It certainly wasn't a conscious decision. We were the leftovers. An evening, they said. The eight of us. Why not? My best friend Mark and his girlfriend, two old sort-of-friends with a plan for immediate benefits, two strangers who just fell on top of each other, and us.
I don't know who came up with the plan in the first place, but odds are it was Mark. It was decided that we really needed to go to this Chinese restaurant, that we really needed to partake in the banquet, and that we extra-especially needed to be prepared to get just a little plastered. Because this place was too far away to stumble home sloshed, we would all book into a cheap hostel that was conveniently close, and attempt to stumble there instead.
We hit the road with two cars. I drove one of them, and Mark the other. He had his girlfriend with him, and the two strangers in the back. They weren't strangers to him, you understand. Just to me, and to each other.
I was lumbered with the immediate benefits pair mentioned above. I'd met them before, briefly, but they were Mark's friends really. The same applied to my front seat passenger, Millie, and in fact to all of us. Mark was one of those guys that keeps people in orbits. We were his planets. Or moons, maybe. I didn't mind being a moon with Millie. She was an attractive woman.
It was apparent fairly early on in the process that Millie was my date. Not in the sense that I asked her, or wanted her, or even knew her, but in the sense that everyone else was taken, one way or another. She knew it, and I knew it. I just didn't realise quite what that would mean.
The instructions from Mark were clear and precise, and I had no trouble picking up my companions, or finding the hostel. Dropping the rest of the crowd at the restaurant first, Mark and I went to confirm things with the accommodation, knowing that fronting up there pissed as newts wasn't going to get us a bed for the night. If we could get the keys now, we'd have a lot less trouble.
The reception desk was manned by a middle-aged hippie who couldn't have cared less how drunk we were, and had obviously been partaking in a little something himself. He threw us the keys and muttered blurrily about bunk rooms before walking off with our money. Mark and I looked at each other, and decided we'd better check out the accommodation. The keys were more clearly labelled than I'd have given the hippie credit for, and we found the room.
Yeah, just one. A big bunkroom with ten rudimentary and rather small bunks. Two sets, three high, attached to one wall; a couple of sets of two, opposite. Windows, door. That was about it. Oh, a grubby looking rug. We dragged in the sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and what-have-you from the cars, and had a quick peek at the bathrooms, which could only be described as rugged. We didn't care. A drunken sleep is much the same anywhere.
We had some catching up to do once we caught up with the others, though no one was actually drunk enough for there to be any trouble as yet. We were just a loudly boisterous group of friends, and they liked us because we wanted to drink, and eat the food.
As happens with a Chinese banquet, the courses were presented as a number of dishes in the middle of the table, and a rotating section called a 'lazy Susan' made it easy to partake in the various dishes, and avoid those that didn't take your fancy.
This was where the evening started to get interesting. You can't eat with people, under those circumstances, and under the influence of alcohol, without getting friendly. The pairings that I talked about before seemed to be represented in the seating arrangements. I had Mark's girlfriend becoming slowly more and more tiddly on my left, and Millie, who was still basically a stranger, on my right. Mark's drunk girl wasn't terribly conversational after a while, so I spent my time nibbling on whatever food showed up, watching the other people at the table, and talking to Millie.
She was nice. Intelligent and talkative, relaxed in the group, interested in exchanging opinions about the wontons. Slowly we got to know a little about each other. I'd have to have been an idiot not to see where this was going, but despite the plans of the other six people here, I wasn't intending anything untoward with regards to Millie, and I was sure she felt the same way about me. I'd been without a girlfriend for a while, sure, and Millie admitted a similar situation to me, but neither of us were the one night stand types, I don't think.
Eventually, the conversation turned, inevitably I guess, to the other couples. Millie was the first to bring this up.
"Listen Greg, did you and Mark check out where we are sleeping?"
"Oh, yeah. Big bunk room."
"Ah, enough beds?"
"Oh, yeah, that's not a problem. Ten of them."
