Of Love and Lapis Lazuli

Submitted into Contest #130 in response to: Set your story in a nameless world.... view prompt


Friendship Fantasy LGBTQ+

It’s Friday night, or so it seems, and I’m shuffling down a damp street bright with neon lights oozing garishly off wide, dewy windows and slippy pavements steaming with excitement and frivolity. I am enjoying the buzz and hum of the Glow-People as they slither and slide around me and the way they duck into bars and melt into the blather-beats of music, laughter and the chemical scent of muscle and yearning, porous skin…some walk arm in arm looking assured and comfortable as if they know where the fuck they are and where the fuck they are going.

  I don’t. 

  I don’t know, even, the name of this place I’m in. It’s nameless yet faintly familiar and reassuring-like a hometown mall or favourite holiday spot. It feels like Friday night with the vibe hyper and off beat like jazzy drums bent to the be-bop as rain splatters the road with a pulsing light loosed-to-eyes stretched wide to a fragrant night…but we will see how that one goes.

I assume I have been on a bender and blacked out and have only just come around-not unusual to emerge from the subterranean circus of a wild drunk to find myself lost and confused and unable to decipher where I’ve been, or indeed, where the hell I’m going to. I shrug my shoulders and decide to find a bar where I can orient myself with the furphy and a pint or two of the cold, amber fluid. On the way I sidle up to a guy sitting in a doorway selling something with a kind of petulant insistence, like he is upset so many are walking by without due consideration of his wares. 

  ‘Hey, you!' he shouts at some scampering fool hustling along to his place of whoop and whistle, ‘would it kill ya to stop and have a look? I got some good stuff here.’ 

  When he gets a look at me he smiles and yells, ‘Hey mate, you got a question for me?’

  I'm a little startled. ‘Yes, I venture I do’ I say, relieved to be privy to a moment’s fickle companionship. He’s in his mid thirties with curly locks of auburn hair and a porcelain face decorous with random splotches of freckles. He is a riot of yelling and laughing and toasting the day and I can’t help but like him already. 

  ‘Well, ask it and be on ya way’, he says softly, ‘I’m tired of ya always with the same damn thing night after night’. He doesn’t look angry, despite his words being a bit curt and on the rude side. His face is crinkled up in a half smile like you see on parents when their children say or do something so inappropriate it's funny. I wonder, though, what the hell he means by saying I am asking him the same 

damn thing, night 

after night. 

  ‘’Ok’, I say, ‘can you just tell me the name of the town we’re in, please! I’m kinda lost, here.’ 

  The bloke laughs then yells, 'bingo! that’s the one; running a blue-streak on the same theme every…fucking…night.’ 

  ‘What do you mean’ I ask, a little upset he is cursing and with me so civil and polite.

  ‘Every night you come stumbling down the street and home in on me like I got a sign on my head saying, ‘ask me any dumb shit that comes into your tiny brain’…see?’

  ‘No’, I say, ‘could you just tell me…’ 

  The bloke puts up a hand and stops me, then says: ‘you see all those people got their boogie on and humming with the sound and jigging with the life; well, they on vacation, just like you, only they're new and you been here a while and have begun to…’

  ‘Forget?’, I venture.

  ‘Yeah’, he says happily, ‘now ya remember.'

  ‘Why am I forgetting?’

  ‘Cos’ he says, ‘you missed ya ride home and overstayed your welcome like all those other fools and now you not Glow People anymore. Soon you’ll feel drawn to walk beyond the lights and down into the shadows of oily water, rotten fish heads and undesirable company. And then it will be as good as over. Nothing in that place but tattered human suits bumping around in the cold and dark of lethe and forget. Then, my friend, you will yearn if you have the mind to, for this day when all you can’t recall is the name of this town.

I am talking like this ‘cos I like you. I can see you fading and I want to let you know someone cares and can show you how best to deal with it.’

  ‘Thanks’ I say, more than a little grateful, bewildered and scared, ‘I appreciate you helping me but I think if you…’

  ‘Tell me’, he says…

  ‘Yeah’, I say, ‘where the…’

  ‘Fuck,’ he continues

  ‘I am’ I reply…

  ‘You’ll feel a whole lot better; ain’t that the truth, Amen! he says, rapping it along as slick as a duck on roller-skates. 

  Before I can ask another question he says, ‘Have you still got the note I wrote for you?’

  Boy, things are getting surreal. The rain melts down the neon signs like ice cream dripping great dollops of raspberry, indigo, violet and toffee onto the raw scabs of concrete already drunk on a lamp-lit blush of the softest gold; and people are laughing and walking here and there talking and sense-flowing with the jabber and moon-lit madness, like they are sans worries and know something crucial I don’t. 

