Figurative fighting, of course. The actual variety involves far too much human contact for my tastes.
Where were we? Oh yes, I was just coming across the landing, walking over the abominable green carpeting towards a cadre of eight to ten of my least favorite people on Earth, and, strange as it is to say, I was actually looking forward to what was about to transpire.
A fair amount of drinking had occurred before my arrival, but first, the scene. The gender break down was approximately seventy-thirty in favor of the males, most of whom were predictably attired in button-down shirts thoughtlessly matched to nondescript khaki pants... Even from six meters away I could discern a barely concealed wine stain on the left pant pocket of Philip, one of the decidedly least loathsome members of that corp. His underlying perversity now struck my eyes like crystal.
The other men, Rawleigh, Dwayne, Zane, Jim, and Mason, were all odious. Each seemed to me no brighter than an ox, or, in the cases of Dwayne and Mason, a man-hole cover. The lone woman, besides Julie and Cherise, was Marcia, a bland brunette from accounting who seemed almost submissive enough to serve one of my purposes, but never mind.
I have neglected to describe my own attire, which I suppose some might find noteworthy. I wore a German-made overcoat with a miraculously pristine seal-fur collar. Purchased on one of my frequent "research" trips to Zurich, it is my prize accoutrement. Despite this, it was extremely uncomfortable to wear this garment on an 80º evening, but my code dictated I spare no lavishness in fulfilling this mission. Beneath the jacket I had on an extremely well-tailored Thomas Mahon suit, made to my exact specifications on one of the tailor's rare visits to the US. My necktie was a subtle burgundy monochrome. My hair was coiffed to perfection. I was myself to a tee.
Julie, the intemperate hag who had reminded me of this accursed gathering, sauntered up to me, her inhibitions no doubt loosened by the cheap, poisonous swill I saw stagnating in pitchers and glasses on their long table.
"So you maaaade it. We're all, like, so happy. So what is up with you man? You've been like, so agro lately."
"Julie, I need not explain myself to the likes of you. Suffice it say, you sicken me." She sort of stumbled back, supporting herself on a nearby chair.
"Wow, like totally. That's what I mean. Good one, dude, you got me."
"I can assure you that I am not joking. As you might have been able to discern from my present dress, had you even a shred of breeding, I am a man with little patience for drunkenness and less for users of slang. Your manners strike me as boorish, your demeanor, a blight, your prospects of ever finding a non-sterile mate, miniscule."
As this last dagger found home it seemed to me, in my heightened state, as though the very blueness of her eyes exploded, unleashing an ocean of tears upon her makeup encrusted face. But I was just getting started.
I wheeled to my left to obstruct the advance of Zane, a lanky repressed homosexual with not the slightest inkling of his own nature, catching him by the tie as he moved to comfort Julie.
"Not so fast, Stallion. We have unfinished business."
I could practically taste the guilt on his breath. "What are you talking about, Arlo? I think you have the wrong idea..."
"No, Zane. I'm not the one who's ass-backwards. Face it. Face the ass. You crave it. You love it, you fucking pervert, at least allow yourself that measly salve!"
If it is possible, Zane's sickly pallor descended to a deeper gray as I moved forward toward my main object.
"And there you are, Cherise!" By this point, the group had grown pretty silent, with certain parties comforting Julie and Zane, both of whom had retreated to separate corner tables. Cherise was looking at me with the dumb muteness of an animal. Her stare conveyed so little intelligence I was amazed to note the rise and fall of her chest. Instinct alone surely animated that spirit-deprived husk!
"Jules gave me the scoop, Cherry. It's too bad you're leaving, because I truly believe we could have had something special; if by special you understand a one-night stand in a roach-ridden motel on your credit card. Because, honestly, I would only sleep with you after ingesting the entire contents of a Super-8 mini-bar, watching approximately six hours of brutal, hardcore porn, and blind-folding myself to shield my senses from even the remotest suggestion of your presence as we "did the deed." You see, you actually disgust me that much. My esteem for your entire existential being is so low as to be beyond parody. The very thought of your face destroys my every dream of beauty."
As the blood drained from her skin I turned, batting away the importuning fingers of that Aryan monster, Jim, and stalked carefully back to the stairs. Before I mounted the landing to descend, I turned, demonstratively flaring my sealskin collar, and declaimed:
"Let this suffice to say that I no longer need be cced on all of your tedious plans. In fact, if you could do me the favor of never speaking to me, or even looking at me, except when dictated by the vicissitudes of our mutual work, I would be eternally in your debt."
Without waiting to gauge their response, I disappeared down the staircase, exiting that infernal domain with the levity of one freed from a long and forced servitude. As I walked back to the subway my mind's eye idled over the still images of their shocked faces, faces now forever emblazoned amongst the lineaments of my inner darkness.