Tag Archives: truth in writing

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 6, pgs. 214-221

Endres held my hand as we ascended the stairs to the front door. The palm of his hand was cool and soothing. The street smelled like dirt and piss. It needed to rain. We sat on the stone sill of the basement window and listened to the roars from the Norwegians and what sounded like the turning over of furniture.

“Ahh Annnnnna this is so nice.”

I thought it was okay. I was drunk, it smelled like piss, and I was tired. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t go home with Marco. I supposed that I must have liked Endres, but I was starting to want my bed more than this young man. I rested my head in Endres’ lap as he played with my hair. I could go to sleep right there looking at the world from a Dutch angle. The night was a beautiful cerulean blanket waiting for me to close my eyes.

“Did you wash your hair today Annnnna?”

“No.” I said. My eyelids were starting to feel heavy, “I’m afraid of the shower.” I mumbled.

I could smell raspberries the scent was so strong I felt like I could taste them. I was certain that the scent was coming from Endres. People stumbled out of the bar laughing and holding one another up. They looked over at us and said something then stumble away like they were conjoined. Cash clumped out soon after the couple, and stepped into my frame of view. He bent at his waist his hair cascading to the ground as the tangled ends brushed the dirty cobblestones. He was eye level to me, his face side ways, his torso twisted. He looked into my face and then with his finger he traced my eyebrow. “Look how it arches so perfectly above za ie.”

He stepped back to look at me as if he was getting a better view of a painting. “Beautiful.” Then he turned and clumped away into the dark street.

“You are beautiful Annnnnna.” Endres said.

“Thanks Endres.” I said with a heavy sigh. I used his knee to push myself up as straight as I could sit.  I didn’t feel beautiful. I felt dirty and like shit. I felt like I needed a cleansing.

“Would you maybe meet me at the park tomorrow?”

I climbed and pulled myself to a standing position, using the brick-stone wall. That sounded like an amazing idea to me. I hadn’t gone to the park since the first day I had arrived.

“I would love to.” I said with a nod of my head.

“I think if I would need to find you I would. I think that I would be out walking and maybe run into you in the park. There is a place where you can see the castle; it is very nice. I find I spend a lot of time in the park. It is a very nice place.”

“I would like to meet you tomorrow.” I said imitating his cadence.

I leaned down to kiss him. It was our first kiss, and I had intended it to be sweet and short like a peck as if we were fourteen and trying out love for the first time. He grabbed me in a feverish embrace pulling me to my knees, and scrapping them against the sidewalk. I tried to cry out, but Endres had his mouth on mine, and the only sound that escaped was a high-pitched mew. He kissed at my ear.

“I want you so badly Anna. I want to be with you.” He whispered.

“Yes. I’m getting that,” I said, repressing a laugh. I climbed back up the side of the building scurrying and clawing like a rodent. I jumped to my feet and then rubbed at my knees. I immediately thought about sex with Endres. I imagined having zippers get stuck, and hitting a nail that happens to be sticking out of a wall or falling out of a window to my death because of some farcical stumbling while trying to get busy.

“I need to go. I’m tired and want my bed.” I said.

He stood up and grabbed my shoulders. “You need to go.” He said pushing me.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” I said holding my hand up in a wave.

He smiled and I spun around and ran down the street toward home.

I slammed the door behind me and cringed. “Sorry sorry.” I said to no one in particular. Using the walls as my guide I slid into the kitchen. Koontz was sitting in the easy chair. He looked up at me without a smile.

“Did you get rid of him?” He asked.

“Yes. I threw him away.”

“Good. Stupid Norwegians.”

I walked toward my room, and as I did Koontz jumped up to hold me, but I shoved him back down into his seat. The momentum of my push caused me to stumbled back against the doorway. I was sick of people grabbing and pulling at me. Marco walked into the kitchen from the front door.

“Hungry?” He asked.

“Yes.” I said at the mention of food. My now drunken reptilian brain completely forgot about Koontz. “Where’d you go?”

“To the gas station.” He pulled out a wrapped sandwich and placed it on the table in front of Koontz.

“Oh no. I can not eat.” He said.

“Are you sure?” Asked Marco.

Marco and I exchange concerned glances, and we both look back to Koontz.

“You sure, you’re sure?” I asked.

“Oh yes.” He answered.

Marco and I sat down at the table as Marco pulled out two other sandwiches taking one and giving another to me.

I unwrapped the saran and opened the sandwich that looked like ham with tomatoes and lettuce, “Are those eggs and pickles on the sandwich?”

“Yep.” Said Marco eating.

“Weird.” I said before taking a bite.

Without a word Koontz got up and walked into Francisco’s room.

“Where’s Francisco?” I asked with my mouth full.

“Didn’t your momma teach you no manners? Don’t talk wit-chor mouth full.” Said Marco.

“Sorry. I’m drunk.” I let out a loud, ha, and took another bite.

“I saw him stumbling toward the A-Krop.” Marco said.

“He was very drunk,” Yelled Koontz from the other room.

“He’s fucked up. I think he’s getting drunk easily because of the stuff with the doctors.” Said Marco.

“Ahww yeah.” I chewed my food with thoughtful machinations then swallowed. I took a deep breath then blew the air threw my lips in a drunk bored manner. “Or,” I said, “ maybe it’s because we started drinking hard liquor when the crow started and now it’s the next day. Technically the next day.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” Marco said as he rose and then stumbled into our plutonic room.

“Hey Annabelle.” He said as if a thought just hit him, “Will you do me a favor and listen for the door for Francisco? Because I know I wont be able to hear it to let him in.”

“Yeah sure.” I said. Then I sat alone in the kitchen, just staring, and chewing my sandwich, thinking of nothing.

*

A repetitive buzzing pulled me from my dreams. It was persistent and aggravating like a horsefly biting into my mind and eating my REM. I opened my eyes. It was still dark in the room. I craned my head back and saw Marco in a deep sleep. I heard the buzzing again. I rolled out of bed feeling groggy, and swayed one way to the other as if I was walking on a ship deck. I shifted like this till my equilibrium balanced out. I was supposed to do something, but I couldn’t remember what. I looked into Francisco’s room and saw Koontz asleep and snoring loudly on the couch, but no Francisco. The buzz came again in rapid succession like gunfire. I turned and picked up the receiver of the phone.

“Hello? Hello?” My voice was hoarse with the dust of sleep.

I knew I was walking around, but I had a hard time pulling myself into my waking life. No one answered on the other side of the line. The buzz started again, this time long and deep. I looked dumbly at the phone in my hand then around the foyer as if some clue where the noise was coming from would jump out at me. I hung up, and the buzz came again. Suddenly, from the muck of my brain, I remembered that Marco had asked me to listen for Francisco, and Francisco was not in his bed, so through a painfully slow deduction, I figured the buzz was from Francisco at the building door. I should never try detective work. I hit the button that unlocked the building and pulled open the front door.

