written by Little Miss Aki
Copyright © 2007, All Rights Reserved
The Emerald City
It was dark.
What a wonderful series of words “It. Was. Dark.”
They just roll off the tongue, in a stream of gossamer nebular drool onto paper, staining it with diction rainbows, instantly giving someone the right beginning setting for an ACT to end all ACT’s.
So, let us begin.
It was dark. Darker than it had ever been before. Darker than the months in Alaska when the sun doesn’t see that part of the world. If the sun can’t see that part of the world, Alaska, I mean, then there must be quite a deal of dispicable acts done in that snowy northland…away from the vicious and vibrant glare of judgment.
It was dark like that, dark that the demons and the dastardly could do many a damning deed. But it wasn’t in Alaska, in fact, it was just down the street from this apartment, down past California St. and 16th, a little ways east of the Baseball park and the strip of bars and clubs that competed nightly with their music and their martinis. It was down the black alleys where the black folk live, unseeable in this darkness, which I know, is damningly racist, but oh so true. It was past where the mexican’s live smelling of tamales and cheap tequila mixed with Tecate and gardenias. It was way past all the legitimate and understandable things of the night time city life of this new, modern day, Gotham less it’s Dark Knight (who I saw, last halloween, at Chic-Fil-A, mopping the bathroom floor).
In the Darkness, down the alley, away from the humans, there dwelled Kashana and her Midnight Dragon. It was a house of horrors from the mish mash of acid-induced colors that danced in bottles above the bar, each one a liquor, a witches brew of different kinds of madness. It was a shop of sluts and sex and sin where any woman became a Goddess, where any man could be driven mad with a passing glance. It was a musicians last stand against starvation, right before taking the dive into opium and meth and masturbation.
Kashana’s Mignight Dragon, the Darkest of all Dives, the Devil’s summer home on Earth. The sun never hit the building, the sky scrapers cast their shadows on it during the day, the moon concealed it within a careful blanket of black, making it one more dismal black abyss, part of the cracks in the sidewalks, hidden and obscure…forever lost in the Freak Kingdom.
And just like Alaska in its Dark Months, Kashana’s was eternally hidden from the suns scathing gaze, and the most loathsome and terrible things happened there.
I don’t remember how it was I ended up there that December night, seeking salvation from a hopeless life of treadmill-style gyroscoping bullshit. I was circling the drain, preparing for the dark abyssal slide into the subterranean underworld of festering bacterias and vibrant scum. I was drunk, I remember that, I had gone to a pay day loan place and cashed in for some money to help lubricate my brain and ease the pain that had become my voluptuous ass.
I think it was a Thursday, like today…
I walked in to Kashana’s, the tail in the joint was lined up around the entrance with price stickers on the bared thighs, with enticement on red lips, the sales pitch in the way these broads moved and looked at me.
But I was in the mood for something stiffer.
The bartender was old, probably a Civil War Vet who had managed to preserve his own life for these hundreds of years by popping all manner of drugs until his very blood smelt of fermaldihyde.
“I feel like killing something.” I said to him, sitting down amidst the trippy swirl of flourescent and perhaps even radioactive bottles behind him.
“I’ve got just the thing.” He says, almost too friendly, leaning almost too close, with an almost too creepy smile. He leans back and grabs a bottle shaped like an indian snake charming flute filled with some vicous looking emerald green liquid he pours into a glass with ice and a bit of soda. He pops a cherry onto the ice and passes it across the dark wood bar to me and with it, he sets down a .9mm on a white handkercheif.
“There you are, sir.” he tells me before rounding back to polish some glasses clean. I take the drink and don’t bother sipping it. It’s better not to ask questions in a joint like this, besides, who cares? The gun was a nice touch though. I don’t touch it though, never much liked guns, afraid I might use them.
The drink hits me like a gunshot to the groin, blasting me off the barstool into the floor in a convulsing flood of confusion and fear, paranoia and extreme vibrations. Everything tilts and I begin sliding off the world, skyrocketing into the void of space, towards the Great Beyond where HE lives…where HE hears my prayers and ignores them.
I think for a moment, writhing in my brains temper tantrum, that I may just take this trip and go give Him a piece of my mind. But then i’m back, sitting at the bar, and I’ve got another one of these green monsters cupped in my hand, waiting to be shot down my throat, cherry and all, into my now dead liver.
