Some man in blue oversized coat starts to laugh as he spins another horrendous tale about something we all will probably forget before the night shift. He is sitting on a stool by a careless couple, holding a glass of foamy beer in one hand and laughing. The drunken men are all listening to his tales of a far off country with no name - only that the women are pretty- and about the necklace on his pudgy neck.
I am listening too because he amuses me in a kind of desolate way. I know he is lying and he knows it too but we all sit or stand and listen to the pretty-blonde lady-who-killed-her-husband story. He tells us that she was a fine lady who was always wearing a pink scarf and could wake up dead men. No one laughs and no one argues about it. I think we are all too drunk to notice the absurdity of his stories or the blurry sentences like smudges of lipstick on a bathroom door.
He leans back on his chair and smiles a kind of smile that is particularly dull yet full of life. The darker side, I mean. I see the couple sitting beside him in the darker part of the bar. I see her shoulders lift then ease back in a sort of escape and I know that she is crying. I wonder what her husband has crammed into her head. I wonder if he's said, Look, I can't be with you anymore. I don't love you anymore. I think her name is Judith or Julia or Perry, maybe. But she is crying.
The Blue Storyman stops laughing and the story of the blonde lady has since ended with a lot of gasps and empty surprises like they all did not know the story was stupid. He says he is a traveler so he knows a lot of stuff. He belches then talks about birds like he is a birdman and I am reckoning he expects no one to ask him that so I keep my mouth shut.
I am happy being here even though I know how the night will end: lying in bed half dead with a yellow light in a single bulb hanging over my slit wrists. I am happy in this dirty bar with the drunken men half asleep with cups of yellow liquid in their right hands, listening to music from our blue traveler. I am contented, not as a human being, but as an animal in my mind and soul and body.
I have calculated the risks long before I took the oath of binge drinking myself into a haze of forgetfulness because unlike most humans, I have designed the kind of life that fits into my head without tearing my illusions. Like in the night when I wake up and out of longing, look up to the sky and see a thousand stars all looking back at me. Starting at the smallest chronicles of my life, I see a young female in a pink scarf laughing into my sunburnt ears and telling me she could wake up dead men.
"How, little one?" I ask as the seconds turn into days and slips into weeks of silence. The sickening silence slaps into the thickness of my skin and I groan and toss in bed until the morning comes.
I am happy in this bar that smells of stale beer and armpit odors and unbrushed teeth. I like the fact that I don't have to worry about why the hell my new wife could be happy in another country with another man and still ask for money for child's support. Because tomorrow I know what she doesn't. I become one with the earth, reborn in a different way and at a different time. Like in the morning after waking up from a dreamless sleep and wondering why my headaches and cold taste like her lips as they freeze in the water.
I don't know why but my eyes move back to the couple by the corner. I see she isn't crying anymore. I imagine him saying, relax Julia, I was only kidding. But something in the way her hair falls back clumsily and the way she holds her cup with yellowish liquid tells me otherwise. I imagine her shrugging to the way his words make her feel, tearing the tissue in her head with minutes of longing and wishing and saying what-ifs and maybes.
A door opens and closes. A woman in satin walks to the bar. Her clothes are soaked and I can see the bra she has on. Black is the color. She uses her hands to motion the kind of drink she wants and how large it has to be and I smile because I know she'll probably end up as one of us: confused and rejected in a world out of our minds, carved out in fresh stones and dumped in yellow papers that speaks of mortgage and loans.
The barman hands her a tall glass of foamy beer and I watch her drain half of it in one large gulp. She walks over to my table and smiles at me. No, she doesn't. It's only in my imagination, of course, but I imagine her smiling as she eases down in a chair by my table. Her mascara has spilled into two broken lines in her face but she doesn't wipe them off, I'm thinking she loves the feel of the zigzag lines on her face.
"What is your name?" She asks. She doesn't say it politely because she doesn't want an answer. She just doesn't want the silence to feel awkward. I totally...don't understand.
"MerryGold," I answer anyway.
She frowns. "What kind of name is that!"
It is a question she doesn't ask even though she means to. No one ever asks me why my mother who bore me in a country home thirty-three years ago, decided not to call me something more reasonable than MerryGold. No one asks because I still don't know why. Sometimes I do but most times, I don't think I do until I'm sure I don't know.
She empties her cup and lets her eyes wander around the bar. She has started to shiver but I don't care. Do I?
"Want a jacket?" I ask.
"Uh, yes. Have you got one?
" There is a shop down the street. It has stopped raining. We should get you one." And because I think that it matters, I add, "I'll pay."
"Oh! Ok MerryGold."
We walk out of the bar and into the darkness. She holds my hands and together we walk to the shop with no name. When it first started to sell used jackets, it had a name. It could never be pronounced, just a jumble of phrases we never could recognize. So now it doesn't have a name.
"We want a jacket!" I say tentatively.
We walk out of the shop again. She is wearing a brown jacket that fits her in the way my depression does. Like in the afternoon when I tell my boss I'm sick and can't come into work and he says okay because he knows I'm just a broken man. Like when I open my laptop and check the internet for any signs of people dying and crying when I don't see any. Like crying when Passenger's song comes to an abrupt end. Like telling myself I am not fit to be alive anymore.
She tells me goodnight. I watch her walk down the narrow lane, down the place where all the drunken men end their grudges in a fistfight. I watch her until she is just a tiny speck of darkness and then I think that I don't even know her name.
But oddly, I know her. I've seen her before in the night, in the morning. I see her in a pink scarf and I try to catch her but the rain starts falling so I run back to the pub.
The Blue Traveler has fallen asleep. The bar smells bad but I sit again and I smile at the faces of people I know. Because I know I will not see them again. I know what I'll do tonight: I will eat rice and laugh at Mrs. Jans's silly cat that scratch at my window every night and I'll yell at Lillian for forgetting to drop the keys. Then I'll enter my room with the single bulb and immerse myself with the soft glow. I'll lay back in bed and take the small pocket knife. I'll probably smile or laugh. Then, without a second thought, I'll slit my wrists and die alone.
The couple that I've been with through my gaze signifies a part of myself that will cease to exist as the bulb becomes the last version of my desolate life. That part of me that sheds tears because of someone else's actions.
Someone screams, the words leaving his drunken lips in a hurry. He says everything at once and I think nothing of it until I see the blood in his hands and on his soaked jeans and on his rolled-up sleeves. We all scramble outside to understand and what I see is me again. Well, not me in the human sense. But for me, as with the thoughts of how to end my miserable life.
"She just ran in front of the truck. She was screaming something. She was mad!" The driver keeps saying. I think he'll probably die from the shock.
I see the red blood that has stained most of her pretty face and I almost start to choke. It is the pretty lady that cried when her husband decided to leave her. I have seen this before. It reminds me of me. And her. A sort of deja vu feeling. Like the time when I knocked on her door and waited for her to come out with her pink scarf tied to her neck. Like when I pushed open the door to see her bloodied form before me. Like when I did not cry. Like when I wanted to die. No, needed to die.
At once the feeling comes and I forget that tonight I am going to die. I've seen this before, I say. But no one cares, not even me.