Monday, June 30, 2014

"The Special"

      "The Special”

               by

  James Patrick Lockett


       It was an hour ago – to the second, if you care to be that precise – that we’d broken up. But, since I was looking at a clock next to the glass shelf of high end scotch, all bets were off. Bar Time! Could be an hour, could be could be ten minutes. However, I was on my fourth drink, so it was probably closer to . . .no, wait . . . that’s also a poor gauge. Fuck it, let’s just say sometime within the past hour I became single again.

       I sucked the last bit of Jura off an ice cube and set the glass down in hopes of catching the bartender’s eye. I stared passed my empty glass, at the bodies on the dance floor pulsating to bad eighties songs. . .

 . . . traveling in a fried-out Kombi, on a hippie trail head full of zombie, I met a strange lady, she made nervous . . .

. . . indeed. Ladies Night re-imagined with a clever slash of a Sharpie to Eighties Night. I could see Maggie and her friends sitting at the rail, just above the dance floor. This time it was “for good,” she’d said. I didn’t see any good in it and neither did she, from her expression, although her BFF Alice seemed to be having the time of her life. That’s what I should do – take Alice home – revenge sex is a dish best served . . . no, wait, that’s not the expression . . . cold sex is a dish best served . . . no!

  . . . you better run, you better take cover. . . 

. . . Whoa ooo ooh, where were you, when I needed you . . . 

. . . perfect segue, as the DJ eased into The Greg Kihn Band. I’d all but forgotten about them. At least he was kind enough not to play that fucking break up song. I don’t think I could take that tonight.

       “They don’t write ‘em like that any more.” The bartender had finally found me.

       “Thank God,” I answered, pushing my glass toward him.

       He refilled the glass. “Girl trouble?” the bartender asked, producing a white calling card and sliding it across to me. Small block letters read – “THE SPECIAL.”

       “The Special?”

       "Yep.”

        I held my hands apart, the card placed between to fingers, waiting for another syllable.

       "You want her back don’t you?”

       “Nooooooo! We’ve only been together for like a million years, why would I want her back? I’d just like her to realize that she was wrong.”

       "Then take the card and go through that curtain at the end of the bar.”

       “That curtain?”

       He nodded.

      "The special?”

       He nodded again.

       I stood. Whoa. Standing took more effort than I’d realized – revenge sex was really out of the question. I made it to the end of the bar and stepped through the curtain. The DJ was saying something about the CDC, but as the curtain closed behind me, the speakers were muffled and the private room was quiet. It was a private bar, three stools and an ancient bartender.

       "Welcome,” he said. “Come for the “Special,” did you?

       "I guess.” I said, humoring him. I looked at the card. “So, how’s this work?”

       "Oh, it’s simple. Drink this,” he said, sliding a tall shot glass of blue liquid toward me. “Then you have a choice to make. You can forget your past or you can get her back, either choice is guaranteed, but both have its own consequences.”

       I’ve never been a big fan of mixing my booze, but I was already five single malts into the journey, so. . . “Alright, what the hell?” and I slammed it back. The room crackled, the way it does in that gum commercial and my breath felt cold. I inhaled deep and set the shot glass on the bar.

       "Okay then,” said the old man, rubbing his hands together. “Now, in order to activate the special, a catalyst if you will, I’ll need you to step through that door and kill the person on the other side.”

       "What?” I stammered, apparently, as drunk as I was, I had not yet hit my moral closing time. “No way, I’m not killing anyone.”

       “Fine,” he said, “It’s up to you. The consequences are not for every one, but, if you don’t activate the special, you will forget your past. Perhaps that might be for the best, can’t miss what you don’t remember. He paused. “It’s a limited time offer, though,” he said, laying a Louisville Slugger on the bar. “You have three minutes.”

       My fingers closed over the smooth girth the bat – heavier than I’d expected and looked at the old man. He nodded and I stepped through the door with a deep icy breath. The florescent lights of the ladies room were blinding – white and cold, as I took another deep breath – and it was Alice who I first focused on – Maggie’s BFF – or, as the CDC would later refer to her, ‘Patient Zero’ – kneeling over some poor girl who’d definitely had better evenings. Blood was everywhere, dulling the bright white of the walls and floor, as if it were no longer red, but black, as Alice bit and tore into her chest, growling and writhing. She turned her dead eyes to me, black blood drooling down her chin and neck. I swung the bat. Again, and again, and again until the growling ceased. As I stepped across the bodies, the young girl struggled under the weight of Alice and reached for my leg. One final, casual swing of the bat silenced her as well.

       The bat slid from my bloody hand as I stepped outside. The dance floor looked the same – pulsating and fluid – but without music, I knew something was a miss – had Thriller been playing, I might not have noticed anything at all. Maggie was walking toward me, slowly, her head cocked to the side as she looked at me. I’d not yet clued into what was going on around me and I really expected round two – or worse – after all, I’d just bludgeoned her BFF – instead, she threw her arms around me.

       "I am so sorry, baby. I don’t know what I was thinking. I love you so much baby. I can’t live without you. I want us to be together forever.” She kissed my fingers, tasting Alice’s blood and smiled. “Forever,” she whispered always tender and loving, as her teeth tore deep into my shoulder. Consequences, go figure.


copyright 2014. JPL. All rights reserved.  Used here by permission.

Sunday, June 22, 2014