"You know that's like the third time you've told me that joke tonight!" Lisa said to a friend. Mark watched her, amazed once again at her beauty. She noticed him staring and returned his gaze. He looked away, feigning embarrassment.
And Johnny observed the exchange. After contemplating it for a moment, he returned to his conversation with Claudette.
Michelle and Mike were mingling with another couple, a brunette and her red-headed boyfriend. They laughed and the other couple left to another conversation. Mike was holding a piece of cake, chocolate cake, and he presented it to Michelle with a sly grin stretched across his face. Michelle laughed seductively, grabbed a piece and fed it to Mike. He lapped it up, sucking on her finger, then grabbed a piece himself. He was about to feed it to Michelle when Lisa came walking up, so he popped in his own mouth. Lisa and Michelle shared a knowing laugh.
"Hey, everybody!" Lisa announced to the party, "Let's go outside for some fresh air!"
Everyone at the party thought this was a terrific idea, and like at all adult parties, they did whatever the party leader told them to. Everyone shuffled out the back door onto the balcony.
Everyone, but Mark and Lisa.
Mark was about to exit when Lisa closed the door.
"Wait." she said. "I have something I want to show you."
Mark smiled an expecting smile. "Oh really?"
She led him to the couch. He sat down first and she draped her legs on his lap.
"So uh," Mark grunted, "what do you want to show me?"
"It's a surprise." Lisa said, putting down her glass.
She grabbed his neck and pulled him forward, and they locked into a passionate kiss.
Mark suddenly came to his senses.
"What are you doing? I mean are you crazy? Everybody's here!"
"No they're not." she said, giggling, "they're all outside!"
"You devil! You planned this all along!"
She smiled and kissed him.
"What's going on here!" said some guy who just entered the room.
Mark and Lisa quickly separated and stood.
"Why are you doing this!" exclaimed the guy.
Lisa took Mark into her arms. "I love him."
"I don't believe it!" the guy said.
Anger boiled inside of Mark.
"You don't understand anything, man," he said, "Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!"
And with that stunningly appropriate analogy he stormed off outside, back into the party.
The guy closed in on Lisa.
"Do you understand what you're doing? You're going to destroy Johnny! He's very sensitive."
Lisa simply shook her head. "I don't care." she said, "I'm in love with Mark."
"How could you do this!?" The guy exploded in confusion and anger. "You make me sick!"
The door swung open and Michelle and Johnny entered.
"Hey!" Michelle greeted.
"Thank you honey this is a beautiful party." Johnny said, "You invited all my friends. Good thinking!" Many of Johnny's parties in the home country were with few to none of his friends, and on one particular occasion, only enemies. So this was a great surprise for him.
"You're welcome. You know how much I love you." she lied through a smile.
"I do." Johnny said, and laughed. He had his arm around Michelle for some reason.
The guy stared at Lisa with barely disguised disgust.
For a while all four of them stared at each other uncomfortably.
"You know, it's getting pretty hot in here. Why don't we go back outside?" Lisa suggested.
Johnny agreed and opened the door. Everyone filed out but for Johnny, who stayed a moment. Thinking. Was something wrong?
San Francisco continued to be a beautiful city at night, and the party continued on the balcony. Lisa walked right past Johnny, not making eye contact and disappearing into the crowd. Johnny took that as his signal. He walked over to a place of prominence, waved at a passing friend then spoke up.
"Hey everybody! I have an announcement to make!" The party silenced and listened. "We are expecting!"
The party erupted into applause. Everyone came up to congratulate the father to be.
But Michelle and that guy from before weren't so pleased. They approached their friend. "Lisa, I have to talk to you." Michelle said, leading her towards a table.
"You have got to be honest with Johnny!" Michelle said.
"I agree with that." Interjected that guy.
"Look, I'm going to tell him, OK? I just, I don't want to ruin his...birthday."
"When is the baby due?" That guy said, finally addressing the elephant in the room.
Lisa hesitated a moment, nervously pulling on her fingers. "There is no baby."
"What!?" They both exclaimed.
"What, what are you talking about?" That guy said.
Lisa sat down and her friends followed suit.
"I told him that to make it interesting." Lisa confessed.
Michelle and that guy looked at each other with utter disbelief.
"We're probably going to have a baby eventually anyway!"
"Lisa are you feeling OK?" she said, putting her hand to her forward to feel for a fever. "Because this is just getting worse and worse!"
Lisa took a sip of her champagne.
"I feel like I'm sitting on an atomic bomb waiting for it to go off!" That guy shared Mark's skill of analogy.
"Me too! There's no simple solution to all this." Michelle agreed.
"Don't worry! You guys worry entirely too much about me!"