There was the sound of someone clomping up the stairs slow heavy clomps, like an elephant or a drunk. I left the door ajar and then ran into my room and jumped into bed so I could avoid getting into a conversation. It wasn’t that I didn’t like him, I didn’t know him yet, really, but the real issue was that I figured by now he would be so inebriated that he would try to talk to me as he half hung out the window, something I noticed that he liked to do. This hanging out the window of a five-story building caused me a minor amount of stress especially when he was so drunk he could barely stand. He must have had a death wish; he’s tempted it more than once. There was a crashing sound from the kitchen. I threw the covers over my head and fell asleep to the sound of glass breaking.

There was a long loud moaning sound. I rolled over to face the door, and stared directly at Franscisco’s crotch. He was prostrate and spread eagle on the floor wearing his ridiculously tiny boxers and using a beer bottle for a pillow. I could have sworn I had shut the door before falling asleep. He moaned again. I looked toward the window. It was still dark outside, but I wasn’t sure what time it was.

“Francisco.” Marco yelled from under his covers. “I have to wake up in an hour.”

It must have been around five in the morning. Marco had to work early. I had no idea how he kept time. He had some sort of internal working clock.

Francisco answered Marco’s request with another longer moan. Marco threw his covers off his head, and reached over to the door and slammed it shut. I closed my eyes and fell back to sleep.

*

I awoke to yelling. The kitchen door was open, Marco’s bed was empty and made, and Francisco and Koontz were spitting out the kitchen window and laughing. I was not ready to face those two animals. If this was how it was going to be every night and day now that Francisco had returned I needed to find a new place. I thought about the English girls, and pictured myself trying to become an amateur drug dealer. I remembered that Francisco had screwed them over and took all their money as payment for “helping” them sell. I pulled my covers up over my head, and turned away and managed to fall back asleep even to their screaming.

*

The next time I woke up, anxiety grasped my sternum and sent a shutter of nerves to my brain, and I sat up holding my hand to my chest. My breaths where thick and rapid. I felt panic like I did before I first left for Prague. I looked around the room. The flat was quiet. It was possible that my freak-out before I left for Prague may have been a premonition. I didn’t want to be a drug addict or an alcoholic. I climbed out of bed and tiptoed to look into Francisco’s room. Koontz and Francisco were passed out. I had to get out of the apartment. I ran on tiptoes into the shower room stepping over ear swabs, gel, and towels. I brushed my teeth, splashed water on my face, and then walked back through the kitchen that looked as if an earthquake shook it to pieces. Francisco’s beer pillow was still on the floor. I dressed and rushed to the park to meet with Endres.

CIMG6437

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 6, pgs. 193-200

I walked through the double doors and headed toward a door that opened into the backyard that was built out of an old courtyard. It was bucolic in a druggy kind of Warholian fashion. Blankets were spread over the small grassy plot. To one side of the courtyard was an actual garden with leafy greens sprouting from the ground and thin tall sticks with twine to make tepees for beans and flowers. The remainder of the small yard was a hard patchwork of grass and dirt. I sat on an empty blanket and drank my wine looking at all the various people that were sitting, laying or milling about. There was a mellow bohemian air to the crowd. People spoke in quiet tones and intimate gestures. I didn’t know any of them. I adjusted my shirt a bit, sat crossed-legged and stared off into the garden. There was a scent of lilacs and cake in the air. Sandy had baked a traditional beranek cake for Easter. I was told it had looked like a lamb, but what I saw passing from hand to hand was more like a slaughtered ameba. A guy wearing a black top hat and stripped bell bottomed pants walked into the garden carrying a guitar and a folded wooden chair. He placed the chair at the edge of the garden, between tomato plants and dangling beans, and sat down. He strummed a few strings of his guitar before he began to play The Velvet Underground’s, What a Perfect Day. I felt suddenly like I was sitting in a photograph.

Sandy ran out giggling and holding up a bottle of white. “Hold yor glasses up if you want wine.” She yelled.

People cheered and held up their glasses. I held up my empty glass and Sandy poured it to the top then moved to the next group. Someone made a joke about her needing a wine skin. Jiri rushed out and grabbed Sandy around her waist and maneuvered her and the wine back into the hostel to the soft boos of those sitting outside. I took a large drink to keep my wine from spilling. A woman with glittery face paint held out her hands; she had a crayon in one palm and an egg in the other. I smiled but shook my head with an involuntary wrinkle of my nose.  I didn’t want to color on eggs. I was certain that this crayon coloring business was not a Czech tradition in the decorating of eggs. I was certain it was a “we don’t have any money for dye so let’s use crayons instead” tradition because other than Demitri not one person could color a decent egg, and he was Russian not Czech. I watched the guitarist’s fingers slowly strumming over the strings, his brush so light it seemed as if he wasn’t really touching them. I started to notice a heady feeling, like a contact high, from all the milky people clouding around me. Either that or I was already feeling drunk from the wine. I looked down into my overflowing glass that was more like a chalice by the abundant pour that Sandy offered in her short-lived role as Bacchus.

Endres stumbled through the door in his usual fashion. He wasn’t sober today. He noticed me, trip-walked his way over, and sat beside me on the blanket. He inhaled deeply and then exhaled with a hum.

“I had a nice picnic in the park Annnnnna.”

“Hmmm.” I said, not having any response. I took a gulp of wine and set my glass on the ground. I thought about getting up, but Endres stopped me by laying his head in my lap. I looked down at him, and held my arms up in question. I wasn’t sure what to do. I hadn’t expected to have Endres’ head in my lap. He had his eyes closed and a smile played over his lips. I looked to my wine glass then back to Endres.

“I need to be on drugs, Annnnnna, so I do not think of my first time in Prague.” He mumbled.

Endres’ eyes were almond shaped, and when they were closed they looked like smiles on a happy face. He was really very beautiful. His skin was smooth like porcelain, not a blemish. It was his coloring that was off sometimes, like he would appear blue-grey or with light plum circles under his eyes. But most of the time he was a soft ceramic white with just a faint dusting of blush. Something about his fine features, his sharp nose and chin reminded me of the feminine. I wondered what it would feel like to pull my fingers through his messy hair, and I moved a hand toward his forehead, but I stopped short and set both of my hands on the ground behind me. Now I had a male drug-addicted angel’s head in my lap. Seemed like a perfect scenario for Easter. I looked up at the sky. We stayed like this in silence for a moment until my leg began to get uncomfortable.

