by Michael Aaron Casares
by Michael Aaron Casares
My head began to swim. There were a few others in the bar besides the randoms sitting at the bar itself. A couple was near the stage at a high top nursing drinks and chatting. A young dude on his cell phone absentmindedly sipped his margarita. All in the shadow of the orange fire that burned in front of them. I felt my blood begin to thin and quicken. My heart palpitated. I leaned against the wall and looked up. I didn’t want to be conspicuous. I think I was starting to sweat. Then she came up to me. The cocktail waitress. Yes. I had been expecting her. She looked troubled, but smiled nonetheless. I smiled back at her. I ordered a whiskey coke. She walked away with a bow and a smile. I leaned against the wall again, and looked at the ceiling. It was a high ceiling bar. It seemed to get lost in the dim shadows. I felt a rush come over me, it rose like a chill that convulsed quickly through my body. I shook. I felt the drug coursing through me. A second surge of lust and exuberance. I rubbed my thigh with the palm of my hand. I inhaled deeply. The music came to my ears. Deep pulsing bass beats. Sweeping synthesizers accented by sparkling bells and trumpeting lyrics. A beautiful piece, by a pop mistress I didn’t know. I sighed, letting the wave come over me. My heart continued to thrum in my chest. The waitress returned with my whiskey coke. It was a double. I pulled my card out.
“On the house, Jack. Bosses orders.” Is all she said. I bowed, thankful. Then she turned and looked me in the eyes curtly.
“But I got ta’ say, you don’t look too good.” She looked closer at me, “I can’t really tell, but are you bleeding?”
“What?” What the heck was she going on about? The music wasn’t loud, but I was having a hard time grasping what she was saying.
“Nevermind. Enjoy your drink.” She walked away without so much as a smile. My mind swelled again and I turned away from her and the bar and looked to the stage and that bright neon sign. The color was bold, an orange with a reddish hue. It almost looked gold in some spots.
What was that waitress going on about though? I wondered. I sipped my drink. It was strong. I sucked a quarter down in one gust of my straw. I let the alcohol wash over my body. It seemed to temper the high. I sipped on as the music played. I felt my heart beginning to flutter as opposed to thrum. I supposed I was calming down. My skin didn’t feel hot and tingly and I was able to take full deep breaths. I’d finish my drink, maybe have a second, leave a healthy tip and be on my way. As my body began to regulate again, I felt a slight warm mark on my cheek. I touched it with my hand. It was moist. I must have been sweating. The poor waitress probably thought I looked a mess. As I pulled my hand away from my face I noticed my fingers appeared sullied and dark. Was it not sweat on my cheek? The color of the liquid on my fingers was almost black in the light; a nebulous, purple bedazzled with black glitter in the blood orange neon light. I put my drink down, and nearly stood up. I seized, remembering to be inconspicuous. I felt the drug’s influence returning. I was starting to panic inside about my face and whether or not it was blood on my hand. I wanted to go. But, I felt paralyzed by the drug, afraid to move, afraid I’d do something obvious and awkward and everyone would know. I stalled for a second, miles stretching between heartbeats.
I had to know. I stood up firmly and walked passed the bar and its denizens, the tenders and the flies, and avoided the nagging sensation that I was being watched. The bathrooms were at the back, down a hallway that led to an exit. Everything was black: the hallway walls, ceiling, floors. Dim red orange fixtures kept with the bars theme. In the bathroom, I approached the sink. The mirrors above them were dim lit with a hazy, dull yellow. I saw the crimson streaks on my cheek. It startled me. Thin lines stretched across my cheek. I could see where my fingers had made a mess. What scratched me? I wondered. It caused me to bleed and I didn’t even realize. I turned my head in the mirror, and was shocked to see thin lines on my other cheek, too. There were three that stretched from the corner of my mouth to the base of my earlobe. Thin streaks like ink slid from each cut. My heart started to race, but I did everything I could to coax myself to remain calm. I turned the water on, grabbed some paper towels and proceeded to clean my wounds. I was stunned. As I gazed in the mirror at my cuts, I noticed my flesh would lift, like deep, thin slivers. How deep were these gashes? I looked in the mirror again, the water running. My body felt weird, like a low humming electric charge was coursing through it. I was grateful the place wasn’t busy or there’d probably be some guy asking me questions and making small talk. I continued to wipe away the stains. As I gazed at the reflection, my attention was caught. I looked twice suddenly caught off guard. Was it a trick of the drug I’d used, or was I losing my mind? The iris of my eyes had become angular, half diamonds. Almost like cat eyes. I peered harshly at them as my heart rate rose. I gazed in my eyes’ reflection. I looked for their color. They used to be typical brown, only hazel in the light. Now they seemed to be blue, or purple. I looked deeply in them and suddenly saw muffled bursts of light and reticence. They began to glow and sparkle.
