Taj looked coldly at his teammate Karl-Anthony Towns, who was sitting across the aisle from him on the team bus. “I don’t feel like talking to you right now.”
Karl-Anthony winced. “Yeah, I know. I’m sorry that I gave you a photo album which purported to contain pictures of the two of us hanging out but instead contained pictures of me banging your cheerleader crush Brianna in every possible position. That was really not cool of me.” Taj didn’t answer, so Karl-Anthony continued, “So I totally understand if you don’t want to go, but I’m holding a little Christmas party at my place once we get back to Minneapolis. My Mom gave me all her best Christmas recipes and I hired a chef to make them for us. It’s gonna be a real fun time, just us guys.”
Taj wondered if this was just another plot of Karl-Anthony’s to inflict humiliation on him, so he turned himself around to address Tyus Jones, who was in the seat behind him. “Is Karl really throwing a party or is this just some kind of elaborate setup to emasculate me?”
Tyus raised his eyebrows. “Don’t be so paranoid, man,” he replied. “Of course he’s throwing a party. He does it every year. Look, here’s my invitation.” Tyus fished in his bag until he withdrew a glittery, ribboned card and showed it to Taj.
Looking back at Karl-Anthony, Taj saw that his teammate was holding out an identical invitation to Tyus’. “Here, you’re officially invited,” Karl-Anthony said with a crooked smile. “Hope you can make it.”
Taj took the invitation. “Yeah, man. Sounds good. I’ll be there.”
Walking up to the door of Karl-Anthony’s apartment, Taj noticed that there wasn’t a lot of noise coming from inside. Taj had been around the team long enough to know that they partied just as hard as any team he had been on. Was he early? He double-checked his invitation and confirmed that it explicitly stated a 7:00 PM start for what was cheekily billed as “A Night on the Towns”.
He rang the doorbell and heard Karl-Anthony’s muffled voice yell, “Come in!”, so he opened the door and let himself inside. However, he was not prepared for what he saw when he entered Karl-Anthony’s living room.
There was Brianna, wearing nothing but a Santa hat, in the middle of sexual congress with none other than Karl-Anthony, who was fully nude.
“Oops, sorry Taj!” Karl-Anthony said triumphantly as he forced Brianna’s face into the couch cushions with the intensity of his lovemaking. “Wasn’t expecting you!”
“The invitation said seven,” Taj said dumbly, his face burning red with ashamed humiliation. “I thought you were throwing a party.” He looked away from the scene in front of him, unable to bear the sight of his beautiful, pure Brianna getting so crassly defiled.
Karl-Anthony pretended to be deep in thought as he continued his thrusts. “Hmm. I don’t remember ever saying anything like that. I wonder where you got that idea?” His rhetorical question was punctuated by an especially loud squeal from Brianna.
His sight blurred by tears, Taj angrily threw the party invite at his teammate, and, without another word, turned to leave.
“Merry Christmas Taj!” Karl-Anthony called after him.
Once he was outside, Taj weakly collapsed against the apartment building. Pulling his knees up to his chest, he shivered and sobbed, unable to banish the image of the flopping red Santa hat from his mind.