Note : The following is an original story by the author. While he believes in the idea of intertextuality, he is also a firm believer of the concept of intellectual property, and will invoke his rights under the Copyright Law to the full extent, should his story be subjected to acts of plagiarism.
Thunder claps. This is going to be a long night.
Even with the thick bricks lining the walls of the joint, he could still hear the grumblings—muffled and distant, like some memories he’s already resolved to drown with a bottle of brandy. Two, in fact. For tonight, as the streets of the metro will be flooded by merciless rains, so too, will the avenues of his heart be, with a rush of sweet brandy.
He had come here drenched, soaked to his socks. His only saving grace was the black leather jacket he was wearing, that repelled the assault of the stinging rains much like an armor of a knight to a volley of poison arrows. Yet this knight is not of the shining ilk, and it was this realization that made him walk two blocks from his office, amidst torrential rains and buffeting winds. From the streets, he passed a sea of perplexed and odd stares from pedestrians and transport passengers alike, wondering why he’d brave a storm of such magnitude without so much of a raingear. Let them stare. I don’t care. Let them stare.
He needed to forget. He needed to make them stop. The memories, so powerful they end up in his dreams, invading his waking hours, so much so he sees him in every face, every dealing, smells him in his pillow before going to bed. Theo.
It wasn’t long before he’s back in familiar ground. This bar is the only place those bloody memories dare not enter—this place that stank of wine and mindless chatter, wreathed in smoke. It has offered him sanctuary for the last two months or so, and has never denied him of forgetfulness whenever he comes rushing to its doorsteps. He will not be denied one now. Moments later, dried up and already settled in his favorite corner, he lounged in the strange comfort of his seventh glass and the smoke-filled dim. A kind of languor has already descended on him when a light tap on his shoulder woke him from his trance.
“Oh, hi. I didn’t know it’s gonna be you tonight”.
“Why, would you have gone somewhere else had you known earlier? Stay after my number, ok? I’ll wipe that glum off your face”.
“Like you could,” a smirk contorted his beautiful face.
“Haha! Trust Jed to do it. Later, ok?”
Clem didn’t answer. And it seemed Jed wouldn’t take no for an answer, either—as soon as he’s uttered his invitation, he went onstage holding his saxophone to weave his magic before an audience already in rapt attention. Jed was just one of the many boys that chased after Clem like a pack of hungry wolves; chased and still chasing. All of them fall for him sooner or later. He has known this certainty all his life, and has ran from it ever since he could remember. It’s a curse he can never totally be free from, like an anchor bearing down on his soul.
As the first of the notes to My Funny Valentine sauntered, silky in the air, a night scene from a small room some years back unfolded like it’s just happening now; and the smoke and the wine, the semi-darkness and the mindless chatter—all of them melted to the tune of his humming. Theo likes to hum. Theo hums a lot, actually. In the car, on the way to some dinner they’d attend; after the movies when he’d sort of float in the sidewalk, humming the theme song—humming like he is humming now. They’ve just finished dinner, and they were watching some old black and white movie on TV. Out of whim, when My Funny Valentine played, he rose to his feet, took Clem by the hand and started on a slow waltz. They say Clem has a drowning stare, but nobody has ever looked upon Theo’s eyes for long to see those deep pools of longing call to you. Nobody but Clem, and he is shrinking—the high and mighty sun god Apollo—shrinking to a kind of girlishness now, as he puts his head onto Theo’s broad shoulders, looking still through his eyes.
He was jolted from his reverie by the cheering crowd. It was a standing ovation and Jed was looking directly at him. In the darkness, he suddenly felt his cheeks were wet. Has he been crying? He rose immediately and stumbled through the crowd. He must get out. Out of this place.
He needs to think.
<to be continued>
photo credit - rob melnychuk