Released 2011-11-04 12:25:15 -0700
The Last Hours
I searched for something of importance; plundered his belongings until I found something I could attach a memory to other than his torn green sofa cushions and favorite shirt. I held the thin, worn fabric of his shirt close to my face so I could bury my nose in it, searching for his scent.
I needed a nap… needed to forget.
I missed my connecting flight home for the funeral and wound up stranded at an airport in a crummy little town. It was depressing. I felt invisible; like I faded into the peach naugahyde of the seats in the terminal. Through the window, I could see thick snow clouds forming. I knew then that I probably didn’t have it in me to catch the next flight. So when the woman at the gate made the boarding announcement, I ignored her and decided to fade into a bar instead. I watched my flight disappear into the clouds.
I gathered up my luggage and headed across the airport toward the exit. I stepped out into the snow and took a deep breath and tasted the snowflakes that were falling faster and heavier. I imagined I was inside a snow globe, the flakes clumping to form a crisp white blanket all around me. A man nearly bumped into me as I stood there, so still. He was wearing a shirt made of almost the same fabric as Adam’s favorite shirt, all green and blue.
“S’cuse me”, he said in passing. I mumbled something and stepped aside. People never look where they’re going. I had learned that the hard way. I pulled my red knit hat down snug on my head, rubbing the still angry scar over my right eye, wishing it had been me instead of Adam.
I found myself in the back of a cab and rolled down the window a bit though the cab was freezing inside, just because I loved the smell of the air. My toes were numb even through the pair of woolen socks inside my boots. I assumed the cab’s heater was busted. I told the driver to take me to the nearest bar and he gave me a sly look over his shoulder. There were stickers all over the back of the passenger’s seat. The nudey kind you can get in a pack of playing cards. I avoided his eyes and stared out the window.
We finally pulled up to a drab yellow motel with a bar in the lobby. I fumbled with my luggage and stepped out into what had now turned into a blizzard. The cab sped away, and I stood alone in the wind and snow. No one had cleared the sidewalk yet so I had to carry my suitcase rather than wheel it along.
Inside was a dump, but it was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to drink and feel as sorry for myself as possible, and this was the ideal place to do it, by god. I settled down on a wooden stool and admired the tacky lights strung across the top of the mirror behind the bar. Hula girls. I ordered scotch on the rocks. Three watered down scotch on the rocks, to be precise. I was sucking on an ice cube when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the bar mirror. Adam hated bars because he didn’t drink. And that made his death all that much more tragic.
I decided to check out the hotel next, all warm and woozy from my scotch. “Room, please”, I said quietly to the attendant, and slid my card across the counter as payment. “Single or double?” he asked. “Single”, I say slowly. I no longer had my best friend.
When I got to my room, I freshened up with some things I had picked up at the airport kiosk – small round soap, small bottle of green mouthwash. The fluorescent lights of the bathroom splotched my pale skin. I settled down on the edge of my bed and pulled a tiny bottle of scotch out of my carry-on. I poured it, crunched the ice and enjoyed the burn in my gut. A fly buzzed around my head, but, by this time, I didn’t even care. The handful of sedatives I had swallowed 20 minutes ago had already begun to take effect. I laid myself out across the bed and whispered to myself, “I refuse to live without you…” and I saw his face floating in the fog and snow.
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