Mark and Kelly said goodbye to the money and a displeased Mr. Pepmore. Perhaps they decided to deny their recent woes and fate, or being near each other ignited their feelings of safety.
Either way, they happily walked out the Union Square Hotel holding hands and skipping some times. They simply enjoyed each other’s company.
Their carefree affection stopped for a moment while Kelly fished for her MetroCard , but otherwise bliss continued in the subway station and on the L out to the Graham stop in Williamsburg.
Above ground, Mark and Kelly sauntered along affectionately.
They stopped off at a bodega realizing they needed to bring something.
Mark normally would have brought a six pack, and probably mooched a few more after finishing all six, but no alcohol meant no beer, so he bought a two liter of ginger ale.
Mark then realized he didn’t have a gift for Stacey.
How could he not have a gift?
Kelly suggested a bouquet of carnations from the bodega.
Mark wasn’t much of a flower guy, but he knew they do.
They walked along the post-industrial streets of Williamsburg until they reached Stacey’s apartment and rang the bell.
Some purple haired woman came to the door that Mark didn’t know, but she gladly welcomed them in noting that most people were out back in the garden and there was a cooler for drinks. The greeter gave a disrespectful eye to the ginger ale.
Walking back Mark thought this disheveled mess of an apartment was a part of Stacey he barely knew. She had artsy type roommates that were her friends, but she never discussed them with him.
Mark and Kelly found the garden already packed with people. There were probably 50 or so guests chattering. The grill sizzled in the background and the latest, greatest unknown band to be listened to only twice—once to say it was cool, twice for verification, and never again—played out of the speakers.
Mark didn’t know anyone, but didn’t want to appear entirely lame at a party of younger hipsters with Kelly observing. Surely, they were still in the budding phase of their relationship, and he needed to impress.
He jumped into a conversation and soon brought Kelly into the mix. He contemplated Stacey whereabouts.
Was he at the right party?
Mark and Kelly continued their conversation with strangers mostly about New York real estate.
Somewhere in a room above a glass smashed and yelling ensued.
The crowd of partiers slowly stopped talking and began to listen as the shouting grew louder and sounded threatening.
Mark thought he heard Stacey’s voice and decided to investigate. He went inside the apartment, and followed the shouts to a closed bedroom door.
Mark put his ear to the door. Voices screamed at each other. Mark definitely heard Stacey’s voice. He didn’t know whether to intervene or not.
A bang and a crash inside the room caromed outward.
Mark opened the door.
Inside a hipster held a broken bottle to Stacey’s throat, while a heavily tattooed woman stood near.
Who the hell are you, the hipster demanded.
Mark, Stacey screamed, go away.
Let her go now, Mark said moving closer assessing the situation.
The tattooed woman turned to block Mark and brandished a knife. She had eyebrows tattooed where the hair should be and a small checkerboard on her right cheek.
Are you a cop, the tattooed woman asked.
Not exactly, Mark said.
He’s cool, Stacey said.
First time Mark ever heard that from her.
This bitch isn’t going anywhere until she pays us, the hipster said.
For what, Mark said.
Coke, what do you care, the tattooed woman said.
How much, Mark said.
Two thousand, the hipster said still holding the bottle on Stacey.
Stacey lay on a bed shaking uncontrollably.
Mark looked at Stacey wondering about the coke habit, but stopped and turned to the hipster and tattooed woman.
I’ll pay it, Mark said, I need a little time, but I can get you the money.
How much time, the hipster asked.
An hour tops, Mark said.
Mark this isn’t your problem, it’s mine, Stacey said.
I don’t care, Mark said, I’ll pay it to get these fuckers out of here.
And we don’t care either, the hipster said, if you want to pay whatever, I don’t give a fuck I just want the money owed.
How much did you say, Mark asked.
Two grand, the tattooed woman said.
Fine, Mark said thinking quickly, wait here.
Mark went outside to find a few others standing in the hallway looking on.
They asked Mark what was happening.
Mark said not to worry to go back to the party he had it under control. Or something far from it, he thought.
Mark went out back and found Kelly saying, he couldn’t explain, but he needed her to not ask questions and to urgently go back to the hotel and get three thousand dollars from the bag and to return with it.
Kelly looked puzzled but agreed and soon left.
Mark returned to the room where Stacey was being held.
The money should be here in like 45 minutes, Mark said.
The party continued.
For those in the room, the time passed agonizingly slow.
The hipster turned out to be named Kip and the tattooed woman Dawn.
Kip and Dawn explained they’d only wanted what Stacey owed them after they had let her get away with several bullshit promises to pay them back. Then they heard she was leaving town so they had to be rough and get the money or else.
Mark kept cool. He was angry at Stacey but didn’t show it.
Why was she going the route of her sister?
Kip asked Mark why he cared.
Mark started to say he was family, but instead said don’t ask.
But Mark went on to ask Kip to take the bottle away from Stacey’s neck suggesting she wouldn’t go anywhere and if he hurt her then there would be no money. We can all wait here civilized like, right, he said.
Kip agreed, but said Stacey had better not move.
Dawn sheathed her knife in a further move of détente.
Time ground on.
Everyone mostly ignored each other’s gazes and sat in silence.
Mark focused on an unplugged lamp shaped like a horse head.
Most other items were labeled in boxes.
At least she really is moving, Mark thought.
Finally, Kelly knocked on the door.
Mark answered and went outside to Kip’s consternation, but he said don’t worry.
Kelly had managed to catch the L, rush to the room, count out the money with Mr. Pepmore, and return on the L in about 40 minutes.
Record time, Mark said taking the money from Kelly saying don’t speak right now, but go hide in the bathroom until I come get you.
Kelly left disappointed at being relegated to the WC.
Mark counted out the money and returned to the bedroom.
You got the money, Kip asked.
Yeah, count it, Mark said tossing Kip the money.
Kip counted and Dawn gazed as the bills passed through Kip’s hands.
Mark picked up the horse lamp.
Kip finished counting and looked up saying it was actually one thousand over.
That’s for your hospital bill, Mark said and cracked the lamp over Kip’s head. Then he punched Dawn hard in the jaw.
Mark kicked Kip in the ribs. He felt good taking out his frustrations, and thought to give a few more punts like old times.
Mark soon stopped though and told Kip and Dawn they should rethink their career choices, as they stumbled out.
Thank you, Stacey said giving Mark a hug.
We need to talk, Mark said.
I should explain, but my party, my friends, Stacey said.
I don’t care, Mark said, you’re coming with me now, I’ve had the most ridiculous day and I can’t deal with anything happening to you, and there’s more going on than this, so we’re going and besides there’s someone I want you to meet.
Who, Stacey said.
Her name’s Kelly, Mark said, as they entered the hallway, she’s in the bathroom.
Mark knocked on the bathroom door.
Kelly answered and Mark told her all was clear, that they needed to go.
The two women smiled and shook hands.
Let’s go, Mark insisted, we can catch up later.
I should say goodbye, Stacey said, it’s my goodbye party.
Not now, Mark said raising his voice.
They fled the apartment.
When they reached the sidewalk, a voice in the shadows called out to Mark: Mr. McCann, we need to talk.
Not again, Mark thought, and motioned Stacey and Kelly to run.