The Nemesis

“Bye girls! This was too fun, I love when we get together. And Hil-Cat, your hair is too cute!”

“Oh no.”

As Brittany Pike shouted her goodbyes to her friends, Beth knew of the impeding anger that was sure to come her way. Not only was Brittany Pike giving her friends nicknames that were the same syllabic length as their actual names, she was using the overly cheerily, high pitched voice she only brought out when she was highly upset.

“Well isn't this some bullshit!” Brittany Pike threw herself into the driver's seat and slammed the door.

“Well you should have told them the truth instead of making me act like it was my boyfriend.”

“Oh, so now this is all my fault?”

“Yes. This is all your fault. You have no one to be mad at but yourself. Don't try to deflect the blame here. You're the one that thinks Gary's addicted to porn. Why didn't you tell them instead of making me?”

“Well I didn't think they'd find you all relatable and stuff. They told you stuff that they've never told me. I should have come out looking like the champ just then. Why haven't you apologized yet?”

“For what?”

“Once you saw that you were a hit you should have told them the truth.”

“Absolutely not. I was going to take the hit if I looked like an asshole, so why would I give away the glory if that's what the result happened to be?”

“Because. That's what friends do.”

“Quit whipping crap like that out. Not once have you done anything that has benefited me or Lauren.”

“Then why do you guys hang out with me.”

“Because Lauren lives with you for practically nothing, and you make us feel good about ourselves.”

“I do do a great job at boosting people's moods. See I am a good friend.”

“What? No I mean... well forget it.”

Brittany Pike continued airing her grievances she drove aimlessly down the road, lacking a calm demeanor and basic social norms that one would apply to driving. She careened in and out of traffic, tailgated cars, ran several lights, all while she continued to vent.

“And I've never told you this, but I hate Hilary.”

“Oh, what'd Hil-Cat do?”

“Well, one day I was at the mall and I saw her with Kalee and Erin. So I call her from across the way...”

“Why would you do that? Why wouldn't you just go up to her?”

“Don't interrupt me. And because I was getting a massage.”

“In the middle of the mall? In one of those chairs, wasn't that awkward?”

“I said 'don't interrupt me.' So I call her, put the phone up to my ear and watch. This bitch looks at her phone, and says with a frown on her face, 'ugh, it's Brittany Pike,' then answers. So my voice started to crack and get all high pitched but I regained composure as always and did a good job of keeping it calm.”

“I'm sure. But what did you say to her once you saw her do that?”

“Well, I couldn't let her know that I was mad?”

“Why not?”

“Cause you keep your friends close, and your enemies...”

“Stop watching VH1. And can you chill out with this minivan. Oh-my-god... You've been tailgating them for like 2 minutes now.”

The minivan they were behind went on as Brittany Pike veered on to the freeway on ramp. As she passed the automobile she glanced into their car to see that she was receiving a certain gesture that is common in high stress road situations. Beth expected this much from the car. However, she didn't expect Brittany Pike's retaliation gesture which differed in so many ways from the one she had just received.

“What was that!?”

“That was me putting that soccer mom in her place.”

“By doing that? That seemed more like an invitation to a trucker.”

“What? No, that was me telling her to fuck off.”

“How? You were acting out stuff that the kids in her back seat shouldn't have seen.”

“Well I had to give her a piece of my mind.”

“I thought you quit saying that. Honestly, your entire vocabulary comes straight from an episode of 'Rock of Love.'”

“One time I missed a final because a marathon of that was on. Well, almost missed. I ran across campus and made it just in the nick of time. I was kind of sweaty though. And that bitch Hilary was in class with me and she kept giving me a weird look.”

“Was this after you called her at the mall, too?”

“Yeah. This is all Hilary's fault.”

The Horror, The Horror

“I still remember that day. The air was hot and thick in such a way that my steering wheel was covered by a fine layer of dirt. The only thing I wanted to do was lay on the couch, with the air conditioner blasting, watching a movie. Maybe Mary Poppins. Or maybe even A Home of Our Own. But I had made a promise to myself. And I had to keep it.

“I grabbed the bags out of the backseat of my car and began walking to my destination. A collection of guys had assembled outside a nearby establishment. I knew what they were thinking. 'Look at her. So confident, so powerful.' They wished I were their girlfriends. Or that there girlfriends were like me. I threw my head around to toss my hair since the weather wouldn't cooperate and give me the elements I needed.

“The door flew open and that familiar 'ding' that one associates with small hometown stores rang out. Moments of my childhood flashed before my eyes. I remembered walking into little boutiques with my parents, the store owners knew our names. They would always hand me a sucker, and talk to my parents as I ran through the store hiding from my brothers and sisters beneath the racks of clothing. But this was neither that time, nor that place.

“She said, 'welcome to Plato's Closet.' And I felt welcomed. I felt so welcomed. I walked towards the girl with a smile on my face and heaved with all my might the two garbage bags stuffed to total capacity with clothing from years past. 'I'd like to sell these,' I told her. She started rummaging through the collection as I began to wonder around the store to kill the time. I seemed to float through the aisles, gently grazing all of the clothing that hung from the seemingly endless racks. The outfit of my dreams was waiting for me, at Express.

