Nate stabs at the wobbly coffee table with two fingers. "Two! Two to beat!" My friend transforms into a hustler as he teaches me to play Threes. He taps at the table with his two demoralizing fingers and I realize that if he had achieved a perfect score of zero he would not be able to perform this piece of intimidation theatre, but then, if he had achieved a perfect score there would be little reason to haze the other players. I perform a series of actions with the dice and come up with a higher score than two. Tom follows me, and with a worse score. Nate collects the three dollars from the center of the table while simultaneously convincing me to deposit another dollar in the spot my previous dollar had occupied. I'm suckered, and pull the bill out of my wallet. As the winner of the previous round, it has been explained to me, Nate rolls first. Finishing his turn with a perfect score, his gloat floats up through his barely structured imperturbability. Before the round is over, he and Tom are already reminiscing about previous games in which other such improbable feats were achieved. Tom and I take our turns more out of adherence to rules than to any expectation of winning.
We are at the party held in an illegally occupied loft because of a promise of wildness. I arrived with two girls who I had met only an hour earlier, and upon arrival I immediately set off to explore the premises. My exploration was significantly shorter than I had hoped it would be, as I was locked in a stairwell suddenly--the door shut behind me as the proprietor of the establishment was securing the more personal spaces in the loft, such as this stair well packed with bike parts and assorted items stacked in milkcrates. Instead of being frightened, I'm instead excited by what I perceive as the element of the unexpected materializing. But I'm quickly retrieved from the locked room, and the musicians in the main room start to play a slow dirgelike jazz. The dice came out in an effort to engender some seediness into the otherwise staid and respectable party.
Girls I knew in the past have disappeared, unfound despite the vast wealth of interconnectivity offered by the internet and its promised destruction of mystery. They've slipped away from themselves, from the selves I knew, like an insect moving into its next phase of life, leaving behind the empty carapace of yearbook photos, emails sent form a defunct address. They've changed their names and passed into a new identity and all accept it with the ease of habit, as unremarkable as a haircut.
We leave for another illegally occupied loft, this one with promises from one of the newly met girls of a much greater degree of illegal occupiedness. Yes, this is the sort of place one could get stabbed in. I attempt to explore again, investigating a couple of pup tents in a corner and a cursory look reveals that these are in fact the bedrooms of the occupants. The veneer of childishness slips from us and we resume our spot next to our box of gas station beers and sloughed off layers of coats.