“Quite the punch, eh? You’ll be havin’ seizures for weeks.” the bartender chuckles, and I sneer at him.
I got what I wanted, I killed something. In fact, I think my soul…
“What have we here, Tito? A new client? What snakes are sneaking in from the streets?” It’s a womans voice, it’s Kashana. I don’t bother turning around, instead, I send the slush of the strange elixir back in my throat, I don’t let it touch my tongue. The sensation is different now. NASA’s space shuttle launches up my spinal column into my brain, turning memory to mash, reverting my conscious mind to a version of Apple Cinnamon oatmeal.
When I come to I’m no longer sitting at the bar, I’m lying on a luxurious fainting couch covered in human flesh painted to look like Zebra and Leopard hide. I can tell the difference, and I am strangely disappointed that there aren’t more skins. Kashana is sitting in front of me at a vanity and its lighted mirror. She is beautiful, the Goddess that comes free of charge to the lucky sunuvabitch who’s cashing his check. It’s his escort girl into judgement.
“You got a name?” she asks.
“Nope.” I tell her uncaringly, wondering where my emerald city went to and knowing that fields of poppies are probably popping up in my gut.
“All right then.” Kashana turns to look at me with eyes like a field of roses on fire, a smile like the clay rock of Mars against pearly white teeth. Her length of copper rosewood hair falls over bared shoulders and down her perfectly framed breasts in their golden boustier. She’s some kind of ethereal creature stepped straight out of some long forgotten text about gipsy sorcerers, and she is perched on her chair like a tiger waiting to catch a helpless animal in its claws.
I don’t care, I reach into my pocket for my cellphone, wanting to know the time, and finding my battery has long since died on this Motorolan piece of shit.
“Time has no meaning here.” She whispers to me, I sniff and touch the hides of humans I’m laying on.
“Who were these?”
“Ex Boyfriends.” Anyone else would think she was joking, I know that she’s not, this woman before me watches me with the interest of a predator, and she’s too deadly for me to feel even relatively confident that I have a chance of escaping my fate.
I had said I wanted to kill something, I should’ve taken the gun the bartender offered me.
But then, I might use it.
Instead I pick at the painted flesh as though its covered in leeches, I smile, there isn’t one that is feathered, I wonder if she’ll stick peacock feathers on my fleshy mesh, making me the most comfortable blanket on this lounge couch.
“I’m not going to kill you, I didn’t kill them. They killed themselves, I kept them as mementos.” She tells him suddenly and she is no longer perched for the kill. She was pulling on a pair of jeans over the shimmering fishnets. For a moment, I wondered why I hadn’t noticed her lewd dress.
“Am I allowed to leave?” I ask her and she smiles a sincerely crafty smile that makes me queasy.
“Naturally. Follow me.” I stand as she does and follow her, knowing on some bestial level I don’t have a choice.
All the earlier glamour of the place dissolves as we walk past junkies and whores, closed doors and the scent of cheapness.
This underworld of shadows is possessed by the simplest fears of inadequacy and escapism. A person can lose themselves in this place, where the walls are wired to blow, and the air is laced with nitroglycerine.
Kashana led me away from the madness of these back halls, in these lengthy corridors of the devils dominion, she took me back to the Emerald City drinks and the looney bartender. Away from the bizarre images of a hell too unreal, too unnerving to be perceived by normal brain function, back to some sparse level of reality.
A new woman sat at the counter top sipping a black cordial from a wine glass. She didn’t dress in the manner of a prostitute, she wore a long black skirt trimmed with ruffles at the end, black polished high heels, and a tight fitting black shirt with a red silk girdle tied over it. Long ebony locks fell down her shoulders in ringlets of sparkling sleekness, she wasn’t looking at us, but she radiated an energy more vibrant than if I’d been hitting ecstasy.
“Sibylla.” Kashana spoke and the woman swiveled around no the bar stool giving Kashana a hesitantly polite smile. Her lips were the shade of red clay, her eyes cinnamon brown with green flecks like a peacocks tail. She wore no makeup but she didn’t need it.
“What are you drinking?” asks Kashana.
“The Black Death.” Sibylla responds with cool apathy. She hold up the glass and swivels the liquor around in side before sipping shrewdly.
