we stood swaying under the flicKering spotlight of a streetlamp , shadows cast over our intoxicated intentions , as we wait / d for the late – night bus to bring us across town , over the tracks , where off – sales of liquor didn ’ t obey the law ’ s curfew .
the bus sKid / d beyond the train tracKs , twist / d down the back alleys n into the palpitating heart valves of the resuscitated swine beast of the city to the place we drove pass / d as Kids n were told “ that is where the vomit / d chunks of outlaws sip piss from the trough n hide from the rules that society has laid out for those born into it ’ s chains . ”
we pull / d the string that sag / d above us . ding ! the bus came to a slow , hesitant stop n we pull / d ourselves up like drunKen arthritics . the aisle – way was dimly lit n we KnocK / d into the seats , our hung elbows n listless legs colliding w / the seats as the bus driver watch / d us from his stretch / d rear – view mirror ; three suburbanites , freshly graduated n naïve to the dangers of wandering into the slums wearing sneakers others Kill for .
“ you boys live around here ? ” the bus driver w / wise eyes asK / d us w / a cautious tone . he Knew we didn ’ t belong here . we Knew it too , but a drunKen stupor can delay reaction n inflate the ego , so he answer / d for us . “ it ’ s not safe to be here at night if you have no business here . ”
a look of rage flooded my best friend, anthony crooKs . he was a confused n angry Kid who ’ d just been released from immigrations for trying to smuggle a sock full of ecstasy pills across the border in his mustard yellow ford bronco ; a gift sign / d over to him by the strangers he ’ d met at a different bar n convinced him to make some side cash . not long after this exercise in tempting fate anthony would be found on the sidewalk in front of his basement suite , dead , shot in the back by a few teenagers hired by the men who own / d that socK .
“ what the fucK is it to you if we ’ re from here or not ? ” anthony stammer / d w / dried bacardi flaKing from the sides of his lips .
the bus driver long – blinK / d, “ be careful , s ’ all i ’ m telling you Kids, ” n his arm pull / d bacK the giant lever as the bus doors open / d .
marK n i jump / d out of the bus n as anthony slowly step / d down the stairs , he pull / d the bottle of bacardi from his sweater pocKet , start / d twisting the cap off , tooK a long chug h reply / d , “ we ’ re no Kids , sir . ”
the bus doors shut n the silence of the night hit us . the air was nervous . the bus drove away n we were surround / d by a nervous darKness .
we tromp / d down blind alleys , poKed w / fear . the street lights had been lost to fiendish gecKos ; glass bulbs needed to boil lunch . our flip phones provided no light , so our path – a shortcut – was lit with the junKy ’ s nodding flame .
we rasp / d through to the intestinal discharge of the city ’ s digestive tract on our foul quest , looKing for the hole to squirt us out through the sanguinary rectum. micro – flaKes of steamy mucK singed my windbreaKer ’ s sleeve like the heavy ash of a pizza box in a bin fire . a swirl of desiccated feces activated our rectal chaKras n protect / d us within it ‘ s shitty aura as we splatter / d onto the sidewalK w / a KerplunK .
as we stood up , we could hear the popping of blood clots under our feet that were tangled in the loosely tied veins of rubber arm / d cadavers n dharma bums deep in decade long opiod “ treatment ” .
flies were slurping on fresh excrement as we approach / d the scuzzy winKerbean pub in our desperate attempt to secure off – sale booze . one of the flies shook the drips of shit off his wings and land / d on my lip .
he whispered at me to “ leave . ”
anthony was convinced his release was a clerical error . his eyes were drowning in a self – sabotaging freedom . the next cop that drove by would sinK him . he looK / d at me as his dingy , roll / d stare . w/ o beer i was too deflated to get myself back to shallow waters .
we could ‘ ve escaped , but the swim bacK thru the plastic bags n gum – dull / d syringes seem / d less safe ; i quit swimming lessons after only two classes , when i was eight , b / c of a high – dive belly flop . my parents didn ‘ t want to be bothered w / the routine , anyways .
anthony was spitting chunKy snot into the sunKen palms that stuck out with hiccuped pleas of “ mercy , brother . ” the most desperate were still gracious to him , sucKing it up as if were the clam from a warm chowder .
i pull / d anthony ‘ s arms into the buzz of the “ open ” sign , dancing together under it ’ s rhythmic buzz , n together we swung the dead steel portal into hell wide open .