  And most of them, I now ken, most assuredly do.

 ‘The Doorman’-shall I call him that, asks me to check my pockets for a piece of folded paper. I purse my lips and dive in and find in the left jean pocket a piece of neatly napkin’d paper torn from an A4 sheet, or so it seems to me. 

  I unfold it and start to read it aloud. 

  ‘Remember’, it begins, ‘you are not from here. You are on vacation from a planet several light years away. You are of the ‘Lapis Lazuli’ tribe who are composed of a subtle blue light. On arrival here you were given an Earth Suit and a place in which it can be housed. The Earth Suit mimics the actual human body and its multifarious functioning to an extremely refined degree. You have delighted in this device with its emotional, sensory and memory components set, as you requested, to an introductory level of five. 

  You hum and grok with the wind and rain and the feel of strong fingers tracing the curves of your arched, muscular back; or the way grass beneath your feet admits you into the fraternity of trees, birds and the Glories of a Blue, Blue Sky. You love and miss your ‘human family’ and look forward to seeing them all when you get home. In your minds eye you can see them huddled together in gentle commiseration as they wave you a safe and loving farewell.

  The human suit, I repeat, is not who you are. All these memories do not pertain to real experiences. Despite the warnings on the brochures and restaurant menus, you seldom take the suit off or eject from it at night and immerse your subtle essence into the large, crystal bowl full of mineral water and gemstones at your disposal. As a consequence you have begun to identify with the suit’s memory programme from childhood to thirty-five, the apparent age of the recreational device.

The suit is a standard 35/White male/Black hair+muscular+tanned+gay/Artistic+jazz+alcoholic+cursing/Romantic+sensitive+poetic module.

  The way back is to stay True to Blue. 

  How you do this is up to you and 

  no one can do it 

  for you.

  The Doorman stands slowly, carefully to his feet. He places a steadying hand on my shoulder before looking me in the eye and saying, ‘Really nice meeting you my Blue, Blue Boy. Good luck and stay away from them shadows. Stay here with the Glow People and the Hip streets Rapping with the Blood and pulse of Life. Don’t wander down to the docks with the lost souls beached and gasping for air within their costumes and its electronic amnesia.’ 

  ‘Thank you so much’ I say, 'for looking out for me, I mean.' Then, suddenly curious about what The Doorman is selling, I ask of him as he leaves: ‘Friend, what exactly is it you are trading as you sit in a doorway, yawping your wares across the rooftops of a forgetful, neon world?’

  The Doorman pauses and waits so still and quiet, his face as soft as sunshine and his body poised like a noble, tangerine statue. He then swivels around and produces an old polaroid camera and points it at me. There is a loud, popping flash of light and I instinctively cover my eyes with hands raised and askew. Then, quick as a flash he is standing beside me with the picture flapping in his soft, shapely hand. He gently fans the air as it dries whilst regarding me intensely and smiling with his big, blue eyes so bright and beautiful. He puts his arm gently around my shoulder as he holds the photo up for me to see.

It is a picture of an Earth suit with its arms raised and its legs lifted like it is either avoiding a plague of mice or performing a strange, exotic dance. Encompassing the suit is a misty aura of the deepest sky blue. I'm intrigued by this but can't help laughing because it's startled little dance looks so funny and I ken I am in there experiencing everything the suit does-but not for a second can it alter or subtract from my essential Blue nature. I am Lapis Lazuli through and through...and damn proud of it!

'I sell memories', he says finally, noticing perhaps the softening of my face-or should I say the suits face-as the effects of my realisation ripples through it.

'When you make it home show your family what a great time you had.'

The Doorman takes my hand and places the picture within its open palm and curling fingers. I smile tenderly for him and say, 'Thanks, but you keep it. My essential body cant hold onto objects in this dimension; it's too subtle.'

Before I eject from the suit I turn his face to mine, put my lips to his and kiss him with all the love, passion and gratitude coursing through my being. He draws me into a warm embrace as the suit drops to the floor and I speed home past the luminous feast of stars sparkling within his Blue, Blue eyes.     


January 28, 2022 15:33

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Hannah Barrett
22:47 Jan 29, 2022

I absolutely love these other-worlds you create. And I love the action words you use for the glow-people - slither, slide, melt. This one reminds me a bit of the Bureau of Awkward Feelings in that your world building is so, so solid I'm allowed to be fully lost in the story. I also love that you allow the reader to be a little disoriented at first, just like our Blue friend. Another great read, Scoop! Well done!


09:28 Jan 30, 2022

Thanks heaps Hannah. I've had this premise, or something like it, in my mind for ages and finally it hath been born into the world...yeehaa! ha ha.


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.