Take your money and run!

Bonnie sat on the soft bed, letting her feet dangle from the edge and watching the ceiling fan spin above her. Adam crouched by his record player, flipping through his collection of vinyl.

“what are you in the mood for?” Adam asked in his young voice. He muttered to himself as he went from record to record: too rock, too slow, oh this one is great..but nah.

            Bonnie stared at the back of Adams head, zoned out completely. “I want to get out of here.” She replied.

“I don’t think I have that album” Adam said, smirking and turning around towards Bonnie. He stared back at her, looking at her light blue eyes, then her short black hair and her small nose that had the little bend in the middle that he loved so much.

“No Adam,” Bonnie smiled back, pausing to look at Adams sweet face, his brown eyes and short messy hair. He was giving her that smirk he always gave her when pushing her towards an adventure. “I meant… well I want to not be here. You know?”

“ok so you want to go for a walk?” Adam replied. He sat next to Bonnie, running his fingers through her soft hair. “I know what you mean though, you don’t want to be here” He flicked his hand towards the room. “So tell me then Bon, if the Sunshine State is killing you so much, where do you wanna go?”

Bonnie grabbed his hand and held it in hers. “Ok, what about California? We can get some nice tans and walk around the boardwalk listening to Sublime and Red Hot Chili Peppers. We can visit the Hollywood sign and meet some movie stars?”

Adam stood up and slowly paced through the room, rubbing his bare face and contemplating. “hmm… too hectic. How about Maine? We can go live by the water and become fishermen? Go hiking and camping every other weekend. We can have a comfy house a couple blocks from the sea.” He kneeled infront of Bonnie and caressed her legs. Softly he said “And late at night when we’re drunk and stoned, we can walk to the beach and lay under the stars and make out.”

Bonnie smiled and pulled Adam in for a long kiss. “We can make out anywhere though. Isn’t Maine cold as fuck? She stood and walked over to the corner of the room where Adam kept most of his posters. Right next to a CREAM poster was a map of North and south America. She crossed her arms and examined it closely. Adam came up behind her and leaned his head on her shoulder.

Bonnie naturally patted his face and continued looking at the map. “How about New York! We can spend every morning at a different coffee shop. We can go to different bars and walk drunk through Grand Central Park. I’ll find a cute spot underneath the moon and kiss you. After, We can go to our cozy little condo high up in an apartment building. Imagine the view of the skyline at night time. Think about it…making love in our warm bed as the blue light from the city peeks through our curtains. Then we can fall asleep together to the sound of the cars and people below. When we get old and can’t handle all the walking of the city we can get out and live in one of those cute little suburban neighborhoods right at the outskirts. We can get that dog you wanted and he can run around in our back yard.” Bonnie turned to Adam and wrapped her arms around his neck, bringing him in for another warm kiss. “Just anywhere but here for fucks sake.”

Adam looked back up at the map and then back at Bonnie. “How about Alaska, think about it—Just me and you. We would be secluded, how beautiful would that peace and quiet be? How beautiful would it be to cuddle together through the winter.” Adam walked towards a desk nearby and began looking through it. “The issue is, how are we going to pay for any of this?

“We just have to sell everything we own, duh.” Bonnie stood, eyeing through the states. “Isn’t that how people usually do it. They follow the same routine for 30 years or so and then they freak out, have an existential crisis, sell everything they got, and move to like—Cambodia or something? We can do that. You know, it’s never too early for an existential crisis.” Bonnie chuckled. Adam came back to her and placed a red dart in her hand. He grabbed her shoulders and moved her back a couple of steps.

“And what’s this for?” She asked.

“Listen, I’m 22 and you’re 21, we got nothing here but out parents and a couple shitty friends. We don’t have anything to lose. We each grab a backpack full of clothes and some electronics and jewelry to pawn off for cash. Greyhound tickets can’t be that expensive, right?” Adam gave Bonnie a kiss on the cheek and went back to his rant. “I got a couple of hundred bucks in my savings, I know you got some too. Listen I’m serious if you are. Throw the dart, lets sell everything we got, let’s leave this place, let’s have our exsistential crisis.”

Bonnie looked at Adam in disbelief, she smirked and stared at the map ahead of her. Her mind was empty, she learned that in situations like these, the best thing to do was not to think at all. She focused her sight on the middle of the map, then closed her eyes shut and held her breath. She brought her arm back and threw the dart. The only sound was from the dart hitting the wall, she felt Adam tighten his grip around her shoulders and she opened her eyes.

She looked at Adam and nodded her head. “Ok” She said.

Adam softly grasped her face and gave her a powerful kiss. “Ok, let’s go.” He said.

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Drug Tales: Candyflip

It was around 9PM, specks of light twinkled in the dark sky. The moon stayed hidden behind grand clouds, floating by like heavy blimps. The crisp December air filled the night as the seven of us wandered around the house.

“The party is starting soon.” Danny told me. We were sitting on the couch drinking the last of our beer and watching everyone talk and mingle. We were all going to crowd into two cars and drive to a house-party a couple of blocks away. My hands were moist with sweat and a heavy cloud of anxiety lingered above me. The party wasn’t the cause of my nerve though, I knew that, it was something bigger—my mind went to the acid in my pocket, the acid that was soon to be traveling through my veins and deep into my sub-conscious.

I pulled out a strip of crinkled aluminum foil from my pocket and felt the texture beneath my thumb. Danny leaned closer and stared at this night’s trip. “We should take it now, huh?” He asked.

I opened the foil like you would for a stick of gum—revealing a row of four colorful tabs. I looked at the psychedelic art printed on the blotter and then, carefully, tore a single square off the strip. “Don’t eat it yet” I told Danny as I handed him the tiny stamp.

I stood and began making my rounds to the other two people I was tripping with tonight, the room fell to a murmur as I walked around—the drugs were out, curiosity has been shifted. I gave one tab to Jane—a short pale-skinned girl with colorful hair and piercing green eyes. She grinned and gently pinched the tab between her thumb and forefinger. I walked over to the sofa in the living room where Sara sat. Her hazel eyes followed me as I approached, I offered her the third tab and her eyes shifted from me to the acid. She pressed her lips together and contemplated over the tab in my outreached hand.

I don’t blame her, I thought. The psychedelic experience is always terrifying in the most beautiful of ways—no matter how many times you’ve done it.

“Cmon, it’ll be fun.” I said.

“What if I freak out Jean, or get a bad trip or something?” she asked.

“it’s all mental, you can make the trip whatever you want.” I said. I paused for a second to reassure myself of my words. “Yea, and plus you’re with us; So you’ll have fun.” At this point everyone at the house was surrounding us.

“Ok fine.” Sara said, she grabbed the tab and stood up. Danny, Jane, Sara, and I made a circle and lifted our tabs in the air.

“To one hell of a trip” I said.

We ate our acid. I placed mine under my tongue and let my saliva soak it. I shuddered with excitement and let a long, broken breath trail out of me.

“Welp, lets fucking smoke then man, I’ve been waiting to spark this blunt and the party should be starting soon.” One of our other friends spoke from afar. The seven of us shuffled outside and made our smoking circle.

The night matured as we all got progressively higher, the party didn’t start until 10 and we didn’t want to be the first ones there so we relaxed and let the cloud of THC fill our bodies and souls. I sat on my chair, staring at the smoke that crowded our surroundings. Gradually, the talking and laughter turned into far away murmurs. The grey cloud began to shift into a subtle dance, moving and swirling in ways that I knew smoke couldn’t move and swirl. A smile stretched over my face as I zoned out to this lifelike haze. My vision focused on the dark sky and my body began to feel light. The dark canvas was filled with shifting fractals, the stars and rolling clouds from before now seemed to breath with life—soft golds and gentle reds intertwined with the black and greys of the sky, forming geometric, pulsating visuals.

I was brought back from my trance by Danny nudging me on the shoulder.

“Dude, where’s Sara and Jane?” He asked. His pupils creating two large disks.

Looking into his eyes only gave strength to the acid, now I felt the come up much more vividly. “What?” I said through clenched teeth.

“yea dude, I haven’t seen them. They said they were going inside and they haven’t come back.” He said.

“They got lost inside the house dude!” One of our friends said.

“Probably just tripping out on the couch or something man.” Another added.

“Let’s check inside.” Danny said.

We all got up and filed inside where we searched all the rooms and bathrooms. We found nothing. We went to the front, hoping to catch them on the porch, and saw no sign of them.

“Fuck man.” I muttered.

“They’re walking around the neighborhood dude. They always wander off and shit.” Danny said.

“Fuck man, look you they’re probably like at the end of the street or something. You guys go find them and meet us at the party.” One of the other girls from the group said.

“Cmon Danny. Let’s get them quick, this shit is hitting me fast.” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder to keep myself steady as the world around me swayed.

The others got into one car and Danny and I got into his. We pulled out and drove down the street in a caravan, soon our car broke off down a residential road while the other carried on forward. The girls couldn’t get far I thought. I stared at the trees around us as they changed texture, the asphalt contracted and expanded like lungs. The sky seemed saturated with vibrant light and imagery. I thought of Danny, how fucking high could he be? How is he even driving? I wouldn’t bring it up, I’m sure he was too focused on finding the girls to notice the world around him melting.

“Where do you think they went?” He asked.

“Ok, where would two girls high off drugs wander too at 10:42 at night.” The car stayed silent for a moment. “Hmm… cats man, isn’t there that crazy cat ladies house nearby? I would want to check out some kitties while tripping?”

“Oh dude yes, cats are fucking crazy when your tripping, it’s like they know you’re high.” We both chuckled, feeling like detectives on the hunt.

We turned down another residential road and at the corner we saw them. They were crouched by a bush laughing and waving their hands towards it. They’ve lost it, they’re talking to a damn bush, I thought.

Danny stepped on the gas and we jolted forward, we halted by them with a screech and got out of the car. They ignored us and continued to talk to the bush.

“Oh my god Sara it’s so cute. Look at it!” Jane whispered.

“I want it I’m gonna take it home. Come here cutie” Sara said, snapping her fingers and making clicking noises.

“Why are you trying to take that bush home?” I asked, completely taken back by the scene that was unfolding infront of me. Four humans high off acid gathered around a bush in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Paranoia shook me, the cops were bound to show up at anytime. “We gotta go.” I said.

“Danny look! It’s a little kitty!” Jane said, pointing at the bush.

Danny and I stepped closer and crouched by the girls, inside the bush was a tiny, white, cloud of a kitten. It was rolled up into a little ball and it’s blue eyes sent lightning down my spine. I stayed silent, staring into these endless pools. It’s eyes slowly jumping from person to person, it’s tail flapping against the ground—it knew we were high, it had too. The kitten unraveled itself and stretched it’s body, it yawned and it’s sharp fangs shone in the light from the street lamps. It let out a tiny “mao” and waddled towards us, it’s short legs and plump body swaying with every step, its tail swinging back and forth.

“Oh my god I’m going to die, it’s so fucking cute!” Sara squealed. The kitty came to us and let out a confident meow of approval. We all took turns running our hands through it’s soft, fragile body. It felt like clouds I thought. Some time went by as we took turns petting and holding the kitty, staring into it’s eyes, trying to learn the secrets to the universe. It’s gentle purring bringing us deeper and deeper into a trance, suddenly a car sped by, yanking me from my episode—I shuddered as reality returned.

“Ok we have to go” I said.

Danny stood, “Yea, say goodbye too… what’s it’s name?” He asked.

“Fluffybottom” Jane said confidently.

“Goodbye Fluffybottom.” We all said, taking turns giving our final pats of affection.

Return to your home in the bush I thought to myself. We piled into the car, Danny and Jane in the front and Sara and I in the back. We drove off in silence, leaving the magical bush kitten behind—ready for another group of drugged up teens.

Time morphed and suddenly we were at the party. A block away we saw cars and people becoming dense, the sound of music carried from afar. We rolled through the street—groups of people walking by—until we found an empty patch of grass. We got out and looked towards the direction of the noise. The thumping waves of music reached us a couple of houses down.

“Holy shit man.” Danny said.

“This is gonna get fucking raided heh.” I said.

“Fuck it.” Jane spoke and began walking towards the orb of energy.

At this point the acid was at it’s base level, the people around me melted into the atmosphere, the intense vibrations of the music shook my surroundings, psychedelia washed over everything. We got to where we could see the house clearly now. A square, fenced off, plot of land. A flat one-story home sat in the middle underneath a large tree. A sea of people surrounded it, the thick of the action was to the right of the land by a small boat. The boat itself housed a DJ set and two large speakers where the music exploded out of. The crowd moved and swayed with the sound.

We walked through the swinging gate and began pushing and moving our way through the crowd, holding onto eachother like a linked chain. The faces around me began to break into fractals as the stimuli increased, at one point a blur stepped close to me and whispered “Ecstacy on deck.” Ecstacy I thought… I’ve never tried it. Maybe tonight, maybe. Eventually we saw our group and blended into them.

“Dude this is some wild shit huh?” One of the friends said to us. “Here, sip this.” He handed me a water bottle with an amber liquid splashing inside it. “Is the acid hitting you guys good?” he asked. I took a large gulp of the bottle and felt a warmth spread over my face. I took another sip and handed it to Danny.

“Yes dude. Hard as fuck. Man.” I said. The warmth spread throughout my body. Danny took his couple of gulps and handed the bottle back to our friend. The group talked amongst themselves as I surveyed the surroundings, the sky was clear now and the moon pulsated light, the noise and stimuli would fluctuate in intensity at any given time, the music pierced through me like lightning through a cloud. My eyes fell on a small fire in the middle of a crowd of people.

