I felt oddly comfortable, being held in Christy's arms, but I'm glad she didn't try to kiss me; I don't know what I'd have done.
An awkward moment ensued, but passed with the song. The next number up was disco, and I didn't feel like dancing anymore.
We went back over to the stereo and I got another beer. It was hot down here with all these bodies and the strobe lights. I tried to twist the lid off like Tammy and this time I succeeded.
It was a good thing my dress was orange...our dance had transferred some of her stripes to me. People might get the wrong idea.
I became aware of a dead silence.
The crowd split and none other than Herself, the Queen of Denial, came sauntering down the path and stopped in front of the radio.
She was dressed like a caterpillar, with a hookah in one hand and a martini glass in the other.
"Lady Christine," she said warmly to Christy, and they both made a double fake-kiss motion to each others cheeks. "How do you do?"
She deigned to notice me.
"Oh, and you brought the little girl, Plain Dani. How are you doing, Dane Rabbit."
"May I answer that, or do I need written permission?"
"Ah, well played, darlink." She slapped me on the ass, which caused me to spit my beer all over Christy.
"I'm sorry," I tried to apologize, but she just laughed.
"No problem," she told me, patting her kerchief gently at her face. "It's happened before."
"Sorry kid," the Archdiva explained, "I was going to name you Dame Rabbit, but I think you blew it."
She held up a hand and addressed the crowd.
"To the dungeons with her."
"We don't have any dungeon, O Keeper of the Six-Dozen White-Raisins."
Her voice hit us like a hailstorm.
"To the dungeons!"
Two Under-Flowers grabbed my arms and I didn't resist. It was still all a game. I took a last gulp from my beer.
"You can't take her to the dungeon." Christy stood before her in defiance.
"And why not, Miss Christy Rarenthal?"
"Because it's a Sunday, and you're not wearing purple."
"My Gawd, you're right. Very well, to the dungeons with both of them. Three-Minutes-in-Paradise!"
The crowd went wild, and we were passed to the front and up out of the tent.
I was glad to be out of the noise, but it was cold up there. Our honor guard followed us, hand-in-hand to the bomb shelter. I went to take a drink of my beer, but there was only foam left.
"Everybody out," Tilly yelled down the passage to the cellar. "This is the dungeon, and we have prisoners."
They extinguished the candles and left in a hurry and Christy and I were unceremoniously left in the dark while the door was blocked.
"Do what comes natural," Tilly's muffled voice carried through the door. "You've got three minutes."
I fumbled around for a second, trying to find the bar. I felt pretty good now, but was still in need of some courage.
What was the point to this exercise?
"Do you know what we're supposed to do," Christy asked, just as I was about to ask her the same thing.
"It's a game. Teeny-bopper shit, really, where they put a boy and a girl in a closet together for three minutes of anything goes."
"What are they supposed to do?"
"Anything they want."
"What if one doesn't want to?"
"Then they don't. Look, usually they neck, but sometimes a shirt comes off or a hand gets stuffed somewhere it oughtn't, but it's mostly harmless."
"Sounds dubious to me."
"Yes, I suspect it would."
"What does that mean?"
"Nothing. It's just that Topher has told me about you."
I found the beer. Let's see if I could open it in the dark.
"Where is Topher, anyway. Isn't this his party?"
I twisted off the cap with a satisfying hiss and took a swig.
"No, it's mine, really. Topher doesn't like wild parties."
"Then why invite me to one?"
"You wanna know?"
"He likes you. He thinks you're simply wonderful and has never met anyone he likes to spend time with more."
"He told you all this?"
"He didn't have to."
I took another big gulp of my beer.
"Go easy with that stuff, hon, it's not soda pop."
"Thanks for your concern."
"And I like him too," I started, not sure where this was heading. "I mean, I never met-ted someone like him neither. And I likie-his-motor-bikie."
I had another drink.
"But honestly, if my parents, I mean mother knew I was sneaking out, I'd be...I'd be in big trouble, don't you doubt it for a second.
"She freaked out about him being a...older. I think I wanna get him to know better, I mean get to know him better, but I'm a'fraid of him run...not being there. I think...I think..."
I took another drink, but it didn't stay down.
"I think I'll stop drinking now," I said to the floor, after I'd finished vomiting.
"Good idea. Don't worry, hon, Topher likes you too, and he's not going anywhere."
"Then where the hell is he," I wailed. It stank down here.
"Can I tell you something, Dani?"
"Sure, hunnig," I slurred, "just as shoon azh we get this door open. Do you think it's been three minutes?"
There was a heavy knock.
"Musht be time," I smiled happily.
"Cops," somebody yelled down the hatch, and in a second, I was upright, being pulled along in the dark by Christy.
I was wide awake once we hit the cold October wind. There were lights coming through the bushes and sirens blinked red and blue from a line of police cruisers outside the fence.
"Come on," Christy whispered urgently. Gone was the poised contralto she'd had before.
The pup-tent had been knocked over kids were pouring out of the pool. They dashed away, trying to get off the property.
Christy led me through the garden and to the back fence.
"We can both squeeze through here, Dani. There's a cemetery on the other side."
"What about Tammy," I asked, "and Topher."
"She won't fit."
"We can't just leave her. And what about Topher?"
"He's not in there, Dani. Trust me. Now get on the other side of the fence."
I slipped through the bars.
"How do you know?"
"Because I'm Topher, Dani."
"What? Topher, how?"
"I'm cross dressing. I'm quite good at it."
"I'll say. You fooled the hell out me."
"Are you mad?"
"Yes. That was a mean thing to do, act like you're Topher's friend. I told you stuff I'd have never said if I'd known."
"I'm sorry, Dani. How can I make it up to you?"
"Go get Tammy."
"Okay," hit said without hesitation and faded into the darkness.