The room is filled with a thick aroma. Alcohol and cigar smoke, the sensation stings. Its palpable. Above all the dirt, a sweet perfume collides with my nostrils. Our eyes met across the bar, her red cocktail dress boils my blood. Her blond locks shine beauty throughout the dark lonely saloon. The stare is filled with passion and fear. The passion for the internal flames of desire. The fear of the unknown, of the night that was about to unfold. Catholics would crucify for the thoughts buzzing in my brain. My spirit told my legs to walk, they disobey. The pounding heart in my chest, argues with my body to move. Something snaps. In a flash I’m there, standing in front of her. The look on her face is of confusion. She looks like how an angel should look. She smells how an angel should smell. Talk damn it!
“Care for a smoke?” I mumble.
“Sure” Her words are blunt, yet elegant.
“You’re everything a man could want…”A soft smile breaks across her face. “It's just not your face. Your... figure Or your voice It's your eyes. All the things I see in your eyes.”
“What do you see in my eyes?” she is taken back.
“I see a crazy calm, you're sick of running. You're ready to face what you have to face. But you don't want to face it alone” the confusion turns into understanding.
“No. I don’t want to face it alone.” Her perfume is a sweet promise that brings tears to my eyes. I tell her that everything will be alright. That I'll save her from whatever she's scared of and take her far far away.
The night was romantic enough, more then others, she is still there when I awake. The sun stings my pupils, a buzzing enters my brain. Was it worth it? A night of shallow love, fruity drinks, and a filled ashtray. What do I do next? Laying still in the cheap motel’s bed, I analyze the off-white walls. A peaceful angel lays next to me. She looks peaceful, the sun shines upon her soft skin. I pull the sheets over her, in a way I’m jealous of the sun. But now also the sheets. Jitters tingle. I need relief. The pack on the nightstand is empty. The salvation I need is another mans sin.
Leaving is not the hardest part, its dealing with the regret. How many more nights of this can I take? One night stand, after one night stand, I only pray that my demons take me now. That would be the easy way. There is only one bar open this early, Debbie’s, over in East Side. A lousy bar, in a lousy part of town. But the people in Debbie’s are my kind of people, low life’s running from hell. Also liquor is liquor.
“Come see the magnificent Flying Aces! Defying gravity! Swinging! Flipping! FLYING!” a small, awkwardly sized man, more child than man, announcing to an admiring crowd.
Carnies have always been my family, I don’t consider myself a freak like others, but still in the family. I am a trapeze artist, a member of the Flying Aces. Ma, Pa, and sister Marie and me make the group. Pa learned from his dad and brought Ma along for the ride, I’m just surprised she never got off. I supposed she really did love him. Love, the four letter word that does not exist in my life. I have other four letter words that live with me, but love was just that, a four letter word. I am 17, young and able, but still a virgin. I wanted to feel the warmth of a girl, no a women. I knew I had to leave the trail.
Leaving the trail meant banishment for life, no return and no contact with family still inside the trail. Jake Reynolds left the trail, I guess he was tired of being Jake the snake. Jake was a contortionist, he would fit himself into the smallest places, sometimes the places got to small. After almost dying while passing out inside a trunk he walked away and never looked back, I wonder what happened to him and if the world was a safe place for me.
My fix for a hangover is to drown it in the very poison that made my head hurt this way.
“It could be tonight,” I thought as I stood in the corner, pretending to have a good time. I would meet her tonight. All my young life, I had dreamed of a girl like this. 5'6, silky hair, trim, nubile body. Trim, nubile body that really knew how to move. And soft, deeply tanned skin. Now as for personality traits, she needed only one. She had to love sex and all the time. To arrive at this moment, I had traveled vast distances enduring many hardships. Abject poverty, starvation, show tunes, you name it. From across the room, I saw her. She was perfect. I knew almost nothing about her and she didn't know much more about me. It was exactly how it was supposed to be. I brought her to my room. The lights were soft, the moment was right. Then she leaned over and whispered in my ear, 'Do you love me?' Thoughts raced through my mind. Did she really want me? What had I done to deserve this bounty? Does God exist? Who invented the lava lamp and why?
“Do you love me?” Staring into her eyes I knew that she really needed to hear it but for the first time in my life, I knew these were no longer just words and if I said it, it would be a lie. “Do you love me?” she whispered. “Do you love me?” It would not be tonight. The answer was no.
The gates of hell are open night and day; Smooth the descent, and easy is the way. I know Satan has a spot reserved for me, everyday I am trying to run the other way. I could still smell her on my skin…What was the smell though… strawberries, she smelt like strawberries. A single hair of hers laid on the lapel of my jacket, I choose to leave it, it allows me to lie to myself that I actually cared about her.
My apartment was on the opposite side of town from Debbie’s, I drive a long way for the bottle. The fifth storey of the building, a good walk up the stairs, but that’s one thing my Ma always taught me, “Don’t be lazy Zus! Take the stairs, your legs were made for walking.” She died last year. Down the hall from my 505, lives a pretty little thing that makes me tremble. I have yet to try anything on her, trust me I want to, but she is different. She is the kind of girl that is special, she doesn’t have daddy issues, she doesn’t spend the evening in the bars looking for romance, she attended college and actually got the grades cause she was smart. She is a respectable women, and I am a pitiful man. I would sell my soul to the devil himself to be able to be her man. If I had a soul to sell at this point.