Monja Cardot was not a very difficult person to understand: she liked to talk about herself and all her wonderful achievements, she liked raising hell with her best friend and partner in crime Stephen Spielmeister, and she had a taste for cherry cola and vodka. I wasn't very difficult to understand either: I liked foreign media and psychology, considered myself a good judge of character, and spoke Mandarin Chinese flawlessly. I wasn't, however, the kind of person who snuck out of their host's house in a foreign province at eleven at night. And Monja definitely wasn't the kind of person to trust strangers very much. But there I was and there she was, doing things for which neither of us were known.
"Would you hurry the fuck up, Asian girl," she whisper-called as I climbed from my second story bedroom, not daring to look back or down.
"That's racist!" I hissed in reply, fitting my feet and hands into the crevices of the brick house. After a terrifying, backwards climb to the ground, I finally made it to where Monja and Stephen waited for me. "What do you want that was so important you couldn't have waited until the morning?" I asked rather grumpily. Because besides unnecessarily hot weather and loud/ annoying people, being woken up not by my own accord—especially when I am literary just about to fall asleep—will also piss me off.
"Of course, how could we go to a party without this bundle of joy? I bet you're just great at parties, aren't you?" Monja asked first Stephen, who merely shrugged in response, and then me.
As a matter of fact, when I could work up the energy, I was pretty good at parties. I drank a few drinks, but not enough to get passed tipsy, and I knew all the most popular dance music (even if I had far more sophisticated tastes, I was fairly caught up with pop culture). I told Monja this much and she snorted in response. "She's a legal adult," Stephen reminded her and, as a matter of fact, me. I didn't feel any particular difference between being seventeen and eighteen, other than paying my own bills, so it sometimes still caught me off guard.
"Right, so let's go, Ms. Responsible," Monja said, as she and Stephen got into the car I recognized, even in the dark, to be M. Tremble's.
"Where? To a party?" I asked, incredulously.
"No, to the fucking grocery store. Yes, to a party!" She exclaimed almost loud enough that I was worried Lukas or M. Tremble would wake up. "God, why didn't you just suggest to bring along Mr. Social-Anxiety?"
"In case you've forgotten, we have work tomorrow. I don't know about you, but I, being a responsible adult, like to get a few hours of sleep before work." Not that I would know, since I'd never had a job, but I figured it was the same deal as with school. "So, if you don't mind, I'm going to try and climb the wall to my room again."
By this point I noticed that the car headlights were turned on and the engine was revved, before Monja whispered something back at Stephen, who quickly turned off the headlights. "Did he hot-wire the car?" Were these two criminals? And more importantly, were they going to get me in trouble along with them? The last thing I needed after having vouched for my responsibility both to my parent's and my future employer, was to get arrested for stealing a car.
"No, dipshit, we took the keys. Now come on, don't be lame. You're eighteen, so legally you can do whatever the fuck you want..."
"Legally I can't do whatever I want." As in possibly murder both Stephen and Monja just so I could get back to sleep. It took a few more minutes of nagging, plus the added fear that standing out in the open with M. Tremble's idling car was not a great way to be caught on my first night. Finally I was sitting in the driver's seat with Stephen beside me, telling me were to turn as I pulled out the drive way. Good thing I'd put on my glasses before climbing out my window. "So neither of you have a driver's license?" To this I got nods.
Why Stephen and Monja didn't have licenses:
1) Stephen was only sixteen and a half, and hadn't yet been able to take the course.
2) Monja did in fact have a beginner's license and could drive with a valid adult—I didn't count—but had failed the test.
3) She'd actually been banned from taking it again at that particular establishment after running into a BFI bin, calling the instructor a fascist pig, cussing out the receptionist, and storming off.
4) I soon realized Monja was a very angry person most of the time, and actually feared a little for Stephen's safety as well as my own.
"It was that damn idiot's fault! I was trying to parallel park, how the hell was I also supposed to see the garbage thing." For a moment I wanted to ask how she hadn't seen the BFI bin, but I decided better of it and just let it go.
"Turn right," Stephen said, reading the map to the exclusive party off his phone.
"Why do you need me to come to this thing? If it wasn't to drive, which is obvious, since you've apparently been doing this for the past week anyway." I looked at Monja through the rear-view as I said this. She had been here a week and confessed to sneaking out nearly every second night with M. Tremble's car to different parties. Luckily, and miraculously, no one had been hurt.
"Yeah, well you're doing a shitty job at it anyway. You're only going like 55 kilometres in a 60 zone."
"Considering the fact that I didn't grab my license when I got convinced by you morons to steal this car, I don't really want to be pulled over by the police," I replied. The rudeness had set in, it was unstoppable now. Having been woken up at precisely the wrong time, and having to deal with Monja... It was too much to bear. How the hell did Stephen do it?
"We need you to get us some alcohol, if you don't mind," Stephen finally said after telling me to turn left. "You're eighteen and we're, well, not."
"They won't let me into another party without a contribution," Monja mumbled. "Fascist pigs." That seemed to be one of her favourite insults.
"So on top of grand theft auto and driving without a license, you want buying alcohol for minors to be on my permanent record?"
"Yes," Monja said.
"If you don't mind," Stephen added.
What was it about Monja's relentless annoyingness and Stephen's pleasant incessancy that was so damn convincing? Because not twenty minutes later I stood outside the Magasin d'alcool with a six pack of beer under one arm and a bottle of vodka and gin in the other. It had been a pain in the ass to convince the store owner that I was in fact eighteen, since I didn't have my license with me (and looking about two years younger and being in my pajamas didn't help). How the alcohol had come into my acquisition... Let's just say there hadn't exactly been as honest as I'd have liked. M. Tremble had had the misfortune of having forty or so dollars in his change compartment (seriously, was this man just made of money?) which had gone to supporting the thriving business of dirt cheap liquor.
"Drive! Drive!" I dropped the drinks on Stephen's lap, nearly hard enough to render this whole situation useless, and backed the car up as fast as I could. There was no reason for me to be in such a state of panic, I suppose, but the fact was that I was worried the store owner would recognize the car to be M. Tremble and would recognize me to not be him.
When she saw the alcohol and we were safely out of the parking lot, Monja seemed to perk up a little. "Hey, thanks," she said trying to sneak the bottle of vodka from Stephen, who in turn slapped her hand away.
After another few kilometres through some fields, another right turn, and a few more kilometres, Stephen announced we were there. The three of us got out of the car: Stephen safely holding the gin and vodka, while I held the beer and car keys. Monja led the way. I already heard faint music and with each step it got louder, the clanking of the beer bottles seemed to move along with the beat of the music.
I was worried, but then again that was basically my state of mind all the time. Technically, I wasn't doing anything wrong by having the alcohol. It was sixteen-and-a-half year old Stephen and seventeen-year-old Monja I was worried about.
The closer we got, the louder the music got, until I couldn't stand it and started complaining. Even Monja made a brief comment on how they would "get everyone caught like this." Stephen, on the other hand, seemed fine. I suspected it was because he had turned his hearing aids down.
I briefly envied Lukas at home, sleeping soundly by now, not out in a field with alcohol bought from stolen money. But, I had made it a goal to have lots of adventures this summer, and this definitely counted as an adventure.