It was three in the morning and I was wildly drunk. The music shut off, the lights came on, and the dancing ended. The people started walking in droves out of the place, wondering where to go next. The last people left at the bar were either too drunk to know it was time to go home or desperate to see if by some miracle they’d end up with someone to come home with. I was still trying to decide which of the two I was.
Coming out of the place I saw a couple that met earlier. They tripped and fell on the concrete, laughing too loudly, convinced they met someone that “gets them”. I thought about what they would tell their kids if they ever asked them how they met.
“Well, Timmy, I was slammin’ tequila shots with the boys and I saw this smokin’ hot babe in a black dress across the bar. I kept asking for her name every five minutes. I liked Black Cherry White Claw and she liked Natural Lime. The rest was history”.
My roommate disappeared about an hour ago with some blonde girl. He glanced at me before he left, with his fake remorseful look, pretending he was sorry. Like I gave a damn.
The music was still ringing in my ears. I thought about going for a walk. It was goddamn depressing leaving a club alone. I pulled out a cigarette thinking about where to go when I heard her voice.
“You mind if I bum one of those”
The second you pull out a pack there’s always someone looking for a giveaway. It’s bad juju if you don’t do it though. Next time you’re in need of a smoke someone will have your back.
I nodded and she came over.
“You here alone?” she asked, waiting for my lighter.
“I was with a friend. He left with some girl. Usually how it goes”
“Why do you keep going out with him if he always ditches you?”
“He keeps telling me he won’t leave me this time. I can’t blame him. He’s got a gift. You gotta let a man work his art. It’s about the only thing he’s good for”
“Hm. What about you? What are you good for?”
“Giving cigarettes to strangers mostly. You?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know when I figure that one out”
I smiled. She was a good talker. Or I was very drunk.
“You have a good night?” I asked
“To tell you the truth I hate places like this. Always some guy grabbing your ass on the dance floor and one of my friends ends up crying in the bathroom. Liquor makes men behave like animals. You ever heard of the Banana House? We’re going there if you wanna come”
“Oh, yeah. I hate it when people get too drunk. I haven’t had a drop myself. Never heard of the place. Is it any good?”
“I’ve never been but it’s supposed to be crazy good”
“Crazy good sounds better than getting in bed and feeling the room spin until I pass out”
“I thought you said you didn’t drink tonight”
“Oh… I have vertigo?”
“Right. Well it’s just up the street from here. Come join us” she flicked the cigarette on the pavement, still burning, a small wisp of smoke curling into the air.
She started walking but I stayed back. I wondered, considering how much I’d had to drink (I lost count), if going to another party was a good idea. I’m certain I’ll drink even more when we get to the Banana House. Should I go to another party with strangers? I should go home, I thought. My mind was made up. I looked up to tell her I wasn’t coming. Some things, unfortunately, I had no control over. It was never up to me. She was walking away, and my eyes fell exactly where millions of years of evolution told me to look. I was dumbstruck by the dump truck she was hauling. My eyes went straight to the curve of her hips, the natural sway from left to right of her gait. I was only a man after all. I ran to catch up with her.
“You never told me your name” I said.
“I’m not sure if you’ve earned it yet”
“So, I’m good enough to tag along with your friends but not good enough to get your name?”
“Hey, I don’t make the rules”
“Can’t say” she said raising her eyebrows turning her lips into a hook.
“Well, what can you tell me?
“That’s not how it works. You ask, I’ll see if I can answer”
“Alright, what do you do for work?”
“I really don’t want to talk about work right now”
“Fine. What do you like to do in your free time?”
“Why does this sound like a job interview?”
“Jesus, I’m plastered give me a break here”
“You ARE drunk! Sorry to give you a hard time I wanted you to admit it. Come on. Ask me a good question”
“I have to do all the work, huh? Even after I gave you a free cigarette. I’m basically Mother Teresa doing social work here and I don’t get a damn thing back for it. Tsk, tsk, I thought I was doing pretty decently before”
“You might be doing just fine. Just ask me a real question”.
