You told me to buy presentable clothes and I did, a whole new outfit from Target. Neat slacks and spiffy shirt, even found shoes to match. And now here I am dressed like a fish trying to understand what it means to breathe air. We’re toddlers on a see-saw, you and I, for the first time trying to find stability. But this gala is full of coroners. My first big affair for a serious career, and my editor escorts me to a corner booth to meet the district managers who pay us both. I laughed at the right jokes but I kept my mouth shut, and they never once saw the tattoos ‘round my gums. The molars I had pulled from eating rocks as a drop-out. Clean-shaven clean-cut and dressed like the guest of a judge who doesn’t recognize my face from four years before, I could maybe fit in if my conscience didn’t heave. The walls are turning purple. Faces start to swirl with open jaws of twisting laughter, vortices of features. The chandeliers are bleeding light. The hotel porters are cackling rapists out in the foyer looking for a fix and I don’t know what I’m into but I’m out in the rain. I am the news man who screamed out the window and tossed himself to pursue his echoes. There is a limo parked in the curbside puddles, seven porters to open the limo door. Out steps the Big Man himself, CEO of Gannet. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, sir.” My editor masturbating through his pocket. I am pouring vodka into champagne so no one will notice the changes bringing back the alcoholic. Unemployment gets me paid about half as much but if I don’t need a car or to keep my appearance, well, that’s money well saved and spent at the bar. No – I should give you a call to keep my head grounded but our conversation cannot be heard by these howling de Sades. Their suits are worth more than the hearse they’ll wheel me out on. I am cackling at the bar. Am I the Marquis in the mirror? Behind me spins the eloquent calculations of Murdoch’s publications, wives and the mistresses of breaking war stories and the talking heads from GE that just won’t quit. I am performing Coyote Ugly on the bar, finally shouting all the things that should be said. I haven’t had a care in the world since Makers’ Mark let me forget the debts I owe and the kids we support and I may be the Marquis in the mirror but god damn these cruel fools, our see-saw will stay stable if we place a god damn trailer on it.
[Mick Hugh is the genius behind the neon fog, and is a #1 bad ass.]
There’s a whole city downtown we’ve been meaning to check out. It sounds cool. Bars, clubs, art galleries, several eras of architecture set in stone and glass. It seems exciting, to think of the lives bustling up and down elevators, and in and out of boutiques. Eating $100 plates of steak and whatever that dessert is they use a blowtorch for. There’s entire sub-cultures there, lost kids reading poetry and obscure guitarists at open-mic nights. I’ve heard about dub-step and the venues they pack four nights a week. There’s a popular jazz club open till 6am. And an all-night diner where the drunks and the burned with the glazed-over faces sit half-asleep waiting for something greasy to eat, and then just looking at their plates before leaving. We could be living down there with cafes right across the street, walk over in the mornings or the afternoon late at night to meet some stranger who reads Camus as much as I do. We could run ourselves up and down city blocks every weekend and never see the same thing twice. We could run those same blocks any Tuesday night and have just as much fun seeing those same things we’ll never see twice because light never touches anything in quite the same way — that’s just physics. We can meet all our new friends on any street corner any time and visit apartments till we find molly to buy. We can stay up late till long after the sun’s rise and just talk, just talk. Lay in the grass in the park and just talk and just know what the other is feeling and thinking and stand up at the same time without a word between us and decide to try the diner for breakfast. We can stroll the waterfront and sit beneath the 5th Street bridge to watch the people run by and eventually fall asleep at a friend’s near Goodale. We can fuck like we used to when life felt eternal and death was a distant age that scared the shit out of us. We can dance at the festivals again. We can leave the city behind every summer and watch the hunters take down mallards till we hear the far-off ocean call our name, and we go and find a new friend to give us a ride. We can be scared again. We can be scared to death that life will pass us by.
[Mick Hugh is the creator of Mick’s Neon Fog. And an all-around bad ass.]