Longform

72-Hour Party People

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"Don't go out there," he said.

Then he disappeared into the television room, shutting the double doors and shoving furniture up against them from the inside. The doors will budge just enough to display a flickering bluish light indicating the big-screen TV is active.


Now Nick is murmuring through the slim crack in the doors, attempting to persuade Emile to let him inside. Eventually, there is a scraping sound from within the room, and the doors open wide enough for Nick to squeeze through, then shut quickly after him.

Minutes pass. The doors open, and Nick comes back out. The doors close.

"TV room's off limits indefinitely," the party host announces. "Emile needs some privacy."

In a lower voice, he confides the gritty details: "Emile's in there watching porn. He's got like twenty gang-bang DVDs stacked in alphabetical order."


HOUR 24

Emile is still watching porn.

Everyone else is packing for Vegas.

It started about four hours ago, when Bonnie, still surfing the Net, came across a Web page covering the Lifestyles Convention, an annual weekend conference and after-hours bacchanalia that draws thousands of free-love swingers from across America and around the world. This summer's convention was held at the Mirage hotel and resort on the Strip in Las Vegas.

"We need to be there," Marcus said. "We should totally go." That sparked a chorus of squeals from the ladies and "Vegas, baby, Vegas!" exhortations from the gents.

Nick dug out the Sunday travel section from his recycling bin, found a discount broker, and within minutes had booked passage on a "worry-free" vacation company's chartered jet to Vegas, leaving Denver first thing the following morning, with a scheduled return early Sunday. He then phoned a car service and scheduled for two sedans to arrive on Saturday at 6 a.m. sharp.

"All the necessary arrangements have been made," he proclaimed.

This announcement set off a hearty round of Shabu smoking (Nick passed a loaded pipe into the TV room to Emile), champagne toasting and Otter Pop munching, followed by an hour-long discussion of what one should wear in Vegas in mid-August. Which was quickly followed by a sudden, overpowering and panic-inducing group realization that no one in the group was wearing what they needed to be wearing in Vegas. And then a frenzied series of calls to cab companies to come get them right now so they could go home and raid their closets. And then finally another series of calls back to the taxi companies to cancel the cabs because Marcus decided he was fine, just fine, to drive and could definitely, absolutely, no problem fit everyone into his Pathfinder.

Ike, who has the same tall, lanky build as Nick, opted to stay behind and borrow a set of threads from his host. The rest of the group, sans porno boy, took off about four in the afternoon. On their way out, Nick pulled Marcus aside and muttered, "Why don't you pick up a few things for the Sketchinician while you're out and about?"

Marcus smiled knowingly and gave a sly nod of assent.

Five minutes ago the Wild Bunch returned, whirling dervishes with wide lapels, glittery makeup, short skirts and mirror shades.

Following a brief fashion show in the living room, everyone traipses upstairs to do another hit. The cycle is compressing quickly. To stay high, they're doing hits every four to six hours instead of every eight to twelve. Nick breaks out the ProVigil and hands everyone a pill. They go downstairs and make smoothies. Nick checks on Emile again, gives him an Otter Pop, and reports back from the TV room that Emile is doing great and tells everyone hello.


HOUR 33

There is a thief in the house.

They found the thief where they knew they would: within the underground labyrinth of Enigma, the after-hours club in Larimer Square, around three in the morning. They'd been out on the town since nine Friday night, guzzling hot flacons of sake at a sushi bar (but eating nothing: Ike ordered a plate of seared ahi and barely nibbled at it). They spent one hour and $200 at a strip club downtown, then danced at the Alley Cat before finally winding up at Enigma, where the party goes until dawn.

They stayed at the after-hours joint just long enough to find and snare their prey — an underage crystal-meth snorter known as the Sketchinician. The Sketchinician apparently turns into a kleptomaniac when he's tweaking, which is pretty much whenever he's awake.

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David Holthouse
Contact: David Holthouse