Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Short Story- "To Kingdom Come"

"To Kingdom Come"
by: Jennifer Patino

Photo courtesy of terragalleria.com



"Look up,"  Marie said and Louann focused on the dim light above.

We were in Marie's car, parked on a side street next to a big church and she was doing Louann's makeup before we entered the club. I sat in the back completely mesmerized over how much it actually took for women to make themselves up like that. I never cared too much for makeup. It wasn't a turn off or anything. I just honestly didn't see what the fuss was all about. It seemed to make them happy though so I just complimented when necessary and never made a big deal about it.

"We'll throw some sparkles on and then we're done!"

I checked Louann's face in the mirror.

I liked the way her eyes looked.

"Oh, sweet! You covered my pimples. I'm too damn old for pimples, I swear," she said.

I hadn't been out to this club, The Kingdom, in a very long time.

I remembered when I used to go there at least once a month.

I'd dance like a fool, get drunk, make out with random girls in the dark and then my crew and I would trek over to Mama Mena's and get some tacos.

We walked over to where the club was and it was deserted.

"Guess they're not open yet?"  Marie remarked.

My phone rang and it was Chris.  He was meeting us there and after Marie gave him decent enough directions to where we were we met up with him.

I had to pee so badly so we walked around trying to find a bathroom.

I saw a big sign that said Restrooms and noticed a cleaning lady outside of them.

She had a hard to distinguish Spanish accent and was looking at her watch.

"Ok, go..."  she said.

I stopped like I had broken the law or something, confused. And was she going to time me or something?

"Go 'head.   Go to the bathroom."

"Ok, good,"  I said rushing in.  I couldn't think of anything else to say.  I hate those moments.  I usually end up saying something weird like that.

So I peed and came out and saw Marie and Chris looking at me wide-eyed.

The Spanish lady was muttering but I couldn't understand her.

They practically ran out of there so when we hit the street I said, "What's wrong?"

"That lady was fucking crazy," said Chris.

"Was she talking to you guys?"

"I think she was trying to, but I didn't know what she was saying," Marie answered.

"She was fucking crazy," Chris just kept saying.

We walked up and down the street for a bit just making small talk when my phone buzzed again with a text from Anna.

She was trying to figure out where to park too.

"I found a parking garage with free parking," said Chris.  "But there was a tow sign nearby."
I rolled my eyes.  Then I handed the phone over to Marie to tell Anna where we had parked because there was no danger of being towed on the sidestreet by the church.

"I should go move my car too," Chris said.

Well, duh.

He took off and I was left alone with the girls again. Louann pulled out a cigarette and kept shifting from one leg to the other. I couldn't tell if she was cold or just antsy. I was thinking of offering my jacket or something gentlemanly like but then Anna showed up and I hadn't seen her in a long time.
We hugged and I commented on her new tats.

They were lovely.

Black and white across her skin.

Something in me stirred when I saw them but I shrugged it off.

"I'm going to hop in the car with Chris when he drives by so he doesn't get lost," Marie was saying.

"Ok, cool.  We'll just wait here,"  I said. "I guess."

She walked over to the street already pulling her phone out to call him and let him know not to go by too fast. The streets of Yeebor were pretty complicated. Anyone could get lost trying to navigate this little area of downtown especially club kids drunk and high on various substances who probably shouldn't be driving anyway. That's exactly who this part of town was geared toward. It's plethora of clubs, restaurants and dive bars made it a hotspot for tourists and pretty much everyone who lived in the surrounding areas.

The club still hadn't opened yet and we were still wondering why.

"They better hurry up. I need to get my drink on," Louann said snippily. I realized that was what her deal was. It was past her time to start partying.

A drag queen on a cell phone with a red blouse, short black ruffle skirt and spiky heels must have smoked an entire pack of cigarettes while we waited, I swear.

He...she...was so skinny it made me concerned.

"There's Chris!" Marie shouted over to us and ran off to Chris's waiting car.  "Be right back!"

Anna filled me in on what was going on at her job while Louann pulled out her phone and started scrolling through Instagram.

I used to work with Anna and knew a lot of the people she was telling stories about.

She was in such a good mood.

For some reason I was proud of her.

I was glad she was out and seemed to be happy with her place in life.

I could remember many a night when she seemed to be so down and there wasn't anything anyone could do to bring her back up.

She promised when she got a new car that she would come visit me a lot.

She lived in Tompana.  I lived in Port Richmond.  We were a good 45 minutes to an hour away from each other.

Before we knew it Chris and Marie were back and we were still waiting.

Anna and I were so involved in our conversation that I only caught the tail end of what Chris and Marie were saying to Louann.

I heard something about ball grabbing and wanted to hear the whole story.

"I'll tell you later.  On our drive home," Marie said.

"Oh, come on!" I whined.

Suddenly, the doors to the club opened and we were finally able to enter.

"Remember how last time we were here I couldn't drink, Jason?  Now I can," Anna said to me.

"Oh yeah!  I remember sneaking them to you."

That was like three years ago. Had we really known each other that long?

The five of us sat at the bar downstairs after contemplating for about a minute whether we should stay down there or head up to where the dancefloor was.