“Endres, I’m sorry but my legs are falling asleep. Here you can use my bag as a pillow.” He lifted his head as I removed my legs and placed my bag under him. I stretched my legs in front of me, massaging them for a bit. Endres kept his eyes closed. I wondered what time it was. How late had I slept this time? Endres had already had a picnic in the park. I had thought it was still early since the streets were so quiet, but maybe it was just that everyone was at home with their families. I flipped over onto my stomach beside Endres.

“How long were you in Thailand?” I asked pulling out a blade of grass and wrapping it around my finger.

“Mmm. Nearly a year.” His eyes were still closed.

“How long have you been traveling?”

“Nearly three years. But I do go home in between.”

“How old are you?”

“I am four and twenty.”

“Can you guess how old I am?” I asked still playing with the blade of grass. That was a stupid question; I wish I hadn’t asked it. I sounded juvenile. I realized I was flirting. This was my flirting. Terrible.

Endres turned to his side facing me and leaned his head on his palm. “It is hard to tell.”

I felt a blush wash over me as Endres examined my face looking for my age. I caught sight of Francisco from the corner of my eye as he walked from the door into the courtyard. I sat up in relief at the chance of breaking this awkward moment, and waved to him. He smiled at me, and tossed an orange in my direction. I caught it over Endres. Francisco turned back inside.

“It must be night.” I said looking up at the dusky sky. “How’d I not notice?” I began to peel the orange by first puncturing it with my nails then tearing back the skin. The rind perspired sweating drips of citrus odor onto my fingers.

Francisco returned holding two glasses of wine. He handed the white one to me.

“How’d you know?” I asked surprised.

He shrugged and set his wine down, then picked up an egg and a crayon. He sat behind me and leaned his back against mine. I could feel the heat from Francisco’s body beating against my back. Even with my initial apprehension on meeting Francisco I felt comfortable leaning up against him for support. I couldn’t figure it out. I had a sense that Francisco wasn’t to be trusted and yet he felt protective, like a guardian almost. I decided to stop fixating on it and just let it go.

I peeled off a part of the orange and handed it to Francisco. I fed a slice to Endres as he lay looking up at me. I was not the kind of woman to feed orange slices to a man, but this was not real life. This was an art film. His eyes were hard blue, striking and somewhat insane. His pupils dilated with a rapid pulse.

“Whoa.” I said, “Your eyes just did something freaky.” It was freaky like a snake’s or cat’s eye.

He smiled up at me. I fed him another orange as if pupils pulse into the size of a dime and then back to the size of a pinhole all the time. What kind of drug did that? Whatever it was it made him mellow. I took a drink of my wine. I felt Francisco move against my back as he scribbled with brisk jerks over his egg.

“I remember things I say Annnnna.” Endres said to me.

“That’s nice Endres.” I said feeling pretty warm from the wine.

“What I said to you the other night.”

“That you thought I was attractive?” I said.

I felt Francisco chuckle his back shaking mine. I felt a flush of embarrassment. I handed him another slice of orange from over my shoulder. He took it from my fingers. I took another drink of wine. I really felt like Francisco and I were bonding.

“Where’s Marco?” I felt Francisco shrug.

The sky was continuing to darken as people passed around ribbons to tie onto sticks. It was that perfect light — the magic time that photographers and filmmakers love when the light is bouncing off the spectrum and pulling out the deepest, sharpest colors.

I felt Francisco growl in frustration over his egg.

“You know I think it is going to be too dark for an Easter egg hunt.” I said.

Francisco tossed his egg and crayon into the grass and abruptly rose and headed into the bar.

It was now dark and starting to get chilly. I lay back down onto the blanket beside Endres. I felt fine being alone with him out in the Easter night. I was drunk on wine.

“I love Prague.” He said up to the sky. “Don’t you love Prague, Annnna?”

“I don’t know if I do.” I said.

“Really?” He sat up and looked at me, his expression hidden in the shadow. “You are the first person I have met that hasn’t loved Prague.”

“Well, I don’t know if I do or don’t yet. I mean, I guess it’s not what I expected. I mean my street is kinda trashy.” I said taking a drink. I was drunk and starting to feel a little cold. “Can I wear your shirt?” I asked.

“What? Are you cold Annnnna?”

“Yep.” I said feeling a shiver move up my back.

“I have a shirt you can borrow up in the room. You know Annna, a lot of beautiful art comes out of trash.”

“Yes. Yes it does.” I knew he was right.

Endres stood up and helped me to my feet and led me, wine glass in hand, into the hostel. He walked me up the first few steps into the hostel then asked me to wait for him for a second as he went to grab the shirt. I leaned on a window ledge and finished my wine. I set the glass down on the ledge beside me. I wondered where Marco was and why he wasn’t here. Endres returned. Handing me the shirt he sat next to me on the ledge. I drunkenly pulled it over my head.

“Would you like to share a splif with me Annnna?”

“Sure.” I said.

We sat on the staircase and shared the splif in silence. Once we finished Endres stood up and helped me to my feet.

“I think for tonight I am going to bed.” Endres’ said.

“Oh are you leaving?” I felt my weight sway back just slightly.

“Yes. Tonight I am tired.”

“Well, can I stay the night with you?” If I hadn’t felt so drunk and stoned I would have been surprised at my boldness. My sober side gave me a thumbs up on the forwardness- you go girl– it said.

“What Annnna? Oh no. It is not nice. It is not a private space. It is full of people.”

“I don’t care. It’s not like we’re going to do anything. I just want to sleep.” We were facing each other holding hands like we were about to play London Bridges.

“I don’t know Annnna. Why would you want to sleep there?”

I shrugged. I didn’t have a smooth answer or any answer.

He looked at me for a minute and then dropping one hand and grabbing the other tighter he led me up the stairs to the communal room.

It was a large room with multiple bunk beds and backpacks, sleeping bags strewn around. We stepped hand and hand over bags, and some people who were on floor cots. Endres let go of my hand and made up the bed as I swayed from one side to the other like a top winding down.

“I’m sorry Annnna,” he whispered, “I told you it wasn’t that nice.”

I shrugged and climbed onto the bottom bunk where Endres was assigned to sleep. I pulled up the covers and scooted in toward the wall. Endres got in after me and snuggled up behind me spooning me with his body. He pushed my hair aside and put his face into the back of my neck, and that is how we fell asleep with 25 strangers.

CIMG6815

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 5, pgs. 181-187

We fought our way into the birth canal bar. I thought about calling it the fallopian tube, but it had a little more space than that. It was three in the morning, and the place showed no sign of emptying out. Sedik lead the way to a table that was occupied by a couple, and everyone squeezed in till the couple was nearly pushed out.

“Anna, Annabelle.” Ian was yelling into my face. “Yeh worked today r’oight?”