I freaked out. I pulled myself from the mirror, turning fully away from the scene. I breathed heavily. I grabbed at my ears, placing my hands on my cheeks, my fingers caressing the lobes. I could feel the thin sheaths of flesh underneath on my palms. They were warm. I ran my fingers up my ears, stressed by the drug. Confused by what it was making me feel and see. My ears, for example, now felt long, the cartilage much harder and stiff. I gasped as I felt the rigid point they came to, the flesh so callous it felt like soft bone. I started to hyperventilate, as I turned to the mirror again. I looked so pathetic holding my ears as my cheeks began to streak the deep crimson streams I worked so hard to clean. Suddenly, my head swooned. I felt dizzy, dazed. My vision and hearing became amplified, my eyes bubbled and my hearing piqued. I needed to get out of there. The vibes of the Catalan were usually much better. I hoped this was all a trip, and that hallucination was a part of the drug I’d never experienced, or perhaps the consequence of extended use. I knew where I could get answers.
I cleansed my cheeks again of the blood that seeped from the cuts, gathered a handful of paper towels, and left the men’s room, heading back to the exit. The door was a through way, and exited to an alley. The main difference between this neighborhood and Faery Hill, was there was far more green and trees, even just on the outskirts of Faery Hill proper. There was a green square in Faery Hill where they had festivals and concerts, but that was about it. Faery Hill was concrete, downtown, and constrained. I walked the alley feeling woozy. Not from blood loss was my initial hope. I touched my cheeks and inspected my fingers. There were no blood stains. I took that as a good sign. I walked forward. I had decided to visit my proprietors and under the guise of re-upping, get some answers to what was happening. The wooziness hit me again and caused me to stumble a little. This trip felt much different from others. The rush I usually felt inside my head seemed to cast its influence over my extremities. It felt difficult to walk, but at the same time, it may have all been in my head. Damn, the drug. I made it out of the alley and on to the sidewalk of a main street. I turned the corner and was in front of The Catalan again. It had gotten much darker out and the street signs and business had begun to light up. The buildings were cast in shadow and formed a crooked skyline of monolithic silhouettes. Office buildings, apartment homes, their lights speckled the dark. I walked forward hoping I looked alright, staring at the city before me, heading back to Faery Hill.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part four of five.
Distant sigh of the wind and highway
cold through cracks on winter morn.
The dark of absent light and sun,
the stars that hug the horizon tight.
Ashes and cotton balls cling to lazy eyes;
flurries and dust thick on dry lashes.
The truth is laid before our heavy hearts.
The body is tired, it is rebelling against
the gluttonous need. It is fighting
the winter spirit. It is hoping for truth,
but instead plagues the host with
sickening disease. It is thick on
the glass. It is blackened and
burned, a stain forgiven by the
washing of hands and scraping
of shards. The rushing cadence
the heart resolves to, the hollow
electricity coursing through nerves,
the eyes awake and lucid. The perceptions
of the guilty shadow the innocent, the light
of truth futile to the cover of the past.
The future brings slick streets,
constipated morals, late nights and
early mornings. Chilled daylight masks
itself in a crystalline kaleidoscope of
glitter and mirrors. The pupils dilate.
Flies run through the blood. Fatigued
as aging tree bark, the spirit is
cracked and rigid. The lines
deepen, a black sleep that consumes
the eyes and flesh, and ignorance
blesses each chilled hush that creeps
inside our hearts of glass.
Green flash at the break of dawn,
the hope of the world released in song,
that radiance upon the darkness shine,
and truth amid deception find.
To strike a balance among the conscious minds,
the severance of rigor-mortise once strongly entwined
in coil of mortal perception, a vice of fear,
a sullen casque enforced both far and near.