We walked down the street to the Banana House, and I was sobering up a little. The fresh air and the walking were good for me. I started thinking about how strange of a night it had been. Of all nights, I just wanted tonight to be a good time. The only person that showed up that I cared about was my roommate and he lived with me so he didn’t have a choice.
“You think anyone gives a damn about each other anymore?” I said
“In general, you mean?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“I don’t think people are against each other. It’s nothing personal. People just live in their own heads. Where else are they supposed to live? The way I see it, no one’s trying to fuck you over, they’re just doing what they think is best for them. Sometimes it works out for everyone. Usually doesn’t”
We walked with hushed steps and bare sleeves, the wind our silent symphony.
“We’re here” she said
In front of us was a garage with a white gate at the front and the initials “B.H” spray-painted above it in blue and yellow. There was no one else there except the group we came with.
“Not a lot of people here tonight, I guess” I said
“It’s an after-party place. More people will come later”.
The gate opened slowly, the chains inside clicking and moaning with the sound of the motor churning the gate along. It opened halfway and we had to crouch to get inside. There was a heavy smell of marijuana as soon as I took my first step in and it was too dark to see anything. She grabbed my hand and led me through the place and opened a door. I took one last look back wondering if there was any other place I could be but her soft hand gripped me tightly and I soldiered on.
There was a living room with a few couches and a few long-haired fellows smoking joints the size of stacked fingers.
Their half-closed eyes judged me instantly and they croaked at turtle speed, “You want a hit, man?”
“Yeah, why not” I said. I’d come this far.
We smoked for some time passing the joint around, making small talk, looking for answers and finding none. When the joint was finished, they rolled another one. The table had lines of cocaine on plates and credit cards and bus cards were littered about. Next to the lines were pills half filled, spilling their powder on the glass. I thought I should be going soon but the weed begged me to stay and I listened. I had never felt so calm and at peace, like the couch and I had become one. My skin and back molding into the pillows and the voices of the strangers came in and out while I explored the strangeness of my life. I was asked a question.
“Huh. You talking to me?” I’d say. And they laughed. The joint was passed around and I kept smoking. I was officially mellowed out.
“Hey, let’s go up to the balcony” said the girl.
“Do we have to? I’m pretty comfortable here”
“I think you might like it up there too” she said with a wink.
With heavy legs, and the laws of inertia against me, I climbed up the strange house, up the strange stairs, and she led me to the balcony. We were under the blanket of the night, the stars and the moon casting playful shadows, crafting things that weren’t really there.
“There’s something about the night that makes me infinitely sad” I said.
“Why’s that? The most exciting things in life happen under the cover of darkness”
“That’s funny. My dad used to say nothing good happens after 2 A.M. I think that was his way of getting me to come home early. I miss him”
“Oh. Does he live far away?”
“No. He passed away last year. Here, look”
I pulled out my wallet and showed her a folded letter I kept in the safest pocket.
“It’s the last letter he wrote me exactly a year ago before my birthday. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year. It just says ‘see you tonight’ but it’s the last thing I have of him”
“I’m so sorry” she said
“It’s not your fault”, I said “but thanks”.
Maybe I didn’t feel so terrible after all. I had a beautiful woman next to me, I was unbelievably high, and so deliciously numb. Things could be worse.
She started walking towards me slowly, her face tilted down, her eyes devouring me. She leaned into my ear and I felt the hot breath against my skin, the hairs on my neck sprang up, and my body tingled all over. I couldn’t focus on what she said.
“Say that again” I said
“I have a surprise for you. Close your eyes”
“You don’t have to tell me twice”
She looked at me confused, “But I did sa- never mind. Stay here. Keep your eyes closed”
I closed my eyes and I felt hot with anticipation. I waited for a minute when I heard footsteps approaching. I smiled, so giddy, excited for what was to come.
“You know, I didn’t want to say anything before but it’s my birthday today. I had a really shitty night but meeting you made it worth it”
I heard the footsteps stop, a slight hesitation in the movement, an afterthought, a tiny delay, and then darkness. I woke up the next morning with my wallet gone, my money, credit cards, I.D, my letter… and a big oozing bruise on the back of my head. All of it gone and that was how my night went at the Banana House.