Finding the Party

This is a minor rewrite of my previous blog post Third Story Slice. I sent in to a 1,000-word-and-shorter fiction contest.

“Tell me, is there any madness left in the world?” he said with melancholy as he stared into the night. Dots of light from the city spread out along the horizon like pieces of shattered glass. Between his teeth, an unlit cigarette hung, rolling back and forth on his lips. He brought a lighter out from his pocket and moved to light the cigarette, but he hesitated. He stared at the lighter as a thought formed in his head. Then he smiled and began to search each pocket of his jacket. The cigarette hung still unlit when he pulled out a green lucky rabbit's foot from an inner pocket. It was green like radioactive sludge. He kissed the gnarled foot, and then flicked the lighter on and held the foot over the flame. He rotated the foot slowly. The smell was between plastic and boiling rotten meat. After a while, the flame took hold on the foot, burning without the aid of the lighter. He held the flaming foot to the tip of his cigarette. Following the inaugural exhale, he spit on the flaming foot and tossed it away.

He looked into the distance as he deeply inhaled. He watched the graffiti-covered train cars clanking along an overpass as they dipped in and out of the spare light from rusted street lamps. The train cars stretched from one black horizon to the other, rattling with a rhythmic, metal heartbeat of clank-kerkerker-clank-kerkerker...

“That was a perfectly good charm,” said the woman to his right.

“Focus,” he returned sharply. “Madness. Is there any left?”

“You mean like a place? A place where there's some madness left?” The man sat down in a folding metal chair next to the woman. The folding metal chairs had a permanent residence on this third floor porch. The porch angled downward such that one could roll right off into the street if they weren’t cautious. Such were the luxuries of this rickety, leaking, leaning apartment building they slummed at. Christmas lights hung from the tin roof on the porch and they buzzed with electric life, casting their fluttering colors through the grimy glass tubes into the April air. The woman reached down to a stack of books next to her chair and picked up a thin novella.

“Sure, a place," the man responded. "Maybe on some field somewhere, with two guys fighting with one knife, or a dog with a fully-belly watching a human starve whose got too much compassion to eat the mutt, or some guy mixing his cabernet with the ashes of his dead wife and drinking himself real stupid.” While the man went about his little speech, the woman turned the pages of her novella delicately until she found the page she wanted, smiled, and then ripped it out. She dropped the defiled book back to the ground.

"I always loved this part," she said. "This guy here, in the book, he's a boat captain, sailing along, and he gets blood on his shoes, so he throws them overboard. He doesn't even think to clean them."


"No, just thinks they're now worthless."

"You can clean a little blood."

"Not really," she responded. Then, she started folding the piece of paper slowly, neatly, creasing every edge. "Can't fully clean it. You feel it sticky sometimes, when your hands are in your pocket and you're not thinking, and you keep wiping your hand on your leg even though it's got nothing on it." She kept folding the piece of paper smaller and smaller.

"Is it gonna make you smarter?" the man asked while flicking the ash from the cherry tip of his cigarette.

"No harm in tryin'," she smiled back and then popped the folded paper pill in her mouth and swallowed hard. She sighed a moment later with watery eyes and a hoarse cough. "Won't hurt me none anyways."

"Imagine the madness of some guy reading a book you've half eaten and thinking that the book was pristine, as the author intended, and he's sitting there flipping page to page asking himself 'what the hell am I reading?' Think he'd get something good out of it?"

"Maybe. You can’t get off this madness thing, can you?"

"Think there's any left in the world?"

“I think it’s like home.” She paused. “Home’s where the heart is, y’know?”

“You’re saying I’ll find the good ol’ madness where I see fit to make it?”

“I’m sayin’ somethin’ like that.”

"I like that idea," he quipped back. "I still got a chance to find the party then." He stood up, unzipped his pants, moved to the edge of the porch, spread his arms wide, and fished his dick through the slats on the porch railing. As he started to urinate, he began to scream as loud as he could. "Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowds!" He looked over his shoulder to the girl, smiling, cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth.

"Let me see what spring is like on...Jupiter and Mars," the girl sang back.

"Wrong song," he said back to her, still whizzing away. The steam rose in front of him in the chill Spring air.

"Not in my head. I see no reason why they have to be."

"Fine. How does it end then, this song of yours?"

"And the home of the brave," she said confidently. The man nodded then turned to face the city in front of him again.

"And the hoooome, of theeeee braaaaave!" the man screamed, reaching up to clutch onto the hanging Christmas lights. He stood for a moment, dick out, watching the train cars pass in the distance. Smoke floated up and burned his eyes before he spoke.

The woman spoke before the man could start: “Man, we need a kid.”


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