I walked close to the fire and sat in front of it, the flames dancing and moving for me, telling me the story of time itself. I looked past the fiery tentacles and saw a man dancing in place, he had a 12-pack of beer on his shoulder and long blond hair that stuck to his sweaty face. He looked over at me and we locked eyes. He raised his beer towards me and winked, he took a sip and returned to dancing. “Fucking weird, man.” I muttered to myself.

I stood and wandered some more until I made it past the crowd and to the edge of the fence. Someone grabbed my shoulder and turned me to them, A man with dark skin and a shaved head looked at me with bulging eyes and a sweaty, tensed face. “Hey man! X my man wanna get lit? Some fire fucking X my man right there!” He turned me and pointed to a man with a beanie leaning against the fence. With a little push I found myself in front of him.

“20 a pop my man.” He said casually. His eyes were low and his words slurred as he said them.

“uhm…yes.” I said, fidgeting with my wallet. My needle-like nerves stabbed at me, with my shaking hand I pulled out a bill and handed it to him. The exchange was made and I was back in the sea of faces.

My heart was struggling to keep up with my emotions: excitement, fear, paranoia—all cycling through me. Now or never I thought, I popped the pill in my mouth and forced it down my dry throat. I felt an instant rush go through me and my body tingled with excitement.

I found my way back to the group and asked my friend for another sip of his drink. I took the gulp, a fire ignited in my chest, and I went over to Danny with a you won’t believe this grin. He looked me up and down and grinned.

“Oh fuck,  Jean, why are you smiling like that? What happened?” He asked.

“Oh, I just took some X dude, pretty rad.” I said.

“Dude…” His smile grew and his eyes widened. “Where? I want!” He said.

I pointed at the man and he wandered over. At this point weed started getting passed around. Jane and Sara came back from their own venture.

“Holy shit Jane I’m fucked.” I said, we now formed a circle and lit up a blunt.

“Dude I fucking feel you man, like everything is colors.” She said, having a giggle fit.

“Dude, we met this dude dancing by the fire and he gave us a beer. He was high as fuck too!” Sara said.

At this point Danny returned with the same shit eating grin as me.

The blunt went around and we continued talking the night away. My body grew higher. My very core felt like one big clusterfuck. Euphoria began to splash over me like water from a bucket. Soaking my body fully. Suddenly and violently everything shifted and became overbearing. Just the presence of foreign faces shook me to the core. I had to get out.

I turned to Danny and grabbed him. “Dude…” I said.

He stared at me, his face morphed into an alien figure, his smile stretched and became manic, this candyflip was tearing at my mind.

“Dude…your pupils are freaky man! Fucking crazy!” He said

“Your car keys man! I need them, just need to lay down, man.” I muttured through clenched teeth and a hot face.

“Yea man, here. Go chill a bit.” He said, giving me the keys.

I walked towards the exit, passing more shapeless blurs, someone muttered something and I muttered back—both indistinguishable. I tugged at the chain link fence and my core shook with anxiety, it doesn’t open Christ man I’m trapped, I thought. I felt the sweat ooze out of me, I felt my muscles stiffen, fucking trapped I thought—maybe if I jump it? I leaned my weight on the fence and felt it give, oh, I pushed it open and relief washed over me.

I made it to the car and after fumbling with the keys I was inside, away from the chaos outside. Quiet filled the car, with only the dampened sound of music and voices from afar leaking in. I laid out in the back seat and worked on my breathing; In, out, in, out I told myself—slowly, focus on your breath. What felt like waves of warm, viscous liquid, ran over me. My eyes became heavy and my body light—breath in, breath out, I thought. Darkness took over, nothing but the void took over my senses, but only for a moment.

Geometric shapes began to emerge from the shadows, crawling towards me, growing in detail and color. Fractals splashed over everything, coming and going, leaving behind traces of light. It all seemed alien to me, the sensations where overwhelming, orgasmic, stimulating.

Time went by like this, subtly—like a snail on a leaf in the forest, I thought. Suddenly the thin wisps of voices broke through my kaleidoscope world, then those voices broke through my walls of perception and I was back in the car. A group entered a car next to me and pulled out. I sat there in silence, letting reality return. I sat up and looked out the back window towards the party, it swelled in size. I looked and saw cars parked on any sort of property they could find, groups of people migrated to the mass, the house just barely showing above the flood of people. “fucking hell..” I muttered. I opened the door and stepped out, the noise and energy refreshed my senses and I was ready to return.

I went through the fence and found myself in the thick of it. Pushing past, I walked towards the fire, like a beacon. I arrived and saw the dancing man with the six pack again, this time he was sitting by the fire—drinking and talking to a girl. He’s still going at it, I thought. I looked up to the boat and stood frozen at the scene that was unfolding.

Danny, along with a dozen other strangers, were overflowing from the boat; blunts were being passed around along with joints and alcohol as music smacked into the air. I giggled at the sight of Danny chugging a beer and smoking a blunt, swinging his body and shouting into the sky. The crowd swelled into a single roar that shook the night sky.

“Holy shit, Jean!” Jane appeared next to me with Sara, both looking disheveled and absolutely plastered. “Jean this shit is fucked!” Jane shouted.

“We gotta go, the cops have got to be coming dude! This is getting way too crazy!” Sara said.

A bit of serendipity unfolded as the shrill of sirens broke through the shouts and screams of the crowd.

“Party’s over, that’s it, get fucking moving…NOW!” Spoke a man in uniform at the edge of the fence, he screamed the commands through a microphone. “Cmon everyone out now, party’s dead.”

The crowd stiffened and became dense as everyone huddled together, some scared to advance past the cops, others shouting obscenities, people shaking and panicking.

“fuck the cops” “Fuck this dude, I got work on me man.” “I can’t go dude, I can’t drive.” “Oh my god! Oh god!” “Fuck where is he? I can’t find my boyfriend!” “You can’t make us go! Fuck you pigs!”

            I looked over at the boat and people were jumping off, some threw paraphernalia to the ground and ducked into the safety of the crowd. The music died and now all that was left of the night was the noise of the crowd, and the flashing red and blue light.

“Jean! Guys!” Danny pushed his way too us and grabbed Jane by the arm. “Let’s get out of here, they aren’t gonna do shit. They just want us out of here.”

“Cmon, let’s go Sara.” I grabbed Sara by her hand and the four of us squeezed through the maze of human bodies. The smell of sweat, weed, and booze assaulted me as I made my way to the front. The flashing lights became brighter as we got closer, the cop with the microphone continued to drone on. “Party’s over…get out of here…party’s dead…”

A steady stream of misfits were draining out from the ocean of people. Beams of light shone on everyone as they exited, tension filled the air as the cops gazed over the herd. Danny, Jane, Sara, and I slipped through the fence, my nerves on the brink of bursting. We walked past the uniforms—trying to hide the fact that the ground beneath me was still breathing and shifting—and made it to the car.

“Holy shit dude.” I said, letting the stress of that walk fall off me.

“Holy shit is right man, ok lets get out of here.” Danny said.

“Are you good to drive?” Sara asked.

“No” Danny said as he pulled out and drove down the street, past the cop cars.

“You just gotta get us home, that’s it.” Jane said.

I looked at the time on the dashboard, 1:15AM. Danny lowered the window and the car filled with crisp air. We drove in silence, the visuals now coming to a decline, the waves of euphoria becoming sparse, the weight and strain of a long night returning to my body. The sweat on my brow dried and I closed my eyes as I felt the sharp wind go through my face. My breathing was heavy and slow, my body became loose and weak. My thoughts grew thin and soon sleep came.

My ceiling fan was the first thing that came to me, the soothing sound as it spun. I felt the softness of a bed beneath my body next, I felt the warmth of my blanket draped over me. I opened my eyes and let my blurry vision focus on my surroundings, I was in my room, it was still dark. I Looked over at my alarm clock, 5:23AM. I made it home I thought.

“One hell of a trip” I muttered, letting sleep take me once more.

 

More Drug Tales Drug Tales: The Trip Drug Tales: One more dance

The Bar under the Moon (Ch. 10-14 finale)

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.1-3) The Bar under the Moon (Ch.4-6) The Bar under the Moon (Ch.7-9)

CHAPTER 10:

We hit the road with a burst of energy, Erick flinging his car out of the parking spot and onto the road with tires screeching. Rat pulled out a pack of cigs and we all rolled our windows down and let the nicotine calm our riled souls.

I laid back and let my eyes wander on the passing street lights—a flash of deep yellow with a flash of the endless sky strobing by. The cold wind dried the sweat on my temple and I breathed in the fresh air in between drags of my cigarette. With coke you either talk at 100 words per second or think at just the same rate. Everyone was silent in the car, lost in their own self-handed mission. The radio was just audible behind the sound of the harsh wind. I looked up at the moon—it looked like a wedge from a lemon and I smiled at the comparison. I thought of Kim and how she loved the moon, the was she spoke about it. I wondered if she was looking at the moon at the same time as me, thinking about my smile and my eyes just as I of her.

When I was 20 I fell in love for the first time, actual love—beyond that fresh discovery of romance that most people encounter in their high school or middle school years. This kind of love was a hot flame that took up my body and soul. It was a constant weight on my shoulders that I carried proudly. The girl that ignited this primal flame in me was someone I met at a house show back in Florida. It was a small set-up in someone’s backyard—the local bands would get together and set up these gigs about once or twice a month.

The yard was wide and spacious with plenty of green grass to lay on, lights hung above the yard and the bands played towards the front under some palm trees. It was a magical set-up, scattered around were groups and individuals lying on blankets or the bare grass itself—most were smoking or drinking while enjoying the atmosphere. She was sitting alone towards the corner, just her with her short black hair and her thick-rimmed glasses. She dressed like she lived in the 70’s (wearing a loose top with psychedelic designs and colors along with a thin red headband) and she sat cross-legged, swaying and bouncing to the music. My eyes stayed glued to her throughout the night, walking around and fidgeting—constantly walking passed her but never making an attempt at conversation, maybe if I walk past her enough she would notice me and talk to me first I thought. Two bands went up and played before I felt comfortable with my plan of action. The third band started playing and my heart started banging against the walls of my chest. I still believe to this day that no drug can provide that same level of heart-thumping anxiety that going up to a beautiful girl gives you.

“Hey, mind if I join you? I’m tired of standing up.” I said to her—there were chairs all over but I prayed for her not to mention the fact.

“Yea dude come sit! You can help me finish these beers.” She spoke as she patted the blanket. Her voice was husky and soft and as I sat down closer to her I noticed her eyes were like clear streams of pale blue water. She cracked open two beers and we sat there taking short sips while the band wailed away.

That night went by in an electrifying blur—I didn’t know I was going to fall in love with her for the next three years, but I knew that she wasn’t an ordinary crush. I remember us laughing, her laugh would send shockwaves coursing through my stomach, filling me with a tickling sensation. We drank and listened to the music and talked about our hobbies and as the night progressed with inched closer and closer until eventually we sat next to each other with only self-control and public eyes keeping up apart.

That was the first night, the first step on new ground, the first stroke on white canvas, and our love was a flashing light show of passion. It was bliss for three years—we did occasionally have our fights just as any couple but we always fell back into each other’s arms. But eventually, the light show ended, the canvas ran out of space, the ground crumbled beneath me and I fell through it at a frightening, disorienting speed. An accident was all it took, I wasn’t there to witness it, but I was there through all the aftermath. She fell in her home and knocked her head on something hard, she was lying in her blood for about an hour before her mother arrived home. I don’t remember any words spoken when she called me, but I remember the noise, the crying and screaming, her gasping for air and my rush to get into the car and drive to the hospital. The scene shook my very being.

I stayed most nights by her side, her mother and I would take turns sleeping while the other whispered to the lifeless body on the bed. Her mother would tell her stories of when she was young, “Remember when you got your first puppy, remember how happy you were my baby, you cried that day sweetie, cried holding your little doggy.” She would whisper to her ear. Her voice would crack every time she would utter her daughter’s name, “Remember when we used to get ice cream with daddy Jes- Jessie, we can get more ice cream when you come back my baby, my Je- Jessica.” She would smother her face into Jessica’s chest and let out an endless cry, soaking her tears into her still daughter. I was usually quiet when I would be by her side. I would hold her limp hand in mine and run my fingers across her knuckles. I would lift her hand and kiss it for as long as I could, I would push my face into the bend of her neck and breath her in, feeling as much of her as I could, letting my warm breath and hot tears hit her neck. She died three weeks after the accident, in her sleep, under a full moon.

I lingered on that part of my life for some time, I felt shame wash over me as I thought of Kim, I felt a splinter of anger dig into my skull as I thought about falling for someone else. No one could ever replace Jessica I thought. But Kim wasn’t a replacement, that was a fact for me, something about Kim felt nostalgic, a reminder that I was not made of stone—that I could still feel. She reminded me of the first night I met Jessica, the was my palms got wet with sweat, the was my heart jumped through my chest and into my throat. It all brought back waves of memories and ideas and emotions that I believed to be lost. She wasn’t a replacement, when Jessica passed she took a piece of my soul with her, but Kim was an ember, an ember in the fire that was put out over 4 years ago, Kim was hope.

“We’re almost there” Erick said, snapping me out of my episode.

CHAPTER 11:

We pulled up into an elevated drive way of a white two-story house. Light shone through all windows and the porch was lined with beer cans and two lawn chairs. A shirtless man with long blond hair came out and stepped to the driver side window and stuck his head through.

“Hey Erick, you liked it huh?” He chuckled. Erick smirked and handed him the cash and the exchange was made. It lasted a moment and we were out and back on the road. At this point we all felt the drug coming down so Rat was quick to set up our rails.

