“Piss off Jeffrey,” Machi yelled, half laughing, as he slammed the front door to his villa behind him. He felt hot and sweaty. A vein throbbed in his neck to the tune of his racing pulse. “A cold drink,” he thought, as he used his phone to set the thermostat for his zone to 66 degrees. The lighting shifted to a Caribbean blue tone with another couple taps. Mars, by Holst, builded quietly in the background as his heels clicked across black, glossy tiles. He hummed the drum beat as he rushed to his black and gold, Rococo style, bar.
Machi felt the cool, velvet, button-tufted upholstery on one of the drawers to the lower bar cabinet with his hand. His worries faded for a moment as he drew an M for his name in its surface. His initial looked softly matte against the untouched sheen of the remainder of the fabric. His collar felt tight as a drip of sweat slid down the bridge of his nose, off the tip, down the philtrum ridge, over the vermilion border, and into his open mouth. The warm, salty liquid exacerbated his thirst.
He pulled the right side of his red bow tie to untie it and immediately regretted ruining its perfect symmetry. Heat rose up under his chin off his chest when he unbuttoned the top button to open his shirt. He checked his Nest app again. It said the air temp was already down to 69, but he felt no relief. When he kicked off his shoes, he saw his cardinal socks were crimson because they were soaked. The obsidian G pattern in his shoes, too, was a shade darker from sweat accumulation.
Machi pulled open the velvet clad bar cabinet door. He retrieved a low ball out of a freezer inside. The glass’ opaque, frosty, surface thawed and became clear, then dripped with his sweat within moments. He shook his head, then felt his forehead with his palm, “I must’ve caught something in Graz. I despise Graz.” He moaned.
He pulled some ice out of the same freezer he retrieved the glass from and rubbed it on his face. It melted and dripped down to commingle with the sweat in his shirt within moments, and only provided him a brief reprieve. He gazed longingly into the ice in the freezer and almost immediately gave into to his urge to bury his head in the chill.
“That’ll do.” He said as he knelt on the ground and stuck his face into the freezer. “No one is around to see anyways.” The cool wind on his face reminded him of skiing in the alps. He was briefly refreshed until he heard a click down the hall. The light over the bar, and the fan in the freezer turned off.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Breaker thrown? Am I a peasant?” He squawked, incredulous.
He then carefully poured a shot of gin into a jigger, with only one eye open to keep him steady, and dropped its contents into his glass. He grabbed a bottle of tonic from an upper cabinet in the bar. He cracked it open and poured it in. He wiped his brow with his sleeve and felt wetness seep through to his wrists in moments as the sizzle of the drink’s bubbles rose and fell. It reminded him of the sound of bacon cooking.
Machi added some lime, then drank the entire cocktail in one quick series of gulps. By the time the ice made it into his mouth is was barely the size of marbles. He cast a dissatisfied glance at the empty vessel while he leaned to brace his weight on the black marble bar top. His damp, sweaty, palm slid across the smooth, inky surface. He lost his balance and fell into the bar. He heard a rib crack and felt shooting pain in his side when his torso slammed into the hard edge. He fell back onto the floor and crumpled in pain. He heard his glass shatter, but didn’t care because it had already served his purpose.
Machi propped himself up. “Shit. Fine. I’ll be fine.” He reveled in the comedy of his series of tragedies as his eyes burned from all the sweat as he laughed to himself. He sobbed, “A bath. A bath. It’ll save me. A bath,” while he pulled a vial out of his pocket, spread some powder from it on his wrist, and snorted it all at once.
Immediately, he felt immaculate. His heart pounded as energy coursed through him. He cried out, “Ohhhhhh mannnnn. Much better. Feeling much coooooooler.” He staggered to his feet and hobbled to the master bathroom. He unbuttoned his shirt as he went. He left a trail of clothes, like bread crumbs, to the door to the bathroom. Only his socks made it with him past the threshold.
“Yesssssss.” He hissed to himself as he turned on the water on his phone. He played air drums to the now pounding drum beat. He turned the volume up using his phone and waited impatiently as his palatial Turkish bath slowly filled with water at the coldest setting his phone would allow. He checked the thermostat again. Apparently that system was out, too because it did not reflect how warm he felt. “How the hell is that on the same breaker as the freezer? Am I the only one who knows what they are doing around here. Doesn’t anyone know that one word to Jean and that problem is gone? Pfft. Peasants.”
He stepped forward, unable to wait any longer. “Don’t mind if I do,” he said as he slid down a small, tiled slide into the quarter full, six foot deep bath. The water was just barely high enough to reach a fountain in the center’s intake. It spurted water in all directions, including onto Machi’s only-socks-bearing body. He fluttered around in the water and felt no relief. He moved into the sprinkle of the fountain, and felt its luke warm water combine with his sweltering sweat.
Machi exclaimed, “Is the damned bath broken too?” He crawled over to a panel near the wall. The screen read 62. He shook his head, dismayed, “Bullshit. This is all bullshit.” He turned on his back and languished as the tritone interval of the song built to a crescendo and increased his unease. The drum beats pulsated with his overburdened heart.
He put his hand on his chest and clenched it in fear, “Am I going to be okay?” Panic polluted his mind, “Jusssssst breath,” he said as he inhaled through his nose, and exhaled through his mouth. The air burned his throat as it passed from his lungs out his mouth.
He heard the trumpets build in the orchestra and felt the temperature of his body and the water rise with them. Machi then looked down and saw small bubbles build on his skin, like the same bubbles he saw rising before in his G and T. When he moved, they released from his arm, rose to the top, and burst.
Machi marveled at the sight, only half believing it, considering the amount of drugs he had consumed during the day, at dinner, then at the party, and just before. He laughed again to himself, now euphoric with hysteria. He ran his hands across his arms, releasing the bubbles all at once, only to see new ones materialize to replace them.
He jolted forward to look closely as suddenly, the bubbles were larger, about the size of peas. Their popping was more evident on the surface of the pool. They reminded him of the bottom of a just about to boil boil pot of water when his mom made pasta during his childhood.
Machi breathed in again. He smelled charcoal, and a hint of sulfer. He exhaled and saw a bright orange flash reflect back at him in the tiles. He blinked hard, and looked again, and saw nothing but his warped reflection in the greenish-blue glaze. When he looked down at the water around him he saw it bubbled over and turned black.
“I’m losing touch, gotta just chill!” he exclaimed in terror as an apple of panic swelled in his throat. He swallowed hard, and decided to make a run for it. He figured he could go lay down and ride out this bad trip.
Machi stood up and made his way to the stairs to get out. With each step he felt any exposed skin burn worse than any sunburn. He looked down to his hands and saw a small flame rise from his index fingertip on his right hand. He looked up, into the vanity mirror in disbelief as he held all ten digits out in from of him. His index finger burned like a Zippo. It’s flame did not struggle at all against the fountain’s spray. He tried to blow it out, and it fluttered, but did not cease. He furled his eyebrows in dismay and gawked at the display. He gasped when other flames appeared on the other nine tips within moments.
Machi raised his burning right hand to absorb a cough and saw as embers and sparks projected through his hand and past his closed fist. His lungs seared in agony, which brought him to his knees. He braced in the water with his arms and his face just above the surface. He looked down at his reflection to see flames falling from his mouth and into the bath, a bright light from inside consumed him as his vision faded to white.