The orange moon was hanging low in the sky, so low it felt as if we were walking directly into it. It caused the night to glow like dark rust. Rachele and Ian dragged me through the cobblestone streets as Jiri walked at a steady pace unaffected by the squeals and shouting of the other two. As we passed a restaurant, I noticed the bars on the windows and doors. The sidewalk was made from mosaic tiles, arranged in geometrical images and words. I was feeling tired and out of breath. The ground looked even, but I felt as if we were climbing up a small hill. I looked behind us to see if Francisco was following us, but there was nothing but empty streets that vanished into the night. He could still be back there I thought to myself. I felt a tug at my arms as Ian pulled me toward him.
Inside the A-Krop I spotted Sedik and Zuzana mashed onto the tiny dance space. There was a DJ and a short MC in a white baggy t-shirt and a white cap cocked to the side of his head, stage rapping with a reggae rant. His harsh gravelly voice sounded like an old blues man’s but he looked like he was 16 or 17. The place was packed and we could barely move. Rachele, Jiri, and Ian headed toward the bar, as I started to make my way toward the front where Sedik and Zuzana were dancing. I felt a tug at my elbow. I looked back to see Ian.
“Wanna drink?” He yelled.
I shook my head. Zuzana spotted me and pull me in with her and Sedik. A few minutes later Ian and Rachele joined us on the dance floor and everyone started moving to the music. Ian grabbed at me and tried to dance me to him, but I wasn’t interested. I would dance away toward Zuzana or Sedik. This went on for the remainder of the evening. The flirting effects of the wine were wearing off and Ian’s pawing was making me tired. Rachele grabbed my arm and pulled me toward her yelling into my ear. All the pulling and yanking was beginning to make me sick.
“My boyfriend is strange.” She yelled. The music was pulsing and loud and it was difficult for me to hear her communicate. “I don’t understand him.” She yelled. “He just got pissed and went home.”
I didn’t understand him either. I didn’t even know him.
Ian pulled me toward him. “You’re a great dancer.” He screamed.
I felt a rise of bile in my throat.
“Oh god.” I said. My eyes grew wide with a sickening feeling. “I gotta go home.” I yelled to Rachele. “Now!”
Rachele took me by the hand to lead me off the dance floor with Ian following closely behind. We headed up the stairs to the front double doors of the A-Krop. It was early morning but the sky was still orange, a soft warm orange. I felt a wave of nausea. I just wanted to get back to Marco’s place. Rachele took my hand and Ian occasionally rubbed my back as we walked in the cool morning air.
“I don’t know how to get to my place.” I said.
“We’ll stay at Jiri’s.” Rachele said. “He lives right ‘round the corner.”
We reached the building where Jiri lived. A faded lavender building with graffiti spray-painted at the base of every barred window on the ground floor. Rachele had to buzz a few times before he would answer.
“Come on.” She pleaded. “Just let us stay the night.”
“The mornin’.” Ian laughed.
Rachele glared at him. After a couple of minutes Jiri buzzed us in. He lived on the top floor. My stomach flipped. Why did everyone have to live on the top floor of these old elevator-less buildings? He had the door propped open, and a pot of tea heated up and ready for the three of us.
Ian and I sat on the floor in the kitchenette drinking tea as Jiri and Rachele pulled some cushions off the couch and threw them on the ground. I stared down at the large checkered floor. Jiri pulled out a blanket and threw that on top of the cushions.
“Sorry. It’s all I have.” He said.
He climbed into bed and Rachele slipped in beside him, burying her face into his neck. He turned on his side away from her. Ian and I gave each other an uncomfortable glance then finished our teas in silence. We set our cups down on the small counter near the single sink and then crawled onto the cushions.
The flat was small, a room with a kitchenette and a bathroom. Jiri’s hide-a-bed, when pulled out, took up most of the room. The couch cushions, where Ian and I were lying, took up the remainder of the floor space.
I curled up on my side under the single blanket and began to drift off.
“Do ye mind if I take my trousers off.” Ian whispered to me.
“I don’t care.” I said.
There was a gap between the cushions so no matter how hard Ian tried to cuddle up to me he couldn’t avoid falling in between the space onto to the cold wood floor. I had turned to my stomach and started to pass out. He settled with placing his hand on the small of my back where my shirt had lifted and my skin was exposed. I was too tired to tell him to move his hand, and it was hot, relaxing, and harmless, and helped me to drift off into sleep.