I lean back into my seat. On the coffee table, a sprawl of napkins, coasters, and untouched drinks. Alcoholic, of course, because I’m in the bar again. Always the bar. I don’t even drink in real life, yet all these scenarios and conversations take place in the same bar.
From here, I can see Mackie and Anderson at the bar talking up some bird about their latest endeavors. And I don’t mean that in any derogatory way. They’re literally talking to a bird whose owner, a stage performer, is busy chatting up one of the headlining acts. A magician by the looks of it. The poor beast – the bird not the magician – looks unsettled by the words spilling form the mouths of demons. And I wonder where’s Chrysanthemum is at the moment.
“She’s picking her teeth in the restroom,” they say, settling in the seat across from me.
Again with the androgyny. Neither male nor female. A mix of best parts of the two. They’re wearing a blazer. Hair parted to the side. An undercut showing a road map of tattoos depicting the birth of the universe by the snap of their fingers.
“How did you know what I was thinking?” I ask.
They give me a quizzical look and smirk. “C’mon, are you still so surprised by that gift. On the one hand, all-knowing deity. On the other, a figment of your imagination you turn to whenever ever you’re having one of these – what do you call it? – crisis of disbelief?”
“Something like that,” I respond.
“And anyway, who the fuck cares? Now you called me,” they say taking a drink before spitting it back into the glass. “Jesusfuck, what the hell is this?”
“You ordered me grape Kool-Aid? Why?”
“It’s my imagination, isn’t it?”
“You existential, pseudo-philosophical dipshits.” They wipe their mouth with a napkin, crumpling it and setting it inside the glass to soak up the wine. Because, apparently, I can do that. “Now why did you call me here?”
I start before pausing. In the corner of my eye, I see her stepping out of the restroom. She turns and gives a dissatisfied look at her comrades and their new pet. The stage performer and the magician have disappeared. She turns to face me, lifts a knowing eyebrow, turns on her heel and heads out the door.
“I don’t need you anymore,” I say.
“You breaking up with me, kid? In a public place? Isn’t that a bit too cliche? Do you think I’m really the type to make a scene?”
“You are because you’re me. And I don’t need you anymore.”
“You sure about that?”
“Well okay,” they say, getting up and buttoning their blazer. “But I’m talking the boys with me.”
“Of course, you have to.”
“It’s a Thanos-snap away, kid. Have you thought about this?”
“No,” I say. Because it’s the truth.
“Okay then,” they say and snap their fingers.
It happens to the bird first. Neither Anderson or Mackie seem to notice. Or care. Not even when they too begin to dissolve into nothing. The last words uttered from their mouths – “Cheers” – as they lift their glasses in no general direction until they’re nothing. One by one, they all begin to dust away, not noticing that they’re being erased from existence.
“I can’t say that I’m proud of you kid, but,” they begin, “this has been some ride. May the next one of me be more – I don’t know – benevolent or some shit.”
“See you around,” I say, standing up as my chair and the rest of the bar dissolve.
“No,” they smirk. “You won’t.”
And they’re gone too.
I turn and she’s standing there. “You ready, kid?”
“I’m older than you,” I say.
“If you say so.”
We begin to walk, her steps fall alongside mine.
“‘Where to now?” Chrysanthemum asks.
“I’m thinking a bookstore. That’s more my scene.”
In the distance, a figure stands. Clad in black. A relic from another time. They crack their neck. Neither man nor woman. And smile spreads across their black lipstick stained mouth.
“It’s been some time, hasn’t it?”