Red flowers bloomed

The Night Started Out Just Like Any Other

Published here 🙂

Two hours of odd, dark silence. Thank God I’m not stuck in that crevasse between the wall and the bed like her. How can she do that? More importantly, how can she live like this?

Lying here is like being in a coffin. This tiny apartment wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t filled with 80s paraphernalia and islands of God-knows-what types of sin. It feels early. I just can’t sleep. Maybe it’s all the junk suffocating me that is unsettling. Maybe it’s the wet piece of cardboard atop rusty springs that she calls a bed. Maybe we just lit off into a crack den… she surely can’t live like this.

Two hours. It has to have been two hours now that I’ve been lying here. Do I just get up and leave? I should. This is not what anyone wants to wake up to. If I get up, she will wake up. Then what? This situation is foreign to me. I have no idea what subsequent steps I should be taking. I scan the room, looking for my clothes. I find my tie resting on the edge of her bed. My jacket is bunched in the corner of her room, making friends with her mounds of worn sweatpants, polyester wrapped in cotton acronyms.  I just ironed that.

If I leave her apartment quietly, will she blame me? If I wait for her to assess the situation, did I overstay my welcome?

Or hell, what if she doesn’t wake up? I have absolutely no idea where I am. Scott drove me to the cantina what seemed like eternities ago and now I’m here, forcing my beating eyes to rise against their toxic regime, their sandbags of dense regret. I think I am still asleep, stuck in a perpetual nightmare. I feel nauseous, wholly and thoroughly uncomfortable, and walking a fine line between hungover and dead.

I’m pretty sure we had sex. She’s pretty…. Kind of disheveled, but it almost seems like her natural state. The girl was vivacious and alive last night. She drank like a sailor and danced like a drunken tribesmen, but good God she was fun. I wish I could remember the sex, or at least feel triumphant. I’m definitely telling the guys I had sex.

Couple drinking at bar
Photo credit: Your Straight Male Friend

I imagine her again last night and almost feel the excitement of the moments that passed. If they mean anything to her is none of my concern. She was an appetizer, a taste of something new, something I have never indulged in before. I am an unnoticed man, working in a dull office and attracting dull women. This girl was anything but boring.

Do girls like her want to wake up to sex? No, she’s probably hoping not to wake up to me at all, much less some horny guy rubbing on her when she’s hung over, acting as the Lewis and Clark of fatigue and intoxicated refuge. Out of fear and embarrassment, I decide not to disturb her resting body with my testosterone.

I keep thinking about her incredible eyes. Brown, but they had this sort of luminescence…

Oh God, they’re open.

She’s just looking at me.

That luminescence must have been fed by the massive amount of margaritas she took down, because they are just two bloodshot and swollen orifices now. And they don’t look happy to see me. Her head rolls toward the blankness of her stucco ceiling and her eyes close again. Please do not go back to sleep, you are my only ticket out of this place. First help me navigate the filth on your floor.

She finally turns back to me and a breeze, thick with tequila, hits me full in the face as she opens her mouth, heat leading perspiration. I suddenly remember how many drinks she put down. I definitely remember paying for every single one of them. With this as my reward, blackness and then awkwardness, what do I say?

I can tell this wasn’t her life ambition, to wake up next to me like this, but she definitely wants me to say something. Shit. My lips are practically caked together. I need water so badly and just as I open my mouth, the full force of my hangover hits me and I feel the urge to purge myself of all of those expensive drinks. Just don’t speak, just be still and concentrate. Do not throw up. The feeling migrates to the back of my throat and I clench my jaw with uncertainty. Do not throw up.

I stare at the shards of light piercing through the darkened room, a theater of catastrophe, with this woman as center stage. I haven’t been laid in months.

She’s climbing over me. She’s going to open the door just to motion me in the direction of my exit. I’ll be ushered like an unwanted puppy into the streets. If the interior of her apartment looks like this, what does the outside entail? But no, she’s going to the freezer… ice cream for breakfast? No… vodka… for breakfast? Two shot glasses? What have I gotten myself into?

“Cheers, Fred”

Her hand is directly in front of my face, with an offering to keep quiet. I can tell by her reaction that she doesn’t even want my real name. We drink. I do my best to ‘take it like a man,’ as the guys would say. I stifle the bile and my unease. This situation couldn’t feel any more awkward, I’m glad she’s doing something to lessen it.

And now she’s naked. Just briefly, and her back is to me, but my hangover is suddenly the last thing on my mind. Curse Bacchus. Why, cruel gods, have you stripped me of the memory of being with this vixen. Her pale curves brighten the room. I feel like I am in a planetarium, so much chaos, and beauty. Her long brown hair reaches the low of her back, making soft waves with each new piece of apparel.

“This isn’t MTV. Hugh Hephner is not funding this peep show.”

“Could have fooled me.”

I feel stupid. What a stupid thing respond with. What else could I have said? She has absolutely no interest in engaging with me, and I am stuck here by my own interest and confusion. Her abilities as a host are comical. I need to get out of here.

“Would you be willing to give me a ride home?” I asphyxiate from embarrassment.

