle from Marty because he was afraid he would miss and the mop-spear would hit someone below. He took it from Marty because he knew Marty could make the throw.
Blackout Marty was an anomaly. Sure, he was uncoordinated enough to repeatedly fall down the exact same set of stairs over and over again. To Steve’s knowledge, those stairs were the only entity, living or inanimate, with a winning record against blackout Marty, and that included the police. Marty hated those stairs, which he considered his arch nemesis, with a fiery passion. Marty would often shout at them as he passed by, calling them dirty “steppers,” a racial slur he had invented for stairs. Despite Marty’s cerebellum routinely flickering on and off at random like an exposed, hanging lightbulb in a dingy basement, he was also somehow strong and athletic enough — possibly more so than when sober — to pull off impossible feats. Potentially downing a low-flying hot air balloon with a homemade spear from the roof of their fraternity house was not out of the realm of possibility.
The best evidence of Marty’s drunken physical prowess was the time, during a round of golf, when a lone couple of forty-something men asked to play through a drunk, slow-moving foursome consisting of Steve, Marty, and two other fraternity brothers. Either unaware of or in disagreement with the fact that his friends consented to let the men play through, a wildly offended Marty took off in a full sprint toward the men’s moving golf cart. From about three feet away, he leapt into a fully horizontal, two-legged kick, turning himself into a human missile. The kick jump was perfectly timed. Marty broadsided the front of the cart and the force of his impact flipped it onto its side. The men and everything in the cart flew out from it. In a panic, Steve and the other two jumped into their carts and sped back toward the parking lot. Already running away — on a broken ankle — his exhales wild laughter, his inhales the only pauses in between the howling, and his motions more flailing and celebratory than those of a full-fledged run, Marty still beat the others and their golf carts to the parking lot by thirty seconds.
Whiskey had the same effect on Marty that PCP would have on a comic book villain.
The fourth bloodstain Steve had to wash out was simply from a cup of blood Marty had inexplicably found and thrown at Steve for suggesting they order a pizza.
“Order some pussy, faggot!” Marty demanded instead, in an instant slur.
Marty then uncoiled with violent quickness from the slumped, half-awake, deceptively docile posture his liquor-soaked body had settled into. He whipped the cup at Steve with seemingly impossible accuracy that was the product of the clarity brought on from the intensely focused, though impersonal hatred Marty felt toward that portion of the room in that moment. As soon as Marty’s reflexes had sparked him to life, they left him, and Marty resumed his sunken, vegetative glare at the television, most likely totally unaware of the previous three seconds’ events.
Steve never found out where the blood came from, though Marty insisted it was Magic Johnson’s.
Blackout Marty was an agent of chaos.
As a manageably drunk Marty acknowledged Steve’s plea to pace himself with a chuckle, Marty poured two shots of Rumple Minze: one for himself, and the other for himself, too. Marty took both shots, and then he took three more while Steve had a few just to numb himself the coming inferno. Marty had just aced a finance exam. He felt like celebrating, and after one more round Marty and Steve left for the pregame..