Sam stepped out of the cab. The rain was still holding off for the moment. He looked around for Kev but there was no sign of him.
Where the hell is he?
They were supposed to meet for a couple of cocktails, before Kev took off for his new out-of-state job. He hadn’t gone out in a couple of years. Felt like he might be too old for the club scene but Kev insisted.
He checked his phone for the time.
Good ol’ Kev. Always late.
Sam looked around for the club. There wasn’t much in this part of town. Mostly this was the abandoned area of the city. The remains. The ruins. The majority of the buildings were boarded up and tagged with graffiti. There was a smell of must and piss that hung in the air.
He said 12th and Grove didn’t he?
Sam dialed Kev’s number but it went straight to voicemail.
Great Kev, just great.
He started to walk a few blocks, looking from empty store front to empty store front. The area really had gone to shit. There was still nothing even close to resembling a bar or club around. He was about to give up and call the cab back when he saw a young couple stumbling down an alley. They were laughing at something.
He watched them with curious eyes, standing just inside the shadows of the streetlights. The couple knocked on an unmarked door, still laughing uncontrollably. The door opened, pouring out a rainbow of lights and the faint sound of music.
This has got to be the place. Not exactly 12th and Grove, but whatever.
He walked to the unmarked door and checked his phone once more, still nothing from Kev. He contemplated calling again but decided he would just wait inside.
The door looked thick and solid. He balled up his fist and knocked hard three times then stood back trying not to look as old as he felt.
When the door swung open a thick, bald dude stood over him. He was wearing all black, except the over-sized gold chain around his neck. Lights sprayed from all around him, strobe and rainbow. The music was loud and thumping. It was a dance club alright.
“I.D.” the dude said and held out an open hand.
Sam scrambled to get his wallet out. He passed his driver’s license to the bouncer and smiled sheepishly.
The guy smirked when he saw the date of birth, then handed the license back.
“Have fun,” he replied and moved out of the doorway so Sam could get by.
Inside was crowded and hot. The air was stale and smoky. Everyone was young, too young and half naked. He was immediately second-thinking his decision to enter but then spotted the bar. There was an open stool at the end, he made it his hideout.
Right away he dialed up Kev, but once again there was no answer.
“What’ll it be?”
Sam looked up at the bartender. She looked half his age, with a pierced septum, dolphin bites, and three studs coming out of both cheeks. Her hair was in sloppy dreads and appeared to be neon green in the club lighting.
“Is there another club nearby, I think I’m lost,” he said to her.
“Not that I’m aware of,” she replied. “You gonna take up one of my bar stools just to fiddle with that phone or you gonna order a drink?”
“Oh, uh, a Bud’s fine.”
She started laughing. The studs in her cheeks were shaking.
“You really are lost aren’t you,” she said. “We don’t serve shit like that here.”
“Any beer is fine,” Sam spoke, still looking at his phone.
“How about something a little stronger? We don’t do beer in this club.”
Sam looked up at her and then along the bar at everyone else’s drinks. They were all glasses filled with an array of different colors. Bright reds, glowing blues, and exotic yellows spread across the bar top like a festival of alcohol.
“How about I fix you up something special?” the bartender said with a sly look in her eyes.
It made Sam uncomfortable the way she said it. He watched her make the drink carefully, paranoid she might try to serve him dishwater and charge twenty bucks for it.
The bartender pulled out a tall glass, scooped in a handful of ice and then reached for the Absinthe. She poured in about two ounces before spinning the bottle in her hand and setting back down. Next, she squeezed in a splash of lemon juice and then a spoonful of what looked like sugar. Finally she pulled out a bottle of white liquid. It had a murky, cloudiness to it. She topped off the glass with it. Then stirred it with a black straw and slid it in front of him.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“They call it The Phantom Fairy,” she explained. “You’ll like it.”
“What was the white stuff?”
“That’s what she said,” the bartender jabbed.
“What?” He wasn’t sure if he had actually heard her say that or if the loud thumping music was making him hear things wrong.
“Imported, northern Europe or something,” she spoke. “They call it ghost blood.”
Sam looked at the glass. He stirred it with the straw a few times, watching the murky cloud spread throughout the drink.
