Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 6, pgs. 209-214

Feste’s was raucous and crowded, and most of the commotion was coming from our area. I looked at my beer. I didn’t think I could take another drink. I was pretty drunk. We’d started in the morning and the whole day just turned into one extended shot glass of Bekerovka. It was like we were swimming in it. Eight or nine of us were gathered around a table near the bar. We met up with Koontz’s band, whose lead singer was a screaming, aggressive, brown dreadlocked man with a permanent scowl. He had a thick goatee and huge unkempt lamb chops. He wore black and torn hand-stitched clothing, and every sentence he said was punctuated with a fist slamming against the table. Marco sat between the singer and another band member, dwarfed by their size and staring into his beer. I felt disengaged almost high. I knew it was because I was tired, and I just wanted some quiet. I didn’t know exactly how we had gotten from the apartment to Feste’s. There had been so much drinking, and yelling, and spitting. I couldn’t figure out why I was still there and why I wouldn’t just leave. I’d gone numb. My fingers clasped my pint and I vanished into the swirling bubbles floating at the top. Occasionally, I would look over to Marco and start giggling at him, at the way he sat, expressionless, between the two Norwegian giants. He was probably wondering how the hell he had gotten there in the first place. I was wondering how he ended up in the middle.

Francisco, who had been wandering indiscriminately around the bar, brought a Czech girl named Ruby to join us at our table. He was in his element, matching the lead singer with every yell and slam of pints and fists onto the tables. Ruby, who was just as loud, shook her head when she yelled and her bright pink flapper bob shook wildly like it was on fire. Her wiry arms were covered with self-made tattoos, burns, and scars, and multiple black plastic bracelets and silver bangles that dangled from her wrists. She preferred to stand and swing the heavy wooden staff that she was holding in her hand. Francisco whispered into her ear. She pushed him away from her and slammed her staff onto the table. I looked at Marco who remained seated in a seemingly catatonic state.

“Hello Annnnnna.” Endres fell into the chair next to me. I wondered why he was so thin and quiet while his fellow countrymen were so big and loud.

“Hey, Endres.” I said. I was relieved to see him. To imagine the drug angel as the calm in the sea of giants was comical, but I couldn’t have been more grateful to see his throbbing and dilated pupils.

“When you left Annnnna, I fell back to sleep, then when I awoke I had time to think of you.”

I looked at him as he swayed forward and then back in his chair. “I thought,” he said, “about how you left and how nice it was to be near you. A girl I lived with back home her and I did what we did last night, what do you call it?”

“Sleeping together?” My words came out slowly and hesitant like a question. I wasn’t exactly sure what he was talking about. He was confusing me. Every moment felt heightened and confusing.

“Sleeping together.” He said, “It was nice. I think it was good Annabelle. Not making love but sleeping together.”

I felt my head spin a second, and I sat up straight. There was a loud bellowing yell as the Norwegian death metal singer slammed his fist on the table. With every outburst everyone in the bar turned to look at us. Canada Mike looked at him with a nervous expression as he wiped down a wine glass. Endres stood for a moment unfazed, and said something to me, but his voice was drowned out from all the sounds. I looked over at him swaying. He looked as drunk as I felt. I gave him a meaningless nod of my head and then looked back to my beer. I couldn’t hear anything. The room had turned into a giant single rumble, and my eardrums were humming. I slid the beer onto the table, and then slowly turned away. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going but my body wanted to move. I didn’t feel sick, but I needed air. I walked past the table. Koontz grabbed me, and pulled me down onto his lap. He squeezed me tight around my waist. I didn’t have the strength or energy to fight him off.

“I like you.” He said looking up at my face. “I don’t mean I want to sleep with you; I just like you.”

Endres stumbled back to his seat.

“You like him?” Koontz asked me.

“Sure.” I said, sighing. I just wanted Koontz to let me go and leave me alone. I was tired. I hated people pulling and grabbing at me.

“You should go to him.” He said giving me a gentle push toward Endres. “Get off me.” I said swatting his hands away. I was annoyed and drunk. I shuffled back to my seat forgetting why I got up in the first place.

Somewhere between my swatting Koontz’s hand and returning to my seat pandemonium had broken out. By the time I sat down the singer had Koontz by the neck and his back on the table. He was screaming in Norwegian into Koontz’s face as he shook him. Koontz had his arms out holding his hands up in submission. Everyone had left the table except for Marco who held his drink closely to his body, as he stared emotionless at the wall across from him.

“What happened?” I asked Enders, but he didn’t seem to notice the choking that was taking place a few feet away. This was how waitresses got their throats slit in alleyways next to telephone booths.

Ruby started laughing and jumping up and down cheering the singer on. She swung the staff around. I waited for the cane to make contact with any one person’s head. I couldn’t seem to react as the bar blew up into absolute anarchy. It all felt so wrongly normal. Marco was vacant. He had no reaction to the chaos that was ensuing around him. He was centered between the two death metalers. The dreadlock guy had to reach over Marco’s body in order to grab Koontz’s neck. I wondered what Marco was thinking right at that moment. Suddenly, Ruby began singing to Marco, and dancing. Like in a striptease act she dropped to the ground, and carving figure eights with her hips, holding the staff between her legs like a pole, she slithered up the staff then slammed it onto the table as she climbed onto it and starteed crawling across the table toward Marco. The singer had Koontz by the shirt and had pressed him up against the wall, which gave Ruby tons of room to crawl as people quickly grabbed their beers before she knocked them off. Koontz and the singer screamed at each other in a slicing language. I knew things were happening in a rapid succession, but every moment had been condensed into what felt like an extended minute; a time-elapse, it was like watching thunder storms fly over a midwestern sky. I looked back to Marco. He looked bored. I looked at Endres. He looked stoned.

“I’m gonna make love to you all night long… Gonna make love to you…” Ruby crawled onto her hands and knees and leaned into Marco’s face, nose to nose, and sang louder.

“I’m gonna make your juices flow.”

He shook his head like he was done. He took another sip of his drink then set it quietly onto the table.

“I’m gonna make you sweat.” Ruby straddled Marco who promptly stood up with her legs still draped around him. She hung on Marco like he was pregnant with her. He turned to Francisco, peeled her off, and held her out as she squirmed and kicked.

“Can you take this please?” He handed her to Francisco.

Francisco held her trying to avoid her fisted swings and punches.

“Get the fuck off me! Where is my goddamn it fucking American boyfriend!” She said thudding her open palms against Francisco’s broad chest.

“It’s not me.” Said Marco. He climbed over chairs that had been tossed to the ground during the fight and drunken band members who had returned to the table to watch and cheer the fight on.

“I’m going home,” he said to Endres and me.

“I’ll be home in a second.” I said.

“Suit yerself.” And he left the bar.

“Would you like to go outside?” Asked Endres.

“Yes.”

CIMG6879

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