Norris Cole’s Memorial Day Supreme Magestipartay has begun and it is threatening to undo the fibers that keep the walls of Miami standing.
It’s Memorial Day. The black Lexus LS is sprinting in the Miami dusk, careening down a street with no name, the sky orange from the dying sun. Mae hugs curves and fallen leaves try to get out of her way. The driver’s side window is down and her yellow dress ruffles like a vibrating sun.
Along the side of the road there is a sign. It reads: “G’s Funk House – 1 Mile”. This is when she sees the traffic checkpoint. She brakes and the car lurches to a stop. A man in a burgundy jacket, light blue chinos, and yellow Air Force Jordan 1’s steps to the driver’s side of the car and opens the door.
“This way, Madame.”
Mae steps this way.
The valet takes her car and a man in a green cloth jumpsuit and a pink drivers cap hands her the reigns of an all white clydesdale. She mounts it and begins the mile trek to the house.
The horse clips and clops, regal like twelve kings in purple Snuggies, and the wind tosses her hair behind her like a flag. She nears the home and hears the rumbles like thunder.
She squints ahead.
A parade of elephants tumbles down the drive that leads to the house, the world around them shaking with every rhythmic step. Lined with pink roses, the paved drive is a walkway. This is where you come to be either seen or shown. Distant drums are pounded and there is a boom to the night.
Those working the party, all in shimmering golden shorts and polos, each bearing the lime green logo of the master of these ceremonies, Norris Cole. “G-Funk”, they say in calligraphy. Mae sees the letters swirling in and out of one another like they’re on the front of a new Vampire Weekend album, or on the Declaration of Independence.
Maybe those things are of equal importance to some these days, she thinks.
As her horse nears the end of the drive, the drums stop and the trumpet begins. It’s Wynton Marsalis. He’s playing “Freddie Freeloader”. One of the G-Funk men in gold helps her down from the horse and her lavender red bottoms hit the pavement and the rest of those in attendance move their eyes to her while their worlds slow down like molasses through a sifter.
Corks from bottles of now opened champagne whiz through the air over the top of her like bullets and the acrobats bound from elephant to elephant holding loose to the idea that gravity exists.
Every single light in the house is on, lit like seven suns at a Christmas light display at the North Pole and the world doesn’t get to close to her face. Like it knows it’d be wrong to touch her without asking.
The beach-side house is bursting at the seams, bending to the whims of the still unseen Cole. The salt in the air mixing with the food wafting up and around from the back of the house where the buffet tables of the finest crab, lobster, shrimp, and steak reside, the smell meeting her there and doing what it can to hypnotize the girl that puts the whole freaking planet under her spell.
She comes to the steps of the marble staircase that lead to the front door of the house and raises her right red bottom to meet the purple carpet that cascades down the marble steps like a violet waterfall meant for the country club portion of heaven. The steps have stars shining on them. Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, and Emma Watson, each of them holding sparklers in their hands, perform various monologues from the films they’ve been in as Cole’s guests enter.
Mae comes to Watson first. She hears her tearful, “Harry!” filled shouts. Next comes Chastain, her hair deep red like a blood-stained rose, vain in the neck like an underground river trying to emerge from the soil below, screaming for someone, anyone, to help her find Bin Laden. Then there’s Lawrence. Eagles and Prim this. My dad’s dead and I need to find him so they don’t take my family’s land away that. A few feet to her left is John Hawkes. He’s in a royal blue suit with a turquoise tie repeating the question “Is this gonna be our time?” over and over again like a broken, southern parrot.
Mae gets to the top of the stairs and turns ’round to see where she came from. It looks like Skittles factory exploded.
The invitation to the party had come at sunset seven evenings ago. It was hand delivered by Cole himself.
The handwritten invitation was simple enough:
You, friend, are invited to the Memorial Day Supreme Magestipartay of one Mr. Norris Cole, backup point guard for the world champion Miami Heat one Monday from now, May 27, 2013, at 7PM EST. Please be prepared to drink, dance, and eat.
The instructions were more complex:
1. Mr. Cole politely requests no black, white, or brown clothing. All men must wear suits and all women must wear yellow dresses. Failure to adhere to these stipulations will result in denied entrance into the party and a stern request that you immediately remove yourself from the grounds.
2. There will be no pictures taken. This party is for those those of you that were invited to attend it, not your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.
3. Enjoy yourselves.
Mae had watched from her bedroom window as he emerged from the faded orange 1969 Maserati Ghibli 4.7. He moved slowly, the three dashed lines in his flat-top fade looking like lanes on some strange, space highway. She was mesmerized. He stepped to the door and ignored the bell. Three times he knocked. She came slowly down the stairs and opened the door to his smile. He handed her the envelope.
“I hope to see you there,” he said.
That was it. No speech. No hello. No goodbye. He just turned and left.
She watched him drop into the Ghibli and stood on her porch as the faded orange shark of a car faded off into the red sky.
Now she was at the top of the marble stairs. She turned back to face the deep, forest green double doors. The nobs were golden. Stained glass portraits of Cole as a young boy were in the middle of each of the doors.
On the left side was Cole as most knew him. Basketball in hand, knees bent, about to take a jumper. The goal is hanging above his garage. There’s a Corgi dog in the driveway with him.
On the right side was an unexpected Cole. A quiet one. He is fishing along a river. He has one hooked and he is holding it up. The sky is grey behind him and there is a lightning bolt striking the ground in the distance. Another tree on the opposite river bank is on fire.
The doors swing open and she walks in.
This will be a four part series with followups coming Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week. As you can probably deduce, Part Two comes tomorrow. And yes, this is a lot like The Great Gatsby.