“Yes” I yelled back.

“Can yeh buy me a beer?”

“Christ, Ian. Sure.” I got up and pushed past him to the bar fighting to get attention from the bartender. I ordered a pivo, and a coke for me. I turned to hand the beer to Ian.

“Wot’s that?” He yelled at me.

“It’s a coke.” I yelled back.

“Just a cola?”

“I need caffeine.” I yelled.

“I ‘ave somefing bet’er for ya. Keep ya up all night.” He yelled.

“Not now.” I yelled back.  “But on second thought.” I turned back to the bartender and ordered a glass of wine. Then pushing Ian aside I fought my way back to the table. I sat across from Sedik. His eyes were dying coals — the burning veins showing even in the dark light. His head swung back and forth on a pendulum to the rhythm of the music. Sometimes in a sudden jerk he would pause and press the back of his head against the wall and close his eyes then open them again and sway his head back and forth. Everyone was dancing in whatever space they could find. Francisco was dancing with the two girls in between tables, Marco was dancing in the aisle between the bars and the rows of tables, and Endres was all over the place.

“Annabelle?” Sedik called across to me. I reached my hands over the scared and graffiti wooden table to touch his long black fingers. They were rough from age and hard work but they had a security to them. “You are not dancing tonight?”

“Not yet. I’m a little tired.” I yelled back at him. “How about you Sedik?”

He slowly pulled a cigarette from a pack that had been lying on the table beside our hands and placed it between his lips. After what seemed an eternity to light he took a long and slow deliberate drag; he made smoking look desirable. As he blew the smoke out above his head he swayed it back and forth and looked back down at me. “Maybe later,” He yelled, and then he closed his eyes and nodded off with the lit cigarette between his lips. The room had gotten so crowded that people had spilled out into the space between the two bars. The strong scent of sage and hash filled the room. I turned to watch Francisco as he stomped and threw his arms up and down in a kind of punching action. It was hard to believe less than an hour earlier he had been knotted in a sick ball. Whatever was in Endres’ doctor’s pill revived him. He danced erratically about, his arms and legs stiff and straight like they were fused at the joints. I didn’t know if this was a result of the drugs or if he was really that bad of a dancer. This thought made me laugh at myself. He caught my smile and a grin tore over his face. It was kind and familiar like we had been friends since childhood. I could tell already that he had several personalities. There was a force in that body that couldn’t stay under the skin. I also could tell it was unpredictable, but that smile was overflowing with wicked charm. He came over and danced in front of me till the girls pulled him back into the crowed. Ian pulled a chair up directly in front of me, blocking my view of all the dancing. He started yelling something at me.  I scowled a bit at not being able to watch everybody, and attempted to look over his shoulder as he spoke.

“I ‘ope I didn’t insult ya the other night.” He said yelling into my ear.

I felt like getting a real drink. “Lets get a shot of Bechorovka!” I yelled back to him. “Watch my chair.” I yelled down to him as I forced my way into the crowd to the bar. A few minutes later I was back with two shots of Bechorovka and another glass of wine. “Salute!” I yelled and toasted him. Ian threw the shot back and slammed his glass down on the table, jolting Sedik awake. With a startled expression Sedik mumbled something about leaving, and he got up and rushed out the door. As soon as he moved people filled up the space where he had been sleeping.

“So Annabelle- like I was sayin.” Ian started yelling again.

“Annnnnnna!” Endres was dancing next to my chair. He was moving like a blouse in the dryer swaying dangerously close to people but somehow not making contact with anyone. He started dancing around me as I started laughing.

“Yeh look like a roight fool.” Ian growled.

I continued to laugh as Endres danced. He danced his way to a white wooden chair, pulled it up beside me, and sat down. But as he did it shattered and splintered under him tossing him to the ground in such a force that he slid under the table behind him. Everyone bent at the waist to get a look at the angel boy under the table.

“Are you okay?” I laughed as I got down to my knees to help pull him out.

Ian crossed his arms over his chest. “Wot a fuckin idjet.”

I pulled him to his feet.

“I’m okay Annnnnna.” He said looking around for another chair, which he found and pulled over, but before sitting, he pressed his hand to the seat to check for stability. “Hi Annnnnna”

“Hey Endres.” I yelled.

Marco danced over, grabbed my hand and pulled me to him in a dance. This was familiar. We used to dance together all the time, especially when we lived together in Paris. Anywhere there was dancing, even if it was playing from the window of a building, he would grab me and pull me into a dance and there we would dance on the street. It was a favorite thing to do together. I threw my arms over his shoulders as he wrapped his around my waist, and our legs slipped between each other’s. Marco shimmied me down to the floor and back up. Our hips pressed together as Marco moved me around the room then back to the table. As he dipped me, I dropped my arms over my head. Endres ran his fingers along the inside of my arm from the soft dent of my elbow to my wrist.

“Wot the fuck.” Ian yelled at Endres.

Marco pulled me back up to him and pressed me into his chest till we were nose to nose. We laughed into each other’s mouths, and he pushed me out into a spin, pulled me back into his arms, and dropped me into a final dip. We bowed to each other after we finished dancing. A girl ran up to Marco and begged him to dance with her. He grabbed her forcefully around the waist and pulled her tightly to him, turned to wink at me, then danced the girl onto the dance floor.

Endres had his hand on the chair where I had been sitting to save it. He beckoned me to sit back down.

“I think I want another drink,” I yelled.

“Are you and Marco lovers?” Endres yelled to me.

“No. Why do you ask?” I yelled back.

“Oh well, the way you dance together. It is so nice the way you move together. You look like lovers.” He yelled.

“No.” I yelled back, “We are best friends. We just happen to dance well together.”

He smiled. Then grabbing my arm he pulled himself to my ear and leaned in close enough that his lips brushed against my earlobe. “Annnnna, I think I am attracted to you. But I must go to the bar. I can no longer stand on my own.”

“Okay.” I yelled. He used my shoulder to help himself stand. “I’ll see you soon?”

He nodded and then stumbled to the bar.

Ian, with his arms still crossed, was scowling next to me. I jumped up from the table and danced over to Francisco and his two girls. Marco reappeared from the dance floor to join all of us. I felt a tug at my jeans and then one at the back of my shirt by the elbow. I turned to see Ian still sitting.

“I fink yer very beu’itful!” He yelled.

“What?” I yelled back. I had heard him, but wasn’t comfortable with the attention. I preferred to dance.

“Nofing,” he said turning away from me.

I returned to the music.

Once the lights came on people forced themselves through the double front doors like a flood rushing onto the morning streets of Žižkov.

“I’m too old for this shit!” Marco yelled, straining his neck and head back toward the morning sky.

Francisco, Marco, and I linked arms and walked home together.

