[This story was originally published on the Home Page on June 30th at 11:59 PM, for our Half Year's Eve Party. I took it down after six hours, partly because I said it was going to be a treat for everyone who showed up (both of them, as it turned out), and partly because of the naughty picture. Not sure what got into me. Anyway, below is an annotated version of that post.]
I know I'm probably going to get crucified for this, but what the hell. It's a party! In honor of the party I altered this picture on found on Google Images.
Now, for anyone who's left, I have for you a story. I hope you like it.
Simon Sez walked up the snow-shoveled path to the front door, sounds of the party escaping into the night, a box with a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue under his arm. Simon Sez if one must exit, one should always exit with style, Simon said to himself, under his breath.
Simon did that a lot. (Talk to himself, not take Johnny Walker Blue to parties.) It was a habit he picked up early in life when he discovered—much to the detriment of his backside—that others were not as amused by his witticisms as Simon himself. Simon Sez it's okay. I talk to myself because I like dealing with a better class of people.
That was Simon's entire life: a joke nobody got. Numerous child-psychologists (and more than a few adult ones, until Simon had stopped going) theorized this stemmed from the difficulties in assimilating American culture with his home life, still squarely stuck in Old World Turkey.
They were half right.
The real problem was his name: Simon. More specifically, Simon Sez. When his parents named him (after Paul Simon, although Simon used to like to say it was the Simon Birch Society, another joke that usually fell as dead as the group's aims) it wasn't a problem. But that was back in Ankara. Here in America Simon Sez had a whole different meaning.
And the kids never let him forget it.
Perhaps there was something to the psychologists' claims, but what did it matter now? Simon had lived his life the way he wanted, making crack after crack. Whatever Freshman Psych understanding you want to use, he'd kept it to himself. And now it was time to die. Simon Sez if you must go to the gallows, go with a jest to the crowd, a coin to the headsman and a smile on your face as the axe falls.
Smiling almost to split his skull, Simon rang the doorbell.
"Why, Simon, you look just radiant!" Crystal, the self-styled "hostess with the mostess" greeted Simon at the door and took his coat and gift.
"Oh, and you brought a present! How thoughtful of you! Davey just loves Scotch!" Crystal opened the box of 60 year old scotch and a small understanding frown came to her perfect lips. "Oh, but I think Davey drinks the one with the red label!"
Simon swallowed his retort, determined to do this evening right, and lamely said, "They were out of that brand at the liquor store."
Crystal nodded her understanding and leaned in close to Simon, making him a co-conspirator. "Well, we won't tell Davey and I bet he never even notices. It'll be our little secret!"
Crystal rushed off to hide the evidence, leaving Simon at the door. Simon says the Hudood Ordinance might have worked in some places. He shook himself. That was vulgar, even for him. Simon says you will make it through the rest of the evening without advocating anyone be raped…even Crystal. There. Much better. Never let it be said that Simon Sez was not all about the chivalry.
Giggling he strode off in search of inferior liquor and too-tight dress tops.
The idea was simple: at the end of the night, literally when the clock struck 12, bringing the wonderful New Year, Simon would kill himself, 'less he find 1 reason not to. You couldn't ask for more fair terms than that.
Simon roamed the party, kissing hellos and slapping backs without really seeing who he was interacting with. Simon says life would be a lot more interesting if we could slap our hellos and kiss the backs. The illicit thought made Simon think of Sofia, which in turn made him think of that night when she'd worn that backless gown, which in turn made him shiver. Simon didn't have a lot to shiver over these days. But it wasn't enough.
Sofia. There was a subject for several pints of Scotch—red or blue—or better yet cheap whiskey at a local pub, followed by a meaningless coupling with whichever coed managed to get one or two of Simon's jokes. Simon briefly considered targeting one of the women at this party. True, they most were married, but so what? It's not like he'd be around to feel the wrath of HusbandX tomorrow, provided there wasn't a football game on. Simon says if men spent a little less time on the couch watching sports they might be able to get their women to spend less time on others' couches.
While the idea of cuckolding one of these brain-dead morons had its appeal, it wasn't enough. Simon had things to do.
Thing one included finding some liquor, and fast. Simon made a beeline for the alcohol table, only to be impeded by Brad, who was chatting up some chippie at least five years younger than his daughter. Ah, Brad. What can be said about Brad? (What can be said about Brad that Simon had not said behind his back at work already?)
"Excuse me." Said Simon. "I want to get a drink there, Brad, and your frame seems to be blocking my path. As well as that of six major arteries through town.
Brad turned around slowly, as if unsure how to deal with the interruption of his pedophilic pursuit. "I cannot move, old chap," Brad said, overloud, for the benefit of the young honey, "Because you didn't say SIMON SAYS!"
Brad keels over in uproarious laughter, which catches the attention of several passers-by, some who join in. Simon bears the tired joke with as much dignity as possible. Simon says it's lucky for you, Brad, that this gun in my pocket has other intention for the evening, or you might find your head more full of holes than your budget proposals.
Between guffaws Brad was explaining the joke to the wide-eyed girl. "You see Bambi…."
"Whatever. You see, it's funny because his name is Simon Sez. Literally SIMON SAYS! He's from one of those jolly old Arab countries; forget which one."