“I floated back to the counter as the girl and her boss seemed to be finishing up with my clothes. The girl looked at me. She... She looked at me and said, 'we don't want any of this.' I was shocked. Perplexed. Stunned. Was there something wrong with my LEI jeans? Were those Baby Phat boots not good enough for them? Was I not good enough for them?

“I did what I could to keep the red out of my face and make things seem as cool as they were when I came in. 'Oh no problem, you can just give them to Goodwill or whatever.' I wanted to stay in control. I didn't want to lose the last shred of dignity I had left. But they robbed me of it. 'Oh, we don't do that.'
They were telling me that not only did they not like me. But they wanted me to pick myself and get out of there.

“How could I face those guys again. I was there goddess. They held me on such a pedestal and here I was. A fallen woman. How could I summon the confidence than I held when I entered this place. This place that accepts 'gently used clothes' of all kinds. My ass. I hated them for not giving me the money I wanted. I hated them for making me carry my stuff back out. But I mainly hated them for the shame they instilled in me, and the fear, the horror, that I now felt.

“The garbage bag strings pulled on my hands. The weight of their contents seemed to mirror the weight of the world that now seemed to be on my shoulders. The plastic cut into the palms of my hands in an effort to create a new line. The three I had were fine. But maybe this day held a new plan for me. A new path that I should follow. A new...”

“Excuse me Beth, can I see you in the kitchen for a moment.”

Beth stood up and walked with Brittany Pike into the kitchen.

“What in the hell is going on in there. You're supposed to be asking for advice on what to do if your boyfriend is addicted to porn.”

“Calm down, I'm going to. I can't launch into that question when I'm asked why I won't host a yard sale." Beth starts staring into a void intensely. "I wish it was for the same reason as others. I don't like used stuff. It's too hot outside. But no..."

“Stop it! Why do you keep doing that?”


“Staring intensely at nothing whenever you talk. You look like Meryl Streep in Sophie's Choice. This isn't some deep secret you've been festering over for years.”

“Yes it is! Besides, when did I do that.”

“The entire time you were telling that stupid story.”

“Take it back!”

“Ok, sorry. Just focus. We have a mission here. Get back in there.”

The Favor

Lauren and Beth walked into Lauren and Brittany Pike's apartment to find Brittany Pike hunched over her computer trying to log in to her gmail account. From all the expletives erupting from her mouth it was clear she was having difficulty.

“You know you can just hit, 'forgot password,' and it will help you remember what your password is,” Lauren informed.

“This is Gary's account, not mine,” Pike said as her typing progressed more towards punishing the keyboard than actually cracking the code.

Beth sat down next to her, suddenly invested in the situation. “What's his mom's maiden name.”

“Obama. I give up.” Brittany Pike closed the laptop.

“Obama? You don't believe that do you?”

“Forget it, I actually need to talk to you.” Brittany Pike turned to face Beth and looked very serious.

“Why, what? Is this about him getting sick?”

“No, I think Gary's addicted to Porn.”

Lauren broke in, “Okay, why are you sticking with a guy named Gary Obama who's addicted to porn?”

Brittany Pike stood up, her lip quivering and stormed to her bedroom and slammed the door. Lauren turned to Beth.

“So why would you think that this has something to do with him being sick?”

Beth looked around and brought her voice down to a whisper.

“Don't tell Brittany Pike this, but whenever her and Gary were over at my place last week I was pretty sick. I felt like I was gonna die but I don't have insurance so I couldn't do anything about it. Gary however, does. So whenever no one was in the room I took a drink of his 2 liter of root beer. Then once he got sick, I got my diagnosis through him.”

“That's the worst thing I've ever heard. What'd you have?”

“He wouldn't say. I'm terrified it's AIDS.”

“Why would it be AIDS? And do you really think you could give it to him through drinking after one another?”

Brittany Pike walked back in with a shockingly happy look on her face.

“So Lauren, how's everything going at the zoo?”

“Oh. Umm... pretty good so far. Actually, it's weird. When I'm around the gorillas for too long I get this overwhelming desire to start dominating everyone around me.”

Brittany Pike's smile was slowly fading. Beth asked, “what does that mean.”

“Well, I guess it's because I'm around all of these animals who kind of live that way. So I just get wrapped up in it. I keep finding myself talking about Ultimate Fighting Championships and calling everyone a bitch.”

“So that's why your status update yesterday said 'Lauren Scott is putting punk bitches in their place.”

“Yeah, I actually got a write-up over that. This five year old girl kept trying to act like she knew everything about the gorillas so I had to correct her. I don't know what's wrong with me.”

Brittany Pike, now angry, broke in.

“How did we get on this subject in the first place!?”

“You brought it up bitch.”

Beth tried to pacify the situation. “Lauren, calm down. There are no gorillas here.”

Brittany Pike finished, “If you guys were my real friends you would have known that I was just being polite, and you guys, being polite should have probed me further about Gary's porn obsession.”

Beth began, “Well..”

Brittany Pike broke in again, “Forget it, here's what I want. Beth, tomorrow I need you to go with me tomorrow to lunch with my friends and talk to them about it like it's your problem. That way I can hear what they say, and since they don't know you they'll definitely be honest about it.

“Oh I'm sure.”

“I would have asked Lauren, but she's single, and these friends are serious fact checkers.”