James and Lance walked together into Lance’s room. “I really appreciate this, Jimmy,” Lance said jovially, and clapped James on the shoulder. James hated the name Jimmy, but by this time, and given Lance’s gregarious overconfidence, it was too late to get Lance to change his mind.
“No problem,” James said, opening up the closet door. “Many hands make light work.” He had come here to help Lance pack up and move back home for the summer; the rest of the fraternity was already almost deserted. He had even brought a video camera to commemorate the moment, although Lance couldn’t understand why it was interesting enough to record.
“Because we had so many good times, man,” James explained, as jovially as he could. “We can’t just let it end without some kind of … farewell documentation!” He panned the camera around the room, and then aimed it into the closet. There, as he knew they would be, were a pair of pink sneakers. “What are these, man?” he asked, bending down and picking up the shoes with one hand while still recording with the other. “These are girl’s shoes, man!”
Lance laughed. “That girl was so drunk!” he exclaimed, clapping his hand on his thigh. “She was barely awake! Mark starts taking off her shoes, and she mumbles, ‘They’re not for you.’ So he tells her he’ll give them to me, and she mumbles, ‘Okay.’” He laughed again. “She was wasted, man! She probably doesn’t even remember what happened!”
James laughed too, a little nervously. He laid the shoes on the edge of the bed, and pointed the camera at Lance. “What happened?” he asked. “Was that – I think I remember these shoes – was that the girl who passed out at the St. Patrick’s Day party?” He looked expectantly at Lance, as though awaiting juicy details.
“Yeah, man,” Lance replied. He leaned closer to the camera. “These girls, man – they just throw themselves at you, y’know?” He chuckled, and shook his head. “You don’t even have to talk to them. And when they don’t remember what happened, then you don’t have to remember them. Which is good,” he added, piling some clothes into a box. “Because I had way too much stuff going on this semester to be worrying about some girl clinging to me.”
“So,” James pressed. “You … slept with her? While she was drunk?”
“Drunk?” Lance repeated. “She was gone, dude. Gone. If she even remembers she was there that night, I’ll be surprised. But she sure had a good time while she was there.” He smiled at the memory. “Me, Mark, Tate, and Hadley – she hooked up with all four of us.”
“If she was so drunk and out of it,” James said quietly, stepping closer to Lance. “Then how could she be ‘hooking up’ with anybody?”
Lance looked askance at him. “What’re you talkin’ about, Jimmy?” he asked. “If she didn’t want to hook up, why would she come to the party?” He clapped James on the shoulder again. “Of course she wanted to hook up,” he said. “Or she wouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
James’ expression had turned flinty, and with his free hand he was pushing buttons on his phone. “But she never said she wanted to hook up?”
Lance frowned, suddenly suspicious of his friend’s questions. “What are you talking about?” he asked again. “She didn’t say anything, man! She was wasted. But we told her we’d take care of her, and we did.” He winked into the camera. “We took real good care of her!”
James forced a laugh. “You guys!” he said. “You guys really know how to party!”
“You know it!” Lance agreed.
Footsteps sounded out in the hall, and then two men appeared in the doorway. One was a policeman. The other was in street clothes; he came into the room and stood beside James, who turned off the camera and handed it to the man.
“What’s going on?” Lance asked, his brows drawn together in absolute bewilderment. “Jimmy? What’s going on?”
“She does remember, Lance,” James explained. “She particularly remembers someone taking her shoes.”
Lance’s brow cleared. “You – you recorded me? For her?” He looked alternately appalled and betrayed. “Dude, she wanted to hook up with us!” He glanced at the policeman. “She wanted to!”
“Us?” the man in street clothes repeated. “We’ll need to talk to the rest of ‘us’.” He nodded to the policeman, who approached Lance and explained to him that he was under arrest.
“Arrest?” Lance cried incredulously. “For what?”
The policeman listed the crimes in a dispassionate voice – drugging someone, coercion, rape – but James couldn’t really hear it. Even as he watched the handcuffs click around Lance’s wrists, everything in the room receded, faded away, until the only things James could see or think about were the pink sneakers.
“You took her sneakers,” he said darkly, glaring at Lance. “She loved those shoes.” He turned then and strode out of the room, leaving Lance to his fate.