We went to the liquor shop and he parked the car to get that box of wine. I was a good 10 minutes away from Jack and Lillian’s (his older sister) apartment. It was going to be like old times, blasting the air conditioning with the fans to beat the heat that never seemed to ever completely leave their place unless it was pouring rain in the middle of Winter. Good conversation with the television playing in the background to aid whenever we ran out of subjects to talk about.
But when the wind pulled into the car when Jack opened the door it felt strange. I looked around me and saw nothing but the usual. At first I thought it was me adjusting to the area again, or perhaps that feeling that every girl gets in a car alone when entering a less that great area. I just couldn’t put my finger on it; it was are rare sort of strange.
“What is it?” When Jack returned, he was shaking his head throwing the boxed wine in the back.
“This crazy guy just kept starring at me with two gallons of milk, one in each hand. He must of had some crazy munchies; he had the biggest circles under his eyes and he was dragging his feet like some B movie zombie. Late night raver I’m guessing, crazy streaked bleached hair wearing all black with a trench coat in this weather. Even had a Paul Frank bag.”
“You… saw… him?” Was I hearing right? Other than the zombie-ques appeal I only knew one other person that might fit that description. Tears, started to fall without me noticing.
“Yeah, in the liquor store behind me when I was paying. Crazy stuff right?” He started the car and pulled out. I gave him no reply, I felt like I was in two worlds at the same time.
Out the window was Art. I saw him. And I wasn’t the only one that did. Art was real.
“Stop the car.” I pleaded to Jack.
“You alright Bright Eyes?” Jack called me that again. Seems like my signal’s of friendship were not clear. This was wrong, completely wrong.
“Stop the car PLEASE!” I was panting, trying to get the thick belt buckles loose on the old car. Jack finally pulled over and I quickly got out. If he hadn’t stopped I would’ve jumped into traffic.
“What are you doing!?” He was thrown off by my erratic behavior.
“I found something!” I started sprinting through the neighborhoods before I could even hear what he was saying. The traffic kept Jack from turning around and soon enough I was far into the night. He was real, somewhere in that night was Art and I couldn’t let him go.
At first I ran back to the liquor shop and asked the cashier if he knew where he went from the description. Unfortunately he spoke in an accent that was too thick for me, but he did point in a direction. I ran for what felt a good half hour without direction. I had no idea what to look for but what the Cashier had given me. I was doing so well until I felt the cement meet my shoulder: I tripped!
The cement had been lifted by a tree route in the narrow side walk. I felt the hot unnatural earth scrape my shoulder down to my wrist. When I got up I felt the sharp throbbing on my knee. The pain was so strong that I could barely walk, I had to sit in for a minute. I tried calling the mysterious 818 number again, it was the only hope I had left. It had to be Art, it just had to be!
“Yello.” A voice connected from the end of the phone. It wasn’t him.
“Hi, I got a call from this number a few days ago. I didn’t recognize it.” I tried with all my might to hide my despair; it resulted in sniffles.
“Eve, is that you?” The voice was hesitant.
I started bawling at the sound of my name. I was loud and lights in the apartment complex in front of me flickered on. I couldn’t help it, I felt like I went completely mad. The person on the other line hung up and I just got worse. I got up and tried to walk off the pain, no luck whatsoever. I was doomed, I thought.
I heard my name again. It was getting closer. I almost fell a second time when I heard the rusty apartment gate open next to me opened. A short broad fellow approached me, he was the one calling my name, a friendly face. Had I found my Virgil in this Inferno?
“Why are you in front of my apartment? Never fancied you as a stalker.” I took his hand and he helped me up. I winced as he accidentally touched my new sticky wounds. I stopped crying, but really didn’t know how to give him a good explanation.
We entered his apartment which was lined with neat beer bottles across the walls and patio furniture in replacement of real ones. It was a strange new world for me. I couldn’t help but ask.
“How do you know me, and have my number?” There was a silence as he paced through the kitchen putting away canned tuna and a new case of even more beer.
“Writing, we were in a writing group together at some time.” He said it in a shady tone. I was hesitant at first until I realized that a stranger couldn’t simply tell I was a writer just from looking at me.
“In college?” My memory needed jogging.
“Yeah! Creative writing. Great class.” I perked up at his response, I really liked that class…
“So why call after a couple years?” I asked him, it was all too curious…
“You really don’t remember me do you?” He came in on the defensive side.
“Sorry…” I felt like a total failure at this point. “Is there any way you can give me a ride home?”
“Sorry I use the bus, I was on the last route…” The room felt like it was slowly sinking, I didn’t realize I went silent… “You better clean those wounds, bathrooms the door on the right. You can crash in here for the night, I’ll ask a friend of mine to take you home in the morning.”
“Thank you…” I lingered.
“Nate.” He finished, and went to his room. Funny, I really don’t know a Nate one bit. I’ll ask Jack sometime… well…
No use worrying about it. I just wanted to write all this out as I’m finding it so hard to sleep. Talk about a horrible day, can’t believe I still have to go with Cleston to the Film Festival tomorrow evening. What a insane day…
At least Art is real. He’s out there somewhere, that made up for this whole fiasco.
3am already, going to try to sleep one last time…