… creeaaa – eeeeK …
we step / d into the scuzzy winKerbean liKe we were supposed to be there . our eyes cross / d at the dizzying smell of malnourish / d piss , hungry vomit n years – old musK cologne n we dropped to our Knees , hoping the stink linger / d closer to the ceiling .
we crawl / d pass / d patrons on sticKy Knees n cautious carelessness pass / d patrons who mind / d their own business n didn ’ t looK up . no one spoke a word . no music play / d . just the sounds of heavy breathing , fluids dripping from worn orifices n watery beer being sip / d from dirty cups as they wait / d for something that we were unaware of .
the bartender looK / d as if he was hatch / d into this world, centuries ago. the gooey plasma that surround / d his egg , like a brain in the sKull , still cover / d his leathery skin , dripping off it , slowly , liKe gluey semen .
i unstucK an antique stool n drag / d it bacK w / slicken / d fingers , specKled n spatter / d w / runny fluid dripping from unplug / d orifices – similar to the wretchedness of jacKson pollacK ’ s streak / d madness – smell / d the sour / d juice n felt it slide n harden against the chairs bow / d legs , rickety w / wear .
i wedged the chair beside a snag / d prostitute . her head was nod / d from the weight of her uniform ; dusty tumbleweed weave , nest / d n Knot / d w / twistedly soggy matches , crumpled newspaper clippings n a smother / d pigeon . i could see ancient dates on the newspaper clippings stuck in her matt / d rat ’ s nest . her scab / d Knees , bumpy lips n blacK / d eyes were a mixture of abuse n sweated mascara . she wasn ’ t looking at us , until she heard the change jingle in anthony ‘ s pocKet n her black / d eyes widen / d w / opportunity . she gazed at us n a snaggle tooth / d smile grin / d at us not being sewer rats breathing down her fishnets this time , but young boys who might have been her high school sweethearts if she hadn ’ t liked bad boys .
to my left was her rotten gold toothed pimp , slump / d n drowning in his thinning boysenberry velvet adidas tracksuit he ‘ d conduct / d business in since the late 80 ’ s . i turn / d n seen a man i didn ’ t thinK exist / d in real life . a pimp . purple suede suit w / a crusty feather bent in the rounding ribbon of his hat. he was staring at me , eyeing me down , curious if i ’ d brought any of my parent ‘ s money w / me n running gameplans thru his head of how to get it from me , his “ aha ” moment coming when my eyes stucK on his ‘ girl , ‘ when really i was stucK on her worn out vibes n shrinking vessel . he pull / d out a switchblade n when he smir / d his gold tooth reflect / d off it ’ s rust / d valor .
i flop / d on the stool . it ’ s cushion violently spit free the stagnate , century old air . trap / d flatulence spray / d in all directions . it curdled a sad man ’ s white belgium shot , gag / d a cockroach until it had stiffen / d , dead n flip / d on it ’ s belly in rigor mortis .
neither the lady of the night , nor her gentleman blinK / d , but the sKinny broad ‘ s pencil / d brows sag / d a little . his eyelids never flinch / d . they were stapled open by the glut of street chemicals that sludged thru his viscous blood in those slacken / d veins that hung as limp as his snapped elastic band arms .
i slid the chair closer to the bar . the bartender wasn ’ t born from this world . short , reptilian , n was hatch / d on this very bar ’s floor . the gooey plasma that guard / d him when he form / d in his egg , liKe a brain in a skull , still dripped from his leathery sKin , dripping onto the rag that he used to clean the dirty glasses . i try / d to maKe eye contact w / the bartender ’ s wandering eye . his other eye was dead n cloud / d grey from a tab dispute when he was stab / d in the eye by a decorative umbrella during the months of rebranding the bar into a place where respectable professionals would want to unwind . after his eye was poked , puss pour / d n dissolved through the layers of renovated paint that was splatter / d in a weaK attempt to hide the bar ’ s truth .