The bartender was cute and had on metallic short shorts and fishnets with some kind of preppy looking sporty top.

She made it work though.

"What'll you guys have?" she asked.

"What are the specials?" we all asked in unison.

Poor partiers of the world unite.

I heard a few beers rattled off like PBR and Newcastle, something with vodka in it and then my ears perked at "and martinis are two for one."

Marie's eyes lit up.

"What flavors do you have?" she asked her.

"I can pretty much make any one you want.  I love the mango....I could do strawberry....pomegranate..."

I wanted pomegranate so I told Marie and she wanted mango.

The bartender told us that they both had to be the same though so we said that was fine we'd take the mangos first.

It was awesome.

Anna tasted mine after downing a Newcastle and then ordered a watermelon of her own.

After a couple of Lemondrops and the bartender telling us she also made a caramel one Chris was hooked.

I worried that maybe I was drinking too much. Maybe mixing flavors too much. But I didn't care. I was enjoying myself.

I lit up a cigarette amidst the conversation and Anna made an aggravated sound.

"You're still smoking, Jason?"

"Yes!  I should quit...."  I always said that. It was so stupid. I knew I wasn't going to.

We were all laughing and joking and I was semi bitching about my girlfriend who I decided to leave at home tonight. We were on the outs anyway and I knew it was only a matter of time before one of us sacked up and just ended it.

"I just want to be single and have friends!  This shit is too complicated." I complained.

"Remember when you were in love with me for 2 weeks, Jason?" Anna asked.

"Shut up. I'm still in love with you, Anna."

I was drunk at this point but it was true and I knew it.

I think after a bit I even kissed her. That part is blurry though.

After three and a half martinis Chris looked at his phone.
"It's almost 1. We better go if we want to get a taco."

"Holy yes!" Marie yelled.

"What?  When do they close?"  I was used to hitting up Mama Mena's after the club. Not in the middle of clubbing.

"1 on Mondays," Marie informed me.

"Well," I slammed the remainder of my martini. "We better get going then."

Who the hell partied on Mondays besides us? No one probably. No one.


***

I was stumbling.

I couldn't see too straight but I kept laughing at everything.

"Is it far?  Am I going to be able to make it?" I asked no one in particular.

"Here, get on my back, " Chris offered.

"No," I said, but then I jumped on anyway.

I don't know what happened but while I was attempting to lift myself higher when I was jumping I slipped right off, landed on the ground and hit my head. I didn't feel it though but everyone else was freaking out. I guess that's what happens when you're too drunk. You don't feel much.

"I'm fine. I'm fine," I assured them.

Next thing I know I'm staggering into Mama's and the girl behind the counter looks like she cannot believe we're there.

Marie waved to her friend Ari who worked in the back and I remember waving at him too. Or thinking I was. Like I said, everything was so damn blurry.

"Tell her what you want," Marie said.

"I'll have a tofu taco with sour cream, cheese and a little bit of salsa," Later on I think I might have said "cheese and a little bit of cheese." I couldn't remember though.

I saw that Marie had some chips and guacamole.

Chris had a fish taco.

I don't remember if Anna had anything.

I remember taking people's napkins and a Disney pass out from under the plastic covering over the table.

People decorated the tables there apparently and left weird shit on it so everyone who ate at the table could see.

I felt bad about taking the napkins though because they were like artwork or something but I kept the Disney pass.

The next thing I know we're outside.

I suddenly feel I have to puke.

It's going to happen.  There's nothing I can do to stop it.

So I sit down on the ground and start throwing up martini and tofu chunks.

Pictures were taken.

One was conveniently uploaded to Facebook on Louann's wall for all to see. I knew Marcia, my girlfriend, was going to give me shit about it.

But I was going to be alright.

Anna went in and got me napkins and I don't know if the people in Mama's knew I threw up but I didn't really care.

We walked back to The Kingdom because I had to pee again and the taco shop had closed its doors to us and were probably eternally grateful for that. Anna led me to the bathroom and then we met up with the others on the dance floor.

I don't even know how that happened.

It was like one minute I was puking on the side of the street and then suddenly I'm tearing up a dance floor.

How did time go by so fast?

We danced for the next 2 hours only stopping once for a break to rest and drink some water.

Anna had grasped my hand on the way to the bar to get some and she kind of held it for a second.
I liked that.

(What was going on here? I had dreamed of this my whole life and tomorrow it all could really be just some drunk fantasy.)

At 3 am the club lights came on and a voice on a loudspeaker thanked us all for coming out but then politely told us that it was now time to get the fuck out. We exited the club talking about how fun it was and the next thing we know some guy starts standing in the middle of the street freestyling or something.

You couldn't understand a damn word he said.

Cell phone cameras were aimed at him like he was a tourist attraction.

He had a big plant in his hand.  Mostly green with one pink rose in the middle of it.

It was a pathetic looking rose but I wanted it.

He walked up to us and mumbled, "I have a rose but I'm not giving it to anyone over here."

We laughed but I was insulted. I wanted that damn rose. I wanted to give it to Anna.

