of the dark…
always afraidMy eyes flutter open to a sable coverlet pinpricked with a multitude of incandescences. The moon blinks at me languorously through fluttering long green eyelashes, Fitzgerald’s tropical billboard working a hypnotic miracle on wounds a Jungian couldn’t get a handle on. Invisible hands flutter down through the trees and tug at the soggy fronds of my hair that are dabbling in the water, caressing my clavicle, delicate massages that loiter at the nape of my neck, then loop around for a lingering kiss. I lean back into the bubbling swirl, relax into the water’s pulsing embrace and allow a moan to rumble in my throat. Mango laden sentinels line the deck, their leafy tendrils wag at me in sync, a natural percussionist for harmonies that originate from a time that is recalled at the fingertip of their roots. Gusts of air roll through the leaves contrapuntal to the cymbolic laughter that bounces off the sheet metal rooftops.
A mechanical “hee-haw” shatters the murmurings of the crystal-clear night. I peek out into the darkness, curiosity irritatingly piqued by the uniqueness of the horn just as an antique roadster chugs up to the stoplight catty-corner to my perch, blasting out another wildcat challenge to onlookers and then settles into a rumble. The driver and passenger gawk, then wave wildly into a nearby pub that rocks the corner with its nightly pulse.
Mesmerized, I pull myself up and out of the embrace of my liquid comforter, eyes riveted on the couple as they screech into a vacant parking spot, slam to a stop, and splash onto the sidewalk, their costumes sashaying wildly. A tidal wave of revelers flow out of the bar and surround the newcomers, their greetings and cheers dashing off the sides of the buildings. A couple at the end of the hubbub begins to kick and sway to the raucous tones of ‘The Charleston’: the dancers separate and divide, duplicate then quickly multiply to an octet. Seeping out into the street, the party threatens to take over the thoroughfare when a deep voice calls out from the dark mouth of the bar “Drinks!” A cheer goes up and the crowd herds after the caretaker of their inebriation.
I stumble hastily back to my room, slip into the day’s castaway shift and step into the closest slip-ons available. I hesitate at my door’s frame wondering if my costume will prevent clandestinity. I needed to soak it in, to have a young man take my hand and swing me around, pull me close then push me into the arms of a young woman who will kiss me on the mouth and hand me a drink of something intoxicating and saccharin… to hear the secret that the tall blonde whispers past the perfectly coiffed bob of the brunette which result in giggles and hand clasps… to have the lanky boy in the arms of the pale girl calling out my name, her hands turning his face back toward her as a shimmying creature whispers in my ear and brushes her cheek against mine… to belong the way people do when they have spent too many nights together, drinking the same drink and singing the same songs. The fact that I would know none of their names was irrelevant.
An invisible hand propels me out the door and down the stairs, ignoring my internal “but…”
Dew drops of night settle onto my skin; my flesh glows, echoing the moon’s luminescence. Savoring the night’s breath, an unfamiliar distinction fills my lungs. I breathe in more deeply, a wine taster baffled by a new essence. A lily-whiteness seeps into the lining of my lungs and works its way into the dark matter of my existence.