Rat held up the CD case with the white trailing mountings up to Erick and—with one hand on the wheel and the other on the steering wheel—he leaned in and inhaled. At that moment both his heart and the car picked up pace.

“Another one, let’s all do three!” He yelped with excitement.

“Now we’re talking” Rat replied. He lined up two more snowy paths side by side and Erick repeated the process. With every line Erick’s knuckles whitened and his foot got heavier, I felt myself being pulled into the seat. We were going down a long straight away with thick bundles of trees flanking us from both sides—their branches reaching to the stars and engulfing us in a natural tunnel. Erick turned the music in the car up higher and yelled a long, harsh growl into the night.

Rat took his three lines one after another, snorting, breathing, snorting, grunting, snorting, and laughing. He rocked back into his chair and let out a long, pleasured sigh. My heart was pounding witnessing this, knowing my turn was coming up for this animalistic ritual in the middle of what seemed like an endless forest. Rat poured out an avalanche of white fluff onto the case and organized them into three neat lines. He passed me the case and the dollar bill, I stared, but only for a moment—the lines burned violently as they flew up my nose and dripped down the back of my throat. I spread my hands wide and rubbed my wet palms against my numb face, a long moan escaped me and my eyes ripped open. The natural casket around up opened and we could see the stars again. Erick rolled the windows down, turned up the music, and stepped on the gas—all of our senses were being bombarded at once, the icy wind cutting through our faces, the music drumming into our heads, the violent speed pushing our bodies flat against our seats. Hot fire and freezing ice flashed across my body simultaneously, my body morphing and breaking into a mixture of chemicals and euphoria, sweat pushing out of my pores, my eyes fixed on the blurred images of trees and lights and houses zooming by. I was thrown into a sensory overload, a terrifying whirlwind with no end in sight, any physical movement was intense and overwhelming—everything was fucking intense and overwhelming.

Rat was sticking his head out the window shouting and Erick was grinding against the air as he let the drug and music pull him out of his body. At that moment a blaring sound took over my senses, a shrill noise getting louder and louder until suddenly I was thrown into a true whirlwind. An impact from the side that shook my core out of place; glass, light, darkness, silence, shouts, all at the same time. We were spinning and there was cursing and crunching and no one knew in what direction we were going anymore. Suddenly blackness took over my world and silence engulfed my surroundings. I laid still for what felt like a year, my body was somewhere in the car—that is all I knew. Next too, or around me, laid Rat and Erick, motionless. Now the only sound I could hear was my own breathing.

I looked above me and saw the door bent and twisted, I pushed at it and a sharp pain ran up the side of my torso, I looked below me and saw the other door hanging off the hinges, cool air blowing in. I sat up and the sound of cracking glass filled the quiet car. I stepped out into the night and watched my feet drag across the asphalt. I looked to my left and saw the intersection that we ran, I looked at the numbers on the sign and new somewhat where we were. I continued stepping slowly and painfully in circles, witnessing my violent surroundings. Glass was scattered against the black asphalt, creating its own star-riddles sky, a couple feet away from me were two large twisted chunks of painted metal—the odor of gasoline and melting rubber assaulted my numb nose. I noticed my hands shaking and my broken breath, everything around me was confusing and terrifying. I stood still for an unknown time. I began to panic, thoughts began to assault my head. The cops are coming. They are going to find drugs. They are going to find dead, mangled bodies. They are going to take you. I let out a weak cry and stepped further from the wreckage. My vision was still blurry and my head was beyond a numbing throb. I saw the street numbers once more and familiarized myself with where I was. I began walking to the direction where I believed home was.

I walked for some time, staring at the dark sky and letting my aching body become dull. I walked for what seemed like miles, my feet were raw before I got to familiar territory. I arrived at the park near my house and I went to the bench and sat. I sat and thought about Erick and Rat, was it wrong of me to leave them? Harsh guilt washed over me, I should’ve stayed I thought, what could have been done?

I sat at the bench for enough time to witness the air around me change color and smell. The black sky rolled over me and soon the sun was peeking over the horizon. Warmth began to soak into my skin and soon the sounds of nature broke through. The beauty of the sunrise only made me more uncomfortable with the situation, somewhere far off behind me were three bodies lying on hard asphalt. I stood and a dull pressure took over my left side. I walked home as the sun was fully past the horizon and collapsed into my bed.

CHAPTER 12:

I woke up that same Sunday night to a stiff body and an incredible headache. I forced myself out of bed and went to a full-sized mirror nearby. I took of my shirt and saw a large bruise covering up my left side—most of the rib cage—I also noticed swelling under my right eye and close to all my knuckles were cut up, there was dried blood on my arm and another cut on my right elbow, I was amazed to still be breathing. I went back to my bed and went to sleep until morning.

The next morning I called work and told them I was going to use all four sick days. That morning I made an appointment with a doctor to make sure I didn’t have any internal bleeding—really, I’d be dead by now if I did. I laid in bed most of the day. I would get constant moments of immense guilt and panic throughout the evening, images of Rat and Erick’s mangled bodies appeared before me at random times. I couldn’t really eat, let alone rest properly. At about 7PM my bed sheets were covered in sweat and my eyes were bloodshot and swollen, I was frantic—the pain would come in waves of hot, stabbing daggers and stiff numbness.

I couldn’t stand being in bed any longer, but I also couldn’t walk to the bar in my condition. I decided to ask my neighbor for help. I changed—which took me longer than usual—and limped over to the apartment next to mine. I knocked and after a couple seconds Isabella opened. Isabella was a slender olive-toned woman from Spain. She was in her early 30s with light hazel eyes that softened even the hardest of faces. She let out a short gasp and greeted me with her sweet voice.

“Hey, you look horrible. What happened?” She asked.

“Can you take me to the bar?” I replied, attempting to hide the pain that my body displayed. I met Isabella at the bar when I first started going there, we hit it off and eventually—after becoming very good friends—I learned that she lived in the same building as me.

“It’s Monday, it’s empty right about now. Are you sure you shouldn’t be in bed? You really look ill.” She said.

“Please, I’ll but you a drink and it won’t be for long, I just have to talk to someone there for a second.” I pleaded.

She straightened her lips and looked me up and down for a moment. “Ok fine, but I could also go for a smoke once we get back.” She said, she was smirking now.

We arrived at the bar not 10 minutes later. The bar was quiet and motionless aside from a couple regulars scattered around. I dropped into a seat and ordered two drinks—the bartender looked at me the same way Isabella did when first greeting me, but he didn’t mention anything.

“How was work today?” He asked.

It was great, hey have you seen Rat or the dude that he was hanging around with a while ago? He had glasses, a bread, kinda big.” I said.

“Oh man, you didn’t see the news yesterday? Rat and the dude are gone man, they got in some nasty crash.”

I leaned back in my chair and held my breath, a big part of me knew they were gone after looking at that wreckage that I crawled out of, but a smaller part still had some sort of hope. Honestly, even that smaller part knew that hope was bullshit. I took a long sip of my drink and tried to feign shock. “What happened? How did they crash?” I asked.

He shook his head and looked down at the bar, “man, they were going down some residential road pretty fast and I guess some car swiped them from the side, it was the driver side I think. It happened fast, the news said they were dead on impact.”

“Were they on anything? It was just the two of them? No one else?” I asked, trying to reassure myself that the cops weren’t going to come knocking on my door asking questions.

“I don’t know, they didn’t say. But knowing Rat.” He just shook his head. “Yea and it was just the two of them. You were close to Rat, right? I saw you two hanging out sometimes. Are you alright?” He asked.

“Yea I’m fine.” I turned my back to the bar and sipped at my drink. Isabella sat next to me talking to the bartender. I looked around and saw random faces littered about. I felt my heart beating fast, this was part of my life, I walked away from two dead bodies and no one will ever know. A secret that I was willing to take to the grave. I felt a sort of shame but really it was mostly relief, I felt like the situation was now out of my hands, it was no longer gnawing at my consciousness as violently as before. The bodies were found, they would be mourned—like my mother and Jessica, and then life would keep going.

I was interrupted from my thoughts by Isabella’s light hand on my shoulder, “we should go” she said. We got up and went home, we smoked in my room and parted ways. I laid in bed, letting the sharp pains rise and fall throughout my body, only around midnight did exhaustion allow me to sleep.

CHAPTER 13:

I went to the doctors the following morning, I showed him my bruises and blamed it on a bicycle accident. “Hit by a car” I told him. He nodded and played along, he looked me over and took some x-rays. “Nope, nothings broken” he said, “But you’re definitely banged up. Here take this and get a week of bed rest.” He gave me a prescription for pills and I was on my way. I arrived home on my second sick day and decided that the best use of my time was to write, so I did. I spent the day working on some articles for work and even worked on a short story. At around 8PM I smoked a bit of weed and went to bed. This routine continued until Thursday, by then I had my pain pills and my bruises were beginning to reduce in size—still very purple though.

Friday I went through the work day in an opiate haze, I decided to take two or three of the pills at once to try to numb the pain enough for me to work. I spent the shift melted to my chair and typing gibberish onto the screen, luckily for me the boss man called out of work and the day was relaxed and uneventful. I left work early and took the bus back home—scaring some passengers with my glazed eyes and a bit of drool splattered on my shirt. I decided to avoid the bar at all cost, my stomach churned at the thought of going there. What if someone asked me about Rat? What if someone remembered seeing me with him on that gory night and wanted to confront me about it. My anxiety grew to an unsteady level. I got home and took a pill along with a joint for added effect, I stripped and sprawled out on my bed and closed my eyes, hoping to drift through the night.

I had a nightmare that night, I saw myself speeding through darkness, I couldn’t see an inch ahead of me but I heard the sound of an engine grinding and I felt the light sensation of incredible speed, almost like I was flying. I seemed to be going faster and faster, the black void made it hard to know in what direction. I felt the physical sensation of my stomach churning and my heart throbbing aggressively against the inside of my chest, I couldn’t breathe. Then, a light the size of a needle tip broke through the middle of this black veil, suddenly the sound of screaming shook me and the speck of light exploded into a blinding white inferno. I felt my body crumple under the pressure of this light and I awoke in my dark room panting and sweating. I looked over at my clock and saw that it was 4AM. I laid in bed, fully alert, until morning. I spent the rest of the day in a slow, groggy state. That was to be my only night terror.

The next couple of weeks were spent in mostly isolation. I worked to the best of my abilities—as the days went by, my work got better. I began needing less and less of the pain killers, weed becoming the main substitute. My purple side shrank to a small baseball sized bruise, the swelling went away completely and my cuts were now scabbed over and healing. I no longer spent my days thinking of the incident, no more late nights tossing and turning, the looming anxiety slowly disappeared and I began to feel normal again. Almost two months of isolation and routine passed before I was fully myself again, still, I felt this heaviness overcome me every time I thought of the bar. I kept most of my social interactions to a minimum. Occasionally spending the night smoking and drinking with Isabella.

Isabella was pleasant company, her energetic voice with her nostalgic stories kept me sane. She mostly talked about Spain and her childhood there. “What a beautiful, sunny place is it, over there the days were spent talking over delicious food and amazing wine.” She would say, hugging herself and letting the daydreams breath life into her. She told me about the week long festivals they would have for bull-fighting, how everyone gathered together in a small village by the coast and spent the days drinking and watching the matadors dance with the brute beasts. She told me about her first time watching a bull fighter get mangled, “It was brutal! Super gory mess, man. The bull picked the fighter up and flipped him up into the air. I was 11 and in front so I had to crane my neck up to watch him fly and then follow his limp body to the ground. The bull came around and the poor man didn’t even get a chance to stand up before the bull gouged his horn through the man’s ribs. Everyone shouted, I closed my eyes, and my dad picked me up and left the crowd. It was pretty intense for an 11-year-old, but that was part of the festival, that same night everyone continued drinking and partying, including me.” We spent many more nights talking about poetry and writing and painting, her herself was an aspiring poet—she read me some of her sonnets and haikus and I loved them all. She was a needed friend during my lonely time.

One day after returning home from work I saw a piece of paper folded and placed under my door. My heart froze and a warm excitement and nervousness overwhelmed me. I knew, or at least I hoped I knew, who the note was from. Not too many people knew where I lived, I kept that piece of information private. I picked up the letter from the ground and cradled it over to my bed. I let out a melodramatic sigh and opened it, a rush of emotion filled me. It was from Kim, I was right. Her piercing emerald eyes, her soft pale skin, her floral voice, it all came crashing down on me in a wave of blissful memories. I didn’t realize just how much I missed her until I started reading the note.

Hey, it’s Kim (but I’m sure you knew that)

I miss you, and don’t lie, you miss me too. I want to see you, I need to tell you something. Let’s meet up at the bar again this upcoming full moon. I have something fun planned for us! Can’t wait!

Love your favorite person, Kim. P.S. my hair is different now, I think you’ll really like it.

A wide grin sat on my face as I looked over her smooth handwriting. I felt the warmth of romance settle into me, in the heat of all the chaos over the past two months I almost forgot about the girl with the colorful hair, the girl who sings like what heaven must feel like, the girl who still writes letters by hand and slides them under doors. I looked up the next full moon, next Saturday, I couldn’t wait.

CHAPTER 14:

A week of nothing interesting passed by, my aches and pains were now rare, and my swelling and bruises were fully gone. I skipped going to the bar on Friday and then on Saturday I stepped out of my door in a fit of excitement. The full more tore a hole in the black canvas of the sky and I walked with my eyes glued to it. A certain giddiness enveloped me and every thought that passed my mind seemed pure and childlike, I walked with confidence and speed and within 20 minutes I was at the bar.

