This is an excerpt from the novel “Confessions of an Abortion Addict.” This excerpt might not be sequential and will be subject to additional editing. Thank you!
I arrive at the doorstep of Ossington, somehow alive. I hand him the tip and say “thanks,” dripping with sarcasm. The shops are different, displays of nude mannequins and smell of ancient chamomile tea. The streets are narrower but the threat of finding new possibilities is endless. I didn’t realize how much my feet hurt after I had touched the ground again, but as long as I can walk— it means nothing is broken. I hold my purse over my right shoulder, adjusting my blouse at the seams, stretching the flowers, and burying my phone within the confines of my purse; I use my bottom hand to balance it…stepping lightly to get the blood back in my legs.
The bar was having an open-mic spoken word event. I could hear it through the opening and closing of the door. This was one of my favorite places… serving tapas, food as minimalistic as it can get—which was perfect since I had landed the part and I wasn’t going to let that opportunity slip away by eating too much. Though I’m already very skinny…you never know these things. My agent would’ve agreed if she was here. I scan around the room, characters miserable around the bar stool. Low-light and the feedback from the mic easily drowning out the music of clinked glasses and drunken laughter. The space was dark, lit only by small candles on the tables… I manage to see Sly, sulking in the corner stirring her fruity drink. She is wearing a beret, brown leather jacket and an eclectic assortment of accessories. I sometimes wonder how can she move around without misplacing parts of herself. The moment she sees me she outstretches her arms as if to escape her sockets. There is a man in the background pouring his soul out talking about his life but I can’t hear him. I walk towards her narrowly avoiding the rude waitress giving me stares reserved for dingleberries.
“You’re finally here!” She said, with a wide-smile which was odd because of the dark shade in her eyes and the new streaks of blue and red in her hair. “I thought I’d be stuck here listening to people drowning in their own self-pity…of all the nights you had to pick this one.” She blows her bangs, resting her small face on her fingerless gloves.
“Hey, let’s swim in it…”
“Stew in it! I’ve already spit it out…pwaah!” She makes a retching noise.
“Too much vodka in your Orange juice?” I asked, giving her a little wink. I had to repeat again because of the feedback.
“Mind you it’s a cocktail…so I’m sure there are some more citrus fruits involved,”
“Right, did you order any food… I’m starving?” I look down on the menu, which was basically an Arial Black font print out, stuck on a clipboard.
“So why do you like this place again?”
“It’s hole in the wall, and it has personality…kind of like you, kind of like me,” I smiled.
“Touché,” She said sipping her drink.
A waitress arrives wearing a tank-top and a vest and blonde ponytail; I think it’s the same one who I narrowly avoided. She might have one of those faces that can only scowl. I didn’t recognize her; even though, I did come here often I wouldn’t consider myself a regular…I still was surprised that this place was still filled with unfamiliar faces. High turnover is expected in the food service industry.
“Refill?” The waitress asked Sly.
“In a minute, my friend will have a rum and coke though…thanks” Sly said. “O wait she’ll have the Philly cheese steak and tempura shrimps,” The waitress looked at me in confirmation and not wanting to offend her further I nodded.
“Coming right up!” She departed.
“That is your drink right?”
“Yeah, it is now,” I laughed not wanting to break the image of an easy-going gal. “Thank god the portions are almost bite-size.”
“You know you’re not like the other wannabee actresses that I’ve met before,” She says gulping down the remainder of her drink but still keeping the corner of her eye on me.
“You carry yourself with an air of dignity. You know? I see that you are sensitive, but you are confident…quietly confident.”
“That sounds almost like a compliment,” I said looking at the melted wax accumulating in the container.
“Trust me it is…”
The drone in the background stopped and the inconsequential man who was standing in the makeshift platform surrendered the mic to a tall, well-dressed man with slick-back hair and sunglasses. He might’ve been the MC.
“…And give it up for, Mike Anderson,” He said, jutting out his right hand to lukewarm applause. I obliged just due to my closeness to the stage. “And up next it’s umm…Mr. Adrian X.” The small space gave a little courtesy clap.
“Let’s see If he has anything interesting to say” Sly says, she is drinking her refill. I barely noticed that my drink has arrived.
“Yeah, let us see,” I take a small sip of my drink. A small spotlight captures his head, a beard contoured with long wavy brown hair. He’s wearing a plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled up…he looks nervous.
“Hi, I’m Adrian…Adrian X. How are all of you doing, tonight?” He said almost not wanting to hear back. An echo of whispers. “Well I’ll guess later….anyway; this one’s called ‘Your body is a Dark slip of Road’.” I take a large gulp of my drink.
“Oh! Friends she destroyed us
On that Dark slip of Road
With that stare, Her body
In the dark we traverse
On that slip of road
Altered by touch
The chemicals spilled
Oh! Friends how can you resist that?
I’m lost in her tresses
She even put perfume behind her ears
So I can find my way back
To that smell
That smell that guides me
It arrives before her
My nostrils are expecting them
That ineffable smell
That ineffable feminine smell
Like roses burning, soothed only by morning dew
Like milk on the verge of being spoiled
That ancient smell draws me to her
Fragrance of mammary glands
Secretion of dopamine
Serotonin and Explosion
Of the nerve endings
That receive her. Interpret her.
The eye that receives those images, link to a permanent form
That existed before I was born
That Dark feminine
I smell it always on that dark slip of road.”
I don’t know how but my food was prepared. It was presented and I absent mindedly bit into the breaded shrimps. I couldn’t move my eyes away from the stage.
“That is all, thank you”, He awkwardly dangles the mic, but he’s showered in applause. Even Sly, mouthed the words ‘wow’ out of her face filled with shrimps.
“Amazing—a little short but still… pretty impressive” He said, taking control of the mic and patting him continuously on the back. “That was, Adrian X… give it up for that performance!” He escapes as fast as he could beyond the darkness and gets lost in the small crowd.
“Do you wanna go next, June?” Sly asks.
“I don’t know…maybe after a couple of more drinks,” I said, unfolding the napkins to clean my mouth. I take one more swig.
“You know that drink is a creeper…it’ll get you if you drink too fast.”
“That’s what we’re here for right?” I laughed; I’m feeling it since I haven’t eaten anything today.
“Yup, that’s why we’re here,” She said moving here head and breaking eye contact.
© A.R. Minhas 2017