The rush of artificially cooled air kissed Hanks face as he made his way through the cracked, chipped doorway of a mid century two story house perched somewhere between Sheol and the paradise for the wretched. In no way was this a home but a fortress of lies, hope, debasement, and a thirst quenched by the decaying of innocence. It had already been a night that felt had gone on for weeks yet the dawn had not taken her first breath. Hank made his way though the sea of the unwanted giving and receiving handshakes, kisses and accolades for a show well done. As Hank stepped through the living-room he made his way to the bar and noticed Jewles sitting and sipping a cocktail alone. Jewles, a burlesque queen with tightly chiseled curves, eyes filled with heartache and sapphire, blessed with enough charm to out wit the devil, was usually never without company. Yet there she sits tasting the evening. She had come to appreciate being alone. Much like Hank. In fact the two more often then not would find themselves in each others presence enjoying the solitude in a loud crowd together. Tonight looked to be no different yet it was a little early for her to be bored. Hank sat next to her and poured himself a tall bourbon, cracked open a bottle of Ale, then lit the cigarette that she had been twirling through her fingers and spoke:
“Long night already? Why don’t you just go home.”
“Same reason you didn’t. Too quite. I saw you leave the club with Melissa. Where’d she go?”
“She’s…At her place sleeping with ghosts.”
“Be careful Hank she’s… Not well.”
“Seems to be that way. You not keeping any company with you? You were at the show?”
“Everyone seemed to be at the show tonight. Yeah, I don’t feel like being with anyone tonight. The rabble seems to be very… dark tonight. ”
Hank leaned back and turned to gaze the crowd. The Stones were blaring on the stereo, people were engaged in boisterous fables and cocaine fairy tales. Lewd touching and acts could be found in every corner it seemed and who knows what was to be found in the bathrooms or bedrooms upstairs. Not for the faint of heart or anyone with a moral conscience at least. The one thing that seemed out of the ordinary were the three dick heads pushing through people, yelling, spitting on the floor, intruding into conversations and catching a feel without a care. This never sits well with Hank but Hank turned back to engage Jewles. She was very well in the know on how to deal with such unsightlies and she didn’t even flinch. Hank, on the other hand, began to feel his guts burn and fill with the venom of hate.
“Hank. Go out back; I’ll meet you there. I just need to hit the bathroom. Just let it go.”
“See ya in a few then?”
Jewels kissed Hank on the cheek, laughed then floated off through the living-room and down the hall. Hank gathered his thoughts and essentials to make his way to the backyard. Hank was already beginning to detach from himself. He get’s like this. Similar to the catatonic daze he wanders in when he’s daydreaming; when the anger warms Hank seems to step outside of himself as if to get a front row look of the action. The few hundred feet through the kitchen to the back door might as well have taken days. It seemed everyone on the way had gifts for Hank, hugs, high fives and kisses. With each narcotic that was judiciously placed in Hanks hand he immediately gave it to the next carcass that dripped into his space. As he stepped out through the door he was greeted with smiles and the smell of Bob Marley’s vegetables. This was a whole different scene than what was being played out inside. Hank made his way to the couch that was placed serendipitously in the middle of the lawn next to a palm tree. “Perfect.” Hank sank into the corner of the couch and took a deep breath. A few people wandered over and began to make kind, idle chit chat. “Normal.” Hank thought to himself. A calm waved over Hank as he listened politely and watched the stars break through the night sky.
Hank shook off the night and found himself looking up at Jewles. The corner of her mouth was bleeding and the sleeve of her top was torn a bit.
“What the fuck happened to you?”
“Hank just sit. Just let me sit here with you for a bit; then you can take me home. ”
“What happened? Come on now!”
“Ugh. As I was coming out of the bathroom and one of those assholes pushed me up against the wall and tried to kiss me. I kicked him in the nuts and he grabbed my breast real hard and said he’d seen me dance, has a lot of money and is a bad mother fucker so I better behave. I punched him in the throat and came out here. I just want to go home now. Walk with me and we’ll go back to my place. Please?”
“Yeah. Let’s walk.”
“Come on I gotcha.”
