May. 4th, 2016

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Like the cardinal hidden in the rose bush before taking flight across the startled eye, I bide my time here in the Straight Life and wait deep in those thorns from which my wings shall spread. But before I can soar I must first bleed. Bleed quiet, bleed cool, remembering always that blood is the thorn's price for the bloom's harbor. Bleed patient, bleed radiance, the wind soon roaring across these scars will tell this world my story, but first bleed.

Until then, clock in, clock out through days rounded by the deactivation and priming of the alarm. Sleep brief, dream black, eat death, shit life, collect a check, save that money, and steal enough time to log the Days.

So it's the weekend, right? Maybe the one just passed, maybe one from a few years ago, maybe from a spring that never happened in a Terminus that was mine alone to see. Somewhere long past last call, drunk in an unknown zip code, and giving a piggy back ride to a pale freckled creature who danced with me without warning back at a club I don't remember entering or leaving. Only the faded red stamp of a laughing Buddha on the back of my hand, only the random strobe light memories of writhing shadows to looped shrieks and beats. Where I was going was much clearer. As promised, I was giving my dancing partner a ride back to her place in exchange for a drink. After she generously closed out both our tabs, we stepped out in the night air and looking around curiously asked where my car was.

That's when I was all like - Who said anything about a car? - as I had arrived without one, of that I was certain, even if about little else beyond that.

So of course she was all like - Whaaaaat?

But a promise is a promise I told her and with that promise came a strong back that was hers to ride for as far as it took until it took her home.

Your drunk, she said, that and you've been chain-smoking and dancing for hours.

I'm also really high right now... Lemon Kush and Purple Haze blend.

My confession didn't exactly fill her with confidence, but since she lived only a few blocks away she was willing to give it whirl. Giddy-up and away we go. One block, across the street, through the hook-up and diner bound post-club traffic. Two blocks, the lungs are starting to burn, but between the spread dress I can feel the heat of her sex start rubbing against my lower back as she whispers for me to go faster. Block three, I'm picking up speed as she starts biting my neck as her rubbing becomes fiercer. If there was money enough to afford a patrol car the officers inside would have thought that I was fleeing from a vampire that had jumped down on my back from the impenetrable gloom. Between bites she gives terse directions - a left at an intersection missing both its street signs. A right at a gas station that's been burnt down. Past a park where minor dealers watched stoic-unimpressed from just outside the pools of street lamp. Past burnt down brick building with a mural of the Cyclops from the old Sinbad movie glowed in hues of slime green and infra-orange. When a flutter of her moan hit the ear right before her teeth did I stumble down and caught myself at the last second to land in a shambolic push-up position.

She dismounted from my back carefully, adjusted her dress and offered me a hand getting back up on my boots.

We're here, she said and fixed her hat that looked somewhere between Annie Hall and Molly Ringwald.

I was weaving, fighting for air until I managed to get a smoke in me to clear my head. She kept asking if I was alright which I assured her I was after a few gasps, coughs, and wheezes. Finally I check out the place behind her. A two story brick house that had been quartered into four apartments behind a black wrought iron fence. She opens gates, steps through, and holds it open. She tells me I can come on in, come on up, y'know if I want to, like, catch my breath real quick.

One look at her though and my breath is clearly the last thing I'll be catching.

I decline, murmur rambling excuses self-consciously, sweat soaked, disheveled, unable to meet her eyes burning under the shade of her hat's large brim. But before I make my leave she reaches out through the door with open hand.

Come on, she smiles, you got us this far. Why not let me take you the rest of the way?

The hand through the open gate reaches past that moment, past the night and the years worth of days that will follow it. The hand is open, as sacred as a promise, as true as a secret, heart beating with the rhythm of sneakers in a dryer.

One question, I ask the eyes behind the hand, how do I know any of this is really happening?

You know how to answer that, she says the fingers of the hand beckoning for my own.

Eyes closed, breath locked, I extend my hand uncertain of whether hers will be there to take mine in grasp or if I'm really just standing there willingly blind reaching into the dark.

And somewhere from between the roses the bloodied wings of the cardinal take flight.

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jack_babalon

September 2016

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