We walked out of the bar and headed toward the A-Krop with Marco in lead.
I skipped a couple steps. I was elated. I felt like this was a chance for me to really become a part of this city.
“Zuzana offered to teach me Czech.” I said holding my arms out as if I were catching rain. “Seven, seven, seven.” I said the numbers out loud feeling the symbolism of luck pushing its hiss through my teeth. “That’s lucky.”
“Cool.” He said, distracted. He mumbled something to himself and kicked up the dust with his feet.
“Sedm, sedm, sedm.” I said ignoring him and still holding my arms out.
Marco stopped to look at me. “What are you now, muthufuckin’ fiddler on the roof?”
“Sedm.” I said. “Don’t I sound Czech? Why are you grumpy?” I asked him.
“Yeah.” He said, “You sound wonderful. I’m just thinkin’ about the boys. Los ghets.” He said.
I had felt good, really good like maybe this was going to be the right place for me. I couldn’t help but feel the urge to sing. I started to pretend I was Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof. I sang with my best baritone falsetto, which was not very good, and stretched my arms out and shimmied my shoulders.
“Efff I were a reeech man.. dub a dub a dub a dub a dub a dub a dub a dub. Da dad ahh.”
“You stupid.” Marco laughed. “ I do not know you.” He pretended to act like he was trying to walk away from me.
I sang louder or did my best to sound like I was singing. The culmination of my singing and stomping ricocheted off the outside of the buildings as angels and demons turned their stone heads to see what all the fun was about. Marco did an excellent job of ignoring me, but I knew he was enjoying the performance by how well he was keeping up his own performance. We kicked the dirt up around our heads, and danced around every pile of dog shit.
The A-Krop was a club and a couple of bars. There was a large stage where, Marco said, they sometimes had bands and theatre shows, but it was closed. We walked down a flight of stairs into a foyer that was decorated with photographs, and brightly lit with frosted glass art deco lighting fixtures that looked like lilies. I wanted to check out the photos but Marco pushed me into one of several archways that lead into a bar.
We crammed into what felt like a long narrow hallway. The space was cramped and compressed like a large and lengthy walk-in closet with tables on one side of the narrow room and the bar on the other. At the end of the bar was a stage with the DJ and people dancing on a small tightly packed dance floor.
“You want a drink?” Marco yelled over the music that was blaring from the DJ playing at the edge of the stage.
“Yes!” I yelled back. I had cupped my hands around the corners of my mouth in hopes that it would help to carry my voice. I never knew if this actually worked or not. Marco took one of my megaphone hands and pulled me as we wrestled our way through the dancing crowd.
“This sucks!” He yelled turning to me. A small crowd jammed their way in and separated us. Marco had to yell around them. “Let’s go to the other bar.” He yelled, pointing over my head in the direction he wanted me to turn.
I felt like I was being squeezed through a human meat grinder as I tried to move toward the open foyer that was between the two bars. I made it to the doorway and then got stuck as people fought against me on their way in. I was wedged up against the body of a stranger standing under the archway of the door.
“Sorry,” I muttered, to the guy whose nose was touching mine.
I looked at his face and immediately recognized him as the angel boy from the hostel. He looked right into my face with those piercing narrow eyes of his. It was a little uncomfortable, especially since I was pressed so close against him we could have been making a baby. We had gotten so close so fast and I didn’t even know his name. I pushed both of my palms against his chest and used his body as leverage to try to squeeze my way out. He smiled at me. I felt a hand grip the gathered material of my sweater at my shoulder. I turned to see Marco’s arm attempting to pull me out of the crowded doorway. With a quick tug he pulled me out. I turned back to see the guy watching us as we stood in the light of the open space.
“That was like going through a birth canal.” I said as we stood in the empty ivory painted foyer. I took our moment of breath to look at the photos that hung on the walls. “What’s drogy?’ I asked looking at a picture of a young woman with her head lying on the edge of a toilet seat.
Marco looked over my shoulder at the photo. “It means drugs.” He said. “This whole exhibit is art against drug use. Ironic.” He said. “In here.” He gestured to a doorway to another bar. As we walked into the next bar, I glanced back toward the first bar again. I saw the angel boy stumble out into the foyer. Perhaps I was being a little paranoid, but it seemed like he was following us or at least trying to. Or maybe it was that he was just trying to breathe. I turned quickly back around and rushed in after Marco.
This bar was the exact opposite of the walk-in closet bar. That bar was red hot and thumping while this was like chill-out room. It was mellow with cool blue tones and low light. There was more of an open space and tables with people sitting around having audible conversations. Nick Cave flowed softly from the speakers.
I felt someone touch my shoulder and I turned around to look into the smiling face of angel boy.
“You two are from the hostel.” He said.
“Ya, sort of.” I said back to him, surprised that he recognized us specifically from there considering the way he seemed to have been sleep walking through a dense fog of sedation and narcotics.
His accent was strange and drawn out. He wasn’t American, but he didn’t seem Czech. His face was narrow and he had high square cheek bones that made his cheeks sink in. His skin was white, not chalky or pasty but like an eggshell and just as smooth. There was something almost ethereal to him. He had a strong feminine air but also masculine. I think in a dictionary for androgyny one would find his smiling photo. I noticed that he was wearing the same tight denim blue jeans and jean jacket over a black t-shirt that he wore the night before.
“I too am staying at the hostel. My name is Endres.” He held out his hand to me. I took it and shook hands with him. His hands were smooth, but there were light calluses on his palms like he had worked with his hands at one time. He gripped my hand like a pit bull holding its favorite toy. Not too hard but locked and firm. I smiled, and he dropped his head slightly then flashed me a shy grin.