Hank and Jewles went back inside and began the jaunt through the sea of decay, intemprance and high living. As they got to the front door Jewles yelled and another voice seared through making it’s way into the thicket,
“Come here bitch. Slow down. Come on now whatchu leavin” so fast for huh? Fuck that faggot right there. I’m your man tonight.”
The guy went to slap her but before he could Hank punched him in the face with the beer bottle he was still holding. Not the greatest of ploys as Hank felt the knuckle in his pinkie break then the unmistakable warm crimson washed over his hand. The guy grabs his face to hold the blood in while Hank snatched the man by the throat and threw him outside and the guy took off. Like at the races Hank darted after, up the road dashing through street lights, garbage cans and ghosts. As they both turned the corner the guy threw his sport coat at Hank’s head and dove for him. Hank got him to the ground in a head lock and let all the years of hate, abandonment and fury loose into the guys face as if the Devil himself was now in control. During the ravaging Hank heard footsteps pounding closer, tires squealing, car doors slamming and yelling.
“Let him go mother fucker *click click* NOW!”
“Hank!!!!” Jewles came running out from around the corner. “He’s got a gun,” *Pop Pop*
“Hank let’s go”
Hank kicks the guy over and begins to look and feel for holes. More tires squeal, spot lights and flashes of blue and red danced across the street and faces of the guys two buddies holding guns 10 yds from Hanks head. Hank found himself starring into puddles of gasoline rainbows and blood.
“Put down your weapons and lay the fuck down!!!!!”
The two men dropped their guns and laid down. Three cops ran over and after what seemed to be quite the tussle they had them up, cuffed and laying on the hood of their red corvette.”
“What the fuck is with corvettes tonight? Jewels, hey…”
“Alright tough guy who are you and who’s.. Whoa! Sarge can you call an ambulance we have a third male in the fetal position with lacerations to his face. His face is swollen and you can’t see his right eye.
Get up and step away from him buddy and come here. You little lady go see my partner.
What’s your name buddy.”
“What happened here tonight Hank?”
“I was at a get together up the street a ways and that thing punched and sexually assaulted my friend. So I helped her.”
“She your girlfriend?”
“No Sir. She’s my friend.”
“You messed him up a bit son; are you hurt anywhere? As we pulled up we heard a couple of shots fired. You have anything to do with that?”
“No Sir. I think I broke my pinky though and my hands are gross?”
“Your pinky!? Boy… Hang tight I’ll be right back.”
The officer walked over to his partner and allowed Jewels to come back over to me. The ambulance had arrived as well and the medics were doing what they could to clean the guy up to see what was what. All Hank could see were the cops shaking their heads and then handcuffing the guy.
“They’re going to let us go. Those cops know your band, they used to be friends with your guitar player in high school and I know the other one. As long as you don’t have a record we’re good. The one you beat and the other two all have warrants for attempted murder, grand larceny and drug dealing. You are so stupid Hank. Somethings watching over you.”
“Kinda seems that way. You’re welcome. Gotta smoke?”
Jewels lights Hank a cigarette and the cops make their way back over.
“Here’s your I.D. You both can go. Listen little lady. You’re lucky this guy was here tonight. Those guys would’ve hurt you. Maybe it’s time to do something else eh? Go home, not back to the party. That’s where we’re headed next. And you… take care of your pinky. Hahaha, These are bad dudes you fucked with. If they didn’t have warrants… you technically should be going in too. But, I’m giving you a break. Do something different now.”
” Yeah, someone told me that once. Thank you Sir.”
The ride back to Jewels place was quite. No radio or talking; just the hum of the engine and two heart beats doing their best to settle. A few moments later Hank and Jewels found their way up the stairs to Jewels luxury condo downtown. Lavish decor, art, leather furniture and sculptures spread throughout the place. As Hank sank into one of the plush couches he noticed Jewels holding her rib a bit while leaning into her bar to make some drinks.
“What’s wrong with your side?”
Jewels walks over, hands Hank a drink, some ice for his hand and slowly curls up next to him sipping her drink.
“While that guy had me pressed up against the wall squeezing my boob he punched me in the rib a bit. It hurts.”
