Many years have passed since I roamed the sinful streets of Ft. Lauderdale, and though my mind is currently mired in regretful lows and lost opportunities, few experiences compare to the night I first met “her”. It was transformative, mentally metamorphic, a rare moment in time where I felt bliss without bourbon or “beans”. To this day, I can’t help but traverse time to relive the experiences of callow years. As weak eyes shut, a desperate internal clock ticks and tocks, minutes pass as I’m transported outside The Chili Pepper, music pulsating, drumming in my chest.
As I inhale the uncommonly cool night air, the subtle nineties electronic music feels electric. My arms tingle as primary colors parade across walls and floor, and breathing synchronizes to silky beats. I remember being glad I resisted the urge to drop beans early. “Beans” were pills we made from pure MDMA, given to us from Brad’s beautiful Cuban girlfriend, Madelyn, or Maddie as we affectionally called her back then. Brad was my brother in all things except blood, and the only roommate I could stand for more than five minutes.
Brad reminded me of a taller, more muscular, Kurt Cobain. His dirty-blonde hair often lazily hid his mouse-grey eyes. At six-foot-one, he was lean and strong. He was immovable when he wanted to be. He had a handsome face and curious smile, a merit badge awarded for surviving abusive city streets and alcoholic parents. Had he not been so damn intelligent, he likely would’ve been dead or in jail in Leesburg, Florida, a shithole of a town filled with retirees and trailers.
We entered the club and moved quickly to the outside patio, to wait for Anna, Maddie’s new roommate. Anna was nineteen, we were all early-to-mid-twenties. Maddie assured me that Anna would have no problem entering the club. I laughed looking at Brad. His devilish grin meant we should expect a debauchery-driven, unforgettable, browned-out night. In those days, intoxication, club drugs, and depravity, were our life’s mission. It was a major miracle we survived South Florida summer nights.
“How long before she arrives?” I asked Maddie. “I told her to meet us by eleven.” she slurred. Brad and Maddie had pre-gamed, it wasn’t unusual for one or all of us to be obliterated before taking a cab downtown. On this occasion, I didn’t want to show “drunken me” too early. Scanning the patio and balcony upstairs, Brad spotted Anna first. “There she is, she’s upstairs, she must’ve gotten here before we did.” As DJ Tiësto mixed “Summer Calling”, instantaneously, I knew Anna was the sunrise I sought.
Anna had dozens of fine auburn braids woven together like a nymph’s crown. She wore shiny sapphires dangling from her ears, matching the deep pools of her eyes. Like tiny crystals, her vanilla skin sparkled as it bathed in swirls of strobe lights. She stepped slowly down the stairs, her black skirt clung to every sacred curve. As red lights flashed, sirens wailed from the DJ booth, my legs were paralyzed as I stared more than I should. As I clasped her hand at the bottom of the stairs, she smiled sweetly and smelled of teen spirit.
“How long have you been waiting?” she said. All I could muster was a whisper, “forever”.
Forever. Forever? Forever! An interesting word that circulates in clouded thoughts like a homicidal hurricane. I grit and grind sore teeth until I awaken and return to the reality of crisp night air. Lakeside, I shake painful memories away, as old notions dissipate, it’s quiet as a library. I admire the mountain’s ghost-colored crown as it reflects in the lake. It’s as if Zeus himself hammered it from white gold.
As tiny air bubbles surface in slow motion, I think to myself, how poetic. Relief arrives as I exhale. The woodsy scent of pine lingers in the air as heavy winds push down the mountain. This feels different, like a new me! Doctor Dave, would be proud, “finally moving forward”, I say, laugh to myself, and push my heavy boot harder.
As the coolness of the lake slithers up my leg, Brad’s last breath bubbles. I smile. Yes, “finally ready to move forward.”
Copyright © 2018 – Brian Nettles. All Rights Reserved