The bar was alive and moving tonight. A crowd stood outside mingling close together, the air foggy and thick with smoke and conversation. I looked around for a second, letting my anxiety dissipate. I walked up and past the crowd and through the door. Instantly greeted by electric stimuli, the room was a ball of energy—drinks, smiles, laughter, excitement. I scanned the dark crowd, searching for the glint of emerald gems. I was looking for hair that cut through the scene like a multi-colored knife.

I walked towards the bar and ordered a drink—all the seats were taken so I just stood. I grabbed my glass and began walking through the crowd, my eyes constantly darting around, waiting for the sight of her. After a moment I aimed back towards the bar and that’s where I saw her. Leaning against the bar, I instantly recognized her figure, but the back of her head was foreign. Her hair was cut to right above her shoulders and the color was a jet black, her look was different but my heart still went solid at the sight of her. She turned with her drink and we locked eyes, her light gaze stunning me. She was still breathtaking I thought. I met her at the bar and we kissed naturally and grinned timidly.

“And where the hell have you been?” She asked, squinting her eyes at me.

“Well I almost died but that’s a long story.” I replied.

She looked me up and down with curiosity and then grabbed my hand. “Well you can tell me later tonight, I’m glad you came.” She leaned in and took my lips in hers, holding me close.

“I’m glad too” I said, frozen with passion. “So what are those plans you told me about? We got a full moon to join us tonight.”

She smiled, “Come on, let’s get to the car. I’ll tell you on the way.” We paid for our drinks and walked out together. We got to the car and she grabbed her bag and dug through it. “Ok so first, a gift.” She said. She pulled out a long joint with tiny grapes pictured on it. We laughed about it and I thanked her, then she backed out and started driving north. We listened to Pink Floyd for some time—talking about music and bands.

“So I’m taking you to this cool beach nearby, it’s 24 hours so we can stay as long as we want.” She said, turning down the volume. “I brought blankets and I have some beer for us!”

“Beers, a joint, and a beautiful girl. It’s gonna be a good night.” I said.

We arrived at the beach 10 minutes later. We parked and I helped carry the blankets and the beer. We walked a couple feet down a cobblestone path and then got onto the sand and walked another 5 minutes into a dark spot by the sea. We laid out the blanket and drinks and sat next to each other in silence for some time. The moon was low to the water and above it, the black space was speckled with stars. Below the moon the ocean stretched endlessly. We were a couple feet from where the water met land, white foam splashing onto the soft sand, reaching out towards us and then rolling back into the black sea. Around us the earth was silent, there was only the sound of the roaring waves and the gentle wind. The crisp air chilled our bodies and it felt fresh as we breathed it in. Kim leaned over and pulled out two beers from her bag and opened them.

“Here, cheers to an unforgettable night.” She said.

“Cheers.” I said, clashing beer bottles and taking a long drink.

A moment of silence passed as we drank and stared at the view in front of us. “You better not forget me.” She said softly. “I don’t think I want to ever forget you.” She smiled at the moon, like the both of them were having a private conversation.

“Honestly, I don’t think I could forget you, even if I wanted too.” I said, smiling at her, looking at the details in her face. She looked over and bashfully sipped from the beer. She laid down and looked straight up. I joined her and laid down close. Staring at the same stars.

We star-gazed for some time, occasionally speaking out on the beauty of it or current feelings or thoughts. After some time we lit the joint and passed it around while drinking more of the beer. The night was full of intimate detail, we talked about emotions and fears, we took turns diving into the other’s soul, asking questions about wants and hopes and failures and love. We let the wind pick up our passion and twirl it around us through the night. We drank and laughed and smiled and stared—both at the rising moon and at each other.

Kim told me about her childhood, turns out, she has been very independent since a young age. Her mother leaving her with her father. “He was an amazing person.” She said—we were sitting now, facing the swaying ocean. She surprised me with a second joint and we were passing it around. “my mom left when I was about 7, so I don’t have much of her, just a couple of photos. My dad was always my biggest motivation when I started getting older. He would always say ‘It’s what makes you smile.’ He always encouraged me to be creative. He would buy me paints and every night we would read together. He is the one that got me into playing guitar and singing. He would always play Janis Joplin in the car and we would sing along and one day I told him I wanted to be just like her. I remember his face lighting up and the next day he got me a small guitar.”

We continued our story-telling—I told her of my parents and my mother’s passing, we talked for some time about my writings and goals, we jumped from our passions to relationships. I mentioned Jessica briefly to her and she told me of her last love, a relationship which she summed up as “Just two way-too-passionate souls.”

The moon inched up towards the sky, the waves continued to roar and crash onto the sand, the hours went by. We decided to pack up and head back to the bar at around midnight. The bar usually stayed open later on full moon nights—occasionally they would have small gatherings of drummers or fire spinners performing in the lot. The car ride back was soothing. I kept my hand on hers, running my thumb over her silk skin. Janis Joplin played in the background. After about 20 minutes we arrived at the bar and saw the original crowd had shrunk, but not by much.

We walked inside and there were some performers on the stage playing something indie. The crowd was facing them and bobbing to the music. There were a couple of familiar faces in the crowd—Thomas was speaking to some girl (most likely something about cooking) Jen was shaking her head with her arms up letting the music take her, the bartender walked back and forth delivering drinks and conversation. Kim and I took two empty seats by the bar and ordered some drinks. We spent some time listening to the music, talking to one another, occasionally joining in on the floor to dance and rock along with the song. We returned to our seats after a dance session looked out into the crowd. After some moments a couple approached us. They were two equal height bohemians with matching psychedelic wear. The girl had medium length black hair and the man had longer hair of the same color. They came up and greeted us.

“Hey guys, we saw you jamming out there. The bands are pretty rad huh?” The girl asked.

Kim and I nodded, I asked them if they knew any of the people playing. They talked about their friend who was a drummer in one of the bands, they told us about a music magazine they both wrote for. We talked back and forth about a couple of local bands we’ve all seen, I told them of a couple house shows I;ve been too in Florida. We exchanged words for a while, sometimes breaking off into two separate conversations—me with the guy and Kim with the girl. We were talking about some music festivals coming to town when I detached from the conversation and let my eyes wander around. There was a new band playing now and a couple more people have arrived. For a quick but distinct moment, I caught a glimpse of a bug-eyed man pushing around through the crowd. His motions seemed to clash with the flow of the surroundings and so my vision lingered on him for some time, he had a shaved head with a familiar face—I was certain it was the pyro I met some time ago. He wandered around aimlessly and soon I became bored and went back to the conversation. We continued drinking and eventually I excused myself to the bathroom.

I walked over realizing that the alcohol had settled nicely and I was becoming drunk, during my trip to the bathroom—it was towards the back of the bar, down a hallway lined with paintings—I saw a blur shove by me, I didn’t give it a second thought and continued on. I entered the bathroom and leaned my hand against the wall as I let the drink pour out of me. I thought about the energy of the night, I thought about the couple at the bar, I thought about Kim and the beach and our talk. My mind was lost in the daydream when I began to feel something shift. It was a single moment of realization that brought me to my current surroundings. I listened to the crowd outside and noticed that the no music was playing. My mind only remembers the music playing and then the music not playing, but not the moment that it halted. I kept listening, waiting for them to start up again, but instead I heard sporadic movement and voices with an intense tone to them.

I was buckling my pants and walking to the door when I heard the first signs of chaos, it was indistinguishable shouts alongside glass breaking. I swung the door open and immediately inhaled harsh, heated smoke. My eyes glazed over and soon I began to hear the screaming and movement much clearer. I crouched and felt a heavy heat in the area. I looked down the hallway and saw a wall of black smoke blocking my view. At this point there is mayhem happening around me, I hear shouting and objects being toppled over and broken but I cannot see it unfolding. My chest is tight from the smoke and my throat is raw and swollen. I think of Kim and get to my hands and knees and crawl down the hallway.

I hear the sound of footsteps coming towards me and from the black fog emerges a girl, she runs past me—almost tripping over me, and out the back emergency exit. Instantly, the disorienting shrill of an alarm mutes all other noise. I become impaired as all my senses are overwhelmed by the fit unfolding around me. A couple of others run past me and I stand and run to the bar. The smoke is thinner in the open space but not by much, I attempt to scream out for Kim but I succumb to a coughing fit that brings me to my knees again. I follow the bar to where we were sitting and I see knocked over chairs and broken glass. At this moment the heat makes itself known and I see a flickering tower of flames raging to my right, against the wall.  Sweat pushes itself out of my pores only to dry instantly from the immense heat. I continue past the bar alongside a couple of others and towards the exit.

I barge out of the door with a cloud of thick smoke chasing behind me. I am thrown into a sea of coughing and shouting, there are people calling names and shouts for the police. I try to breath in the cold air but my throat closes and stunts my efforts. I cough/yell out for Kim, gasping in between, I’m beyond disoriented at this point and my vision is a blur. I push my way through the crowd and stand in the parking lot looking frantically for her. I turned to the bar and saw wild tentacles of flame crashing out of the doors and windows, and a tower of smoke trailing up to the sky and disappearing into the night sky. The heavy heat moved the space around it like a mirage. I witnessed the fire grow and engulf the walls when I hear Kim shouting for me.

I turned and looked in multiple directions until I saw her standing on the sidewalk a couple of yards away, I ran towards her and saw her coughing as well. Our red, swollen eyes met for a moment before we turned to look at the burning cluster. At this time all of the inhabitants were out of harm’s way and standing yards away from the scene. Kim and I sat down on the hard cement and stared at the inferno. I looked on in disbelief as this building began to crumble into itself.

It was at this moment that the daunting fact of what just unfolded began to settle. It manifested into reality and gripped tightly around my heart, festering into my skin. It was a terrifying sort of calm, the kind one would encounter after a long-awaited diagnosis. Witnessing this building succumb to flames was like witnessing my memories being thrown into a fire. Yet, slowly, as I watched the flames dance against the darkness of the sky, I came to a sort of calming acceptance. A humble understanding that this couldn’t really be the end of the bar. I looked around at the others surrounding me, their faces lit up by the soft flickering glow of the fire. Their expressions just as astonished as mine. I stared at the acid-heads, the punks, the druggies, the wild-childs. I stared in comfort, the building was gone but I was realizing that the building was just a place-holder, the flower pot for this eccentric garden of people.

Kim laid her head on my shoulder and let out long steady breaths. “I’m leaving” she said.

I froze at the words. I moved my eyes down to her face, her eyes were glued to the fire. The dancing flames reflecting off her emerald gems. I looked back at the fire. “where?” I asked.

“I’m going to Colorado, I have family there, I want to see if I can play music there. Keep chasing the dream, you know?” She replied. Her hand laid on my lap. “There’s a lot of bars their. People I can play for, people who would want to listen.”

“that’s good…it’s what makes you smile, right?” I asked.

Soon sirens began ringing in the background. The crowd slowly began to thin out. I saw there, with Kim resting on my shoulder, with the bar drowning in flames, with strange yet familiar faces surrounding me. I felt lost, unknown of what to do. I thought of my parents, I thought of Jessica, I thought of right here and now.

“Yea…it would make me smile.” She spoke. We were quiet for a moment, listening to the crackle of the flames and the whining of the sirens. “How about you?” She asked.

How about me, I though. I thought of my time here, of the people I met. I saw images of everyone flash through my head; Rat, Thomas, Jen, the couple, and countless others. The people around me were a family under the roof of the bar, a cluster of blinding energy, now, like an explosion, we were to be scattered around our surroundings. Now, without the bar, we were left to find a new routine, a new solid structure to hold us steady and keep us sane. We were let loose to wander—and wandering was what I was to do, I thought. The same as when I left Florida, after constant loss it was my time to go. Now I sat here, surrounded by loss once again, tears pushing themselves out of my eyes, with only one thing to do, to wander. “Maybe I’ll go north, find a nice small house, write a book, and start all over” I said to Kim. She stayed silent, once the cause of the sirens arrived and began putting out the fire, Kim and I decided to go. She drove to my apartment and together we went up and sat at the kitchen. I poured us both glasses of water and we just sat there in silence.

“When are you leaving?” I asked. I sipped slowly at the water, my throat still raw from the smoke.

“In a week.” She said, doing the same as me. “But this is the last night I can see you.” She whispered.

I sat trying to hide the heaviness in my chest. I wanted to ask why, but I understood that it wouldn’t change anything. We sat in silence for a moment, at an attempt to break the tension I put on a record and pulled out two beers. “Here, pretty sure this might kill us with all that smoke but fuck it.” I said, popping them open and her one to her. She smiled at my and my chest felt light again.

We didn’t talk much, we were shaken to the core by the events that unfolded and we both knew it. It was not time for conversation but for contemplation. We moved to the bed and sat at the edge drinking our beer and using the music as background noise to mask the massive silence. Again I fell into a slide-show like spiral, letting every event from the past three months flicker by, frame by frame. Images of bright red hair and accelerated heartbeats flashed in my head. Feelings of drugs, alcohol, and adventure filled my insides to the brim. Thoughts of fear and mourning rattled my bones. One does not realize the impact of a moment until given proper time to reflect upon it, and reflecting upon it I came to realize the impact that these events have had on me. Again, tears began to swell in my eyes as I witnessed the intense fear of changed grab a hold of me. Again, my love was to leave me. Again, my home was to crumble beneath me. Again, I was to change and adapt. It was a familiar heaviness.