Shit, there’s that look again. How can there be so much condescension on her face when she is standing in the middle of a room that is a testament to a failed existence? Where am I? Where is my wallet? Just leave.

“Sure, we’re leaving now,” she says with disdain.

I follow her out the door as she quickly throws random objects from her room into a leather bag. I thought we had a connection last night. I thought those moments spent laughing uncontrollably at the people attempting to dance, her using me as an example of pure awkwardness of movement, were as memorable for her as they were for me. But I know, from her inability to conjure my name, that I am just a bag of bones and a number to her. Maybe she will ask about me. Stop hoping.

After walking for far too long, I exit my trance and build up the courage to speak again.

“Did you park in the boonies, or what?” I am growing impatient with her undeserved resentment.

“Relax. We’re almost there.”

We’re walking. Or rather, I’m walking and she’s marching. She’s on a mission to get me… somewhere. My hangover is weighing me down and I don’t have much interest in the excessive amount of transparent wit that is dripping off of every word that comes out of her mouth, so I trail behind.

“Where are you taking me?”

“A really cheap Taxi service. It’s almost like a limousine, but without the notoriety.”

“A bus?”

Of course this trek ends at a bus bench. Of course the girl living in the soon-to-be condemned apartment uses public transport. Naturally, the haggard look of her isn’t some sexy appeal that she works on methodically in front of a mirror, but the wear and tear of years of terrible living written through every strand of her hair.

“You’re quick, aren’t you? Beauty AND brains.”

The realization of our relationship is more evident now than it has been all morning. How stupid could I have been, agave or not. We are on two separate paths, our lives paralleled briefly last night, and I had failed to notice their parting of ways. I am just leftovers to her. Remnants of a meal she had last week, an old burrito she has been too lazy to throw out.

“Where are you headed?” She sounds so callous.

“Home,” I say, making sure my eyes don’t meet hers again.

“Geez, Keanu Reeves. Care to expand? And where is home.”

I don’t bother to answer. I already miss the events of last night that I can paint from memory. The carelessness and light-hearted nature of the evening is still relevant, sitting framed at the forefront of my thoughts. Her boldness and confidence made me feel wanted. Staring at the bus schedule, I try to find out when my escape arrives to take me to my downtown loft, an inviting arena of solitude.

Silence invades the gap between us and thickens into an invisible wall. As I look towards her, I see that her shoulders have dropped just a bit and her eyes no longer harbor that hard and calculating slant. Here on this cold bus bench under a grey morning sky, we have found neutral ground and have been disarmed by one-sided indifference. We have come to an unspoken agreement to let the paths of our lives finally detach from one another.

The guys may be bored to tears if I tell them the real story, but this isn’t such a bad one to just keep to myself.

I awoke to the peering eyes of some stranger. Two big globs of brown, white and black stared back at me less inquisitively than I would have hoped. My first reaction is to put my hand to my head, to make a human cast for this splitting headache. With palms cupping my temples, I suddenly understand the term lobotomy. Who the fuck did I pick up this time?

I tried to remember the events of last night. As I search for my phone within the confines of my bed sheets, I realize how cliché I have become. One night stands. Marathon hangovers. The taste of tequila still on my breath. I could probably light a match and blow this apartment to ashes with one simple exhalation. I am so basic it hurts. But still, I search my memory database, hoping I cataloged bits and pieces of my night.

This man, let’s call him Fred, has taken up far too much space on my twin bed. Yes I said twin bed. Yes I am an adult. And yes, we shared this bed last night. Well, share would be a generous word. I slept coiled in the crack between the wall and the wood frame while Fred, my good old friend, exercised the full length of his arms and legs.

The night started out just like any other. We all put on cocktail dresses that were one size too tight and three sizes too short. We painted our faces like warriors of the nightlife. Cue dancing. Cue unsolicited flirtation. Cue free drinks. Cue blackout. This is the story that keeps rewriting itself—the sequel that nobody wants to read. I can’t remember a night where I didn’t seek a stranger’s company.

Fred’s eyes begin to analyze the room. I can tell he is confused, and satisfaction returns to me. Before he can say a word, I can feel my hangover creeping up on me like a small child gymnast, buoyancy with a stick. I look at him, taking him in, that dark-looking man. Maybe he’s Brazilian. Or Columbian. I can smell his Giorgio Armani drift throughout the room, the spirit of last night that lingers in the darkness of my studio loft. That intoxicating Eau de Cologne leaves me dizzy and coats the room with thick nostalgia.

Our eyes meet for just enough time to turn both of our faces red and hot with embarrassment. In that moment, I realize the novelty of this situation has dissipated. I’m growing tired. His lips part, and I immediately interrupt him by walking away, toward the kitchen. I fill two shot glasses, etched with the words “Cabo San Lucas,” with Kettle One. Nothing makes me happier than chilled Vodka, fresh from the freezer, with a side of Brazilian. Or Columbian.

Fred still hasn’t said a word. He starts to sit up in bed, gaining orientation, as I hand him his shot glass

“Cheers, Fred.” I take my shot.

“Fred? It’s 8am…”

“You’re right. You should be halfway to your photoshoot by now.”