“You and Marco perform well on the dance floor,” Francisco said, leaning into my ear. “I am an excellent dancer you know, but not so excellent when I have to share the dance floor with another body like you and Marco do. I have a great envy over it.” He paused and looked out over the buildings as they rose to greet us in our homeward stumble. “But I still get plenty of vagina.”

Marco and I started laughing.

“I just do not want any tonight. I have that right.”

“Yes. Yes. You do.” I said still laughing.

“You a muthafucka.” Marco laughed.

I heard the sound of laughter fading behind us, and looked back to see through the morning haze. Ian and Endres had their arms draped over each other’s necks and shoulders as they stumbled and fell on their way to the nearest non-stop. At least they had each other.

CIMG8116

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 5, pgs. 174-177

The night air was cool, and the tram was empty enough for me to find a seat in the back. I felt like I could pass out on the ride home, but I kept my eyes peeled for any landscapes that alerted me to the stop closest to home. The night tram was silent. I listened to the hum of the metal gliding over metal and the electricity buzzing through all the power lines and lights. I got off the stop in front of the chicken shop that was among many other shops pressed into the building, and turned up the street toward our apartment. Marco had given me a key. I let myself in. As I climbed the stairs, using the handrail for support, I thought about how good a full night of sleep would be. The Joyce closed earlier than other bars so I was getting home around one o’clock, which was early compared to when I’d been getting home lately. Yes, I thought to myself, now things were on track. A job meant responsibility. Responsibility meant going to bed early. Going to bed early meant adulthood. I let myself into the flat. It was dark and quiet inside. I turned on the hallway light and saw a note taped to the glass of the kitchen door.

WE ARE AT FESTE’S. COME DOWN. IF WE ARE NOT THERE ASK RECEPTION WHERE WE ARE AND MEET US THERE, WHEREVER THAT IS. 

MARCO

“So much for responsibility.”  I said to myself.

I didn’t have to go. I could have stayed home. I had choices, but what if I missed something good. I was imprudent by nature.

Feste’s was empty except for some guy sitting behind the reception desk at the foot of the stairway.

“What time is it?” I asked the guy.

“Almost two.”

“Shit. Really?”

He looked at me with blank unblinking eyes.

“Do you by any chance have a message for Annabelle?”

“Ya. They are at Seven Wolves.”

“Thanks.”

The cool spring air felt cleaner than it had in days. I looked up at the stars shining down. It was a clear night and a breeze blew over me. The streets had a calm solitude. I hadn’t walked by or heard the sound of another person for blocks. I didn’t know why people were not out, and I didn’t care. I had the city to myself. There were moments when I felt like all I ever wanted was calm solitude. I took deep, soothing breaths, held out my arms in supplication, and spun on my heels like I used to do when I was a child. This was my favorite time walking the dark cobbled streets of Prague. I could be anywhere in any time, and be anything. I imagined I could hear Amadeus’s carriage rolling over laid bricks as he headed toward the theatre, or Kafka’s footsteps clacking over cobblestones. Although, for all I new Amadeus and Kafka may have avoided this neighborhood.

The world was changing so fast and I wasn’t keeping up. The rat race was going high tech and I hadn’t seen a movie in three years. I had no idea what was on TV or what the latest pop culture phrase was in the States. During my last year in Germany, the kids had just started carrying their small phones around with them. Nobody I knew had their own phone that they could take with them. Hardly anyone had a landline, but cell phones were becoming popular, in Germany at least. I wondered what it was like back in the States. Who would want to carry a phone around with them everywhere they went? I felt like a sixty year old woman who was looking at a radio for the first time. But I wasn’t sixty. I wasn’t close to sixty. Things were just moving so incredibly fast. The European continent was talking about a united union, and Prague was still quietly trying to collect herself while adjusting to the greater influx of people, and the possibility of joining the European Union when it happened. If the whole world doesn’t collapse because of it. Some people think it wont work, that our economies may crash, more end of the world stuff to add to the new Millennium. It’s all supposed to end in two thousand anyway. My parents were most likely building a shelter simultaneously as I walked down this quiet street. Maybe that was why I wanted to be in Prague, maybe we were moving at the same pace. I bent down to touch the soiled concrete with potholes that revealed the past, and I ignored the impulse in my brain that told me to stop that there was urine, possibly vomit, and most definitely dog shit right where I was placing my hands. I wanted to feel the heat from the grounded energy of the past of the city. I wanted to feel the lives of the people who were born, lived, loved, hurt, suffered, and died on that street. I wanted to absorb just a teardrop of passion and revolution, and take it and use it in my own life. I wanted to stop being afraid of the unknown, and the big bad end of the world. Who cared? We were all going to die anyway. All of us would die one day; my parents and their neighbors in their carefully secluded and unbending towns, with their churches, and their judgments, and rules. We’ll die too, us bad choice making hippies, punks, kids, people too old to travel, and women without children, and people wanting to see the world just to see it. We were all going to die so why so much fear? Why not live. I supposed I could find that feeling of really living anywhere in the world so why was it so difficult? With a huge exhale I stood up and looked down at my hands. I walked the rest of the way to Seven Wolves holding my hands out palms up like I was a whirling dervish. As I turned onto Vlkova Street I noticed a body crouched in the shadows. It was folding over itself. The streetlight hit the hand of the person and spread through its fingers like light passing through shutters. Their knuckles were pressed against the concrete not ready to pounce but trying to stay upright. I crossed to the other side of the street and watched the figure from the corner of my eye.

CIMG6850

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 5, pgs. 170-174

Dor had been working the day shift and greeted me with a hearty hello then a quick good-bye as she walked through the large open windows that opened up the bar.

A dark-haired, hard-looking English woman walked over to me. She introduced herself as Lynn and pointed to Jana, a girl standing in the back of the bar. She was talking to the cook while eating a bowl of soup. Lynn was the front of the house manager, and Jana was going to train me.

Lynn gave me a once over, “Ya, American right?”

“Yes” I said.

“You an expat or you thinkin’ of movin’ on?” She asked me.

“I’m not sure.” I answered a little hesitant, uncertain if being ambiguous was going to cause me to lose my job. “I don’t think I am an expat. I think I may be an immigrant. ” I said.

“Is there a difference?” She asked.

“I don’t know.” I said, “Perhaps I should look it up in the dictionary.”

“Perhaps.” She said.

She gave me a dubious glance, and then handed me a menu to look over. “Czechs never come in here so ya’ll be fine with language.” She walked away. Then turned back, “If you don’t speak Czech that is.”

“Um. No I don’t. Not yet.”

“Not yet.” She snorted.

Then she stepped into the kitchen. I watched the two women have a terse conversation. Jana looked over to me rolled her eyes and looked back to Lynn with a glare. Then headed out toward me.

