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A Few More Keys

This is to some extent another story where I poke fun at drunk guys. This was specifically for a class, though. The assignment was to write a short, short story about two people who want the same thing. Guess what they want.

Walking towards his apartment from the parking lot, Scott dropped his keys into his coat pocket. The number of keys on his key ring had grown in the last few months: keys for work, keys for the offices of the campus organizations where he was an officer, keys to the gym, and of course keys for the car and apartment – so many keys that he couldn’t fit the mass into his jeans pocket anymore.

I hate having this many keys, he thought to himself, too many keys and far too much responsibility. He was just finishing a long day after an early lecture, meetings for Student Government and the Campus Newspaper, and eight straight hours of work. He was tired, but since this was Friday he would have some fun tonight and hope to have time to rest over the next couple of days. Besides, the party in his apartment, loudly shaking the walls of the hallway with a heavy bass as Scott walked into the building, would allow no chance for sleep or rest for at least another four or five hours anyway.

Just as Scott reached for the doorknob to his apartment, the door quickly opened before him, releasing a pounding wave of music, the acrid smell of cigarette smoke, and the earthy odor of beer that seems so natural at every college party. Scott was practically knocked across the hall as a guy his age but slightly larger stumbled out of the room. Recovering quickly from the surprise, Scott reached out and steadied both himself and the partygoer.

“Rick! We have to stop running into each other like this!” Scott spoke up playfully as they each got their footing. “Whassup?”

“Dude, I’m sorry … oh, hey Scott. You’re too late, man; all the beer’s gone,” Rick replied in a disappointed tone. He stumbled forward again, even though he had been standing still, and almost dropped the keys in his hand. Straightening up, he looked back to Scott and alternately narrowed then widened his eyes as if trying hard to focus.

“That’s too bad, man,” Scott replied, eyeing his friend and observing both the keys in his hand and his lack of coordination. “Where ya goin’?” he asked, hoping not to get the answer he expected.

“Oh, man, there’s a party over at Phil’s place! I’m shootin’ over there for more suds!” Rick slurred enthusiastically, stumbling the slightest bit again and catching himself.

“You’re not driving there, are you?” Scott blurted out, knowing that Phil lived on the other side of town.

Rick’s turned angry. “Look dude, I’m fine. Don’t give me shit about driving.”

“I won’t give you shit about driving because you’re not going to be driving,” Scott said. “Give me your keys.”

“What?” Rick growled. “Fuck you! I don’t need your permission,” Rick finished as he turned and started off down the hall.

Realizing it was too late to try to handle this diplomatically, Scott calmly started again. “Look, man, at least let me drive you." He turned to follow Rick. “Give me your keys, then we can both have a brew together when we get there.” Scott tried to reason with Rick, hoping to find some way to keep him from driving.

“Screw off, man! I don’t need anybody to take care of me,” Rick grumbled as he walked outside. Scott was following close behind, saying nothing as Rick moved to his car and fumbled with his keys. Rick dropped the keys and Scott pounced, grabbing the keys from the ground and running from Rick’s grasp.

“Damn it! Give me my fucking keys, Scott!” Rick made another grab for Scott, stumbling around the parking lot in a furor.

“Look, Rick,” Scott spoke imploringly to Rick, keeping a safe distance between them, “I’m keeping your keys until I know you’re sober enough to drive. I’m not letting you kill yourself, man, so get over it.” He kept moving to keep his distance but decided to make one last attempt at a compromise. “Look, if you still want to go to Phil’s, I’ll drive you. I just can’t let you drive.” He paused for a moment, then added, “Don’t do this to me, man,” ending in an pleading tone.

Rick had tried to rush Scott, lumbering past as Scott easily dodged him, but he stopped when he heard Scott’s words. He almost seemed to sober up in a moment’s time. Scott kept his distance but observed his drunken companion.

“You know, dude,” Rick said, “I think I’m just gonna head back inside. “You mind if I crash here tonight?” He grinned as he sheepishly looked over to Scott.

“That’s cool, bud, “Scott replied, feeling Rick’s keys in his hand. “You know you’re always welcome here.”


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A Few More Keys, by Paul Cales, © September 2001