“See to it that this young man is kept as is, Sibylla.” Kashana gave her a nod which was courteously returned and then motioned me to join this woman.
“I will see you again.” Kashana left me there with this new woman who had turned back to the bar and didn’t look at me. For a moment, I felt more afraid of Sibylla than I had of the previous matron.
“You are not to go beyond a hundred paces from my person at any point in time for any reason. We will return to you apartment as soon as it is dark once more outside. You will collect only what you need and do exactly as I say. Any failure in compliance will result in pain.” She paused and I saw her smile slightly, “Am I understood?”she looks at me coldly.
I nod and she kicks a barstool at me with a swing of her heel.
“Have a seat and order yourself a stiff one. Keep your nerves loose and muscles tight.” She watches me as I sit down and the bartender gives me another Emerald City. She snickers at the drink.
“You’re not in Kansas any more.”
I don’t have a seizure drinking with Sibylla. She speaks in another language with the bartender; she talks in Latin…or spanish…or something. My head isn’t clear and I don’t care, I didn’t want to leave because I knew what was outside.
I had been in this darkness for almost twenty four hours, and I knew my eyes wouldn’t adjust well to the light again. I’d lingered in darkness for too long, drinking of strange drugs and drinks, having convulsions and seeing fleshy skins on a beautiful woman’s chair.
“You think too much. You all ready know what this place is, you’re just thinking too much about it. Go with the primitive, go with the gut, it won’t steer you wrong.” Sibylla tells me and I look at her.
“Are you human?” I ask her, she smirks and fires up a cigarette with a 4″ tall flash of fire.
“I was… in 1468.” Sibylla answers and I look away, it’s some kind of code.
“Were those real skins in Kashana’s room?”
“Yes. She eased their passing.”
“But she didn’t kill them?”
“They killed themselves, and died in her arms.”
“Because it was the hardest thing they could do…” Sibylla looks at me with cool eyes, “the hardest thing they could do for her…”
“The suns gone down.” the bartender whispers and Sibylla nods.
“Get up, and start walking.” We walk together to the entrance I remember from the night before. None of the women are standing here now, it is just another empty hall. The door opens to twilight and it’s too bright for me. I shield my eyes against the beginning of evening and Sibylla grabs my arm.
“You should enjoy it while you can.” She tells me ushering me along. I’m like some deranged maniac as I try to walk normally but shrink away from the lights of the street and the still deep blue sky. Everything is suddenly too bright for me, as though I’m staring at the center of the galaxy, at millions of suns.
We make it to my front door, she takes my keys and unlocks the glass, and we climb the three flights to my apartment.
I fall in the front door, surrounded by light.
“Get up, imbecile.” She hauls me up and throws me bodily on my own couch, a miserable futon. She sneers at the filth of the place.
“Get some sleep, we’ll head back before dawn.” I look at her groggily, feeling like I’ve been huffing ether for days on end.
“I can’t sleep now,” I tell her, I’m too buzzed to sleep, too blind to sleep. The next thing I see is a fist with crimson nails, it hits and I never feel it, I’m unconscious before my head hits the cushions.
When I come to, the apartment is clean and I have three suitcases and my old gym bag fully packed in front of me. Sibylla is standing by the window, her eyes on those prowling the streets outside.
“Oww…”I mumble, sitting up.
“Bitch.” I reply and I see her smile.
“We’ll leave soon.” she informs me.
“If you’re not human, what are you?” I ask her, my head clearing, I”m now certain I don’t want to return to the Midnight Dragon…
“What else is there?” She smiles again.
“Do you have any idea how close you came to death?” she asks and I give her the obvious silent answer that says Who Gives the Fuck, lady?
I’m glad she does, because I don’t, and I don’t care. This life, no matter how close to the edge, no matter how thin this do-not-cross-line is, it’s better than some 9 to 5 in a box with the soundless taps of keystroke and mouse click and casual conversation between the dismally low caliber masses.
No, this is better, better to die, better to want to Kill something, and never touch the gun that could do it. That’s me.
“You got a name kid?” Sibylla asks me, and I realize for a moment how strange it is that she knows where I live but not my name.
“Jay, Jay Thomas…” I tell her. She gives me a satisfied nod.
“Welcome to this side of Death.”
more to follow
© 2007, November