Kim slept by my side that night, for a final time we held each other, kissing and caressing our fading bodies. The night grew darker and Kim fell asleep. I stayed up thinking of the moon for some time, thinking of the new meaning attached to this ancient object. I stayed up knowing that this moment, this place in time, was to turn into a faded memory. The hours dragged by as I thought of everything in detail, soon my body grew weak and I began to fade along with my worries. I thought of a place far away, with others like me—wanderers with no solid home. I closed my eyes knowing that Kim would be gone by sunrise. I pulled the covers over me and let the warmth bathe me. I let images of the moon and stars take up my thoughts. I fell deeper and deeper into an unconscious state.

I dreamt of the ocean that night, the endless ocean, with endless possibilities.

THE END

 

Thank you for reading my story. Thank you. If you enjoyed it please share it with others, and please let me know what you think! Thank you again, have a beautiful day/night.

Read some of my other works. True Happiness A Lucid Life

 

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.7-9)

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.1-3) The Bar under the Moon (Ch.4-6)

CHAPTER 7:

            We arrived at my apartment around 1AM. Sweaty and on the brink of collapse, we were glad to be safe. My apartment is not anything grand or majestic, really it’s what one would expect a bachelor’s to look like. It was a large studio with the bedroom, living room, and kitchen all in the same space. A small sofa sat front of a table with cds and records scattered on it. My bed laid on top of a colorful oriel rug with a wooden nightstand next to it and a guitar on the other side. On top of the nightstand laid a pipe with a bag of weed and a pile of ash from burning incense. The kitchen was small and plain the whole floor was wooden.

We took off our shoes and dragged ourselves to the bed, collapsing side by side. We laid there in silence trying to absorb the chaos that just went down. All could hear was the hum of the ceiling fan our breathing. I sat up and grabbed my pipe and packed some weed into it. After a puff I passed it to her and began to calm down. She did the same and sat next to me on the edge of the bed.

“That was fucking crazy” I said.

“I thought you were caught up in the middle of that, I was freaking out waiting for you to get out there alive.” She replied, letting smoke slowly trail out of her mouth and disappear into the air.

“I think I got hit on the back of the head.” I said.

She grabbed my head and brought me closer to her, running her hand through my sweaty hair. “Well you’re not bleeding, just don’t pass out anytime soon.” She said, letting a grin escape her tired face.

“I’m not tired anyways.” I said.

We sat around for some time, passing around the bowl. The ecstasy was still very much in effect—though not as strong as when at the bar.

“I never got my water at the bar” she said.

“Yea I was interrupted.” I said, I walked to the kitchen and poured two glasses of water. I walked back and saw her leaning over the bed and grabbing my guitar.

“You didn’t tell me you played.” She said, adjusting the guitar on her lap and plucking a couple of strings. She was now sitting cross-legged in the middle of my bed and I say at the edge looking at her. She looked natural holding that guitar, comfortable and content running her hands up and down the neck and along the strings.

“I tried, I remember seeing my dad play for my mom when I was younger.” I said.

“Your dad sounds like a cool guy.” She said.

“They both were, they met as some music festival. My dad played guitar and my mom liked to paint. They were pretty artsy, even when they got older I would still see my mom paint every once in a while and every anniversary my dad would play the same song for my mom. He played it every year.”

“Are you as romantic as your father?” She asked.

My cheeks grew hot and I knew I was blushing. She said it in such a playful tone, I couldn’t help but imagine myself with her, being romantic and sensual. “Well I can’t serenade you unfortunately.” I said, chuckling and taking a long drink from my water.

“Well I can.” She said, she started at me with this hopeful expression, hoping I’d say the right thing.

“That sounds perfect.” I said.

She smiled and adjusted herself, tucking her hair behind her ear. “I wrote this one and you’re the first one to hear it, so appreciate it!” She said, pointing at me and squinting her eyes. That look dazed me, already my heart was pounding. The night was quiet, everything around us was still, and the chaotic feelings from the night were not settled and gone. It was just the two of us alone in my studio apartment, in the middle of somewhere, far from nowhere. It was a state of peace, the soft golden light from the kitchen spilled onto the hardwood floor. I felt my cold feet against the soft rug, it was a peaceful moment when she began to play.

Her eyes closed and she strummed away, soft gentle music spilled out. Her head was swaying gently k and forth, like a flower would, being pulled and pushed by soft winds. I stared at her pale complexion, at her lavender hair, and her fragile hands moving across the guitar. Her lips just barely touching. A heat rose up inside of me, this white energy trying to push itself out of me. She began to sing, words falling out of her like leafs falling from a tree—softly twirling and landing upon my ears, it felt pure. “Let me meeelt away…Let me melt into you.” Every bit of her being was pushing and pulling me. My hands went frigid and yet my whole body was burning. This fire inside of me, thrashing, trying to burst out of me and engulf us in a passionate flame. “Let me melt away… let me melt… melt away.” My eyes did not move away from her, they wouldn’t dare give up a second of this. I wouldn’t allow it. Every word, every strum of the guitar, every second, I was entranced. My heart beating to the breaking point, yet my mind was still, focused on just her nothing at that moment was real except her and her voice. “Melt meeelt away now baby” weather it was the ecstasy or my true emotions I do not know, but the fire inside burst clean out of me. It blasted forth and engulfed us, I leaned in and kissed her.

She tensed up for a moment and then relaxed into me, she pushed herself closer. She pushed the guitar to the ground and pressed her hand to my burning cheek. I inched closer and grasped the back of her neck, kissing her, tasting her, melting away with her. Our bodies fell together onto the bed and we held on tightly. Our hands wandering around and discovering each other. Nothing but the sound of our lips and warm bodies rubbing together. The passionate flame welded our bodies together and through the night we moaned our emotions until finally collapsing into each other and floating into deep sleep. I dreamt of the stars that night.

CHAPTER 8:

            I woke up the next morning alone. I stretched my arm out and grabbed air and cold blankets. The sun peeked through my apartment window and shone on just me. She was gone again, just like the first time we met.

I made breakfast and sat in silence re-living last night. The scary parts, the exciting parts, the lovely parts. I ate and decided to spend this Saturday at my apartment. I did the usual—mostly writing with smoke breaks in-between. I even practiced a bit of guitar, which I haven’t done in years. The day crawled by and soon it was night. I decided on a walk to a park nearby, trying to clear my head or pestering thoughts.

I have a favorite bench at this park. It’s towards the middle when the foliage becomes thick and the street lights seem to break and wither, leaving you in darkness. If you sit on this bench at the right spot—middle right, you get to see a glimpse of the moon and stars past the bony fingers of the trees. I got there, sat down, and let the crescent moon bathe me in its soft light. It was dark, quiet, just perfect.

I sat there in silence for some time. I stared up past the dead branches, into the dark void with speckles of diamonds scattered throughout, last time I sat here this late was when my mother died. It was a sad time for both me and my father. I’d like to say it was life that got to her, some sort of cancer or even old age. Honestly, I would have taken some sort of sick accident to be the cause of her suffering and eventual death, but it wasn’t, my mother became addicted to pain killers when I still lived with them. My father and I talked to her occasionally, it was all very casual—“Hey watch it with those pills now.” “You look thin mom, you gotta quit those things.” Most days I wish I could’ve sat her down and told her the harsh truth of the depressing chaos that she was throwing this family into. She was hooked for around a year or two , it didn’t take long, it wasn’t some slow gradual descend into death’s embrace—it was more of a head first dive into an overdose and coma, smacking into the darkness and eventually taking her final breaths in a hospital room with a tube sticking out of her mouth.

My father fell to the bottle afterwards. I stayed to live with him for some time and most nights he would drink and play guitar. He would half sing and half sob the song he wrote for my mother, he sobered up some years later but he never was the same.

Now here I was, back on this bench looking up at the golden scythe in the sky. I sat there confused for some time. What did this girl want from me? Did she just keep me around for a fun night or two? Someone to entertain her when her other plans fell though? I became angry, first at her then at myself—how could I let this girl use me like this? Why was I so hurt by it too? I knew why, although I’d hate to admit it, I was path the point of curiosity now, it was now romantic. I wanted her, I missed her scent, and I crabbed to run my hands through her hair. It was all crazy to me, and I just sat there with my eyes flued to the moon thinking about the insanity of it all. I sat in the comforting silence for another hour before walking back home. I went to bed and let myself drift away with her lingering scent on my bed-spread, it was a melancholy night.

CHAPTER 9:

The bar was still a hot-zone a week or two after the fight. There was a constant shadow looming over the dwellers—they still drank and did their poisons but with a sort of hesitation and constant vigilance. The problem, the looming shadow, were the cops. There were patrols that would drift by the bar sporadically through the night, like saying yes, here we are, don’t do anything stupid. It was always short lived, we are a very resourceful group, though as individuals we sometimes might cause some chaos that would warrant police surveillance, as a group we knew better than to act up in front of the leering pigs. So, a week or so passed and so did the constant weight of oppression. Soon enough things were back to normal and everyone felt free.

I returned to the bar after my hiatus on a Saturday night at around 9PM. I took my seat and ordered my drink, gazing around at the comforting surroundings—it felt like I never left. I saw Rat again making his rounds, and thought I’d go up to him for a chat and a smoke. I finished my drink and walked over to where he was having a conversation with a tall man with thick-rimmed glasses and a full beard. I walked up close and Rat turned to me with an excited look.

“Hey man! Long time. I thought that fight scared you away.” He said.

“You were there for that?” I said. I looked over at the bearded man and nodded. Rat turned to him and placed a hand on his broad shoulder.

“This is Erick, cool guy I just met.” Rat said.

“Hey man.” Erick said, he looked at me with wide eyes and a stretched smile. I saw that his brow glistened with sweat, he was high off something I thought.

Rat motioned us both outside for a smoke, so we walked past the thick crowd and out to the lot towards a black beat-up car. He gave us each a cigarette and we lingered in silence, letting the smoke cloud around us.

“So me and Erick have been having some fun man.” Rat said, finally breaking the silence.

Erick nodded carefully, “Yea man I have some awesome white on me. Do you want? Let’s go in the car and take a line or something. I’ll give you a bit.”

Stimulants were never my favorite of substances, it was an occasion kind of drug—a, things are getting wild and I want to be up there with it, kind of drug. I always preferred the introspective connectedness of psychedelics. Today felt right though, after a long hiatus I was glad to be back at the bar and I was more than willing to try anything that had potential to stretch out the night. We all threw out our cigarettes and went into the car, Rat and Erick sat in the front and I in the back. The tinted windows let little light through so we were essentially hidden from the others outside.

Erick pulled out a small baggie and flashed it around. He opened it and we all took turned putting a finger in the bag and licking the residue. It came to me and I looked at the white powder—this was only my third time doing this drug so it was still a curious encounter. I stuck my pinky in and then sucked on it for a second. Immediately a bitter chemical taste coated my tongue followed by a gradual numbness. I gave the bag to Erick and he began to pour some out onto a cd case. My heart was tight and uncomfortable at this point, not from the small taste of the drug itself but from the anxiety of the whole scene. A mix of uncertainty, fear, excitement and impatience.

Erick cut up the white mountain into three trailing hills, he took out a 20-dollar bill and rolled it into a thin tube, he leaned forward and inhaled the powder, breathing in harshly and craning his head back. Rat grabbed the cd case next and followed suit, stuffing his nose with the white powder and facing the sky, rubbing his nose, and exclaiming “Fucking Christ this shit burns good!” He turned and gave me the cd case and the rolled-up bill. At this point the anxiety left, there was nothing to wait on now, no time to overthink—no action to re-consider, it was only time to do. I placed the cd case on the middle console in between the two front seats and inched towards it. I put the green tube at the end of the trail and followed the path until there was nothing left. A sharp burn immediately flew up my sinus and to the back of my eyes. I shut them to stop a single tear from escaping and held my breath, letting the substance melt into my nasal cavity. I gulped some saliva and a metallic taste filled the back of my throat, it almost made me gag.

“I remember the best coke I’ve ever fucking had, man.” Erick said, his voice cutting the sound of sniffling. “You couldn’t take lines of this stuff man, it’d give you a heart attack.”

“Did you find it easy?” I asked. My chest felt like it was being pulled on and my hands were cold and shaky. I kept swallowing at the foul-tasting saliva in hopes of taking away the numbness in my mouth.

“It’s easy to get coke in Colombia man, you can go to some club or bar and go around asking for perico or llello, that what they call it there, ‘oye tienes llello?’ You go around asking that enough and you’ll find someone. I met a dude there who was really cool about it. I told him it was my first time in Colombia and he grabbed me and said he was going to show me around town. He sold me about a gram of the stuff and took me to some club nearby.” At this point Rat is setting up another three lines for us and nodding along to Erick’s story. I was becoming jittery and intrigues in the tale.

“Damn, and what did you do at the club? Did you do the coke like out in the open?” I asked.

“Dude Colombian clubs are fucking wild man.” He said. Rat passed him the cd case and he took his line followed by the same routine of snorting and cursing. “This du—fuck that was a nice one—this dude that I met, turns out he wasn’t just some fucking random drug dealer man. This guy was part of some fucking cartel. He was telling me how he left home when he was like 13 and his cousin took him in and introduced him to other kids his age, all of them drug dealers and shit.  Like these 13-year-olds were in it, dealing, killing, all that man. ‘matando a jente y rovan y son locos’ he would say. So we are drinking a bunch and we are in some V.I.P room in the corner of the place and we have a small pile of coke on the table that we are scraping lines off of, we’re just talking and laughing and drinking. This guy tells me about how they would give him a fucking place to live in with bricks of coke and wads of fucking cash. They would tell him ‘look, you live here and you do what you want with the money but just sell these drugs’ and that’s what he would do, he spent his fucking early life doing that shit, eventually he got people selling under him and he got a reputation and he just spent his life partying and doing drugs and being fucking wild.”