Ahoj.” She said, “I’m Jana.” She flashed a full seemingly genuine smile. She had this crazy English/Czech/Irish accent that I hadn’t encountered yet. She looked like she was about sixteen years old. She wore her hair in a Bettie Page cut with bangs cut bluntly across her forehead. Even though her accent was a mash-up of several accents, she was born and raised in Prague. She led me over to the bar to show me the table arrangements.

Tips were pulled, and in the evening they were passed out by Johnny, the bartender. I would be paid cash in hand at the end of a workweek. The main rule was to never stand still even if the place were dead. Always act like you are doing something. I was to shadow Jana and Lynn for my first two shifts then on the third shift I would be on my own with Johnny, and they would decide then if I were good enough to stay. I was only to get fifteen percent of the tips until I made it past the third shift. The menu had traditional Irish food, such as blood sausage and Shepard’s pie along with salads and of, course, Irish whiskeys and Guinness, and other cocktails and European beers.

“So why don’t Czech people come in here?” I asked Jana as we went over the menu.

She looked at me and placed a hand on her hip. “What’s yer wages?”

“Umm. 50 krowns an hour plus tips.”

“Did you look at the prices here? You couldn’t even afford to buy a Gunnies with your first hour’s wages.”

“What?” I looked back at the prices.

“It’s too expensive. These are high prices. There’s a bar downstairs that is Czech and you can get a pivo for 17 krowns. Who’s gonna pay 60? But people do and the tips are better here.”

“I don’t make shit.” I said. “I’ll probably have to get a second job.”

“Tips can sometimes be good.” Said Jana with a shrug.

Around eight in the evening, the bar was full to capacity, mostly, with men from England and Ireland. Tourists visited during the lunch hours, but as the evening grew late I noticed that the Joyce seemed to have a strong of ex-pat vibe. The volume in the bar had risen to a roar and people stood in the pathways and erratically danced from space to space. It had been a very long time since I had waited tables, and my first time working in an actual pub. I had several moments of panic while carrying a tray of pints and hot steaming bowls of Irish stew. I was beginning to question whether or not I was going to make it to my third shift.

“Hey. Hey lass!” A table of Irish men called me over. “You’re new.” One of them said to me.

“Yes.” I said. “Can I get you anything?” I pushed a stray hair away from my face and tucked it behind my ear. The heat in the room had risen at least two degrees since I started my shift. I felt flushed and tense.

“Ye hear that?” Another one said, “Can I get yooou anything?” He said exaggerating my accent. “She’s American.” They laughed. Another guy lifted his head from his beer; his eyes were bloodshot with drink. “What the fuck you doin’ in Prague Ami, whyn’t you go home?”

I looked at him for a slow minute kind of frozen in a stasis of awe. Go home? Who the fuck was he to tell me to go home? Did he forget he was also from another country?

“Oh, ho, ho,” Another laughed, “Miss, Miss- I jes have one question, jes one.’

“What is it?” I asked, my annoyance rising. I felt the back of my neck begin to burn.

“Are you a lesssbian?” The table burst into a fit of laughter like someone actually sad something funny.

“Does it matter?” I asked. “Do you want to order anything?”

“Yeah, yeah.” One guy held up his hand for silence from the table. “I’d like to order two lesbos in a porno.”

This set the table off roaring. I thought each man except the angry one was about to fall out of his seat. How was it that these grown men could have the maturity of a twelve year old and the sensitivity of a lizard. They reminded me that there were problems in the evolutionary chain. I stood up straight just as Jana rushed over grabbing their ashtrays.

“Jana! Jana!” They yelled.

“What are you cunt’s goin on about? You have to make an order or what?” She yelled flirting with them.

“Drinks. A round! Anoter round.” They were talking over one another.

“No no-“ said the guy that had told me to go home. He lifted his hand in protest. He already had a full beer and two shots in front of him. He had tears in his eyes.

“Fuck off ye cunt. Give this cunt a whiskey.” A man ordered a round for everyone. He patted me on the thigh,” we’re jes takin’ the piss.”

Takin the piss? I was about to take a piss in the guy’s whiskey. Only I thought it would be pretty difficult to pee in one of the shot glasses, but the intention was there all the same, and that was half the battle.

“Their harmless.” She said, “just flirt with them and you’ll get more tips.”

I had the feeling I wasn’t going to be making a lot of money here.

When the night ended I handed my apron to Jana, and waited as she counted out the tips and gave me my fifteen percent. I watched as Lynn swept the floor with violent heavy swings of the broom. Then I turned and walked out through the glass doors into the early night. I hoped I would be able to keep the job even with the shitty regulars.

CIMG7191

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 5, pgs. 164-170

The daylight was blaring and harsh. Yet, aside from the need to brush the moss from my teeth, I was feeling pretty okay. I didn’t take it as a great sign that my body was adapting to the copious amounts of booze that I was pouring into it, but at the same time I was happy to feel relatively healthy.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to find my way back. It was all about landmarks. Pass the park; cut across the college with the bronze statue of Winston Churchill; across the tram tracks; down past the chicken place; and a sharp right turn up the cobbled shit-covered potholed street to the lime-green building across the street from the faded and dirty lavender building with the angel awning. I hit the buzzer and waited for my queue to open the door. I had made it. Success.

“I accomplished something today.” I said to myself as I climbed the four flights to our flat. I reached the door and knocked once before Marco yanked it open and stood in the doorway like a diva glaring at her costume girl who didn’t buy the right perfume.

“My leg’s broke.” He said. He spun away from me, and walked without a limp into the kitchen. “My shit is fucked!” I heard him yell as I shut the door behind me. I followed him into the kitchen where he was slumped over in the mustard colored easy chair.

“I think I threw up in the corner of the bar.”

“You did? When?” I sat down in the wooden chair across from him, and watched as he effortlessly moved to the sink on his allegedly broke leg to wash the dishes.

“I don’t know. I think I did.”

“I did see you making out with some girl.”

“Oh god!” He dropped the washrag and looked at me. “I hope I didn’t throw up on her!”

I started laughing, “I don’t think you had the time.”

“I hope I didn’t.” He said, shaking his head and going back to his dishes.

“I’m sure you’ll find out.”

“I know.” He wiped a plate dry with a blue rag then put the plate on an open shelve. “Oh shit, I gotta walk you to work.”

“Uh huh.” I opened the mini fridge and pulled out a carton of nectar and soda water then poured myself a glass. I stood looking out the window staring into the skeleton of the building under construction. There were two men in overalls and hardhats sitting on the sixth floor, their legs dangling over the edge. They were eating sandwiches. The building didn’t even look worth saving.

Marco sat back down in the easy chair.

