Many years ago, a friend of mine, not me—a friend named, um, Bryan—needed to get across town to meet his friends to watch the fireworks.
The problem began when Bryan’s clock betrayed him, having somehow drifted twenty-or-so minutes from true. The situation was exacerbated by a subway delay. In these days before mobile phones, the only thing Bryan’s friends could do was to wait for him at the appointed location.
When Bryan arrived almost an hour late, his compatriots, several of whom write for this very blog, were not impressed. These feelings would stay with them for the remainder of the evening and, eventually, culminate in a cruel prank.
Once united, the group did their best to hurry to their destination. Long minutes riding the bus and watching the clock tick down were followed by a mad dash up the stairs to the rooftop deck from which the fireworks were to be viewed.
They stumbled through the door just in time to watch the last burst of the rockets expand into the sky and fall back to earth.
Bryan became the villain.
He just didn’t realize it yet.
The rest of the party seemed to go well, progressing as parties do. Merriment was made. My, uh, friend was roundly mocked for his tardiness, but deservedly so. The real malice, however, lurked beneath the surface.
When the festivities ended and it was time to depart, the comrades left together. Poor, unwitting Bryan’s antics would set the stage for the comrades’ ultimate vengeance.
Not recognizing the undercurrent of resentment that had been building for the past several hours, Bryan was exuberant. As the friends waited for the return bus, Bryan was overcome by the moment and climbed the metal railing of the shelter. Raising his arms above his head, he shouted words that were to become a callback to the incident for years to come.
“I am the lord of all I survey!”
Bryan’s glory lasted for the briefest instant before a dirty, no-good, treacherous oaf, no doubt spurred on by the others, seized the moment to enact revenge.
In one swift motion, the cur grabbed hold of Bryan’s pants and pulled down, exposing Bryan to all.
The ride home was exceedingly awkward. My friend vividly remembers being trapped on the bus, surrounded by the same people who’d been witness to his nakedness. The only sound, besides the stifled laughter of Bryan’s companions, was the amused titter of Filipino voices, of which the only word Bryan could make out was “penis”.