Ignoring Brad, Simon stuck out his hand. "Simon. My father also has the same last name, but I rather think that's just a coincidence."
Candy laughed at the weak joke, proof that the girl had no discriminating taste. "It's okay. People make fun of my name all the time too."
"Would that my name were Claudius," Said Simon, realizing the joke he was about to make. Simon says if this is the best you can do you really do deserve to be carried out of here.
"Why is that?" Candy gamely asked.
Behind Simon a voice interrupted, "Because then he could say "I Claudius, but you I Candy."
Simon almost dropped his drink he was so shocked someone knew where he was going with the lame jest and got there first. He turned his head and all thought fled.
"Sofi." The word was more of a prayer than a name.
She smiled, that same 1000-watt smile that turned him on the first time he saw her, at another party, long ago. Just like this one. Bad art on the wall, bad booze in the fridge, plastic people everywhere.
He snapped to, realizing Candy was speaking again. "If you'll excuse us, Simon and I were just talking." Wow. Under that child-like exterior was a real baby. Simon says somebody's used to getting her way. Love to meet that daddy.
Sofia laughed throatily even as she led Simon away. "It's okay, sweetie. The only 18 year old thing he drinks is Scotch."
Away from the drink table in a private corner and Simon could still barely breathe. Sofia teased him about it. "You're not usually at a loss for words."
"I…I…." Simon says if you do one thing right tonight, you WILL complete a sentence. "It's good to see you, Sofi."
"It's good to see you too, Simon." Her voice still held the husk, but the laughter was gone. "I heard about your book and I'm really sorry. I still think it's a real winner and worth publishing."
"Thanks." Of all the times for a quip to fail him. Swallowing a lump Simon asked, "And how have you been?"
"Me? Pretty hectic. I finally got the gallery off the ground, and we have three big openings planned for next year. I was going to call and invite you to see it before we opened to the general public. Sort of a private tour…" Sofia's eyes wiggled in that way she had. "You know how much I always value your opinion, even if it's usually couched in sarcasm."
He flinched as if stung, but she squeezed his arm as she said it to rob offense. Her hand lingered on his arm and he tried not to flex. The gun felt heavy I his pocket. Could this be enough? Maybe….
Just then a voice called out, "Sofi, darling, there you are!" A man approached. Tall. Confident. Handsome. Perfect.
The man reached them both in the corner. "Jack, this is Simon. You remember me telling you about Simon?"
Jack's face, quickly searching, filing away. "Ah yes, the author. How's that going mate?"
Before Simon could answer that Sofia rushed on. "Simon, this is Jack, my date."
Jack shook Simon's hand firmly, but Simon barely felt it, for the blood draining from his heart. Simon says the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.
Simon patted his pocket, as if to remind himself of something, and a bit of his equanimity returned. "It's good to meet you, Jack. I heard about you, but when Sofi said she had to go see Jack off, I rather misunderstood."
All three of them laughed heartily and were of good cheer.
Later now. Simon found a quiet room in the house. It was close to midnight. He could hear the general buzz of drunken party-goers, Dick Clark and fireworks outside from those who just couldn't wait a few minutes to get their start on the New Year. Simon says some men will always be quick on the trigger.
Looking down into his lap at the gun Simon gave a wry chuckle. On the wall was—of all things—a grandfather clock with a glowing LED display. 11:57. In three more minutes it would be loud enough to cover the sound of a helicopter landing on the roof. A little .22 should barely register. Simon says all good things must come to an end…and even some bad ones.
Even with the noise Simon heard the door latch click open behind him. He didn't bother to turn around. They'd go away, soon as they saw it was just Simon.
"What are you doing in here?"
Sofi. Anyone but her. Even Candy would be better. Even Brad! Well, even Candy….
Simon kept still. Maybe she'd go away. Maybe she'd be called out by Jack for the big countdown, the dance, the Auld Lang Syne.
Sofia came around to face Simon, still sitting in near darkness—save the ever-present grandfather clock, now reading 11:58. He could see her features in the gloom, a familiar look of hers, at least toward him.
"Simon Says you better get back out there or you might miss getting confetti in your hair."
Sofia sat down next to Simon on the couch. He sat very still, trying not to breathe. "Stop it. These parties always give me a headache. Besides, I'm right where I want to be."
"Yeah?" In spite of himself Simon was interested. The clock flashed 11:59.
"Of course, silly. I wanted you to be my first kiss of the New Year." Lowering her voice. "I always want you to be my first kiss of the New Year."
Simon choked back tears and tried to make a joke. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather go see Jack off?"
"He's just a friend. I needed a date for the party. Besides, I don't have what it takes to interest Jack." Simon raised his eyebrows, and sneaked a not-so-quick glance at Sofia's spectacular chest. "I bet more than one man has considered coming over for those." Leaning in close he whispered, "More than a few men have come for those, I bet, even if they had to see Jack off to do it."
Sofia laughed, deep in her throat, and sidled up to Simon. Doing so she bumped into his .22. "What is that?" she nearly gasped.
Simon says don't blow it now, when you're so close. Think of something and she'll blow it later. "This old thing? It's for protection."
"Protection? From who?"
"Well, you know what they say. 18 year old candy can be hazardous to your health."
Sofia laughed once more, just as the clock flashed 00:00.