“Just try it,” the bartender insisted. “It’s on the house.” She smiled that sly, mischievous way again and then walked to the other end of the bar.
The music died down for a second and then blasted right back into a trance beat that sent a throb straight into Sam’s head. He looked back into the crowd, all young, sweaty goths with half-naked bodies grinding together. This wasn’t his place. He needed to leave.
He glanced back at the drink once more.
The Phantom Fairy.
“What the hell,” he said softly as he picked up the glass and threw it back, chugging the whole thing.
Right away he felt it. A burn going down. A fogginess going up. It was beyond strong. It was like nothing he had ever drunk before.
What the fuck was in that? Ghost blood?
He was ready to leave, but his head began to swim a little. He felt like he was standing on a boat, swaying from side to side. His eyes were blurry, teary. Across the room, young bodies were bouncing in slow motion to a beat that was slowly being muted out to just a quiet thumper. In the far corner something caught his eye.
A bright spot among the dark. A girl.
She wore all white. A sparkling, white dress, long-sleeved and down to the floor. Her hair was also white, but it looked healthy and shiny. Thick curls fell down into her pale face.
She stared at him, smiling, alluring. He smiled back and then she was gone. Disappeared into the sea of patrons. He strained his neck, up and down, left and right, trying to locate her.
There. She had moved about ten feet to her left, still starting, still smiling. Sam jumped to his feet and headed in that direction. As he fell into the crowd he lost sight of her amongst the arms reaching for the ceiling. It was so congested that he could barely move. He had to twist and weave through any crack of bodies he could find. Once he got through and closer to where he had last seen her she was already gone.
Where’d you go?
Then again he spotted her. She was in a back hall, standing just far enough in the darkness that he could see her. He made eye-contact and she greeted him with a wave, mouthing the words “come on.” It was all the motivation he needed. Quickly Sam pushed his way through the people over to her. The girl backed her way down the hall, staring at him with those eyes that bore into his soul. He wanted her. He wanted her now.
The girl stopped with her back against a door and two seconds later Sam was on her. Arms wrapped around bodies, lips locked together like life depended upon it. His hips knocked into hers causing the door to open and them to fall inside. He landed on her but managed to keep most of his weight on his knees and an extended arm. The floor was hard, and cold, probably soaked in piss, but he didn’t care. His mind was in one place and one place only.
Once the door closed behind them the room was in complete darkness. He couldn’t see her anymore, but that didn’t stop him from touching. His arms were all over her, tugging and pulling. Soon their kissing and grouping had turned into a full on sexual encounter. It was like he couldn’t think of anything else but having her. Any drifting thoughts were caught and turned back toward this sparkling, white girl. He didn’t last long and soon after he felt his eyes getting heavy. He couldn’t keep them open, couldn’t seem to do much besides lay there beside her, exhausted.
The next thing he knew he was opening his eyes. It was morning. He could see faint sunlight peeking in through a few slits of boarded-up windows. His head was throbbing, the echoing sounds of terrible music bounced in his head. As he tried to sit up he nearly puked.
Why are my pants down?
His jeans and underwear were bunched up around his ankles. He had slept half-naked.
Suddenly the image of the girl came back to him. He looked around the room for any sign of her but there was nothing. No note or card or phone number.
Hey, my first one night stand.
Sam pulled his jeans up and got to his feet. The room had a tilt to it and the slightest bit of a spin. He walked over to the door he remembered led to a hall way. When he opened it he expected to see the leftover mess of the crowded dance club, instead he saw an empty room. Completely empty. All the windows were boarded-up, all the shelves empty and covered in dust. Half the bar stools were knocked to the ground and broken. The bar top was clothed in a thick dust covering. There was no sign that there had been anyone there last night. It looked as if it had been years since anyone had been in there.
Sam found the door and had to pry it open. Someone had nailed it shut in hopes to keep people out. The sunlight outside was blinding. He turned back to the empty, dark club.
Did I imagine the whole thing?
His head was still spinning and his stomach was on the edge of sickness.
There’s no way. No way.
Right before he turned to leave something caught his eye. A bright spot amongst the darkness.
The sparkling, white girl stood on the opposite side of the room, laughing and fading away into nothing.