“My leg’s broke.” He moaned.

The door to the kitchen flew open and Francisco stumbled in rubbing his jaw. “Someting is not right. I have feeling of being punched to the face. Did you see some person hit me?” He asked me.

“Not that I saw.” I said, “Maybe you and Marco beat each other up.”

They looked at each other.

“I was of the opinion dat was possible, but the conclusion was no it did not happen dat way.” Said Francisco.

“Well it may remain a mystery.” I said, “I’m going to take a nap.”

“You’re in my room now.” Said Marco, “I already put your things in there. You can take the bed under the window.”

“Yah, You need the most premium of sleep to keep up to me.” Francisco smiled. It was a sly almost flirtatious grin, and I suddenly didn’t know what he meant by keep up.

“Okay.” I shut the bedroom door.

I heard Marco’s voice. “I saw that muthafucka.”

“What?” Francisco.

“She aint gonna be interested in yor nastiness.”

Francisco laughed loudly. He had a huge roaring dark laugh. It was warm and simultaneously dangerous.

I curled up on my new bed. It was firm but comfortable. A nice change from the quarry pile I had been sleeping on previously. I couldn’t imagine that Francisco thought it was comfortable. Then again I couldn’t imagine that he cared. As I was drifting off to sleep I heard Marco asking Francisco if he saw him puke on a girl at the bar.

*

The evening sky was turning lavender as the light faded behind the buildings.

I was ready for work and I waited for Marco to take a shower so he could walk me to the Joyce. I was brushing my teeth in the kitchen sink and heard the large explosion from the water heater. “Shit!” I heard Marco yell. I spit into the sink and watched, mesmerized by my own spit and foam, as it spun and swirled into the drain.

I could hear Marco talking to himself in the bathroom. “What are you doing tonight that you are able to walk me into old town?” I yelled to him.

Marco stepped out of the shower room wrapped in a dingy grey towel with frayed edges. He rushed into his bedroom and shut the door. A few minutes later he opened the door and sat down on the side of his bed while pulling on a pair of boots. “I have to meet my Korean student for English lessons.”

“Oh right. Kim.”

“She better not fuckin stand me up again or I’m chargin extra.” He stood up and threw his bag over his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

We walked out of the kitchen shutting the door behind us. Francisco’s door was open. He was lying on his bed, wearing a tiny pair of blue and beige boxer shorts, and reading a book.

Marco stuck his head into the room. “Hey, you going out today?”

Francisco looked up from his book and glanced out the window behind him then back to his book. “When the sun goes down.” He said.

“A’ight. See ya.”

Marco led me to the Joyce. As we walked through the confusing streets he pointed out important landmarks: the strip club with the live sex shows; the alleyway with the crying gargoyles hanging over the rounded archway; all to help me find my way back home. We had arrived early, and I had time to walk with him to the place where he was to meet his Korean student. We walked up Wenceslas Square to the statue of St. Wenceslas sitting on his bronze horse frozen in a forward march. The great horse’s front hoof permanently poised to strike the earth. Standing at the top of the square, which was more like a long boulevard, I stared back down the hill toward the buildings that stood like a Titan’s army flanking both sides. My eyes followed the long street to the cluster of buildings at the base of the boulevard pass the green tree-covered hills and on to the pendulous soft lilac clouds in the distance.

Everything was so old, so immense, so— resplendent. I had the sensation of standing on the edge of a diving board like an Olympic diver. I felt the impulse to raise my arms over my head and dive a perfect swan dive into the thin line of a pencil falling until the tips of my fingers broke through the green grassy hills and I disappeared into them without leaving a ripple. I felt my body heave a great sigh and my breath drop into my feet feeling the concrete beneath my rubber soled shoes, which reminded me that I was still standing under the shadow of St. Wenceslas, and his great metal horse. All these statues and monuments to the dead, the great men, the conquerors, and the leaders, dead so many year’s before my country was ever discovered by Europeans. What would have happened to someone as small as me? I knew nothing about St. Wenceslas except that he was murdered by his brother and cut into pieces, the stuff that inspired Shakespeare. I always learned the gory details before the history. The square was crowded with people taking pictures and pointing in various directions. Marco tugged at my shirt and we wandered down to the photos of the two students Jan Palach and Jan Zajic. They did not have a statue. My fingers traced over the dates of their deaths. I remembered reading about them when I was younger. Prague spring. I remember learning about the Prague spring, not in school, but from a movie. I had been in high school when the Berlin wall came down, but even then we never learned about the velvet revolution or the orange revolution. I learned about these revolutions from movies and then from my own curious research. I knew about these boys. They had set themselves on fire right where we were standing. It didn’t stop the tanks and no one was able to save them. To end the regime, to have freedom. That’s why they did it, but they weren’t carved into bronze. I stared down at the black and white faces of the young dead men. I didn’t know oppression; not real oppression. I was not willing to die for anything at this point in my life, to kill myself in protest. I hoped I would never have to feel what they felt. I wondered what they were like when they were little children. Tourists snapped photos of the photos, and then turned to take photos of the statue.

“Can you imagine setting yourself on fire?” Marco asked standing beside me.

“No.” I said, without taking my eyes away from the Jans.

“I mean you gotta be certain that’s what you wanna do. Fire, kerosene, burning flesh, shiiiit. I’d be like, I changed my mind somebody throw some water on me. Somebody get a bucket.”

We walked back to the statue and sat on the steps beneath the hooves. Marco had told me this was the best place to meet anyone and that was why there were always so many people standing or sitting around the statue. Kim, his Korean student, was nowhere in sight.

I left him alone and grumbling about tardiness, and how much he was going to charge her. I had time to kill so I decided to walk over the Karlov Most and wander into Nove mestro. Hordes of people crossed the bridge daily. I knew it was best to avoid the bridge during spring break, but I couldn’t help myself; I had never walked over a 14th-century bridge before, in Prague anyway, and I wasn’t going to be deterred by a small crowd.

I wasn’t able to make it to the other side. Between the tourists, the artisans, the buskers, the suits, and those just wandering around, it was impossible to walk in a straight line. I found a space between a craftsman selling jewelry and a woman selling photographs of the bridge. They were set up beside the statue of Christ hanging from a cross with statues of a kneeling Mary Magdalene and Virgin Mary on either side of him. It was too crowded to enjoy. I leaned far over the bridge to stare down into the dark water of the Vltava. A couple of jet skis shot out from under the bridge. They chased after the waves that were created by a large tour boat that carried people dressed in bright colors and flashing cameras that sparkled in the darkening purple sky. This was my Prague right now.

