Upon further inspection, Antonio discovered a short note to the girls from Robbie, explaining that he had to leave abruptly, and quite curiously, that they should read the newspaper. The main headline above the fold caught Antonio’s attention: PROMINENT FAMILY MURDERED IN ACT OF RACISM. Stunned, the young man read further that several members of the Ming clan, well-known for its ties to local politics, were brutalized in their eastern Dreyton home. According to a police quote in the article, it was “an act of hate associated with the Asia Scare”.
“This is terrible,” Antonio uttered, while shaking his head in disbelief. Then he immediately remembered attending high school with two of the Ming children—third-generation Chinese-Americans, he believed, but Americans, nonetheless. Unable to continue reading the article, Antonio returned the newspaper to the table, and simply continued to just shake his head.
“What’s wrong? Nothing worth reading?” Leah’s roommate asked as she bounced into the kitchen.
“Well, yeah, that’s what he wrote.”
“Oh, well,” she said, continuing the hunt. “It’s a generic excuse. Dreyton’s own DJ Robbie Havok always sneaks out of here, leaving those sad-ass notes, and he tries to make up for it with soft music and breakfast.” Then she turned backed to Antonio with a carefree grin. “And this time he did not even make us breakfast!”
Antonio did not know very much about Alicia, but for the most part, she seemed like an interesting girl. A little aloof, to be sure, Antonio told himself, but far from intolerable. And perhaps what was more important, at least to a young man at his sexual peak, was the indisputable fact that Alicia was a true vixen, blessed with a physique that left him staring.
“Nothing,” Antonio replied. He could not think of eating anything, especially after that late-night meal with Leah. “So how long have you known Leah?”
“Since last summer, I guess. We stripped together in Dallas and became good friends. When she decided to leave that abusive cowboy, she asked me to come with her.” Alicia spoke with a sincere casualness, as if none of this information should have been new to Antonio, when, in fact, he never knew that the girls met in Texas. “I guess I didn’t know it, at the time, but she helped me by getting me out of that town. Had I stayed there, in Dallas, by now, I’d be some cracked-out whore.” Then she shifted the focus of the conversation. “So you go to Georgetown?”
“She has mentioned you more than a couple of times.”
“Don’t sound so surprised, baby. You ought to be happy that you made an impact on a woman like Leah,” Alicia told him. “Hell, in truth, every woman kind of wants that—some knight in shining, golden armor. Every woman wants that man who will come along and sweep her off of her feet. God knows this white girl has been looking for him.”
“What about him? He’s good for the one-night thing, but that is it. He’s not my version of you.”
Antonio was admittedly confused. Is this what he had done? In his attempt to keep his distance, to avoid getting hurt, did he actually make an impact on Leah Kemp? Was he just that good? Instead of asking those questions, though, Antonio simply watched Leah’s roommate begin the dubious task of mixing a morning cocktail. A subtle combination of scotches, chilled on ice—and even though Antonio was no avid connoisseur of the spirits, he knew this one was called a Rusty Nail. “Well, I imagine that beats breakfast food any day,” he joked.
Antonio’s curiosity led him to approach her slowly. “What is that poison?”
“It’s called Decimation,” she answered, while taking a sip of her cocktail.“Everyone has their own mix, but this is only crushed biscuits and tequila. You’ll hardly taste it, but a few shots will make you feel pretty good.” She handed Antonio one of the shot glasses, which he accepted without trepidation, and she grabbed one for herself. “So what are we going to drink to?”
Before Antonio and Alicia were able to lift their glasses, an unmistakably feminine voice broke into their conversation. “Hopefully, you guys toast nothing without me.” The two were surprised to find Leah approaching them. Courteously, Antonio offered the young diva a shot of the tainted liquor, and she graciously accepted with one condition. Leah pointed to two of the unclaimed shot glasses still on the counter, and she looked at Antonio, while saying, “You have to drink those, too.” And he quietly agreed with a nod and a smile.
“Are you okay?” Leah asked him. She was using one hand to guide Alicia’s head and the other to caress Antonio’s face.
“Good,” she replied, with a smile, “because this about to get very interesting.”
Actually, if anything, her words were certain to be an understatement.