“Some Pablo Escobar shit man.” Rat said. He took his line and passed me the case. “How long did you guys hang at the club?” He asked.

“Oh dude we spent the whole fucking night there, listen this guy had so much money that he brought some chicks in and started throwing money at them telling them to dance and strip and all that. I was high as a kite and completely belligerent, at this point we have been drinking aguardiente and doing coke for about 4 hours. At some point I guess one of the chicks said some shit he didn’t like and he started freaking out. He stood and ran towards he screaming ‘PUTA PUTA MALDITA!’ he fucking grabbed her and threw her to the ground and started smacking her, just shouting, wild eyed. I was freaking out thinking that the cops were gonna come and arrest us. After a bit, he just stops and walks back to the couch. He throws a couple of bills at the girl and goes back to talking and doing lines. The chick is just there on the ground sobbing for a bit, eventually she gets up, grabs the money from the ground and walks out the room. That was it, the night kept going—new girl came in and we kept drinking.”

“Jesus, that guy was a fucking maniac.” I said. I held the case in my sweaty palm and brought it up to my face. I braced myself this time and inhaled the white dust. The burn, the taste, all came flooding back. I felt my heart much more now, it pushed at my chest with every beat. I sprawled out in the back seat and tried to slow my breathing. Warm pools or euphoria were being splashed on top of me, my legs, arms, and torso constantly moving and stretching, I would occasionally take a long inhale and hold it, feeling my warm blood rush through my veins.

“Fuck man, we’re out” Rat said, he lowered the window and tossed out the empty baggie.

“I have my connect if you guys want. I’ll buy it and you guys just pay me back some other day? What you think?” Erick said.

I let go of my breath and it flowed out in a broken jagged trail, even my breathing was shaky. The high off cocaine is like a question that you don’t have the answer too, an action that you know is coming but you are not prepared for. It is a constant push towards anything that isn’t what you are doing at that moment. An aggressive drive to keep your brain and body stimulated, it was getting hard to even think, parked in this lot, heading nowhere, doing nothing. I felt like a drive to a drug dealer’s douse and more drugs could keep those heavy arms from pushing me to madness. “Yea” I spat out, “Let’s get out of here.”

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.4-6)

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.1-3)

CHAPTER 4:

I got home around 8PM and immediately went to bed. I woke up Monday morning and began my weekday routine. For me, the weekends were reserved for any sort of delinquent activity, the drinking, the drugs, and the recklessness. As for the weekdays, those were the days I kept myself sober and neat. I worked for a local newspaper, nothing to exciting, I write columns on local events; farmers markets, upcoming fairs, plays, shows, and music. It was a draining job, not because of the work—my days would sometimes consist of me going out on the road and visiting event sites and talking to coordinators about the production and such, and I enjoyed that, but when the time came to write and I found myself stuck at the office, the hours seemed to drag. For I had a slight resentment for the office itself, most notably my co-workers. An arrangement of the dullest souls I’ve met.

There was a man named Jake, a man in his late 30s with a long weathered face. When I first started working here he asked me to join him for lunch, he seemed nice enough so I agreed and off we went for a chat and some sandwiches. The next hour was filled with talk about his kids and their schooling, his wife and her nagging, and his dog who “always takes a crap on the damn rug.” That incident in turn would make his wife nag and he would find himself lost in another tangent. His children was his main point of interest though, he would go off about any detail he could remember, “Here look at these pictures! Aren’t they a miracle? Aren’t they?” He had his 7-year-old Michael who hates asparagus but loves cheese, and his 10-year-old Patricia who “is growing up so fast! Time flies when you’re a parent huh?” He rambled on while I buried my sandwich into my mouth at an attempt towards suffocation up until the end of break. That was the last time I ate lunch with Jake.

Then there was Victoria, a younger woman with straight brown hair and too much make-up. She always wore the same blue top and always smelled of mold. She spoke like she was trapped in a constant state of confusion and unanswered questions. She also had a tendency to trail off, starting on one subject and ending it on a completely different matter. Like when she told me about her travels to London and how she thought that the weather was too cold and rainy. She got there and ordered “this fish and chips thing?” and when she got her fried fish with fries she was confused until someone told her that they called fries “chips.” She would laugh longer than need when telling me about this revelation of hers. She then began to rant about the fries and how they were too thick and how she prefers them thin—she would trail off at this point and start talking about where she had the best fries. “You know this place sure knows their fries right? I like their fries there, they have good salad too! But you know who has the best walnut salad?” As she continued with her story I would sit there dumfounded, trying to trace back the moment we went from her trip to London, to why so-and-so has “Like the best walnut salad ever.”

These were my days at work—nine to five, Mondays through Thursdays. It was a personal hell really and the only salvation was the weekend binge at the bar. I’m not saying that these people are boring or uncultured—I’m sure they have interesting traits to them, like Jamie the tech columnist who could recite the first 23 numbers of pi from memory. It is just that I have become so used to and absorbed by the mayhem of the bar that, It is difficult to find substance in most regular people.

Now, if I were to say all I do is work on the weekdays and get unfathomably drunk on the weekends, well, I’d be just as routine and unspontaneous as my co-workers. I do have my own personal ambitions that separate me from my predecessors. I have dreams of becoming a writer, someone who travels the world and meets colorful people and experiences exciting new things and writes about it all. I also paint, a hobby I picked up from my mother at a young age. Usually I paint portraits of flowers, and foliage, and roaring rivers with steep waterfalls. All this along with the occasional nature walk keeps me fresh and alert in spirit and mind. As long as I have arts, the bar, and strong drinks, I am perfectly content.

CHAPTER 5:

I worked through the weekday and come Friday I was ready for another trip to the bar. I woke up late, wrote a little and drank my coffee while listening to music. At around 8PM I was sitting at the crowded bar with a drink in my hand. The usual faces were about. There was Jen, a short dark-haired girl who always wore band shirts and tight jeans, a permanent smirk stayed on her as she freely walked around. An interesting girl, originally from the bible belt she was the middle child of a family of five. Home-schooled by her mother, she was raised to fear the almighty one and to only speak when spoken too. “Bible thumping ass-holes” she would tell me. She eventually broke free from the cycle when she discovered LSD through a friend and was kicked out of her home to go live with her aunt up here in the area. “It was the best thing to happen to me, the acid turned me on to the world.” She would say, exclaiming how the drug made her realize how abusive and manipulative her parents truly were. “I started to think for myself, I started to listen to new music, and soon I discovered the punk scene. I met some people with the same interests and it all took off. My parents started calling me the devil and by senior year of high school I was sent up here.” She would always say this story with affection, thanking the harsh actions of her parents for her current happiness.

I took my gaze off jen and landed on a bald man with nervous eyes and protruding cheekbones, I forgot his name but I remember him as a pyromaniac. I had a chat with him over a couple of beers some time ago and he spilled to me his love for fire. “The heat, the sound, the crazy adrenaline that goes through me when I see something burning.” He told me that his addiction began as a small child in Alabama, “I came from a real small town, not much to do but drink and burn shit.” He spent his early years doing more of the later. “By the time I was eleven I was already getting drunk with the neighborhood kids and causing a ruckus. I would mainly burn piles of leaves or pieces of plywood and all that. Eventually I got bored, I wanted to burn something big! The first thing that really got me going was when I lit my neighbor’s mail box on fire. I threw some vodka on the box and doused a rag in it, I opened the mail box, lit the rag, and threw it inside. I got far enough to hide behind some car and I just stared at it, it was around one in the morning and the whole night was lit up. This crazy flaming tower just getting taller and taller, every nerve in my body was shaking from excitement, I didn’t blink, I couldn’t! That’s when it started.” He told me this story with bated breath, griping his fist tightly and with a psychotic grin.

I was on my second drink when I looked to the door and saw her walk in. My cheek burned at the memory of her lips, my heart froze over with a sharp pang and my legs began bouncing from anxiety. Her hair wasn’t red anymore, it was a light purple, like a garden of lavender pouring out over her slender shoulders. Everything else about her stayed the same. Her eyes still piercing, still emerald, still breathtaking. I froze when she locked eyes with me. She smiled and raised her hand in the air.

“Hey you!” She wrapped her arms around me and I breathed her in, feeling her warmth. My heart was pounding. She took a seat next to me and ordered a beer.

“I love your hair, why the change?” I asked.

“I was bored with red, I change it often. I was feeling flowery and flowy so I changed it to this.” She said, twirling a strand of smooth hair in between her fingers. “So what are you up too tonight? Anything fun?”

“I just got here, been people watching mostly.” I said.

“Oh, you came alone?”

“Yea I did.”

“Good, then you can spend the night with me.” She drank her beer and twirled in her seat to look at the crowd.

We talked for some time, letting the drinks do their job and watching the crowd shift and move. We spoke about our free time and what we filled it with. She liked to play music she said, she played guitar and she sun. She told me about how she wanted to travel around the states, playing songs in small bars where people come to drink and hang out. She didn’t want to be famous, in fact she loathed the idea. She just wanted to play her music for small groups of happy people and meet others, and never be bored of life. “I’d rather die a starving artist before anything else. I won’t let myself get bored or give up.” She said this with confidence, a glint in her green eyes as she got lost in the fit of her passion. She looked so wholesome when she spoke, the epitome of hope, of belief that dreams can come true. I just stared in wonder, becoming warmer and warmer at the sound of her voice. Falling deep into the mystery that is her.

I was never a lonely man, in fact I preferred my alone time at home, I preferred to do most things on my own. It gave me room to move at my own pace, allowing things to unfold naturally without rush. I was never one to fall in love easily, I would always catch a glimpse of someone beautiful and my mind would wander to romantic thoughts but I would never entertain those ideas for long. Not to say that I did nor love, in fact, I was madly in love with a girl for three years of my life. We spent out days doing everything together, we would go to parks and watch squirrels run around. We would eat and go out and spend the nights under the stars and moon. For three years I was in love with my best friend, and I enjoyed every bit of it. But as life tends to do, the relationship fell under horrible circumstances and my best friend and lover was taken from me. Since that time I was never really entranced by another soul. That is until now, at this bar in the middle of somewhere and nowhere. With her colorful hair and her gemstone eyes and her porcelain skin. So here I sat, engulfed by the white hot beauty that emanated from this person. Feeling the heat in my body rise with her every movement. It wasn’t love, but it was something.

“Hey are you going to stay here long?” She said. Snapping me back to the loud ruckus of our surroundings.

“With you yea.” I said.

“Good, then why don’t we take a little something? I got a surprise if you’re willing.”

“What did you have in mind?”

She smiled and pulled out a blue pill with a symbol on it and a line going through the middle. “Here, let’s enjoy our night a little bit longer.” She broke the pill in half and I placed my half on my tongue, not taking my eyes off her as she did the same. A cold wind of anxiety filled the pit of my stomach and I took a shaky inhale, shuddering with excitement and fear and what was to come.

At this point the music has outweighed the conversation and the floor is full of dancers. People rocking back and forth, some with their eyes closed, completely blocking out the world around them. Some holding their partners close, pressing their hot flesh together, letting their emotions move them. I finished my drink and looked over at the sweet figure sitting next to me. She sat there with her eyes closed breathing deeply, her fingers twitching from nervousness. I wanted to be closer to her at that moment.

“I never got your name” I asked her.

“Kim.” She said.

“Dance with me Kim.” I grabbed her hand which was cold to the touch and moved us to the center of the dance floor.

We joined the ball of heat and passion that made the heart of this bar. We joined along with the sweaty bodies thrashing about one another. We squealed and yelled and laughed with glee and mounting satisfaction. I grabbed a hold of her waist and we spun, the whole room around us becoming a blur. She grabbed my hands and we swung them around and moved and shuffled out feet, we knocked our heads back and forth letting our hair flail about. We were lost in a wild fit of energy and touch and feel. Time melted away and all the weight of our days stripped off of us, we were floating across the dance floor—effortlessly gliding into one another. Song after song, step after step, laughing! Dancing! Shouting! The night matured with this unstoppable energy until I felt my legs collapsing under my weight. I threw myself onto the couch against the wall and sat there, a sweaty, exhausted mess. A few seconds later Kim joined me.

She was resting her head on my shoulder and I had my shaky hand gripping her thigh. My heart felt like it would burst through my chest at any moment, my legs were numb to the bone—sweat drenched my body. My vision was a blurry mess, faces and bodies seemed to blend into a sort of fog. The music was drumming into my ears, it was physical. I glanced at Kim and her green eyes were now two black holes. An awestruck expression stretched over her face. Her chest was rising and falling sharply with a thin film of sweat covering her. The ecstasy has taken its hold of us.

“I’m going to get us some drinks.” I said to her.

“Get me a water too” she said, squeezing my hand with hers.

I walked over to the bar and ordered the drinks. I leaned the weight of my body against the table and zoned out to the music. There were two men next to me that seemed to be in the middle of a heated debate—the man facing me had narrowed eyes with his lips tightly pressed together and deep wrinkles in his brow. The other with his back turned to me was flailing his hands about and occasionally pounding the bar table. The music overwhelmed most of their conversation except for parts that they shouted.

“I NEED IT NOW!” The man closest to me shouted.

“NO SCREW THAT, I TOLD YOU ALREADY! ARE YOU STUPID!” The other spat back.

“SCREW YOU, MAN! I WANT MY MONEY BACK NOW!”

