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Comfortable Madness First PDF 4-13-18

The Beginning of the End

The Beginning of the End The bar was closed and empty. It was quiet and dark and warm as a wish. None of the little lamps on the tables burned. Neon signs turned the walls blue and red and green. Track lights glowed in strips on the ceiling. Angie paid me a hundred bucks to clean the place three times a week. I stacked chairs and pushed a heavy mop around the room. Little steps. Music in my head. It was a narrow little dance. I washed glasses and wiped things down. All in all, it took two hours. Two hours of quiet and time alone. Angie worked in her office, doing receipts and all the paperwork that kept the place running. Sometimes Tayla came with me, but tonight, tonight I was alone. Kind of. Gid came and went like a bruise. He hid in the bathroom, sometimes the storage room. He whispered promises, but it didn’t matter. I wasn’t talking to him. I had things on my mind and they were none of his business. “You can’t ignore me forever,” he said. I turned away. “Everywhere you go,” he said, “I’ll be there.” My hands gripped the mop handle too tight. My knuckles popped, and my fingertips turned white. “We’re tied together,” he said. “Forever.” I spun too fast and slipped a little on the wet floor. I didn’t fall but I looked ridiculous. “Show me,” I snarled. He backed away. “Do it,” I said. “Your face. Show me.” He held up his hands. “What’re you afraid of?” I asked. “If you’re real, if any of this means shit, show me. Show me! Goddammit it! Show me.” Something shifted. I saw an eye. I saw a forehead’s dome. I saw him fade a little. I stopped.

“I love you,” Gid said. He went away. I was alone. Slowly, the draining rage leaving me weak, I stumbled to the bar. I poured some vodka and sat on a stool sipping it, telling myself one drink wouldn’t hurt the baby. When Angie came out of the office I stood. Even now, at the end of the night, she was all sex and heat. She stopped with her eyes stuck to my face. “You okay?” she asked. “Sure.” Something told me that she didn’t believe me, but she said nothing. “Ready?” she asked. I nodded. It was a lie though. I was never going to be ready. I was never going to be ready again.