I tried to get it from him. I told him I had a chronic disease. He told me he'd give it to me if I could spell Zimbabwe. I did and correctly but he accused me of being wrong.

Chris tried to give him a card for a free lap dance at a local stip joint and a 15% off discount at Radio Shack.

The guy kept insisting he wanted money.

Two dollars.  Then five dollars.  Then one hundred fifty.  Then fifteen million.

It was fun to watch but I was getting dizzy again so I sat down on the curb a good distance away from them. I didn't want to puke on the poor guy. Anna and the girls slowly followed me and we just waited for Chris to haggle or whatever it was he was trying to do.

Then I saw Chris go into his wallet and then come back with the rose. He pretty much threw it at me and I made sure not to crush any of the petals.

"Here.  I just spent one hundred fifty dollars on a rose from a crack head...now let's run!"

He was so drunk and took off at full speed with Marie and Louann just trailing him but I grabbed onto Anna's coat sleeve lightly in an attempt to get her to help me up so I could try and be romantic.

"You lush," she joked helping me up.

I had no response but a smile and presented the rose to her. "This feels like regifting or something but I wanted to get it for you. I just hope he really didn't spend that much on it because that's totally showing me up and is also completely insane."

She beamed and took it. "Thanks."

"Come on, Jason!" Chris was back suddenly and threw me over his shoulder and took off running with Anna standing there laughing at our idiotic antics.

That should have hurt more than it did but I was wasted and he was lucky I had already thrown up or I would have thrown up all over him.

I couldn't stop laughing though and when he finally put me down I didn't hit my head on anything.
Anna was sniffing the rose a little trotting after us in her high heeled boots.

"Hey," I said to him off to the side. "What'd you pay for that rose, really?"

"It doesn't matter," he sneered. "It'll be wilting on a cup in her bedroom by tomorrow anyway. It's the thought that counts or some shit. We will have to have a talk when we're sober. Anna's hot as hell and I really, really hate Marcia. I'm sorry. But I do."

I clapped him on his back then to silence him as Louann and Marie had already started bitching at us that they really wanted to get home.

"Ok, ok!" I said. Louann took shotgun again even though we had a deal made that I would get it on the way home but I let it go. "Give me one minute!"

Bless Marie. She gave me an understanding nod and climbed in, turning on music to entertain Louann with.

"You can ride with me!" Chris said but I didn't trust him after how he almost got me killed three months ago.

"Nah, it's cool buddy. Don't take off just yet though." It was better to make sure he actually got where he was going by keeping him in our sight on the trek home.

"Right on!" He climbed in his own ride and I could see him pulling a joint out of his ashtray.

"I had a great time," I said turning to Anna. "We should hang out more."

"Yeah, I think that'd be alright. You have some things to take care of though I think." She wasn't being judgmental. She was speaking the truth. I definitely did.

A huge part of me wanted to grab her, make out with her and then hope that would be enough to convince her to say the hell with everything and take me home with her.

Neither one of us exactly rolled that way though. I decided a hug and a small kiss on the cheek would be enough.

She held the hug for a long time though and I was able to smell her hair then. It was a smell I never wanted to forget.

"Give me a call soon, Jason. Take care of yourself. And these crazies here," she got into her car, waving goodbye.

I watched her drive away and then Louann started laying on Marie's horn much to Marie's dismay. She was even smacking Louann's hands to get her to stop.

I jogged over and got in, slamming the door shut.

"Sorry! Sorry!" I yelled over the music. "Let's go!"

"It's fine," Louann said. "I was just fucking with you. By the way that girl likes you." Her head lolled a bit and I knew she probably had no clue what was going on and hadn't for the past hour or so most likely.

Marie shook her head and started up the car. "That was a night we won't forget. And we have pictures." Her satisfied tone and twinkling glance to me in the rearview were the last thing I focused on before my thoughts became consumed with Anna and remembering every detail of her at the club.

Chris followed us as we left downtown for a bit and then disappeared. Marie was frantically trying to call or text him in front of my house after she dropped me off but gave up. "I just hope he's not dead, dammit. I need to get Louann home."

A screeching sound distracted us. I was trying to get my phone to work but was struggling. I needed water. Probably not food, but definitely water.

It was Chris and he half pulled up onto my front lawn.

"What a dick," Marie muttered. It didn't phase me though. This wasn't the worst thing he's ever done.

He opened the door, half hanging out of it. "I needed more papers. Sorry about that!"

"I tried to call you," Marie didn't like to play mom but she had to sometimes and especially with how wild Chris always was. He lived down the street from me but I had a feeling he'd be crashing here tonight. Plus, I could use some weed and he always had some.

The three of us chatted for a bit about how much fun it was and how we have to do it again and soon before Louann woke up yelling again. "Why am I not at home yet?!"

Marie rolled her eyes and Chris started sticking his bare nipples on the passenger side window as Louann scream-laughed for him to knock it off.

"This is going to have to get old eventually, you think?" Marie said to me.

I shrugged. I didn't feel it had to. Not at that moment.

I was just glad we had gone out.

And it was even better that Anna had decided to join us.

Man, I missed her already.


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