“YOU’RE NOT GETTING SQUAT YOU FUC—“

It happened in a moment, which was all it took. The man closest to me gripped a glass cup with drink still in it. Within the span of a second or two and with a single fluid motion I saw him swing his entire body towards the other. The glass moved with incredible speed, the drink spilling out from the top. The glass crashed and shattered into the side of the victims head, spraying shards of glass and alcohol in his face and surroundings. At this moment there was n silence, there was not a single moment of astonishment, like a switch simply being flipped to the “ON” positions—all hell broke loose. The two grabbed at each other and slid their weight towards me, knocking me on the ground. Others began to jump and grab at the two, there was shouting and crashing and then another punch was thrown and obscenities were spat out. Soon there was an all-out brawl, a tornado of bodies and fists slapping into one another formed in the middle of the room. I stood to my feet and witnessed a beer fly into the air and crash against the back wall. People all around me moved with a great panic, some joining in on the fight, using fists or bottles or whatever else they could use to beat one another—others ran and pushed past me, an avalanche of bodies rushing to the door. Then came a sharp pressure upon the back of my head and I found myself on the floor again, black splotches taking up my vision. I looked around in a daze and thought of Kim. I glanced past the chaos at the black sofa and she was gone, I pushed myself up and stumbled towards the door—all the while chairs and glass and bodies all being thrashed about all around me. I pushed through the door and a group rushed in past me. There was another group of spectators outside shouting and in a frenzy looking through the window. I heard the noise of police sirens getting louder and louder. The sounds of tires screeching and horns blaring as everyone took off into different directions, a violent chaos had unfolded. Towards the back, underneath a tree, I saw a head of purple hair and ran towards it. Kim was there standing next to her car with a panicked look.

“Jesus what the fuck happened? Are you ok?” She shouted, her hands were shaking.

“I don’t know, can you drive? The fucking cops are coming, we have to get out of here.”

“You drive, I can’t.”

I grabbed her car keys and we left the scene as the flashing red and blue lights began to approach.

CHAPTER 6:

This was not the first fight at the bar—neither will it be the last in all honesty. This does not mean that the bar is home to violent criminals with short tempers and aggressive attitudes. The bar is far from that sort of cesspool. Most of the patrons there are kind souls, they keep to themselves and are not ones for confrontation. It is a shame to now that the first label thrown one the dwellers of this haven is “violent.”

Is it because of the array of tattoos that take up most of the inhabitants’ skin? Is it the metric ton of metal that pierces them, poking out of noses or lips or belly buttons? It might be the stone expressions on some of the regular’s faces. People might be intimidated by the rainbow of different colored hair. It is simple, people are afraid of anything different, anything that does not abide to the social rules laid out by generation after generation of conformist. They see someone walking on the path less traveled and they stick their nose in the air and scoff! “How dare they, what an act of rebellion” they shout.

People are taught to fear this sort of attitude, this sort of reckless living. The machine finds this as upright defiance! A spit to the face of the giant white-glove-wearing masters that pull the strings of this puppet world. So what better thing to do then to exile them all. Dismiss any sort of retaliation and uniqueness as nothing but a violent outburst.

The reality is, that these sort of people are usually the kindest of the bunch. It takes a sort of openness and understanding to become an individual. An awareness of your surroundings that allow you to step outside the mirage of your society and see it for the barren, passionless, wasteland that it truly is. These sort of people are the first to reach out their hands and pick you up and dust you off. The first to listen to what pains you and nod with genuine understanding. They are the ones that look past the material lust and look at the person as nothing more than human, a group of outcast to the world around them but to each other, they are a society of free-thinkers, lovers and huggers, and eccentric passion-filled beings! They are not here to take over, they are not here to steal and destroy, and in fact they want nothing more than a chance to spread their message, a chance to live a life independent of everyone else. They only wish to travel down a path paved by the individual, not the whole. They toil and work and fight to lay every stone that they step upon. They work endlessly to find a place under the tree of life and far from the looming shadow of the grand machine. They are simply, individuals—independent and free.

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.7-9)

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.1-3)

Hey everyone, This is a short novella that i finished recently. I have not posted that much because i have been putting a lot of energy into my personal life, also finishing this story took up a lot of time for writing as well. I am going to post three chapters a week up until the end so keep coming back if you enjoy the story! Thank you again for your support and patience as i build myself.

CHAPTER 1:

This bar was peculiar in the sense that every person in it was considered, by the society that surrounded us, an outcast. If an average person were to walk by and peak their head inside, they would be greeted with the same initial perplexing thoughts as someone discovering Picasso. First, you stare at the image as a whole and then in depth, running your eyes across every detail. Attempting to find the meaning or emotion behind the painting, at first it is merely a cluster of shapes and figures with slight similarities to the real world. It’s confusing, in fact, it can even be a bit frightening or overwhelming. Then as time progresses, your eyes become comfortable, a wind of realization goes through you, “ahh” you say, smiling and nodding proudly at your new found knowledge. It makes sense now. Unfortunately for this bar and its inhabitants, the confusion gained from the first look drives most average people away from discovering the depth that this image might hold. So here we all are, myself included, in this abstract painting created by a small group of loners and outcasts.

The bar itself is quite elegant, in a chaotic sense. Always littered perfectly with the right balance of alcohol and faces. The worn black leather couches that line the walls are always warmed by bodies and sometimes even pets. A fog of conversation and laughter fill the space. The room is dim enough so that you can just barely see the intricate details of your surroundings. Flowers and plants crouch in the corners alongside old and new lovers. A pool table sits in the back surrounded by the drug dealers and day drinkers. All in all, a frightening and overwhelming atmosphere for most, but an intimate, stimulating escape for the select few.

It was a Friday night and the scene was free and wild, everyone had settled down in a chosen spot with their chosen company, occasionally a lone wanderer would absorb themselves in a group, sometimes two different groups would integrate and create a sort of frantic ecosystem filled with loud intangible conversation and noise. It was easy to find companionship in this place, all you had to do was enter a circle of friends and nod and laugh accordingly and soon you would be part of the clique. I sat at the corner of the crowded bar, slowly bringing my cold drink to my lips and savoring the liquid courage. My eyes glued to the condensation on the glass but my mind was fixed on a conversation between two gentleman sitting next to me.

They spoke naturally about death and consciousness. Answering questions with questions and taking in long pauses to contemplate their existence. Stories of past psychedelic drug use would interject itself occasionally as a way of giving proof to this high realm that they spoke of. They both stared at another, anxiously waiting their turn to astonish with thought provoking speech. I was beginning to become lost in their back and forth.

I sat there eavesdropping when a hand squeezed my shoulder. I turned to be greeted by a pale figure. The room was dark but I could still make out her fire-red hair, just reaching her bare shoulders. Her eyes—though hard to see—still grabbed a hold of me. She smiled and spoke with a soft confidence.

“Hey do you smoke?” She asked.

“Not cigarettes.” I replied.

“That’s what I hoped for” she smiled. Before I could reply her hand grabbed mine and pulled me to my feet. “You’re joining me then!” She said as she pulled me towards the door, leaving my drink unfinished and my heart beating faster than before.

We walked out the door and passed the talking crowd. All of them with drinks or cigarettes in their hands, speaking and muttering stories and jokes. Nods, gestures, laughs and gasps painting the crisp night. The moon was out and full as could be, shining its light down on the scene.

The girl and I walked over to a car parked under a tree and we sat in the back seat. She dug around in a bag on the floor and pulled out a bowl with a bag of weed. After packing the bowl she lit the top and inhaled—my eyes were glued to the embers creating a small fire in the dark car. The moon just giving enough light to see smoke stream out with her exhale.

“Here” she said, passing me the blue piece with red and yellow swirls branching throughout. “It’s a full moon tonight, look.” She leaned forwards, gazing at the moon through the windshield, the moonlight hitting her perfectly. I could see her better now, her eyes that shot electricity through me back at the bar now revealed their color. A beautiful emerald-green, like perfectly cut gems. The kind you’d imagine locked behind glass in a museum or maybe worn around the neck of an aristocrat. These emerald gemstones were different, they weren’t meant for anything or anyone else but her, with her smooth skin and her pearl teeth peeking past soft, pink lips. With her strands of fiery hair tucked behind her small sculpted ear. She moved her gaze from the moon to me. After a pause she smirked and her flushed cheeks turned pink with color.

“What are you looking at? You haven’t even hit the bowl yet!” She said.

“Sorry, I was lost in thought.”

I took a drag of the piece, watching the embers come back to life. She leaned back in her seat, this time closer to me—or so I’d like to believe. I could feel her warmth, I didn’t have much to say but I wanted to hear her speak again. I passed the bowl.

“Do you feel anything when you look up at her?” I asked.

I handed her the bowl and she took in smoke, letting the smoke linger out from her lips. “The moon? Of course, don’t you? I feel this coolness in me, like she is breathing her very essence into me. I feel comfort, a wholesome feeling. Sometimes when I stare at her for a long time, thinking about myself and my purpose, I get so lightheaded—so incredibly lightheaded. I would never know if it was my crazy thoughts running through my head causing that light feeling or if it was her,” She motioned her head towards the moon. “There is something more to her then just a giant rock floating through space. She feels human to me, she has this ancient feeling to her, like standing at the base of the pyramids in Egypt and realizing just how far ago they were created. It’s all so old, you can’t help but feel something if you stare long enough.”

It was silent after that, a gentle silence, just us two and the moon—and the ruckus of the bar a couple feet away from us. We continued smoking, passing the bowl to one another, we spoke in small fragments. Little bursts of ideas or beliefs would hang in the air and then we would return to a wholesome silence.

After the second or third grinding, packing, and smoking she looked at me with a curious gaze. She smirked, squinting her eyes and letting her straight teeth peek past parted lips, then leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “A souvenir” she said with a chuckle, then she proceeded to get out of the car—followed by a large cloud of smoke. I sat for a second before realizing it was time to part, a bit pushed back by the kiss I got out of the other side and watched her go to the driver’s side.

“I’ll see you around then right?” I asked.

“You will.” She said. Giving me one last glimpse of her gemstone eyes and affectionate smile. She got in the car and as quickly and suddenly as that kiss on the cheek she was gone, and along with her went my curiosity.

It was late at this point, thought the environment didn’t show it. Bohemians of all sorts still scattered in and out of the bar, talking and gesturing and drinking and smoking. All of them as lost in their worlds as I was in mine. I went inside and paid for my unfinished drink, then went out and walked the couple of blocks home. I stripped and fell into bed, drifting into nothingness. I dreamt of the moon that night.

CHAPTER 2:

The thing about this experience, though odd in its own sense, was that it was a completely normal occurrence in the small society of our quaint bar. The kind of people that this haven attracted were ones who lived and survived off of spontaneity. From the way they got their drugs to the way they got people to do them with, it was all a perfect ecosystem of extroverts, introverts, and everything in between. The possibility of going into this bar alone and coming out the same was close to none.

There were the drunks, ones who would come as lonely individuals or in pairs and take down drink after drink, slurring life lessons to each other just loud enough for another pair of drunkards to notice. Then from there on forth, a group of bodies stood in a circle, swaying and spitting out wisdom filled with loud laughter and hearty slaps on the backs.

Aside from these were the casual drinkers, the ones who held a drink in their hands as an open invitation for conversation, only occasionally taking a sip from the beverage. They walked around hopping from bar to sofa to pool tables, slowly integrating themselves into a group with nods and chuckles, soon someone would notice their presence and with a welcoming gesture they’d now be part of the circle.

Next to the drinkers stood the smokers, who rarely wandered around inside but mostly hung out on the patio of the bar. There, one would wander around hearing stories of recklessness and excitement. I wasn’t much of a smoker but after a couple of drinks I would crave nicotine to calm the swaying in my head. It’d be as simple as going up to a man and asking for a cigarette. One of the handful of times that I did that I met a heavy fellow by the name of “Rat.” Rat was a man with a boisterous voice, one that you could hear distinctly through a crowd. His stories were always expressed with wide and rapid hand movements, his voice always changing tones and pitches to match the mood of the scene. One day I walked up to him, he was wearing a pink beanie—his favorite color I later discovered—and was leaning against the wall smoking and playing on his phone.

“Hey can I bum a cig?” I asked.

“Yea man of course, that’s why I got them. I like to share them” He pulled out a pack of Malboros and opened the pack, reveling a couple of cigarettes and a joint.

“So you’re one of those social smokers huh?” I asked.

“Hey man, people get addicted to this shit, but I can quit whenever because I only smoke when others are around. In fact, I have stopped! Stopped for a full year.”

“Why did you start again?”

He flicked his finished cig and pulled out another and lit it. He inhaled and slowly let the smoke pour out from his lips. “It got boring, no one to talk too. Do you have any idea how great of a conversation started these things are?” He said holding up his lit cigarette.

“Does that actually work?” I asked.

He smiled, showing his stained teeth. “We’re talking aren’t we? Man listen you go anywhere you want and you’ll make a friend easy if you have a pack on you. Everyone smokes, or at least the interesting ones do. You give someone a square and there is this automatic trust. You guys light up and you just get to talking, and not get to talking about boring shit man, we talk. I met a guy once back in New York when I lived there, he looked like he just killed a dude, he was as pale as a corpse and his hair was stuck one his forehead from sweat. I went up to him and offered a smoke. We light up and get to chatting, turns out the dude actually fucking killed someone. Can you believe that shit? This guy just admitted that he killed a dude to a total stranger.”

“Did he explain any of it?” I asked, becoming lost in the story and the nicotine rush.

“Yea, he said he was fixing up some chicks he knew over at their apartment, they were messing around and getting strung out and shit. One of them must have been real fucked up because she let slip to her boyfriend that was there.” Rat took a long drag and let that sentence hang in the air.

“So the boyfriend came over then?” I asked.