Fred laughed. I could tell he liked my sense of humor. Either that, or I was wildly egotistical from the ethanol that pulsed throughout my veins.

“I am never a model,” he protested.

“You could have fooled me.”

I edged the shot glass to his lips, begging him to join me in my downward spiral. Without hesitation, he welcomed the vodka and handed me the acceptance I needed. A stupid grin almost cut through my face before I closed my lips tightly, stood up and began to get dressed.

“You really should be going.”

With nonchalance, I peeled last nights soiled dress off my achy body and replaced it with an outfit that would trigger Jackie Onassis to nod in agreement. Classy, but within company of the class-less, Fred just sat there stupidly. Watching me.

“This isn’t MTV. Hugh Hephner is not funding this peep show.”

“Could have fooled me.”

There’s that stupid grin again. Why am I even engaging in this semi-cunning banter? It is in this moment of power and sensuality that I actually take in the mess of my room. Piles upon piles of clean laundry and dirty clothes blanketed the stained pink carpet. Paths cut out by shuffling feet lead to the bathroom and kitchen. My things are everywhere. Non-necessities and thrift store décor are staples of the confinement. It looks like Madonna threw up in here.

As I voyage to my dresser, empty picture frames decorate the blank walls—swap meet finds I didn’t realize had no utility. In the corner of my room, a disheveled bookshelf was overflowing with romance novels and books collected over the dozens of school years. I almost apologize before I realize I will probably never see this man again.

“Would you be willing to give me a ride home?”

I clench my fists and stroke each knuckle with my thumb in an effort to calm my anger. Index finger, fuck off finger, ring finger, pinkie finger… I take a breath and let Giorgio fill my lungs with slutty air in an anti-cleansing. The arrogance. I just want him to leave. I open a window and let the breeze soak me in chills, a full-body sensation as I let my vodka-soaked tongue sit heavy in my mouth.

“Sure. We’re leaving now.”

I grab my belongings, and headed out the door as I begin my descent down the street.

“Did you park in the boonies, or what?”

“Relax. We’re almost there.”

I was leading him to the bus stop. I don’t have a car. I live in a studio apartment, on a twin bed, in a neighborhood that brings fear with the simple utterance of its name. But I almost feel bad for the guy. Imagine that: me pitying someone else’s life. The irony.

With iron-lead feet we trudged down mole hills and circled around random city blocks. I struggled with the desire to leave, and my curiosity to upstage the direction of our current situation.

The bench is becoming larger and larger. I can see the adjacent sign with a painted bus silhouette and the number “11” tattooed next to it, when Fred catches up to me.

“Where are you taking me?”

“A really cheap Taxi service. It’s almost like a limousine, but without the notoriety.”

“A bus, is this bench a reluctant stomping ground of, well, the bus?”

“You’re quick, aren’t you? Beauty AND brains.”

I sit on the bench, applying MAC Matte Lipstick in Diva, an appropriate name if I do say so myself. I feel drunk off narcissism. I pout my lips together, in order to spread the color evenly, and face my reminder, a corpse of margaritas on the rocks, salsa music and forced intimacy.

My lips bleed maroon, a nice contrast to the mascara-run sludge that is my under-eye.

“Where are you headed?” I say. I don’t really care. Just small talk.

Thankfully, I remembered to grab my sunglasses before leaving the scene of my crime. Hiding behind their polarized mystery, I felt elusive, and powerful. I didn’t even ask him before I chose which bus stop. All I know is where I am headed.

I felt breath escaping beneath the wall of his lips, the moat of his tongue.

I’ve been experiencing tunnel vision all morning, with the faint feeling of symptoms that lead up to an epileptic attack. I can sense the strobes of light about to blind my vision completely, once and for all, and let the ice pick make its final incision into my temporal lobe. This leaves me terrified. My heart starts to knock on my chest cavity, letting me know its engorged thump is still alive, but I silence it. I’m not home.

“Home,” he says with the most monotone voice and uninterested face. I want to punch it.

“Geez, Keanu Reeves. Care to expand? And where is home.”

I cannot contain my cynicism any longer. With alternating expressions of interest and indifference, I find myself actually engaging in conversation, albeit short, with this stranger. I’ve lead myself here, engaged and engorged. For a second, I almost feel disgust with myself, like when you sit down in a public restroom, and even though you took the precaution to put down a seat cover, someone else’s old urine still seeps through and touches your bare bottom. Your clean, holy ass.

I don’t even wait for him to respond. I turn my head with ambivalence toward the direction of the oncoming bus route. I have already grown bored with him, already played with him enough times and want a new toy. I wish he would disappear and remain a bittersweet memory, a trophy to add to my collection of dozens. With my back now turned to him, I bury my chin into my fist and count the weeds sprouting between the cracks of the sidewalk.

Both of us are on the opposite edges of the bench. I take one last look at his lifeless body, draped over the plastic slope, avoiding direct confrontation with sunlight, and the dark side of the moon that is my one-night-stand. I have so many questions, but no longer want to know the answers. It’s like that feeling you get when you’ve worked up momentum for so long, only to have it fall flat at your feet, dead in an unimaginative way before you. Cue cheesy metaphors for life. I can’t even think originally.

 

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