TW: Exactly what it says on the bottle.
Alice popped a pill bottle and dropped a lump of white something into my hand.
“Go on. They’re awesome.” She smiled but all I saw was her nose ring. She wore a rainbow lined with faux fur. Her fingerless gloves had inspired the Lonely Island anthem. The lady of chaos threw the pill into her mouth and gulped it down.
“Are they yours?” I asked. Reading the label on the orange bottle, I knew they weren’t.
“Do I look like a Demica Corazon?” A pink tongue with a stud poked from between black lipstick. “Come on.” If Demica Corazon was a psychedelic whirlwind with a nose stud, then she did.
Dragging me into the house of mirrors, we stood in front of one that stretched us up into giant beanpoles.
“Where are yours?” She asked, hand outstretched. “Your moms I mean.”
I reached into the pocket of my hoodie. I pulled out a white pill bottle. I unscrewed the lid and handed her one. She threw it down her throat with practiced ease. I drowned mine with a gulp from a bottle of water and winced as I felt it slide down.
“Woah, we look tiny.” Alice grimaced in the next mirror that shrank us to stubby nothings. “Give me another one of yours, they don’t seem like a one hit high.”
I gave her another, knowing that my mother’s pills wouldn’t do anything for her.
Alice ran off into the mirrors, giggling with gleeful insanity. “I’m a monster, rarrr!” Other people dressed in winter finery glowered at me as I tried to keep up with her.
Though I couldn’t find her, she was on every mirror. Sometimes so small she was the reflection from the inside of a spoon, other images made her ten feet tall.
“Rabbits!” She yelled.
I pushed through the last of the mirror maze back into the winter fare. Stalls of candy floss and hotdogs fed those tired after riding the carousels. White fluffy bottoms zipped between the legs of the crowd. People with Ugg boots and mittens gasped, jumping out of the way.
“Catch those rabbits!” Yelled the owner of the petting zoo.
I ran after one, hands down ready to catch it. I bumped into people. Some swore. Some just stared at the hunch backed zombie-looking idiot chasing a rabbit. I slipped on snow, certain to fall on my face.
I left the family friendly zone of the winter carnival and entered the adult area where hot alcohol steamed in huge kettles. Hookah bars were full of people dressed up for the night. I lost the rabbit as it ran between stalls.
A man dressed as a caterpillar stepped from a hookah bar and handed me a phone. “It’s for you man.”
I shook my head at him and kept walking.
I called my wayward companion. It rang for minutes. The man in the caterpillar costume was blowing smoke rings and giving me intense eye contact. I walked away, retracing my steps.
“Hello. I’m tiny. Weeeeee!” She hung up. I should have been annoyed, but that was what I liked about her. Alice was an agent of chaos. No two days were the same for her. She was the kind of interesting person I wanted to be.
Central Park was a winter wonderland, but some things never changed. Old men in thick woollen hats and mittens wore blankets over their laps. Their fingers hovered over chess pieces.
“There you are.” Alice hit me with the force of a hammer. “I have mushrooms,” she whispered as we lay on the snowy path. Rolling off me, she stood and brushed off the snow. All I could think of was our months together, falling in and out of bed. That had been years ago. I got a job and an apartment. Alice got tattoos while drunk. Somehow, I was the one with regrets.
Sitting on a snowy bench we ate one mushroom each and waited for it. She drank cola and bobbed her head to a beat only she could hear. Her blue hair jumped and danced in time.
“How long do they take?” I asked. It was my first time. I brushed snow from my lumberjack hat.
“Half an hour,” she said. She had to wipe drool from her lips as one of the other substances we’d carelessly ingested was kicking in. Wrapping her pink clad arm around me, she smiled.
I tried to lean in to kiss her, but the world twisted then judo threw me to the ground. Standing up, I then fell sideways. Old men at their chessboards swore at me and told me to get back to the fair.
