It was two a.m. by the time Alvin decided to give in to the clock. His body wasn’t tired. And neither was his mind. In fact, he had just had one of the most wonderful nights of his life. He wanted to continue it, somehow, with someone. Even if it weren’t her. But he knew the constraints of his body and he remembered the sheer physical audacity of trying to break himself out of his comfortable position (well, as close to comfort as you can get on a futon) before dawn breaks.
Dawn. Her face flashes in the back of his mind.
Alvin almost feels like a nightowl. Like the best work that he could possibly do, he does while everyone else is asleep. He stays a bit off-beat to play his rhythm, to dance out there with many, with none, whichever he pleases at the time. Alvin waves Alexander off. Alexander looks like he needs to go home, and he knows it. He would have stayed all night with Alvin if Alvin had asked him too. But he would not have enjoyed himself. Leaning against pool tables and wait staff and barkeeps to hold his own in the foggy nights does not suit Alexander, but he’s usually too socially unconscious to notice or care that he freaks people out with his misshapen eyes and far-gone hair. He’ll go home and sleep and forget about tonight, which really had no consequence for him at all. No pretty girl talked to him except to be polite.
Alexander put his head down, turned on the ignition, sighed a deep breath. He would be home in four minutes usually. Less because there was no traffic. But he had a good four Millers in three hours. He can’t draw attention to himself again. He almost landed in jail for a long time if Frank and Sarah hadn’t held him back the last time. They lied to the cop. Told her he was their grown and mentally retarded ward and that he was off his meds. Some times he feels as if he really does need meds. And supervision. But he doesn’t like to think that about himself. So he stops.
Alvin floats to the top like cream. He’s on top of the fuckin’ world, and he wants to tell the world. So he lets it out. Some window tells him to shut-up. He doesn’t mind, he got it out. And he’s not sure what was the best thing about this night either. Or why he feels the way he does. It wasn’t just one thing. It wasn’t every little thing. This night didn’t have the finest ingredients. It wasn’t a caviar and lobster night. It was more like fine-dining wherein all the ingredients and courses add up to a splendid palate, bite after bite, each one complimenting and improving on the last. The raven-haired girl was like the Cabernet, though.
Alexander turns the ignition, slowly. He checks every mirror. Cranks the wheel. Double checks the mirrors. With a step slower, he imprints the pedal. Hesitates. Is that a cop car or a taxi? Taxi. Stop worrying.
Cabernet-woman. Can’t get his mind off her. Since his last girlfriend, Alvin’s sworn them off. As dates and relationships, they’re just too much. Too much draining, too much time, too much involvement, too much risk. Too much heartache and pain. And the raven-haired girl, with her fiendish yet friendly smile, with her mysterious entrance and ghastly vanish, with her stare-down to take down a general. A very happy general, it must be added. Yet somehow lonely.
Alvin doesn’t remember rabbits. Sad rabbits, much less. They look in his direction no less than one second, but it is the most human and intelligent look. It is a look that says, you are part of the shame too. You have caused this.
Alexander shakes his head. Slaps his face around. He passes by the gas station and dwells for a second. No. We’re not going on a road trip. Three minutes away from the house. Five minutes from my bed. Just have to make sure the alarm is set. And loud.
Rolls down the window. Spits.
Alvin sees Cabernet. She’s just ahead of him. He’ll stop her. Ask for her name. And her number. And maybe offer her a ride home. Or somewhere. He smiles faintly at the idea of somewhere.
Alexander wakes from the din. Didn’t he just make it home? Didn’t he just get in? Did he even have time to fall asleep? And now the goddam doorbell was ringing. Constantly. Awright, awright. I’ve only got two legs, and I gotta put my pants through ’em first.
Shit! He’s been avoiding the boys in blue all night and they find him at home?
Somehow, though, it’s not registering. They’re speaking in slow, low tones. As if they’re apologizing. But why would they apologize for having to pull him in? Wait. That doesn’t make sense. They were never looking for Alexander, that’s the sleep talking.
They’re not apologizing. They’re giving condolences.