CIMG8052

 

Hello From Žižkov-Chapter 5, pgs. 150-155

I went away to school first to get away from home. That seemed like the smartest and only choice. I had done well in high school, and received a scholarship to go to the State college closest to my hometown. In truth I wanted to get away as far as possible, but I didn’t really know my options. My college was seven hours away from my home. At first it seemed like I lived on the other side of the world, but soon my restless feelings returned and once again I felt trapped in a role or an expectation. I dropped out after a year and a half of college. It wasn’t that I was doing badly in school; it was that I didn’t know what I was doing. I was trying to follow a common path that was designed to create happiness. Yet, I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t happy with the idea. The pattern was laid out, but what about all the pieces in-between? What happened between kids and retirement? What was my life going to be really? I had no idea. I had needed to find something different.

 

The boys had all disappeared into various pockets of the bar, and I was now sitting in a rickety wooden chair in an even smaller alcove around a tiny wooden table. I had been sleeping and dreaming about my past so deeply that I forgot where I was in the present. We had been drinking for a while, and Feste’s had swirled around me like a kaleidoscope with marionettes of dancing people and voices. I felt a little bit like I was in a Punch and Judy show. Through a series of seat changing and table greeting, I ended up with Ron. I think I had still been avoiding Marco and Francisco, but I convinced myself I was just giving them some catch-up-time. I knew that was bullshit. I didn’t know how to be around Francisco. He would be eerily silent as his eyes scanned the room and then he would explode into a raucous diatribe of tales of his life adventures. I could tell he was examining me. Sometimes from across the room I could feel his eyes on me. I was sitting with a bunch of strangers who had just checked into Feste’s hostel. I had no idea who the hell these people were. They were all Australians, except Ron who was sitting beside me, and, like Ron, they were polished and clean and wearing outdoor gear. There was the sound of a roar, a pounding on wood, and then laughter.

“What is going on over there?” A woman asked looking back toward the bar.

“Those screaming people on the other side of the bar?” Said Ron looking back over his shoulder. “Those are Annabelle’s friends and they are all crazy.”

I scowled, feeling the skin tighten between my eyes, his condescension and overt familiarity had worn thin, and I wondered what had prompted me to join him at this table of non-crazy people. I scratched at my neck, I’d returned to focusing on feeling dirty and now that I was drunk I felt worse. I began to drown out their voices. I could hear Ron talking about corporate America and his new audience seemed to be more engaged than his last. I grabbed my empty wine glass and headed over to the bar to find Marco to see if I could get him to buy a round. Rachele, the albino woman I had met on my first day, was standing at the end of the bar laughing at something Ian had just said. She was dressed in the same pale blue outfit she had been wearing the day I met her. Ian threw his arm drunkenly over my shoulder and pulled me to him.

“A glass of wine, please.” I yelled past Ian to Canada Mike who was working. The music was filling the room and the roar of the conversations caused everyone to yell.

“Rachele. ‘ave you met Annabelle yet?” Ian asked.

“Yeah. We are already of acquaintance.” She looked to me. “You seem to be fittin’ in so far.” She was drunk, and smiling, and holding onto the arm of a shorthaired sandy blonde guy standing beside her. The wine was coursing through my blood stream, and I felt a brief wave of weakness in my body. The room shifted to the left then righted itself. I shook my head to clear my senses.

“This is my boyfriend, Jiri.” She bumped the guy next to her with her shoulder.

“Hi. Nice to meet you.” I said, taking a sip of wine.

Francisco appeared out of nowhere, and pushed me aside to pull Ian into a full open-mouthed kiss.

Rachele screamed with applause. “Men loving men! I love it.”

“Has anyone seen Marco?” I asked.

At that moment the doors that lead toward the hostel swung out as Marco stumbled into the room.

“My shit is fucked.” He yelled.

He stood kind of teetering a bit like he was going to fall forward. A petite girl I hadn’t seen before ran up to Marco and jumped into his arms. He looked at her with surprise as if he was trying to place her face. He started to say something when she smashed her mouth to his. They stood there in the doorway making out.

“Who’s that?” I asked swaying toward Francisco and Ian.

They shook their heads both of them pushing out their bottom lips and holding identical dumb expressions on their faces.

“More drinks!” Francisco yelled to the bar.

The bar cheered as he stumbled toward the girl who had licked him on the coffee table, her arms open wide to catch him.

The room swirled gently and I took another gulp of wine. I felt a hand on my arm and I turned to look at Endres. I could feel his sobriety and it was relaxing.

“Annnnna, I thought you had left.” He said.

I smiled at him. I liked the way he said my name. I didn’t like to be called Anna but Endres dragged out the A and the N like it was a silk ribbon.

“I’m still here.” I said. I was beginning to feel weighed down. Like my body was 30 pounds heavier.

“Well I am going to bed so that I may see the sun.”  He said. “Goodnight Annnnnna.”

“Okay.” I said. “Night.” I watched as he walked through the swinging doors to the hostel half wanting to follow him. Marco grabbed me violently on the shoulder, and pushed me into Ian who was standing beside me. His hand was pressed over his mouth as he ran toward the swinging doors. Ian ran behind him screaming about how he was going to watch Marco puke.

“Gross,” I said to no one in particular.

A couple of minutes later Ian came out laughing.

“God. Wha’ a riot. Marco jus’ puked all ova’ the bleedin’ lou! It was like the fuckin exorcist. I though’ I was gonna die laughin’. Look at me I’m fuckin cryin.” He bent over to hold his knees, he was laughing so hard he was coughing.

“And you just stood there laughin’ at him?” Rachele looked over at Ian who was now doubled over.

“Ov’ course.” He cried.

She shook her head disgusted. “You an asshole.”

This made him laugh harder.

Marco came stumbling out from the doors. His face was sagging and gray. He was bent over at the waist like an old man. He stood up, as straight as he could, and walked over to me.

“I’ve gotta go. I’m leaving.” He put his hand on my shoulder to help balance himself. With what looked like great pain and concentration, he leaned into my ear to speak to me. “You wanna go?”

“No! Let her stay with us!” Rachele cried.

“Yeah!” Said Ian. “let’er stay.”

“We’ll take care of her.” They both said. “We’ll get her home.”

“I’ll stay.” I said excited that people wanted me to stay out.

“Yeah!” Rachele and Ian yelled dancing around each other. I hadn’t caused this much excitement ever that I could remember.

Jiri who was still standing in the far corner of the bar signaled to Canada Mike to pour him another beer.

“Suit yourself.” Marco said, and he turned to stumble toward the stairs that lead up to the street.

“Marco,” I called to him, “Can I borrow some money?”

He stumbled back. He shoved his fist into his pocket then pulled out a bill and slapped it into my hand. He turned and stumbled out of Feste’s.

“Let’s go to the A-Krop!” Rachele yelled.

CIMG6632