Chapter Five: This Beautiful Distraction
“don't fret precious, I'm here step away from the window go back to sleep
lay your head down child I won't let the boogeyman come
counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
pay no mind to the rabble pay no mind to the rabble
head down, go to sleep to the rhythm of the war drums
pay no mind what other voices say
they don't care about you, like I do, like I do
safe from pain and truth and choice and other poison devils,
see, they don't give a fuck about you, like i do.
just stay with me, safe and ignorant, go back to sleep go back to sleep…”
A Perfect Circle . Pet
The Shithouse Choir was back at the diner, the windows fogged on the outside and clouded by smoke on the inside. Their pupils dominated their eyes, and their frontal lobes were swirling with nodes of transient thought. Ditto. Their bodies were antsy and they needed to get out of the cramped booth. David slapped the table top with the butt of his hand and suggested the club in Biloxi that they frequented from time to time, The Emerson. It was a rat hole, and full of the flotsam of society, but they occasionally had good bands and rarely played good records, but the drinks were cheap, and it was out of Nowhere.
Everyone agreed, and away they went, like a whirling dervish into the night. Through the backwoods, to the interstate and north.
At eighty miles an hour, everything is a blur.
Towards the decrepit bar, aged with spilled drinks and key scratches, they went, ordering their shots and cocktails. Josh’s was the first one up, and he was the one assigned to finding a booth. A cozy cubbyhole stuck inside the wall, surrounded on all sides, excepting the exit, which still was blocked with a steel cage door. His foot popped on the bench, he stared out through the iron bars at the dance floor and shook his head. He wasn’t sure about what, it was either the décor or the grinding bodies out there. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a cute girl with honey blonde hair and a toned, petite body. Her high cheek bones, cast in the neon pink lights accentuated the delicate features of her face, showing every slight curve of expression.
Lost in the thought of this girl, Josh didn’t notice the rest of them filter in, two on the opposite side of the table and two next to him. The steel doors closed, trapping them inside, his eyes focused on the girl, dancing away with a broad smile on her face.
“Josh? Hello? Are we alive?” the voice faded in and out, coming in from an unfathomable distance and finally poking along the frontal lobe of recognition.
“Yeah, I’m here.” He leaned forward, looking down the table, eyes focusing on the shadow he knew to be David.
“What?” David asked, confused as to why he was getting the moment of hard concentration.
“Nothing, nothing.” Josh answered, deciding not to mention the girl he had been watching, not knowing, exactly, how to make the suggestion. He smiled softly and withdrew from the table, leaning back, his head propped against the corner and his hand swirling his drink. Shaking the confusion from his head, he reached into his jeans and removed the pack of cigarettes and Zippo, setting them onto the table after lighting one, taking the first puff of powder-gray smoke deep into his lungs.
Beth playfully pushed David out of the booth, making her way to the dance floor, feeling the bass-heavy rhythm calling her name; Jami, smiling, followed her route and joined her near the edge, just a few people away from the girl Josh had been watching.
“So, where were you earlier?” David asked; sidling back into the booth, his eyes focused on Josh.
“There.” Josh said, pointing towards the girl, who’s white peasant blouse was now drenched in sweat, her hair clinging to her face, her body moving to the rhythm of the war drums shaking the building to its foundation.
“Oh. Why?” he continued with the questions, his eyes locked on the writhing body sprayed with festering green light.
“You.” Josh said, moving his face to look David square in the eyes. “Now, get the F out there, and mingle, you silly bastard. It’s your time to shine, so shine on, you crazy diamond.” He chuckled, pushing his friend, again, out of the booth, watching as he inched nervously to the angelic face shining brightly in the stark, red lights vibrating against the floor.
click. Click. Click. Click. Click. He kept opening and closing his Zippo, like the jaws of a rabid beast, occasionally belching fire in the lapping blue tongue of a dragon. The bass throbbed around him, all his compatriots out on the dance floor, and alone he sat, his foot up on the bench; a cigarette in one hand, his Zippo in the other, and his fourth drink, half finished, sitting on the table in a pool of sweat.
The sun crept over the moon, basking the swamps around them in an eerie glow, and so there, the six of them sat; watching the sunrise from the roof of Beth and Josh’s apartment. The girl from the club was there, with them, her back cuddled up to David, and his arms wrapped lightly around her. She called herself Kathryn, and she struck everyone as a Kathryn and not a Kat, and that if someone called her Kat, she’d claw their eyes out without a second thought. Beautiful and quiet, yet still someone one wouldn’t want to fuck with in a dark alley. A good combination for David, Josh thought. The boy needed someone with a head on her shoulders, and not just an intellectually vapid nitwit.
Boot heels scraped across the tarmac of the roof as someone shifted, and Josh with his eyes closed could not see who. A voice whispered, as sweet and sticky as honey, in his ear that it was time to go down and crash, and that it had been decided that due to the mental state of everyone involved, they would hole up there until the devil’s of sobriety and hangover woke them. The empty bottle of Jack skidded across the roof and cracked hard against the barrier wall, heavy footsteps heading down the stairs to the top floor, down the hall, and into the unlocked apartment. Josh shook his head awake and stood, basking in the warm pink sunlight and growing humidity in the air. He smiled and lit a cigarette, watching Beth as she descended the stairwell, her jeans fitting each move she made.
As the pink shifted, and orange kissed the curtains, Beth and Joshua drifted off to a shared, dreamless sleep in each others arms, their minds still swirling with the alcohol they drank and the acid they had ate. A dreamless sleep that Josh had been longing for, for weeks. Ever since the torrent of dreams involving the woman started.