My relationship with the jewel-eyed girl really hit the downward spiral on my thirty-third birthday. There'd been other little affronts through the three years we were together, but that birthday, and, perhaps it's petty of me, was when I begin to lose that loving feeling. That's when she decided staying home, watching cartoons, and being asleep before midnight was far more important then at least making an appearance at the juke joint. So, I got bad and drunk and discovered that Wolfsheim's Find You're Gone was my new favorite love song.
"I wake up
I find you're gone,
There should be grief
but I feel none..."
There was another affront of her not being bothered to help me move into the place I called the Temple of the Jinn, two weeks later that was salt in the wound, but we still somehow limped along. Habit, most likely. It wasn't like we hung out much anymore anyways. Me, being a little more solitary by nature, the fact I...guess...I had a girlfriend meant no trying to get down and dirty with some random split-tail that got drunk enough to find my aberrant ass vaguely interesting because that would be incorrect. My female friends lauded my sense of decorum as well as restraint. In the past, I have joked I have a sense of restraint that monks and saints prey for...and upon.
It was a few weeks after the move I was out with Lee and the mother of his son and I was going on about how much I was enjoying my solitary time. Of course, the whole reason I hung out with the vampire caste as much as I did was Lee's fault, and the fact he was once concerned my misanthropy would swallow me whole. As he listened to me talk, he simply shook his head.
"Aren't you involved with someone?" He asked me finally.
"Technically," I said.
"And yet you're so happy that you don't have to deal with anyone," he continued. "Doesn't that tell you something?"
It told me lots of things, but nothing I was willing to own up to in that moment. I cocked a nervous eyebrow and took a nervous sip of whiskey.
"You've been here before, brother," he said, a reference to the girl he would call my Fucking Psycho X and how history was repeating itself.
Hindsight, being the metaphoric twenty-twenty, even if looking back's still a bit fuzzy, I knew exactly what he met. However, Lee was, is, and probably will be to the grave, a womanizer. The last fucking biped I'd go to for relationship advice. At the time, I took another nervous sip of whiskey, swishing it about in my mouth to truly feel the burn.
"That's interesting," I said. "I'll have to meditate on that."
And by meditate, I meant another nine months of sleepwalking habit...
Sabina and I both had been dancing with the dead for money for roughly two years. In those two years we'd gone from causal vampire caste acquaintances whose respective others had once been involved to actual friends. I have a tendency to make friends with girls more readily because men are such assholes, after all. My nickname for Sabina was the Vampire Queen, for she was one of the popular kids and one of the most hardcore, old-school goths I'd ever met. We somehow got along anyway.
I liked her better outside of the vampire caste. The makeup I'd tell her I'd one day see her without was not as severe. She didn't wear the heels that made her a deceptive six inches taller. We could have real conversations instead of quick greetings and goodbyes before courtiers came along to crowd us out.
It was the spring after my thirty-third birthday and Sabina observed I'd not been out much. I told her I was digging on being solitary. She invited me out for a few cocktails up at Netherworld. I made excuses of not having much money and plenty to drink at home. That's when she spoke in the tongues of incantation, muttering magic words;
So, a paradoxically misanthropic aberration, being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of his face, walks into a bar because he's not clever enough to duck...
The first person I saw was Sabina's musician boyfriend, surrounded by his pack of sycophants. I wondered if that's how he saw them. Then I wondered, if he was aware of what they were, if he even cared. After all, he was a musician, and musicians jerk off like ugly apes in humping season to the adoration of a crowd.
Tell me I'm wrong, but I doubt you'll convince me you're right...
"How's it going?" He asked, shaking my hand.
"Your girl promised to get me a libation," I said.
Have you ever had one of those moments that trips up your own intellect? A time when it takes you second to make sure what you heard was not an auditory hallucination? It happens to me a fair amount. Even and especially over matters of vocabulary and what is perhaps a stubborn refusal on my part to dumb-down my speech.
That did not just happen. Sabina doesn't suffer fools. And most certainly she wouldn't have been dating and fucking one for damn near ten years.
"A libation," I repeated. "A drink. Kind of like that wet thing in your hand there."
"Oh," he said, shooting me a little bit of a glare. See, one of his criticisms of me was I was 'too intellectual'. "You need to talk to her about that."
"Reckon I will," I said, going to find my friend.
She was wearing a black straw cowboy hat and low-cut t-shirt that read wicked, which seemed the part of a musician's girlfriend, and I might have made comment to the fact. I had a drink in front of me before I sat down, and another waiting in case I finished that first one too quickly. Sabina was, as of that moment, my very bestest friend in the whole wide world.
"Teach your boy the meaning of the word libation," I told her, noticing an annoyed eye roll in his direction. "It will help him immeasurably."
"So, are you two still together?" Sabina asked me a few drinks in about the jewel-eyed girl. "I haven't seen you two out."
"I guess so," I muttered, and tried to change the subject. "So, the boy's band's got a show tomorrow, neh?"