“Yep, so, the fucking dude comes over and starts flipping shit. His girl his half naked on the floor completely fucking whacked, the guy told me this guy was big too. So everyone is pretty much losing their shit, a lot of shouting and cursing, the neighbors are coming out and a whole scene is happening at this point. The boyfriend starts trying to fight the dude, the guy is running across the kitchen trying to get away from this chicks boyfriend and he grabs this pot or something and flings it at the dude. Now he said he was just trying to daze him or something so he could get away, but instead this shit smacks into the guy’s skull. He told me he heard a cracking sound, like eggshells being crushed and a mist or red spits out into the air. Next thing you know the dude drops dead and the girls are fucking losing it!”

“What does he do?” I asked, tossing my cigarette on the grass.

He smirked at me, “He just books it man, shit I’d do that. The guy told me that he ran for an hour and a half before getting me. The guy was scared shitless, he didn’t know what to do. I gave him the rest of my cigs and he left to who knows where. That was a while ago.

That was the end of that conversation, he left and I went back into the bar to keep drinking. This was the way of the craft here at this bar. Stories were told in a wild manner and then the newly met patrons parted ways and latched onto the next source of excitement. It was a constantly shifting and changing amoeba, no group was ever the same for long.

CHAPTER 3:

On the Saturday night after meeting the girl I returned to the bar for another drink and, hopefully, another chance at seeing her. I got there around 10PM and saw that the patio was already crowded—Rat was making his rounds, sharing cigarettes and exchanging words.

Today was karaoke night and the stage had a girl jumping around screeching something punk, bobbing her head and swinging her body. The crowd was active, bodies close and a sea of heads crashing and shifting. I went to the bar and took an empty seat in the middle, waving at the bar man.

The bartender was a mellow looking man in his mid-20s, he had a scruffy beard that he dyed different colors and a wholesome smile that took up his face at most hours of the day. He was a man who listened more than he talked—although I knew that he had plenty to say. If the patrons of the bar had stories for days, this man, had stories for years.

There was a time on an early Tuesday afternoon when I came in for a drink—it was a tough day and I thought I’d forget about it with some scotch. I sat in the empty bar and got to chatting with him. This man always found himself in the middle of all sorts of mishaps. We talked for hours and he told me a handful of different conundrums of his.

There was the time he awoke surrounded by flames, his apartment building caught ablaze and he was stuck on the third floor. He talked about the multiple times he went face to face with bears or mountain lions out camping in the wilderness. He pointed at a scar on his arm and smiled with nostalgia in his eyes while he explained how he got it—turns out his ex-girlfriend was prone to psychotic breakdowns. He told me about the time he quit his job as a server and hitchhiked successfully across two states! He told me this and much more over the course of hours, I becoming progressively drunk from both the drinks and his charismatic story-telling.

So I ordered my drink from him, he smiled and poured it and I turned and surveyed the room. It was a pleasant experience, having a drink in your hand, watching the movements of everyone around you, listening to the others sing their hearts out without a care in the world.

It all felt wholesome, like home, really because it was home. After moving here from my home-state of Florida I found myself in a bout of depression. I had a job and a small apartment, that wasn’t the problem, but my heart craved to connect with others like me. I moved from Florida in hopes of comfort, something I didn’t have any longer in Florida—the kind I couldn’t find in Florida. So I set out scouring my surroundings for my comfort spot. I tried all sorts of different scenes really, I tried integrating into this bar by the fashion district, the drinks were too expensive and everyone reeked of cologne and shit taste. So I tried my luck somewhere else. I didn’t last long at this hole in the wall I found. A fight broke lose the first half-hour after ordering my drink. A man, scrawny and lanky, bumped into an older gentlemen with a wide frame and rough skin. The young man turned and grabbed the other by the shoulder, exclaiming in his drunken stupor “Whoa mate wa—“ The young man couldn’t finish the sentence before the other revved his arm back and threw it into the drunk’s nose, flinging him to the ground with a loud thud and a crash from his beer bottle. At this point three other men surrounding a pool table began shouting obscenities at the man, I paid and left as things began to escalate.
So for a weeks I hopped from bar to bar, finding and attempting to blend into different scenes. I tried big clubs where the music was too loud, I tried small intimate settings where no one had much space for much. I tried side-of-the-road taverns filled with old bikers. Then one day I stumbled upon this chaotic haven, with its tasteful music and cheap drinks and interesting faces, and was instantly satisfied. I felt accepted and I knew I found the right spot.

I sat at the bar listening to the commotion when a fat man walked in and took a seat next to me. There was an aroma of meat and onions coming off of him, he waved at the bartender and ordered a scotch, at least he had good taste I thought. I finished my drink and tuned to face the bar, ordering another glass in the process.

“Where are you coming from?” I asked the smelly man.

“From work, a hell of a day. Gonna need a couple drinks.” He said.

I stared only for a moment, his cheeks were fat and red and a thin mustache sat under his large nose. “What’s your name bud?” I asked, sipping my fresh drink.

“Thomas” he replied, knocking back his drink in one gulp and waving for another.

“And what do you do Thomas?”

“I cook in a hotel, a really beautiful one downtown, I feed all those pretentious business people.” He smiled at his drink and took a sip. “They got good taste in food though.”

I nodded and went back to my thoughts, gulping and closing my eyes. There was a man now on stage, singing something soft and melodic. Thomas and I continued the night together, we drank mostly but sometimes we would break into conversation. I would tell him about my hometown and how great the food was. He would talk to me about the stuff he saw behind kitchens, the filth and the chaos happening behind closed doors. Then we would drink some more, taking turns buying the drinks, round after round. Eventually my vision began to blur and my words were dropping out of my mouth like led balls. Thomas’s face was now much redder than before and he would keep muttering things about cuisine.

“You really like food huh?” I asked.

“My friend! Can I call you my friend? I’m gonna call you that now, listen, I fucking love food, I love everything about it: the noise, the smells, the rush, the taste. I go and make this or that and people eat it and they say ‘wow this really is great’ and that gets me going man.” He put his heavy hand on my shoulder leaned closer, his breath reeked of scotch and he spoke in a slurred mummer. “I am always ready to cook, always thinking about it. Always.”

“Even now you drunk?” I muttered back.

“So what I’m drunk! I can cook your socks off, I can do it drunker! Are you hungry? I’ll cook right now, I have wine at the house, and I’m starving. Come on, I’ll cook us the best damn food you’ve ever had.

I chuckled at the thought of it, but I was truly hungry, and I needed something to soak up the drink. “I am starving, let’s do this.”

We both fumbled with our wallets and paid for the drinks. We stumbled out the door and I bummed a couple cigarettes from Rat. We walked for a block or two and arrived to a small apartment complex, we went up two flights of stairs and after fumbling with his keys and lock, we were in Thomas’ home.

His home was well furnished and tidy. With white floors and a black leather couch facing a T.V. His kitchen, obviously the prettiest part of it all, had a large granite table decorated with a cutting board, place mats, and a single rose inside a small crystal vase. Parallel to the table was an oven, wooden cabinets filled with spices and a fridge stuffed with meats and produce. I sat at the table facing the kitchen and Thomas walked around grabbing a bottle of red wine and two glasses. We filled them close to the brim and clinked glasses while he leaned on the counter.

“So what do you think?” He said, closing his eyes and breathing in the wine.

“The kitchen is befitting.” I said. Drinking and savoring the red nectar. “How long have you been cooking Thomas?”

He sipped his wine and grinned. “Since I was little, it started with my papa. He was an immigrant from Bologna, Italy. He came here to ‘cook for the fat Americans’ as he would say. It was the 60s and here he met my mother, a beautiful college girl from Maine. He told me that he fell in love with her after witnessing her devour a five course meal he made for them. ‘She ate it all! Every plate, and dammit she looked beautiful doing it!’ he told me.” He turned and began rummaging through the fridge, taking out an array of different ingredients: Onions, garlic, a slab of meat, different cheeses, potatoes, and an assortment of greens. “You know my papa said the first word out of my mouth was ‘yum!’ after he gave me some beautiful capers in a white wine sauce. I was born to be a food critic really.” He finished his wine and motioned towards my glass. I drank the rest of my wine and he poured a refill. He took out some knives and utensils and began sharpening and wiping them down.

“How about some music my friend?” He pointed the tip of a chef’s knife towards a record player next to the T.V.

“Yea, what you have in mind?” I flipped through the records and landed on something I liked. “Ah, how about this?” I put on a live set from The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

“Perfect.” Thomas smiled.

What took place next was a mix between drunken debauchery and a thought out masterpiece. I watched as this man swayed and shifted from spot to spot with ease, like a feather being blown around by a breeze. He was here chopping onions, then he was there dropping the meat in the pan, then back again to drink some more wine. He did it all while singing and laughing and talking to me of his life. His arms and body moving like a wave, crashing upon the counter and leaving behind edible art. He sprinkled salt with finesse and tossed garlic and onions with grandeur. He ran from pan to pot, tasting and moaning with glee, “Yes yes, amazing, here try!” “Oh this is ecstasy.” “Just a pinch of salt and it’ll be ready.”

In the span of two hours and two bottles of wine, we had a feast laid out in front of us. We had thick cuts of steak, perfectly crusted with peppercorn and basted with a garlic-rosemary butter until red and juicy in the center. We had side dishes of garlic roasted brussel sprouts, cheese and herb mashed potatoes, ratatouille, sautéed asparagus, and of course to wash all this down a fresh bottle of wine. Thomas set up the plates with great concentration on the presentation and sat with drunken eyes glued on his creation. “Well, let’s eat then” he said. So we ate. We ate through the night, taking breaks only to drink and let the food settle. We laughed and sung and shared stories, then we returned for seconds, and thirds, and fourths! We gorged on the food and wine until there was nothing left to do but sleep like hibernating bears.

The next afternoon, I believe around 6PM, I woke to the sounds of Thomas vomiting violently. I laid on the couch waiting for the sharp knives that were stabbing my head to subdue—they never did until the next night. I was sick and unable to move without fear of pain and vomiting. I heard the toilet flush and the sink run for some time.
“Jesus, look at this mess.” I looked at him standing with his hands on his hips, gazing at the mountain of scraps and pans. With a shrug and a wave of his hand he dismissed it and turned to me with a smirk. “So how about some breakfast?”

The Bar under the Moon (Ch.4-6) The Bar under the Moon (Ch.7-9)

True Happiness

A loud burp filled the quiet room, Chris had just finished devouring most of his take-out meal and was packing up the left-overs. A loud crash brought him upright and he looked towards the kitchen, he saw his white bundle of a cat sitting on the counter licking herself, on the floor a sea of shattered glass. “Fluffball…” He said, glaring at the indifferent feline. He cleaned up the mess and patted Fluffball on the head, “I forgive you” He whispered to her, the cat only stared. Chris went back to the living room where his left overs laid on the table, next to the worn down couch that sat in the middle of a cramped apartment at the far end of the noisy city.

He sat down and rustled through the bags searching for what he believed was the best part of the meal. “There you are.” He said as he pulled out a single fortune cookie. He quickly unwrapped the cookie and broke the yellow shell in half, he pulled the white paper that stuck out and threw it on the table, the cookie was gone shortly after and Chris laid back with a satisfied moan.

It was 9PM and he had work tomorrow so he began cleaning up the dirty table and putting away the left overs. He picked up the used napkins and tossed them away then he picked up the fortune from the cookie and quickly glanced at it. You will discover true happiness the fortune said, Chris smiled and tossed the fortune in the bag along with some empty take-out boxes. “Time for bed Fluffball” He said as he walked over and slumped under the warm covers. He fell asleep immediately.

The next morning he woke up in a great rush. He was 20 minutes late to work and he cursed himself as he flew out the door and into the busy street. “Worst fucking day for this” He muttered as he walked into his workplace 15 minutes later. He sat at his desk panting and sweating. A Co-worker walked by and casually said “Late on promotion day huh?” Chris’ face grew red with shame. Hours went by and the boss made the important announcements. Another hour or two stalked past and Chris clocked-out angry and disappointed. “True happiness my butt.” He muttered, thinking back to the fortune. On his way home he stopped by the store to pick up his daily scratch-off. Right there and then he began scraping off the pink film, revealing an X, true happiness Chris thought as he scratched at the second box. Another bold X revealed itself, Chris sucked in air and paused, a million bucks sounds like true happiness he thought to himself. He scratched the final box and was greeted with an O and a broken spirit. He smirked at the failure and walked out the store.

A couple blocks down he saw a women walking towards him, his heart skipped a beat as he lingered on her hazel eyes, her short black hair, and her smooth pale skin. True love he thought, true love equals true happiness, this is it. He watched her as she moved closer, he saw her pull out her phone from her back pocket and with it came out a crumpled dollar. Visions of romance and hope flashed before him at the sight of this divine intervention. She walked past him and he grabbed the bill and turned around. “excuse me! You dropped this!” he shouted to her, running up behind the girl. She turned and they locked eyes, for a moment all his troubles melted away as he held this bill up to his future wife. “Thanks dude” She muttered, quickly swiping the bill and moving away from him.

Chris was home soon after, he changed into his pajamas and grabbed the leftover food from last night. He sat on the couch and turned on the t.v. “New episode’s starting Fluffball!” He said as he dug a forkful of noodles into his mouth. Fluffball hopped onto the couch and curled into a ball next to his owner. Chris chewed his food and he became lost in the show, the loud soothing purr of his beloved companion filled him with comfort. Relief melted over him as he remembered that his day off was tomorrow. He ran his fingers through the soft fur of his cat as he thought back to the fortune cookie. “True happiness” He whispered.