Party at Rick'sbywoozywinks©
Rick popped a tin of tuna, slathered mayo on white and heaped potato chips on a paper plate.
Tucking a Wall Street Journal under his shoulder, he carried his sandwich and diet soda to the sofa. He ate in front of the TV, checking cable news for updates on his stocks. Sometimes, he would fall asleep during prime time but tonight Rick was anxious.
Tax season was taking a toil on the accountant. He worried about making the numbers match; whether he was certifying dubious earning statements.
After the 11 O'clock news, Rick took a glossy advertisement for lingerie to bed. He reached down into his briefs and spilled into a hand towel before falling asleep.
The next morning, he overslept and awoke in a panic. Rick only had 30 minutes to get to the office.
He ran to the bathroom and reached for a razor while urinating.
But his pee missed the bowl when he saw red lipstick smeared all over the mirror.
Rick turned around and saw a bra hanging from the shower rod. Thong panties were strewn about the tile floor. A condom floated in the toilet. The musky smell of hurried sex was ripe.
"Hello? Is anybody there?"
He only heard the ticking of his clock, compelling him to get to work, but Rick couldn't ignore the pizza boxes stacked in the living room corner, the beer bong wrapped around a lamp post and a yellow vomit puddle on the kitchen floor. Amber-colored beer bottles were scattered everywhere. It was like some teen-agers had a party and forgot to clean up before mom and dad returned home.
Rick was too embarrassed to call the police. How could he explain the beer guzzling and wild sex while he snoozed? At least nothing seemed missing or broken, he rationalized. The beer wasn't even his. He didn't want to confront a neighbor about a bratty kid.
An hour later, Rick immersed himself in taxes and forgot about the disturbance. He worked longer than his usual 12 hours because he felt spooked about returning home.
At the guard shack of his gated community, Rick asked security if there was any unusual activity reported on his block; if anybody had complained about noise coming from his house. "No sir. You're all right," said the guard, giving him a conspiratorial wink.
His housekeeper had restored order to his house, removing all evidence of the phantom fiesta.
On kitchen counter top, Rick found found a note: "Next time you have a party, remember me! Juanita. P.S. I wrapped up the left over pizza and stuck it in the fridge."
If only I could I get invited to my own party, thought Rick as he bit into a slice of mushroom pizza. It was still moist and delicious. His party ninjas might be rude, but they knew pizza.
Mustering some courage, Rick decided to stay up late and wait for them to return. Only ninjas could slip into his house and party with such stealth.
When the late night talk shows were replaced by infomercials, Rick decided they weren't going to show. Maybe they had moved onto another house and forgotten him. The next few weeks flew by. Rick was back to his usual pattern of clocking long hours and splattering his pent up energy on hand towels.
Easter weekend came and went. On the Monday after the holiday, he awoke to find half-eaten plates of lamb chops, garlic mashed potatoes and steamed asparagus on the dining room table. There was a small folding table set up for younger guests, judging from the smaller plates and chocolate bunny wrappers.
Rick made a sandwich from the left over lamb. On his way to his car, he stepped on an Easter egg in the grass. "Enough," Rick decided.
Tax season was finally over. He hadn't made any vacation plans so he could play detective for a while.
Rick decided to check on his health first. His doctor said Rick had some hyper tension and could lose 10 pounds but otherwise he was fine. A psychologist urged him to find a healthy outlet like pilates and make some friends, but assured him his grip on reality was secure.
Rick was too shy to tell anyone what was going at his house, but felt rational in calling Netty, a ghost tour operator and client.
She was respectful but suspect about his ghost party theory. Dead fraternity brothers did not haunt gated communities. Dead families were like Americans. They didn't eat together.
"Your house is only five years old," Netty added. "You're the only owner it's ever had. I doubt it's a poltergeist.''
She gave him the business card of Bradford Collinsworth: "Dabbler in the dark arts of party planning. Theme parties my specialty. Master's in hedonism physics from Cornell University. Three month reservation recommended for Halloween."
Netty told Rick "you can find him at Starbucks on Wednesday nights. Buy him a chai latte and tell him I sent you.''
Rick was not sure what he expected but found a fit 20-something with a horn-rimmed glasses sitting behind a lap top. He never looked Rick in the eye. He just typed on his keyboard as Rick related his story.
"It sounds like an emotional energy eruption,'' Bradford told Rick matter of factly, almost bored. "Don't worry it happens a lot with Type A's who work a lot."
Rick was slightly annoyed, was he putting him on? Bradford started talking slower, as if dealing with a small child.
"Nature abhors a vacuum, right?" Bradford said.
"Sure,'' Rick replied impatiently.
"OK, well let me ask you. Have you ever thrown a party at your house?"
"Not even a poker game? A Monday night football get together with pretzels and a cheese tray?"
"But I work long hours," Rick protested limply.
"Have you ever gotten laid at your house?" asked Bradford.
Rick stared back in silence.
"That's what I mean. There's so little joy at home that the emotional energy gets built up and built up. That energy is like molten lava. It has to go somewhere. Sometimes it erupts into parties. It's the whole Einstein, energy equals mass principle. In your case, the energy is turning into thongs and six packs of beer.''
Rick hated to admit that he was making some sense.
"So your last emotional energy eruption was three weeks ago? Dude, if you don't have some fun soon, you could have a really bad Memorial Day party. Your house is going to be trashed."
Bradford resumed typing as Rick left Starbucks.
The next weekend, he took his housekeeper, Juanita, out to dinner and a movie. In the past, Rick had dismissed her as too young, but she was the only woman he knew outside of the office. He liked her long black hair and the low-cut jeans she wore to his house.
Rick was surprised at how easy they got along. They shared a passion for symmetry and organization, discussing how to arrange sock drawers and file bank statements. By their third date, they were making out on his couch where he normally watched cable news. She led him back to his bedroom.
After sex, she confessed a secret.
"I used to think you were the most boring guy," Juanita said as she stroked his hair.
"Then I started getting jealous of your parties. I was so confused."
Misplaced lingerie and beer bongs wouldn't litter the house again until the wedding reception six months later.