as anthony ran to the bathroom with marK , he wiped his finger along the edge of a table where two biKers slouch / d , as both were licKing their lips w / a fiendish type of anticipation . liKe a clan of speed – freaK woodpecKers stalKing a little hatchling , waiting for mother bird to leave . n , when she does , they hop on over , lurch n terrorize the featherless baby bird . possess / d n drooling as they pecK thru , savagely , his soft sKull , crush it open , fresh brains exposed n still thudding w / visceral fear as their beaKs slam thru the gentile flesh , tearing the spinal cord in one long warm strip liKe a worm plucK / d from rainy , loose dirt , sucK / d up n swallow / d ; the brutalized carcass left with it ’ s crooK / d beaK still open , screaming .
i Knew anthony was about to be baptized in the chaotic mayhem of the unspoKen truth of darwinism quacKery .
“Cowards,” I muttered to myself, realizing the situation I’d been left in, but then I watched as two burly bikers walked into the bathroom together, with smiles as if they were going to blow each other in the cubicle, or better yet, i hoped, sodomize two freshly young boys who left their friend alone at the bar because of their weak, womanly bladders.
” what are you drinKing , Kid , ” wheezed the shrunKenly hunch / d reptile from behind a bar that was piled with molding pint glasses , while his beady little slit eyes n crooK / d overbite could hardly see over the drinK coasters , even while lurched forward on his hocK / d legs . a slither / d rasp struggled to find breath . his tone was inaudible . his larynx was squash / d under his leathery chin that had melt / d into his wilt / d pecs ; a tell – tale sign of a soft shell that was seed / d w / genetic amniotic limits . the left – eye wander / d w / the living dander that float / d by , his other eye made of a semi – round shadowy agate rock that slowly roll / d in a watery tide w / the gravitational pull of the moon .
the intensity of the bar was sobering me up , fast . i was losing my confidence . the swamp was slowly sinKing me .
“ a double shot of bacardi 151 rum , ” I demand / d with instant remorse .
the bartender grin / d with devilish satisfaction at my abandonment of civility n looK / d to the sky as if to tell satan , “ we ‘ ve got him . ” he blew the dust of an undisturbed bottle of the acidic poison , twist / d the lid n it snap / d open . i heard the shrieks of those bottled demons n watch / d in terror as they swam to the top , panic / d n gasping for air after being drown / d for centuries , waiting to be set free .
the wobbly – eyed bartender shyly slam / d the bottle onto the bar n scan / d for a clean shot glass , found none n snatched a dirty cup from the sinK . w / a talon draped in his sweaty t – shirt he dab / d n swirl / d clean round the rim of my glass , smearing a thick greasy paste . he held it up to the sky n inspect / d it w / his cloudy eye .
“ good enough , ” he gnash / d as he began pouring , filling the cup completely . “ five bucKs ,” he purr / d with a preying smirK as he slid my Kool – aid across the bar w / o spilling a drop .
i slap / d a ten dollar bill down n squeak / d w / fear , “ Keep the change , ” which perK / d the ears of hustlers n the itching fiends that were lump / d in pain that was nearing desperation .
i held my breath n tip / d the cup bacK , chugging my shot , n could taste years of the bartender ’ s toil swishing down my throat , my vision spun n i clutch / d onto the stool to not fall onto the sticKy floor n risK filling a scab w / hepatitis from spill / d blood , cum , spit , etc . dead sKin snowflaKes n spinning worms danced behind my eyelids as the room quaKed n tilt / d n i drop / d the glass to the floor , shattering it .
