Chapped, scab-hard blood, ruined-leather scratching that tastes of cigarette smoke and cheap vodka shoved down my throat and wiggling around in my mouth like a wounded eel. Is this kissing? Who started this? I can’t breathe. A woman is on my lap. I detach my mouth from hers. She is much older than I am. I must do something.
She says, “Hello, darling. I didn’t think you’d let me go.”
I say, “Hey there.” And try to untangle myself from her arms that are around my neck.
She says, “Come on baby. Just another kiss,” as she smokes her long cigarette and smiles lasciviously at me. “Come on. Just kiss me again like you were.” She comes in too close and I back away. Her hips move up on my lap and her hands start going up and down my back. Her hair is a nest for cockroaches and diseased beetles. I don’t like the smell of her, a sweet-sick smell like rotten pickles. For some reason I decide I should kiss her again. There is no reason for this, no rational behind it, except that I want the sensation of kissing for some reason, though I can’t think about why or how it should happen, nor even care much about it. It just seems like the thing that I will be doing now, and so I do it. It’s horrible of course, but I try to stick with it. Her hands are going into my pockets. I look down and see that she’s taken my pack of gum out, and I am very confused and grab the gum back and say, “Hey, that’s not for you.” She laughs and keeps trying to put her hand back into my pockets. The kissing has become unendurable at this point. Her hands are going into my suit jacket pockets and she’s whining, “Come on, baby Don’t you like me?”
“Like you? You keep trying to steal my gum.” I feel her poking around in my other pant pocket. “Hey! Stop that. There’s no gum in there.”
She comes in for another go around with the lips. I’ve had enough, “Ok. Stop that. You’re not getting any gum from me lady.” I stand up and she half-falls and slips herself up onto the top of the bar. It’s a better place to sit than my lap.
Down a few seats at the bar Leroy is laughing at me and shaking his head in disbelief. “What were you doing there man? The old wench was trying to steal your wallet. And you were fucking making out with her. That was not a pretty sight.”
“I don’t know? She kept taking my pack of gum out of my pocket.”
“Your pack of gum? You idiot. She was trying to lift your wallet. A regular Chicago May that one.”
I was disoriented and didn’t want to think about what had just happened. No time was left for us in this place. Space was closing in. Everything was getting smaller. Soon we would vanish into the abyss like waves of light unable to escape the event horizon of our own existence, lost in the void, shut out, less than an infinity of nothingness.
“Let’s go back to the room. I can’t be here anymore.”
Leroy’s eyes were jiggling around like little pot bellies made of fog and glass. He pulled his face down with his hand and sighed like an old man at the end of a very hard life. “Let’s get some breakfast.”
For some reason I agreed with him. “Ok, but let’s give them Chet’s name this time so we can get the bill charged to the room. I don’t have any more cash.”
We went back to the Studio Café. It was familiar, reliable, like an old dog that keeps biting your feet every time you take your shoes off. The breakfast was excellent and we charged it to the room. I could’ve kept sitting there and eating forever. Leroy handed me a few Xanax after the meal. I ordered a tequila sunrise to wash them down. After swallowing the pills and diligently draining the red and yellow liquid from my glass I started to feel drowsy and relaxed. A warm mellowing of my senses overcame me and I was calm. There was quiet inside of my head and some diluted sort of freedom was melting around the cockles of my heart, shutting my eyes and ordering multitudes of synapses to stop firing so damn much. I started half-muttering things like, “Xanax is alprazolam and did you know that the generic Ativan, um, which is called lorazepam has all of the same letters in it, but, that they are all like mixed up in there? Except the extra ‘e’ I guess? And maybe an ‘l’? Is that an anagram? What? Can I buy a vowel? I mean…” and other such nonsense. I was getting sleepy. It was a nice way to end things. Everything just winding down and down, slower and slower, until there is nothing left but the emptiness in the place where your brain used to be inside of your skull.