Brass / stories / 2016 / Crisp

October 17, 2006

Still, the subtle scent of tobacco in the air snapped at the tip of Roger’s nose. It made him nervous somehow, but he managed to keep his composure. He could tell by the way his clothes were sticking to his body it had to have been about 4a.m. But you couldn’t tell that by the scenery around him. Life abounded. He wasn’t quite sure how he got here, or even which hotel he was in. He could only imagine the amount of chemicals in the room. If someone looked his way they might have seen a perplexed expression, as if trying to recall the night’s events that led him to this room. However, no one saw.

Roger looked around to find a face he recognized. He could only register the three friends he came with, and Rebecca. They were scattered around the room already engaged in their little misadventures. It struck Roger odd that all of his friends managed to know people in this little land but he did not.

It was an above average room with the right decorations and décor to give the impression of prestige. He figured the room must have been $195 for the night. Well, probably $257.83 after the incidentals. He couldn’t help but to have an appreciation for how they get you with those incidentals. The bastards.

It had been a good night. Roger was quiet and pensive; a solemn look was perched across his face, but you could tell he was having a good time. He took a slow calculated look around the crowded room. He counted about twenty people, all busy in their own universe and carrying on conversations in their own little reality. He wondered how many people knew each other before this collected moment in time.

Roger lost track of Rebecca. He thought he saw the sight of her run off with an old friend. He struck himself with a thought that she must have known her from high school. It really did seem like everyone was off in their own world. And somehow, Roger felt small in the crowd. He stuck towards the back, wondering if anyone would care to recognize his consumption of space.

The typical squawking and squealing of group conversation ensued. Roger peered into the collective wave of sounds as if to decipher their meanings. He pricked and yoked at the emerging strings of song. Something tickled at his consciousness, causing him to dive deeper into the winding streams.

Suddenly, another load of people bolted through the what-now seemed to be a perpetually-opened hotel room door. For a moment Roger swore he could hear the faint squeak of the hinge chasing in after the newfound crowd, but it resolved quickly to a quirk in his imagination. The pack whisked past Roger without giving a glance, as if they were in a middle of an important wartime mission that must be accomplished at all costs. Roger just peered through the whipping faces, looking for one he might recognize. Luck was not on his side; each one fluttered by like an old memory without a care to be recognized.

Then, without warning, his old friend Bobby whisked in behind the crowd of faceless strangers, bringing with him his girlfriend and a couple of friends – none of which Roger recognized. A slight sense of barrenness started to creep into the base of Roger’s spine.

Roger tried to pay attention, greeting Bobby in the same way he always had in the past. He was genuinely glad to see Bobby, but not just because he was someone that Roger recognized. There hung a certain air around Bobby that Roger couldn’t quite pin down or explain. He couldn’t quite explain why he liked Bobby, or why he was happy to see him, but he just knew he was.

Bobby began ruminating into detail about his night’s adventures. He always had a few that Roger always loved to listen to, as if they were sitting by campfire on a brisk October night. He couldn’t help but to listen closely to every word and perhaps investigate their true meaning. It was as if Bobby was telling stories by code, giving a unique meaning and message each and every time.

With a snap, something about the surrounding air’s timbre that caught Roger’s ear; something peculiar was amidst. He couldn’t help to turn his head to see what curious sensation pulled at the edges of his hair.

Turning his head, the lighting in the room appeared to dim somewhat, as if the very environment was shifting into something different, something warm. The lighting seemed to take on a cavernous quality, speckling the air with a great thick coat of brownish-dust, so much so that Roger felt that the air choked him a bit with of shock.

Roger wondered what deep cavern he had stepped into. It gave a cold appearance but he felt warm from its core. He could hear water all around him, sprinkling mightily off the nearby walls and speckling the seat of his pants.

There was water everywhere. He couldn’t help but to feel at peace by its deep mesmerizing sound. Still, he wondered what deep sensation he felt at the seat of his soul.

And there, Roger felt her before he saw her. His eyes locked on her now. He didn’t know exactly how long he had been peering into her depths, but the eyes were whole and encompassing. Roger felt a slight sense of entrapment, yet he didn’t feel scared. She was locked on him, as if to pass a message from this deep confining cavern, the very walls wet with solace and peace.

The mere seconds passed and they faded as if by smoke, raising the hair of Roger’s arms just a bit. A break of familiarity grew within the depths of his core. He had been here before, but he couldn’t quite tell when. Something ached in his chest ever so slightly. He quickly wondered if this is what heartbreak felt like.

And it was there that Roger knew her, and she knew Roger. Oneness enveloped them both and that moment of time wrapped their eyes and perhaps even their hearts with just that peering instance.

It was as if he found himself in a trance, with a melodic beam flowing over his body. He was locked on a portion of reality that seemed pleasant and right to him somehow, with all the random choices that brought them together in this point in time.

He felt like she was there with him, only not in the reality of chirping voices and yelling laughter. He felt that she was there from a time before time was time.

It is unlike anything Roger had experienced before.

And just as quickly as it had started, Roger was broken from his new home.

“Hey baby, this is Mandy. I haven’t seen her since high school!” Rebecca rushed happily in with a cheerful tone.