Apologies, Gentle Reader; while I’ve avoided mentioning much recent adventuring, rest assured that it has been happening, and this was one such occasion. I am not going to write much about the events of the last two days, as I like to let events settle before setting them down – suffice it to say that they involved a family Christmas with all that that entails, a cocktail party, a brunch, a luncheon, a pleasant stroll, a film, an encounter with a circle from which I’ve been exiled (but who knew me as a gentleman, once), and a nightcap with some old friends. We’ll return to the events of the last few nights in a week or two.
Instead, I shall discuss an evening that occurred before the absinthe bans were lifted. I, my very dear personal friend Mr. C.W.L. Darling, and our mutually beloved Miss Ward, were going up to a certain dance club that Darling frequented, in Seattle. Neither Miss Ward nor I had ever been to such an establishment, and while we were entranced by the drag show that was on-going, my growing anxiety and Darling’s vanishing led Miss Ward and I to quit the club, promising that we’d meet up with Darling and his friends later.
Now, neither Miss Ward nor I had yet spent much time in Seattle – we were very young – and we did not know our way around. We wandered up and down Broadway, looking for an adventure. Our first difficulty was in finding a place for Miss Ward to answer nature’s call; it didn’t occur to us that there would be no public restrooms at night. As we searched, we found a boarded-up, abandoned, brownstone, from which mysterious noises issued – while we both desired to break in and explore it, my companion – a ridiculously tall, glamorous redhead, if you must know – well, her needs were becoming more pressing. We rambled on.
Finally, she could bear it no longer, and we sought a dark alleyway, or something of that sort, in which we might be halfway safe.
She found shelter behind a dumpster down a lane between two houses; between the tree that rose from behind it, the dumpster itself, and myself keeping watch on the exposed side, she felt safe enough, and attended to what she must. Let us cast our eyes away, Gentle Reader, to give her some privacy – but look! What on Earth is happening?
A dance party. A dance party is what’s happening. About ten feet away, in the little lane, with a boom box. I have no idea from whence they came, but about fifteen young twenty-somethings were gyrating madly. I hissed the news back to Miss E., she pulled up her skirt, and as we were about to slip away unseen, the youths caught sight of us. They asked what precisely we’d been up to behind the dumpster, in a vaguely threatening way; in response, I pulled E. in close, around the waist; I winked, and the tension was broken.
We continued our night-time wanderings, and spied what, at first, appeared to be a corpse, lying on the sidewalk – we were in an unfamiliar part of town, mind you, and there was no one in sight. We approached slowly, trying to see if he or she was breathing; it was not a corpse, as we learned when she began raving about shoes. We offered our assistance, but all we could get out of the poor woman was “Where are my shoes?” The answer “On your feet.” did not seem to really help. She turned down money, and offers of use of my cell phone. There being nothing we could do, we left the poor creature, although not without guilt.
Several blocks later, we were in a better lit part of town, although we really didn’t know where we were. Just at that moment, as we were crossing a street, we chanced to see a familiar apparition – a gentleman clad in a purple velvet suit, a turban, and a beard dyed with henna, approaching rasputine lengths. We happened to know the gentleman from a secret society that E. and I happened to belong to; he was acquainted with our Aunt and Uncle S. Sign and counter-sign given – the gentleman didn’t immediately recognize us – he gave us directions, and strange pills*. We thanked the Absinthe Fairy and went on our way.
As we approached a borne closer to where Darling was waiting for us with the car, things began to look vaguely familiar – we had come by these landmarks on our outward journey. However, as we approached these safer environs – which were still mostly deserted – we heard a scream, curdling the midnight quiet. Another cry, two, three – there was still no one in sight. Cold and weary from our hours of wandering, E. and I. took shelter in a nearby all-night diner, and called our friend, and headed bed-ward, safe and sound.
*The pills were merely anisette pastilles. Don’t take pills from people you barely know, kids.