I reached for Alice, who was distorted as if I was looking at her through a wide-angle lens. I thought she’d know what was going on, but she was crawling towards me with her mad smile. She smiles like an animated shark, but I always found it sexy. I have issues. Don’t judge me.
Gravity wanted me, badly. I was heavy. The cold embrace of the snow was irresistible.
“What is this, Alice?” I hugged her. We held on for dear life, two morons lying in the snow for the entertainment of strangers.
I blacked out. Moments and hours didn’t mean anything. She was prodding my face. She had Harley Quinn makeup and ponytails. Had she always had the facial tattoos? I was sure I’d have remembered.
“You’re alive. That’s good. I had a friend who overdosed once. We had to get him to the hospital. Total bummer. Ruined my high. Have your mushrooms kicked in?”
The chess players and their pieces had swapped. Black and white carved figures were moving old men across the board. “Get lost!” Yelled one, looking at me.
“What?” I asked.
“Tsol teg!” He shouted. I shook my head and stood. Alice’s hand in mine was the anchor of sanity in a sea of madness.
Everywhere my mind projected visions from films and television over reality. I saw the kids from Stranger Things dressed as Ghostbusters. Christian Bale’s Batman glowered at me from a bench. Grace Park and a gaggle of Cylons peered at me. Looking up, I saw their resurrection ship in the sky. When they turned away, living out my dirty fantasies, their spines glowed red. The Red Queen from Resident Evil handed the Headless Horseman her head and received his in return.
Bad trip. Bad trip.
Alice was by my side. Naked. Wait. Was she? I looked again and saw her dressed as Ripley from Alien. A blink made her Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
A rabbit bounced along the snow in front of me. I felt as though I was supposed to do something. What? It was the size of a car, claymation like the wererabbit in the Wallace and Gromit movie.
Barbara Windsor told me to eat something. Who was I to say no? I didn’t want her to tell me to get out of her pub.
We bought food, hot dogs. I was so high I couldn’t find my mouth. Hot dog kept hitting me in the face as if I was trying to feed my hairline and jaw.
Time hit fast forward. Streetlights blurred as we propped each other up on the way to somewhere. I was sick. I think I was sick. About 82 percent sure I vomited. My face in the mirror was the Joker from The Dark Knight.
I woke on wooden floorboards. I shivered, fingers and toes stinging. Chipped and graffitied green paint looked down at me from the hallway walls. Alice snored into the sleave of her jacket.
We were naked. No ifs, two butts.
Alice was only wearing her jacket and boots.
“Alice. I pushed her shoulder.”
“Hmm?” She groaned.
Without opening her eyes, she gave me a thumbs up.
“We’re in a hallway.”
“Eh?” She opened her eye then winced and turned away.
My clothes were hanging from a radiator below a window. Clutching my bits, I waddled to the second storey window and began putting them on.
Someone wolf whistled.
I turned, covering myself with my hat.
“Good morning,” said a woman with red curly hair who looked like someone my mom would play bingo with. “Sweet cheeks. Good night I see, Alice?”
“Always,” said Alice in a hangover voice. “Have a good day, Mrs Krabapple.”
“I always do. Wrap yourselves up though, you look like two cute little icicles.” Mrs K winked at me then tapped her way down the wooden stairs, shaking her head.
“Seen my bra?” Alice asked.
I looked down the stairs as the redhead woman left. Alice’s bra was sitting on top of a hanging light box. “Yeah. It’s on the light.”
“Yeah. And a black one.”
“Damn. I need to stop doing that. Welcome back to New York by the way.” She had her jeans back on and pushed her way through a front door. I raced down the hallway after her.
“This is your place?” I asked, grabbing door number 6. The way the paint had faded on the wood told me that the missing screw would have made it apartment 9. “You’ve been robbed,” I gasped as I stepped into overturned furniture and clothes all over the floor.
“No, I haven’t. Well, yeah. But that was weeks ago.” She smiled. “Want a shower? If I turn the water on now, and we have sex again, then it will only be cold instead of freezing.”
It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.