I inhale the smoke and gasp under the lights in this jet black room. Sweating bodies and dead flesh grind and bump around me, so much cadaverous globules. The first pill hasn’t kicked in yet – I can still taste dry ice and hairspray – so I pop another and dream of my future.
Above me on the stage, the party is just getting started. But I don’t party. I’m looking for sensation, real feeling. I see empty men and indifferent women, just so many appendages and openings, no more atuned to love as the assembly instructions for furniture. I’ve already seen a Princess, but the low bass throb is reacting badly with my shoes and I’m struggling to move more than five yards a minute.
It doesn’t matter. She comes over to me, just as the second pill kicks in, and her eyes turn into a pair of gold coins ringed with black. Leaning on a table, my opening line isn’t brilliant. Are you blind? Can you see? It’s fine if you can’t…. I’m not prejudiced. She’s sympathetic but confused. I’m confused but sympathetic. With firm hands and long nails pinching under my armpits, she hauls me out of the bonfire before the strobe dilutes my memory.
Dragged across the floor, I can see the artifice of this place. No ceilings, just vents. No lights, just effects. My trousers are sticky with beer and other questionable things. I have a flashback memory; fourteen years old, first time getting loaded on beer stolen from my parent’s fridge, listening to music on my headphones whilst lying on my bed and feeling as though I were floating into the song… like melody could be fluid, and something one could swim around. I felt my immature quilt cover melting around my arms and legs, the pillow swallowing my head, falling into the rabbit hole of a greater sensation of feeling. I’ve never felt better than that teenage drunk.
She drags me into the Gents and rams two fingers down my throat, her long nails lacerating the roof of my mouth. I instantly throw up foam and blood, as a concerned man with aftershave and soaps for sale looks on. She rubs my back, tells me Everything Will Be Okay, and buys some wipes from the dude. He won’t accept her money, but she has a way of making things happen.
What’s that Smiths lyric? Under the iron bridge, we kissed. This isn’t an iron bridge and we don’t kiss. She drags me outside and we meander, supporting me as best she can, until we sit under the ruined arch of an ancient church. The fresh air ploughs into my senses and I feel like I am drowning. Even the stars in a cloudless sky move too fast. She sits with me, holding my hand, and asks me questions. I try and answer them all flirtatiously, but she just laughts. She wants to know who I am. When I sit still the echoes of the bass still pinball around my head and send me off-balance. Her arm around my shoulder isn’t affection… it’s protection.
At some point, I ask her for her number and she hands me a card with a wink. I go for a kiss, and she darts away from my lips and plants a wet one on my cheek, grabbing a handful of my expanding groin in the process. I look up and mumble something about the moonlight. I can barely focus on the damn thing, glowing and bulbous above us. She looks up and points, tells me about footprints that will never be erased and flags that will never stop fluttering, if we can just believe in the impossible…. something something. Something something? Why can’t I remember….? Fucking hell. Why can’t I remember?
I woke up in the gardens, not far from the arch. I opened my eyes to a dogwalker, crouching nearby to pick up some shit and eyeing me pathologically, trying to assess whether I was still alive. Underneath the crook of a low shrub, dry from the morning dew and still wrapped in her denim jacket, I rolled out from my little grave and surveyed the morning with a thumping headache and slime on my lips. I felt something sharp in my pocket and I remembered, the card she’d given me.
It was blank except for a lipstick kiss and words scrawled in biro; TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.