Await the swift hand of justice as pass the rebellious pyre.
The hollow heroes’ dressed funerals, honor’s procession expired.
Only malice and cancer may merit the fire,
for it was faith and love that kept the consciousness higher.
A day shall arrive where memory provides the model,
and the children of treason shall no longer be coddled.
“Justice Delayed” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.
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Remnants flutter down
Prickly, stale the earth and ground
Frigid, cooling breath
Hollow sighs in heavens, haunt
Numbness plagues the heart
Leaves begin to furl
Squawking grackles line the trees
Death falls to the ground
“Procession Winter” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.
We walked through the back of the bar again and out to the patio. Nobody was occupying the space as the day light was still far too bright. There was a semi rusted metal exit door. We walked out, Adam not keen on using openly on property. The alley was wide enough for a city garbage truck to pass through, but no two-way traffic; the backs of buildings lined the alley all the way to the book-ending streets. I thought the roads were trashy, but the alleys were worse. Puddles of brown and gray water sat, deflated reflections of cracked walls and dusty windows glaring at us. We moved to the side of the bar, where a narrow passage ran to the front of the bar between two buildings. The passage was blocked with a boarded fence. All types of trash and debris littered the ground.
“It’s safe here. No one will see us.” Adam assured. He pulled a glass pipe from his front pocket and reached into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet. A tiny gram baggie of the silver white dust hung, pinched between excited fingertips. I felt a surge of energy welling up inside me. My body was anticipatory. Not much was needed to get a high. Adam pulled a silver stem out of his wallet next. It was a metal tool of some sort I’d never seen before. It had a scoop shaped head. He dipped it in the bag, a perfect little mound atop the tool. He dumped it in the mouth of the pipe. He handed it to me as he searched for a lighter. Once found, he motioned the pipe back to him and lit up. The flame licked the bottom of the glass pipe for a few seconds and then I heard a familiar crackling sound. The stuff was beginning to melt and fume. A faint white mist began to rise from the dust. Slowly it began to turn magenta, and then purple. It was ready to inhale. Adam sucked the smoke in quick and handed me the device, a few beats till he started coughing. I mimicked his technique and inhaled the drug. It tasted mechanical, like metal and copper wires. It fizzled slightly in my mouth as it went down. I felt a heavy pocket in my lungs that slowly expanded from my chest outward into my various extremities and eventually to my head. I felt a bubble in my head, my eyes began to fishbowl. I rubbed my arms, my skin tingling and suddenly becoming sensitive. Adam was going through the same thing, rubbing his arms up and down, gasping and gagging in some type of ecstasy. He started massaging his crotch with an open palm.
“Oh, man. That feels good.” He giggled, “damn.” Adam looked me in the eyes, his grin silly looking beneath his manly ‘stache. I was dazed, caressing my forearms and thighs. I felt alert, but my sense of touch had become heightened. I felt a rush coming. Adam kept rubbing his crotch.
“Damn, man. I need it right now.” Adam started unbuttoning his jeans. “I need it now, Alex. Give me some.”
I was in no state to disagree with Adam. His jeans were already down his knees, his cock bulging and struggling against his boxer briefs.
“Give it to me.” He leaned forward and kissed me roughly, his lips on top of mine, leaving them moist and slick. He grabbed my dick and started fondling it aggressively. I was already aroused. We started making out, kissing and breathing loudly. I felt everything, and that rush of the drug had overcome me. I felt heightened and dizzy, a wired state of drunkenness. Adam pulled his underwear down and leaned against the wall, pushing his ass into my crotch, moving it up and down against my hardened shaft. The sensitivity made me moan. His flesh was warm, his ass was firm and round. Without hesitating I penetrated him, the head of my cock struggling to enter at first, but then, after a few hard pushes, a few hard sighs, I eased into Adam. The heat of his body was too much for me. We became loud and aggressive, his toned ass swiveling against my waist. We fucked for about ten minutes before I came. He came from the sheer pleasure of feeling me inside him, working over his prostrate. We were both still high as we pulled our pants up, laughing to each other. My mind more than swirled now. It swam in waves. I felt good. I felt lucid, but mellow, like my body had been massaged for an hour. The rush of the drug had left with my ejaculations.