"Yeah. Hmmm... Greg, we're not going to need anywhere near ten."
"Oh, I know. Just eight."
"I have my doubts."
"Well, Mark and your neighbour there. One, right?"
"Oh, I see. Yeah, I guess."
"And... Hey, I want some of that pork."
"This one, Millie?"
"Yeah. And... ahem... lean closer."
"Those two from the back of your car."
"What about them?"
"Well, you get any vibes?"
"Oh, you mean..."
"Yeah, well, don't you think?"
"Yeah, I guess so. I get the impression they've been on each other's radar for some time. Hey, could we have some more soy sauce here please?"
"Soy sauce? Yuck. Yeah, I thought so."
"Don't you know that girl?"
"Yeah, kinda. And the other two?"
"Well, I don't know them."
"No, but Greg, are they going to?"
"Oh. Well, look at them."
"I think so."
"I know so."
"How do you know?"
"I'm a girl, Greg."
"I see that."
"Yeah. And so I just know."
"Okay, so here's my point. See if I can get this out before I finish my rice. We're not exactly sober, right?"
"But we are probably more sober than the rest of them."
"I guess so. I'm not really a big drinker Millie."
"Me neither, Greg. So..."
"Well, they are all a little plastered, and will be more so before we leave here, right?"
"That's the plan."
"Yeah. And then they'll fall into three beds, right?"
"I would guess so."
"And what, Millie?"
"Well, assuming they are not too drunk, probably fuck, right?"
"This isn't a problem?"
"Huh? I don't care. It wouldn't be the first time I've been in a room where..."
"Yeah, yeah, but don't you see, Greg?"
"Well, what about us?"
"I must be dense. What about us?"
"Well, do you want to?"
"Yeah, Oh. That shut you up, Greg."
"I'm sorry, Millie. I didn't realize where you were going."
"I didn't want to just say."
"Yeah. Ah, I'm not sure I've ever actually just said no, you know, but it certainly hadn't been my intention."
"So you wouldn't be upset if we... kept to our own bunks?"
"Oh, I see. No. That was kinda what I expected to happen."
"Yeah. It's not that. I'm not..."
"You don't need to explain, Millie. It was never..."
"... saying you're not attractive or..."
"... my intention. It's not like you're not attractive or..."
At that point we both started giggling, sat back up straight in our seats, ignored the looks from around the table, and asked what the next course was.
We spent the rest of the evening watching, and making quiet comments. I enjoyed Millie's company, and I was sure she was comfortable talking to me as well. It was very pleasant.
Eventually we had finished dessert, all of us having eaten far too much, and consumed a substantial quantity of liquid merriment as well.
The short stroll from the restaurant was akin to herding cats. Millie and I, as the least plastered members of the group, seemed to have inherited babysitting responsibilities, and we literally coerced the half-dozen other people down to the hostel and in the door.
The reception hippie was, by now, nowhere to be seen. Didn't worry us. We had the key, and knew the way. We managed to point everyone briefly at the bathrooms before all getting undressed in various states of self-consciousness. The couples piled into bed much as predicted, and Millie and I selected a couple of bunks as far from the likely actions spots, near the windows, and piled into a couple of lower bunks next to each other, in underwear, in sleeping bags, in the dark... In the middle of a floor show.
Mark wasn't remotely discreet as he told his girlfriend what he wanted to do to her, and she was completely uninterested in resisting. Before long, all three couples were involved in a variety of interpersonal activities, moving and squeaking, giggling, and thrusting one way or another.
I'd thought it was dark in the room, but as our eyes became used to the gloom, it became very apparent exactly what was going on. Mark and partner were on top of a sleeping bag, no longer wearing anything, and they were taking advantage of the traditional missionary position, though I had doubts about any praying happening any time soon. His girlfriend might have thought differently, as she was soon calling out to God.
The benefits couple were in a similar position, but for the fact that she was on top in this case, and they were actually at least partly covered with a sleeping bag.
.... There is more of this story ...