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