I like the way ekename hits the ground running, instead of bogging down in backstory. I also *really* like Kevin Devine's voice.
The complicated truth
The door sighs closed behind me, the latch making the slightest groaning complaint as I slip out of our apartment. Down in the city the music is loud and the crowds noisy. I know I should look back wistfully, but I don’t. I stumble into a bar, the people bustle around me, somehow I get a drink, slither into the back alley. The moonlight strikes the cobblestones and walls without mercy, reflecting off the dull garbage cans. I stagger over to the cans; gingerly sit down on a lid.
Suddenly he is standing in front of me. He has the face of a skeleton, his cheekbones jutting out at precarious angles, threatening to break through the translucent skin, eye sockets deep and dark, hair stringy and tousled. His unexpected appearance makes my brain spin. I shut my eyes, hold on. The world lurches and with a deafening crash the can I am sitting on topples. I plummet to the ground; the puddle I land in soaking through the jacket of my thrift store suit. The bottle of beer is rolling around on the stones, clinking as it spills its contents.
“You’ll try anything when you know you’re caught,” the skeleton man laughs. “You can’t trick me this time Leo.”
Shaking, I pull myself to my knees. He’s standing over me now, a looming shadow that’s blocking out the moon.
“Please, Tod…” My voice cracks. I can feel it in my bones; he’s out to take what’s his. My hands grab for the half-empty bottle, clutch it desperately, as if some alcoholic beverage could stop death. He crouches down before me, his cold fingers running along my jaw line, circling my throat, as he carefully pries my fingers away from the bottle. I can feel his icy breath on my face, freezing my words in my throat, my breath in my lungs. He has wings now, leathery and batlike with a few sickly feathers, or maybe that’s just his coat flapping in the wind.
Then the wall is against my wet back, the moon has laid a silver coat on everything, Tod is standing in the middle of the alley, feral smile playing round his lips, half empty bottle of beer dangling from his right hand.
“Leo,” he smirks. “I’m really not sorry I have to do this.” He takes a swig from the bottle. Wipes his mouth with the back of his hand, lets the empty bottle fall to the ground. It shatters, glass pieces exploding on the cobblestones. The sound reverberates around the alley behind the bar, a thousand bottles crash around us, a million shards clink against the ground. The world dissolves into the echo of glass on stone, and underneath it all there’s the slow rhythm of the heart monitor and my eyelids are opening and closing now, and the world is spinning.
The fluorescent lights are glaring at me. There are wires attached to my chest, a plastic tube in my arm, and this can’t be me, isn’t me. I was in that alley, and the man with the skeleton face had just dropped the bottle and the glass was flying through the air. With each breath the room descends on me, clarity making the space of the room absurd. Her voice is wafting in from the waiting room, and it’s that strange mix of concerned and angry that always bodes ill. I can hear her heels click their approach, now she is in the doorway, my mind races; what will I do? What will I do? What will I do?
Based on "Carnival," by Kevin Devine
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Topics: musical fiction contest