"Yes, and I'll give you a free pass," Sabina said, then, noticing my muttering about the finer point of my dubious relationship; "Do you want to talk about it?"
"No, I don't want to talk about it," I might have growled as I set my empty libation down.
"Another drink for the ray of sunshine in the Beatles shirt here," Sabina called out to the bartender. "Is there anything you don't want to talk about?"
Fuck! She's gotten to know me almost as well as Jezebel. How did I let that happen?
"The things I don't want to talk about? Mon ami, those are legion."
And my drink came and I sung like a metaphoric stool-pidgin. Of my friends, only Jezebel and Madam Lung knew the full detail of my downward spiral with the jewel-eyed girl. It was my problem and I'd deal with it. I didn't need to be telling everyone, even and especially a vampire queen who could potentially make an entire social caste privy to my problems.
After I got done talking, Sabina let me in on her own dirty secret; things were not so rosy between her and the musician. Sure, as long as I'd known her I could set my watch to their juke joint arguments and that was just the way of it, but this was different. After almost ten years, she was questioning if she was in the right place, or if she'd have a place the next time the sun rose. It was then we decided to be one another's cheerleader and confidant in our relationship woes.
"That sucks," I said, beginning to feel a bit intoxicated by this point. "Ain't we about a pair?"
And we lapsed into silence and our drinks for a bit. When we would speak, it was of trivialities; music, my stories, vampire caste gossip-or gothip, as it was sometimes called. Nothing special.
"Do you have a list?" Sabina asked me shortly before last call.
"I am going to the souk tomorrow, if that's what you mean."
"No. The other-times-other-lives list."
"Ah, I joke with Madam Lung the masturbation list," I said.
"You're on mine," Sabina confessed, and I was gobsmacked. As an aberration, being too tall, too skinny, with eyes too big for the rest of my face, being even fantasied about by one of the popular kids seemed unlikely at best, and an exceedingly cruel joke at worst.
"You're fucking with me," I growled.
"I promise I'm not," she said and smiled warmly. "I'd like to run my fingers through your hair."
For those just tuning in; I have thick, wavy dysfunctionally calico hair that coils past my shoulders in the manner of kudzu and serpents. Most often, I wear tied back or under a hat, because keeping it short would involve a commitment to styling moose to deal with cowlicks I'd rather not contemplate and I'm not cool enough to pull off a shaved head. Lee would tell me there were girls in the vampire caste that crushed on me just because of this mane of mine, which I thought was vaguely shallow. After all, I'd rather be respected for my mind, although that probably sounds asinine.
"Here you go," I said, offering Sabina a lock from under my Mediterranean fisherman's cap.
"That's not exactly what I had in mind," she said.
"Yes, well..." my eyes traveled down the bar where the musician was whooping it up, though occasionally casting a glare down our way.
I would later find out he found me threatening, even moreso the more Sabina and I hung out, despite the fact I was never less than polite. Most likely, that was why. Although, I often surmised it was because I knew about some of his dalliances in water closets with women other than his girlfriend at the time.
When I lived in the greater metroplex, I did not drive. Living close to the monoliths of downtown, I didn't really need to. That night, Sabina got me home and was riding with me, whilst her boyfriend went to party on after hours.
We exchanged hugs goodnight. There have been times I have described myself as the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat. I had a buxom girl with two-tone hair, iridescent doe eyes that shown like abalone shells, and a wicked t-shirt who had mentioned she might like me as a little more than a friend. We were both a little drunk and in bad relationships.
'"See you at the show," I said helping her back into the vehicle.
Whether I was temped, whether I kick myself for not doing something else that night is my secret. The auspice of writing it off as a drunken slip would've been the coward's way out. I may be the worst kind of bastard with the morals of an alley cat, but I ain't that bastard.
Besides, I have sense of restraint of which monks and saints prey for...and upon...
The next night, at the show, she'd ask me if I remembered our conversation. That's when I acquainted her with my powers of memory. At the time she wasn't sure if she was grateful or resentful. Years later, she still has to think about it.
The jewel-eyed girl and I broke up a month later, although the repercussions rippled through my world for six months after the fact. Sabina and the musician pantomimed through their relationship that couldn't have been more about convenience than if there'd been a soda fountain and a jerky rack in their bedroom for almost a year. For most of that year I did everything I could to help her salvage her relationship.
Another couple of years after that, the greater metroplex far behind and four-thousand vertical feet below us, we were settling in for a quiet evening at the House of Owls and Bats. I was bringing her a glass of wine and chuckled as my eyes fell across the calendar.
"What?" She inquired.
"To the date," I started. "was the night you told me you wanted to run your fingers through my hair. Of course, you'd been drinking at the time."
Sabina reached up and delicately pulled loose the hair-tie I had my mane of dysfunctional calico in. It spilled out and coiled in the manner of kudzu and serpents along my shoulders. I could feel her fingers working through the thick locks.
"And so I have," she whispered, giving me a kiss.