“Fuck man. That was good. Thanks, Lex.” Adam said. He leaned over and kissed me again, his tongue breaking through my lips, his mustache tickling my flesh. He pulled away and winked at me. “I better get inside.”
“For sure.” I said.
“Come on in. I’ll get you another drink. Maybe Eric’ll wanna come out back with ya.” I felt my body stiffen at the prospect. I hadn’t tried Eric, yet. I knew he liked my drugs though.
“Nah,” I said, and I noticed obvious relief on Adam’s face. “I’m good, man. I should probably skedaddle. But, uh, I enjoyed that very much.”
Adam smiled back at me. “I know I did.” He turned and started walking out of the passage way, “Alright, man. Well, I guess I’ll see you around soon, then.”
“I’ll be around.” Adam turned the corner and headed back into the bar. I lingered in the corridor for a few more minutes, getting my bearing, deciding where I’d go next. Aside from the still-congested traffic, I wanted this high to come down just a bit before I started to drive, and a second or third rush was also bound to come. I walked out of the narrow pass and into the alley, looking up and down it in both directions. Filth cracked asphalt and the gray light of a dimming sun once orange in the sky greeted me. My high was strong still, I’ll felt totally lucid, but everything had a cushion, and everything seemed clear. Everything felt bearable. The dirty alley was filled with trash, yes, but there was a reason that trash was there. Someone had left it there. And that suddenly made it okay. The rancid stenches that attacked you in variant corners, the grime and sewage, everything a byproduct of a natural reaction—it was organic in spite of its insipid presence. I looked around as I walked forward. Maybe I could hop around and go to another bar. Hell, I could probably go through another back patio somewhere.
I made it to the end of the street before I knew it. Cars moved at a swift pace over a cross of four lanes. I wasn’t interested in crossing the street just yet. I hung a left and walked up Conner Street, which ran perpendicular to 6th street, home of Faery Hill and the likes. I was headed north of that though. To a place I could ride out my high peaceably. The city had gotten darker outside the alley. Night fell fast. The gray light had become a dust, deepening the shadows and softening their edge. I walked forward. I looked average as possible, inconspicuous. People walked by me. I did my best to look ahead or look down. A couple blocks down and I was at The Catalan. It was just outside of Faery Hill proper, in other words, out of the gayborhood, but it was a nice place and the bartender, who I think was the owner, was very easy on the eyes. Like Jack Lat’s, The Catalan was dark. No matter what time of day, when you walked into The Catalan you were greeted immediately with a dim blood orange glow, and not much else. A wall size neon sign adorned the back wall of The Catalan; it named the place for itself as the center piece. It was nice to look at. Candles lit the high tops that lined the back wall. The front wall were black-glossed windows with a matte finish. They kept the daylight out. The Catalan had its own charm, and had been around for a long time. The back wall was also a stage, and had hosted dozens of live acts throughout the decades. Unfortunately, The Catalan did observe the smoking ban, and was a clean whiff when you walked in. It smelled more of mop soap and spilled beer. I was feeling light and a little dizzy. They table serviced at The Catalan until dark, so I sat in a corner about half to the back. It was nice. It would be a good place to ride out my high.
“Faery Hill” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved. Short fiction, part three of five.
The neighborhood is silent
against the raucous jeers
of abounding crowds.
Traffic rushes statically
on highways not far from here.
The wind rhapsodizes dreamily,
lulling the silent, sleeping street.
But the neighbors are watching,
I’m sure, as I carve an apple,
(its red skin sweating in the
I never speak to my neighbors.
We never barbecue, either.
We remain indoors, in our
closed circuit environments,
in our creature comfort habitats,
in our dens of solidarity.
The land has changed:
preference of security leaves
these remains, these dormant
people, silent and secluded
from extemporaneous movement.
Wheels on upturned bikes spin
like reels of family-time past
and the basketball, the children’s
games are completely forgotten.
The children are gone, locked behind
barred doors, or perhaps in their
basements, slaves to their senses:
eyes and tongue.
The neighbors are watching though.
I am sure as I smoke a cigarette
and scream a verse or two that they
huddle quietly, waiting to break free.
“The Neighborhood is Silent” is written by Michael Aaron Casares. All rights reserved.