“I was ghosting you last night because I was with someone else.”
It is with this statement from her that I comprehend; my idols are dead, my enemies are in power, my castle is crumbling, along with my mind. The hubbub of the party mills on around us, evidently my world stopping does not entail a halt of everyone else’s.
“There’s no way you didn’t see this coming,” Her eyes bore into mine. Her mouth moves, and I feel her words rather than hear them. “I was with Tanner, because, wouldn’t you believe it, he was actually there for me.” The green eyes dissecting me take a break from their operation, relocating to a point fixed a few layers of bodies into the crowd that shifts around us. Getting hit by a car while playing in traffic may be expected, but it doesn’t leave the pedestrian any better off in the end, in fact, I would debate myself on it leaving them in a condition far worse. I expected this, I predicted this, I have dreamed and had nightmares of this, I am plagued by visions of this precise scenario – and yet I have done nothing to stop it. I believe there is no such thing as fate, but here I stand, confronted with the consequence of my refusal to change the future laid before me. I can’t meet those eyes, even as I see them return to mine in my periphery.
I have relocated to a less populated corner of the house as I stumble, my once sturdy and well planted Nike Air Forces turning to skates beneath me as I catch an edge, and my knees crash into the smaller living rooms suede armchair with an unpleasant clack. I groan, even though my little helper on the green bottle shields me from all harm, and I feel no pain – for I have never felt any pain. Stromae’s Alors On Danse thumps softly beneath my feet, through the ceiling of the basement where the primary collection of partying bodies reside, on their feet or on the floor down there. I’ve fallen to my knees, an arm holding onto the seat of the chair next to me, another cradling my bottle. Tears are flooding my eyes as I stare at my little helper, and he stares back. I can meet the knowing black eyes of the stag on the bottle much easier than hers, as he opens his mouth to comfort me – though it is not consoling and knowing words that ring in my ears as the little friend on the bottle speaks.
“Run, walk, crawl, or be carried.”
“Leave this place, go far and do not return. Leave them all, or be prey to them again.” He says, his voice deep and hypnotic within me.
“Yes, yes I think I will, little buddy.” The tears have vacated my eyes, and my vision is marginally clearer now. Someone else was speaking to me from above, but was not, and still am not listening until a hand gently lands upon my shoulder, and skin touches mine where a finger and a half overlaps the hem of my collar, and grip my neck.
“Are you listening to me? Are you ok Luis? You need a barf bucket?” The gentle voice belongs to a girl I can’t remember the name of. Her black eyes remind me of my little buddies. I mull over in my mind both the orders of my friend on the bottle, and the questions from my friend in the flesh.
“I need to leave, I’ll… see you… later, or something, I suppose” I say, spitting absentmindedly, as I pat my pant pockets, trying very hard to remember where my keys are.
“Lulu you’ve been letting that Jager sing to you, you’ve been sippin’ too hard for a cruise, let me get you a bucket and we’ll sit you down alright?” This girl is very kind in her offer, it feels rude to refuse, but my will to resist is borderline primal now, I must go, I must heed the advice proffered by my little buddy. She retrieves her hand and stands straight, saying as she turns away “You stay right there, I ain’t going far.”
I’m only halfway across the living room before I’m caught. A strong callused hand is wrapped around my forearm.
“Where you going Luis.” The flat voice contains no note of interrogation, for this is a statement. A statement I can’t take. Tears are rolling down my face as I open and close my mouth like a fish.
“I gotta go.”
“You’ve had a bad night buddy,” The grip on my arm becomes a supporting embrace as he now holds me up as I try my hardest not to openly sob into the brown curly hair brushing against the side of my face. “Let’s put you to bed.” Practically carrying me, the pair of us stumble in the opposite direction in which I set out from the suede chair of revelation, and into the open archway of the living room returns the girl who’s name I can’t remember. Her look of knowing bemusement, the comedy she found in the swim I’ve taken in my glass, melts away upon seeing me and my jailor. The little white trashcan, with its baby trash bag slips out of her hand as she rushes to my uncarried side, and slings an arm around me. “Levi, what is wrong with the boy?” demands the support beam on my right.
“Drinking while under the influence of that gal.” I hear from the left.
“What does that even mean?”
“It means exactly what I said, lord almighty he’s heavy.” the back and forth continues until I’ve been laid in someone’s bed, tucked in, and had my glass of water and bucket clearly positioned beside me. I haven’t spoken a word, I don’t think I can. The light flicks off, and two figures stand as silhouettes in the doorway, black against the yellow of the hallway light.
“I hope he’ll be in a lil better shape tomorrow Levi, I been upstairs all night, hadn’t heard about it.”
“All we gots hope now. You hear about what she said? Wild thing to say, Lisa, wild thing.”
“Yup, C’mon, shut that door and let him sleep that foul drink off.” and without another word I can hear – they do exactly that, sealing me away, far, far away, away from all the people, all my predators.
But not far enough. I wake in cold sweat, I don’t know how long it’s been but I feel significantly less influenced, I haven’t seen dreams, as much as visions. Visions from my little buddy. I can’t find him – he’s not in my room, I’m alone, I’m afraid, and in a moment my boots are on and I’m slinking through the carpeted hallway. My feet carry me to the living room, where my suede chair hides in the gloom. Into the dark reaches my hand, tentatively. Past the chair, and further into the unknown, my fingers meet the wooden coffee table upon which sits the little embossed glass bottle. Snow crunches under my Nike’s as my feet find their way surprisingly assuredly to my car. Sun faded, but glorious in the cool lighting from the porch light, sitting proud on top of the snow packed gravel in the driveway, is my Vegas Yellow 2009 Audi S4. Firmly planting my behind in the ice cold leather bucket seat, I turn the key. Snow looses itself from the tree underneath which I park, and powdery snowflakes shower onto my windshield. The sweet roaring from four liters of V8 reassures me, and I recall a quote from the late Dale Earnhardt as I kick in the clutch, and drop the handbrake. “There’s no replacement for displacement.”
The little Audi is flying down the twisty dirt road, four wheels spinning, digging the snow, as the beautiful Quattro system birthed by the finest German Engineers bears me safely around and over any obstacles. I soar over potholes, and slide past washboards cut into the icy and sandy path. Im focussed completely, the liquor in my system no match of the muscle memory that carries my line through each curve and corner. Im 90 degrees opposed to the road, my headlights bore into the ditch as my eyes bore through the passenger window for reference on my position. At the inopportune moment, requiring the finest of finesse, my little buddy pipes up.
“They want you dead.” I falter, whipping the wheel to the left, straightening the tires. The car snaps straight in response – too quickly, with too much energy. I’m snap oversteering, over and over on the straight. Left, right, left, right. Panic blossoms as the first consideration of losing control crosses my mind. Someone else is speaking to me, past the pestering of my bottle of Jaeger, which I tune out, desperately locked into dropping a gear.
When in doubt, go flat out.
Colin Mcrae’s words echo in my soul, and in my feet, as I dump the clutch with every ounce of bravery I can muster; and flatten my right foot to the floor. With gentle guidance from my fingers the Audi straightens itself, and the wobbling, whipping dance ceases. My foot is still flat, the right needle on the dash creeps towards triple digits. Flying across the straight, my little buddy speaks again. “They will have you dead” I’m about to break the limit; fast enough they won’t catch me – won’t hurt me – ever again:
“A thousand may claw at your side.”
“Ten thousand at your back.”
“But they will come nowhere near you.”
“For you my child, are shielded in my love from their hubris.”
“You will only look with your eyes – and see the punishment of the wicked.”