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after the last midtown show

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The snow was thick on the ground the night of Dennis’s New Years Eve party. It was a quiet, subdued affair; the only people there were Dennis, Mac, Charlie, and Dee. Due to an unfortunate incident the year before involving jello shots and a knife, nobody else wanted to invite them to parties anymore. That was alright with Mac; if he was honest, he sometimes preferred these small gatherings.

Frank and Mrs. Reynolds weren’t home because they had gone out to their own parties. Dennis and Dee had been forbidden to have anyone over while they were gone, so naturally Mac and Charlie had been invited over as soon as they left. Dee had agreed to take the heat for the stolen champagne if they were found out, so she was allowed to spend time with them for the night. She didn’t seem as awful when Mac was drunk anyway.

All four of them were lying down in the attic now. It was cold up there and crowded with junk, but it was also beautiful in its way. There were triangular windows that revealed the grey-purple sky, casting shadows on the attic’s plywood floor. Snow stuck to the windows, one fleck after another, and it shimmered. The crystals blurred a little bit whenever Mac tried to move his head. After four bottles of champagne, he was lit.

Dee and Charlie were in the far corner, talking in indistinct words, but Dennis was close. He was holding an empty bottle of champagne to his chest like a stuffed animal, and was picking at the label. Dennis turned onto his side to face Mac.

“Hey. . .hey buddy. You still ‘wake?”

“Mmm,” hummed Mac. He turned onto his side too. Dennis was closer than he realized; they were almost touching. He smelled like champagne and cologne, and his well-ironed clothes were rumpled from lying on the floor.

“You drunk?” asked Dennis, his words slurring.

“No,” said Mac. He hiccupped.

“Bullshit dude.”

“Whatever. YOU’RE drunk.”

Dennis huffed a laugh at that. “Only on the outside. On inside. . .crystal clear.”

His eyes were cloudy, softer than usual. They had changed color in reaction to their environment, and were now a similar color to the sky. It fit, somehow, that Dennis, who was usually so cold, would blend in with the weather when it changed. He wanted to touch Dennis’s face to see if his skin was cold too.

Goddamn it, that champagne must have been strong.

“What time‘s it?” asked Mac.

Dennis brought his watch up to his face, and squinted at it. “Oh shit. . . ‘s 11:58.”

“Almost 1990. . .”

“Three. 1993.”

“That’s it.” Mac yawned. “You’re good at words.”

“I know,” said Dennis, smiling. His eyes shimmered. “Hey. . .have you ever been kissed on New Year’s?”

“Lots of times,” lied Mac. He had only ever kissed one girl back in ninth grade. It was gross.

Dennis squinted at him suspiciously. “Me too. It’s a bummer that no one’s around to kiss this year. Man. . .last year I bagged three or four chicks. Really nice breasts on at least two of em.”

“I got at least three too. With. . .just the biggest tits. Like you wouldn’t believe.”

Dennis moved a little closer. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“What if,” said Dennis, touching his forehead to Mac’s. “as a joke, we kissed this year?”

“I don’t get it,” said Mac. It was hard to make sense of anything when his brain was so hazy. Dennis had allowed the bottle to roll from underneath his arm to the floor. His fingertips rested on Mac’s wrist.

“Tomorrow at school we say our lips were so deprived that we had to resort to kissing each other. But it turned out that the girls were the ones who were deprived because it was great.” Dennis’s voice was low and sultry, the timbre he used when hitting on women.

Mac still didn’t understand, but maybe he would in the morning. “Ok. Let’s do it.”

Dennis checked his watch. “Three seconds.”

He tilted his face towards Mac’s lips. “Happy New Year,” he breathed into Mac’s mouth. Then, he kissed him.

It was as chaste as any kiss from Dennis Reynolds could be. Mac leaned into it, savoring the brief moment he never would have admitted to wanting. Dennis pulled away first. He slowly rolled onto his back, but his hand didn’t leave Mac’s wrist.

“Happy New Year,” said Mac. Dennis closed his eyes, and nodded.

They fell asleep together that way. In the morning, they both forgot to tell anyone that it had happened at all.