“Should we go get it checked out?”
“No, I’ll just drink this then go take a shower. Maybe ice it. It’s not broken. I’ve had broken ribs before. It just hurts.”
“Listen little lady..” Hank says imitating one of the officers.
“Shut up; don’t make me laugh.”
“Ok, ok… You should hire someone to watch over you when you’re out at night. You can afford it. You could’ve been really hurt.”
“I think you’re right. Our company has a security firm that we can hire from. Maybe I’ll look into it. I think I’m gonna go away for awhile. Maybe go to Hawaii for a month. I have a sister there. A month on the beach should refresh. Then I’ll look into my options.
“Sounds perfect. Go shower and I’ll bring you some ice.”
“What are you going to do?
“I’ll lay in bed and write a bit.”
“No… I meant with all this. I’ve known you for awhile now Hank; you need something different.”
“Why do people keep saying that? I’ll find my way. I’ll always be ok.”
“You’re wasting your talents. Pour me another drink when you bring the ice. I’ll be done in about 15 min.”
Hank sauntered into Jewels bedroom, set his drink on the night stand, and sprawled out upon the king size bed. He began to write…
‘Melancholy follows like a black dog
Licking the wounds of the wretched
Only to be kicked and shunned with
the thankless gratitude of a hateful twit
Mocking the morning it spits in the eye
of the beholder of a black toothed grin
Smearing and smiling while the blood stains
the sheets of the innocent. Reckless and abandoned.’
Hank notices the first sprinkles of daylight dancing with the shadows and making love through the pane glass window. Hank realizes it’s been longer then 15 minutes so he gets up and gathers some ice to bring to Jewels. Opening the door to the bathroom he can still hear the shower running but waits for the steam to leave. Hank walks in…
“Hey, I’ve got the ice. You almost done? Jewels! Ah shit…”
Still sitting on the bathroom counter, leaning back against the wall, skirt hiked up, there perched, was Jewels with a syringe still biting her inner thigh. A small streak of burgundy made it’s way down her leg. Hank rushed over and felt a pulse. He laid her down gently and ran for the phone. The five minutes it took for the medics to arrive were agony. Five minutes is a lifetime when one watches life ebb and flow as if the soul is making the decision to stay or not. The medics came than raced her away. They told Hank she had a 50/50 shot she’d make it. “That’s something then..” After a few questions from the police Hank was left alone. Sitting on the couch; Hank finishes his drink and takes a deep breath. He can still smell her perfume. Sweet and sad.
An hour went by sitting in nothing. With a sore heart Hank gathered his things and made sure the place was locked and safe. Shuffling down the stairs Hank felt the pit get deeper with every agonizing step. Each step heavier than the last. Now, teetering and tottering down the cobble stone driveway Hank made his way down the city streets towards the hospital. A few miles drifted by and Hank enters the Emergency ward. The hustle and beeps and screams made Hanks heart cry.
“Excuse me Ms? If you don’t mind could you tell me if a women by the name of Jewels has checked in to recovery? She was brought in by ambulance about hour and a half ago.”
“Are you immediate family?”
“No Ma’am I’m the one that called the ambulance. I’m her friend.”
“Let me see… Would you come with me please?”
“Yes absolutely! So she’s in the recovery room then? I have her purse. Her wallet is inside.”
“What’s your name baby? Here, sit.”
“Shit… Sorry Ma’am, it’s… it’s Hank.”
“I’m sorry but Ms. Jewels passed about an hour ago. Do you know her parents or any family members we can contact?”
“She has a sister in Hawaii. Maybe there’s something in her purse..”
“Hopefully. She’s not in the system and when they brought her in she was obviously without her stuff. I’m sure the police will be able to find her family. You ok? You look pale. Do you want to talk to someone? Are you ok? Hank…”
Hank stood for a moment then turned and walked away. Out into the streets and into the seething sun. Hank took a deep breath. He could still smell her perfume. Perfume that was left on his shoulder from when she nestled into Hanks arm and chest. Another deep breath was taken. Sweet…And sad.
© Carlson 2013