“ you paying for that ? ” hiss / d the bartender n i ’ d forgotten that I already had , shoving him more soggy bills .
the cup ’ s greasy residue absorb into my lips liKe a stranger ‘ s chapsticK as i pull / d out the rest of the bills anthony hand / d to me – who i ‘ d accept / d as being balls deep in a dive – bar bathroom trough orgy , or dead – n shoved the entire pile towards the bartender .
the bartender looK / d pleased n the pimp was still petting his blade , blood running from his finger that he unknowingly cut while comforting the rust / d luster . this was my chance .
“ my friends n I have some business to attend to , ” i stammer / d , ” n we ‘ re going to need a 12 case of beer for this endeavor . ” I realized my vocabulary was pompous in the situation , so i slam / d down more money than I Knew it would cost n w / o hesitation , he pull / d the bills off the counter , shoved them into his apron n walK / d into the cooler room . as he left , i realized that his presence made me feel safe n w / o him being there , i was open prey .
the leathery bartender claw / d the apron full of money close to his chest n scurry / d to the freezer liKe a starved , deform / d tyrannosaurs – rex , after the asteroid end / d nearly all life from his land , who ‘ d finally hooK / d a decay / d rocKfish with his puny arms in a shallow puddle .
w / the bartender gone n anthony n marK getting sodomized in the bathroom , i could feel the air tightening as the lowlife ’ s lurKing eyes sized me up , smelling my fear . the stale breeze was sticKy w / predators spraying their scent , marKing their territory . hungry growls n rabid snarls swirl / d in on me . a large dose of adrenaline dizzy / d me n i was about to drop a sneaker to the floor to balance , but remember / d the crocodiles .
as i wait / d , the pimp beside me tooK the opportunity to asK me if i want / d to buy some cocaine . knowing that to say no to what ’ s being offer / d to you in these parts of town was rude n stupidly rude , i answer / d that i ‘ d absolutely liKe some cocaine , deciding that it wasn ’ t the worst idea , considering i ’ d be incapacitated in mere minutes from the shot i ‘ d just slam / d w / disregard to decency .
the bartender walK / d out with two six – pacKs strung in plastic holders n rip / d one free , slamming it down in front of me w / a twist / d snarl . i reach / d out to grab them , but he quickly peel / d one beer off . “ Tax , ” he explain / d , cracKing it open while laughing , wheezing , coughing blood , n suck / d it bacK n swallow / d the can , whole .
“ let ’ s go , ” said the pimp , n i realized my friends were still being broKen in in the bathroom , but i couldn ‘ t say “just wait . ” he had this power over me , maybe fear , or maybe the same energy that lures a fourteen year – old girl to turn tricKs for him n self – sabatoge her existance into a semen – slip / d decent into a sticKy suicide .
i step / d outside of him n saw a van n Knew that i was about to be ship / d across seas in a shipping container to laos , where i ’ d be the weeKend entertainment for a gaggle of rich chinese businessmen , or american scum .
he whistled n out of the blacKness of the night came a homeless man w / a furry n bedraggled beard , six – foot seven n at least two hundred n eighty pounds . probably a handsome man in his youth , but his size made him a necessity of the drug dealers n gangsters , so he Kill / d his parents to get a taste for blood n freedom then became a staple in the underbelly of the city , paying off his eternal drug debt n ingesting copious amounts of water / d down heroin to numb the pain n crush the guilt of Killing the people who raised him .
my friends walK / d out the front door , panic / d . “ fuck , there you are . ” they looK / d terrified , but w / rosy cheeKs of confused pleasure , liKe i ‘ d been murder / d while they were being gently sodomized w / their buttholes being ticKled by the biker ‘ s wilt / d chops . “ let ’ s go . ”
the dirty shot of alcohol was revving up n i slur / d that I was going to buy some cocaine with “ this guy , ” n as soon as they looK / d at the pimp , who was still twitching w / his switchblade , his finger now pouring watery blood down his purple suede pants , they understood , fully , why i was going to get cocaine with “ that guy ” n said they / d wait .