"Lisa, we're not worried about you. We're worried about Johnny." Michelle said, "You don't understand the psychological impact of what you're doing here! You're hurting yourself, you're...you're hurting our friendship."
"I am not responsible for Johnny. I'm through with that!"
Michelle rolled her eyes. This was the one-hundreth time Lisa had told some variation of this exact speech.
"I'm changing. I have the right don't I. People are changing all the time. I have to think about my future! What's it to you?"
That guy grabbed on to Lisa's hand.
"This is going to pull us all down." he said, "It's going to shake up our group of friends! It's going to destroy our friendship Lisa. I don't think Mark really loves you."
With the mention of Mark's name Lisa stood and crossed her arms.
"I don't want to talk about it!" she said.
Michelle sighed. "Lisa you're going to have to face it. I for one am going to have a hard time forgiving you if you don't."
Lisa ignored Michelle and turned to the rest of the party.
"Hey everybody! Let's go inside and eat some cake!"
"That's a good idea!" someone at the party exclaimed, and everyone made their way inside.
Michelle rested her head in her hand "I don't understand you Lisa." she said to no one.
Inside, the red-headed man took a nice big bite of cake. "Lisa looks hot tonight." he observed, and his girlfriend shot him a look.
Johnny, who was still catching up with Claudette, gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.
Meanwhile, Mark and Lisa were having words.
"Come on, who's baby is it?" Mark said pointedly. "Is it mine?"
"No of course not!" she said, turning on her heel and walking away.
Mark grabbed her arm and yanked her back.
"Come on how can you be sure Lisa?"
"Stop asking me stupid questions!"
"Who the hell do you think you are?"
"Just shut up!" she yelled and slapped him across the face.
Johnny shot up from his seat.
"What are you doing?! What's going on here!" he said, holding on to Lisa.
"You really don't know do you?" Mark said.
Johnny pushed Mark. "Maybe I know more than you think I do Mark!"
"You don't know shit, all right?"
"What do you want from me huh!?" Johnny said, and he threw Mark into a table, breaking glass. Mark pushed himself back up, then ran at Johnny wildly, his hands reaching for Johnny's throat. Everyone grabbed on and pulled them apart.
"Stop it!" Lisa yelled.
"All right!" Johnny said, throwing up his hands. "OK folks, everything is fine. Fight is over. I'm sorry Mark." He reached out a hand.
Mark took it and shook.
"Yeah, you too."
"Lisa, could you clean up here please." Johnny said. When your future wife sleeps with your best friend, the least she can do is clean up after you get into a fight with him about it.
Johnny went to the kitchen to cool off. Mark sat and thought.
* * *
The city skyline was beautiful at night.
* * *
A few hours past and the fight was forgotten, and before long Lisa and Mark were dancing intimately in front of everyone. Mark kissed Lisa's cheek softly as they swayed.
Johnny saw what was happening and approached Lisa, putting a hand on her shoulder.
"What are you doing?" he asked, concerned.
"None of your business." she spat back.
"You're my future wife, what are you doing Lisa?"
The party went silent.
"Leave her alone, man. She doesn't want to talk to you." Mark said.
Johnny swatted Mark away from his future wife. "Since when do you give me orders!"
"Since she changed her mind about you!"
Johnny smiled sarcastically.
"Wake up man!" Mark yelled, "What planet are you on!"
"I think you should leave right now, Mark." Johnny said calmly.
Lisa interjected. "Don't spoil it, we were just having fun."
"Don't worry about it man." Mark said, and he reached a comforting hand out to Johnny's shoulder.
Johnny swatted his hand away. "Don't touch me motherfucker! Get out!"
Mark charged at Johnny and the two locked in combat.
"Stop it! Stop it!" Lisa cried out.
"Leave her alone!" Johnny pushed Mark and Mark hit the wall, falling on his ass.
"You two are acting like children." Lisa said.
Mark pushed himself up and walked toward Johnny. "Son of a bitch!"
"You're going to ruin the party!" Lisa said.
"If you keep your girl satisfied she wouldn't come to me!"
Johnny tore off his jacket. "Get out of my house!" he lunged at Mark and limbs started to fly as they fought. "I kill you! I break every bone in your body!"
"Stop it!" Lisa screeched.
That guy and Mike tore the best friends apart.
"I kill you you bastard!" Johnny said.
"You couldn't kill me if you tried!"
"You betrayed me! You're not good! You're just a chicken!" And then Johnny started chirping. "Cheep cheep cheep cheep cheep!"
Mark exploded back and Johnny and they came to blows. Quickly, their friends separated them.
"It's over!" one of them yelled out.
"Cool it!" That guy said.
"It's not over! Everybody betrayed me. I'm fed up with this world!" Johnny threw his hands up and made his way up the stairs.
Despite Lisa's best efforts, Johnny's birthday party was ruined.