the pimp talK / d to the homeless linebacKer , gave him directions , n as soon as the pimp walK / d back inside the growly man bellow / d “ i need my cut , now ” n instruct / d me to give him twenty more dollars , on top of the 40 i ‘ d just given the pimp to acquire cocaine , but i wasn ’ t about to say no to him , not in an alley that had all the street lights shot out , purposely , to easily dispose of little suburban puKes liKe me who didn ’ t understand the etiquette of the ghetto .
i hand / d him the money n he told me to follow him into the darkness .
i held onto his sweaty pocKet in the darKness , unsure of where he was going , but running thru my apology script in case this was my demise n I met my disappoint / d maKer .
as he walK / d i follow / d his footsteps that crack / d n thicK glass under his military , shit – KicKer boots . the only light came from the occassional flicK of a lighter , which would momentarily illuminate junKy ’ s dress / d in all black w / sunglasses n hoods on , blending into the walls liKe caged chameleons .
My vision began to adapt to the darkness, just as the alcohol swirled in my head. The intensity of the trek was too much for me, and I was regretting every step, but knew that I couldn’t, under any circumstance, navigate back thru the alley’s maze without being grabbed, tripped or shot for running.
we stop / d in front of a young mexican man , w / his head shaved n a fresh scar across his cheeK , liKe one side of his face was grinning . the homeless bear hand / d him the cash then extend / d his hand to shaKe my hand , while the intensity of it all n my coping mechanism – humor – said to him , “ a little late for that , i thought we were at the hug stage , ” n took the cocaine from his hand .
they didn ’ t thinK it was a funny joKe , n when i benightedly pull / d the bag up to the glint of light from an apartment building above us , the mexican said, “ you’re in the ghetto now , bro , ” n signal / d for me to put the mini – bag down , n as I follow / d his motion , noticed he ’ d made it apparent that he had a gun n i was to listen .
a big fucKing gun .
sobriety KicK / d in n i turn / d around n ran , fast , while the homeless man yell / d a bellowing laugh as he repeat / d the dealer ’ s setiment that “ you ‘ re in the ghetto now , bro !! ”
i managed to retrace the cruchy steps from the sounds of broKen glass n painful murmurs of the drug adled on the sidewalKs . i recognized the pricKing voices n Kept running , blind as a bat , worKing off my dull / d senses of smell n sound .
i saw light around the corner n Knew that was were i ’ d left from , so i sprint / d , Knees raming into my chest , n turn / d the corner n saw one friend standing one hundred metres from a cab . i Kept running n grabbed his arm , spinning him ‘ round liKe we were ballroom dancing on speed , nearly KnocKing him to the ground . i open / d the cab door n yell / d , “ lets go ! ” my friend jump / d in , but antony was pissing on a luxury car , too expensive for the area . we yell / d at him , my friend , marK , presuming the emergency .
“ is your fucKing friend pissing on my car ? ” the mexican dealer scream / d , who must ‘ ve walK / d down a few shortcuts to cut us off . he pull / d out that big fucKing gun from his belt as i ran outside n pulled my anthony into the cab, still pissing , dragging him into the backseat , slamming the cab door .
“ go !!!”
the cab driver heard anthony ‘ s tricKling piss moans from the tingle of whatever he ’ d just contract / d n told us to get out , while we scream / d at him to go before we were all dead .
just then , there was a loud bang on the window from the mexican banging the handle of his gun against the glass. once, twice , smash ! glass everywhere ; in our hair , in the open beers n even anthony ’ s vex / d n pulsing pee – hole .
the cab driver hit the gas and the dealer ’ s grip on my hair was unhand / d n he spun and fell , as the cab bump / d over his leg , a snap ! follow / d by a shrieK that loosen / d the last few pieces of glass that hung onto the window .
he shot at the cab , unload / d , n after nine shots – we all count / d in unison – we let out a relieved mewl Knowing we were oKay .
to lighten the mood i joKed , “ at least we got the cocaine . ” i tooK it out of my pocKet n noticed that it wasn ‘ t pleasantly powdery . it looked glassy . shiny . tasty . i tried to crush it up n it just snapped n stuck to my finger , so i tasted it .
… “ it ’ s a crush / d up mint , bro . ”