On the edge

I look around and see at least a hundred cars, their headlights, gawking like spectators at a cage-fight, all staring down into the rocky canyon that drains its dust into Area-51. Julie stands next to me, her hand in mind. I can smell the tequila on her breath.

She sways a little at the edge of the cliff. “Roy, how many aliens you say you seen?”

At the edge I lean up to the invisible line that says, ‘any further and you’ll regret it.’ 

“I never said I’ve seen aliens. They were dreams, Jules. Dreams of this place, the smell, the wind pushing you into a deep dive.”

“Hold me Roy, I feel like the world’s tippin’ over.”

Julie’s been with me since Ohio. I’d stopped in a classic music store, one that still sold albums and cassettes. My old van’s player still worked and I needed tunes for the road. She’d been paging through a stack of Beatles and Bon Jovi records. I said I was headed west to join the protest. I winked, and she blushed, and I made room next to Reggie, my beagle and we were off. Four days later here we were; Reggie still begrudged losing his seat.

I think about nudging Julie over the edge. 

Instead, I slip my arm around her waist and pull her into a hip grinding embrace. Her dark hair flies around my face and she moans into my collar.

“Roy, I want to see aliens.”

I retreat from the edge, pulling her with me, as car horns around the canyon begin to peal out a blaring celebration. “What the hell?”

“That’s weird music, Roy.”

Not for the first time do I think of slapping the stupid out of her. “There. You see that? Way up high, above the horizon. Them diamond lights that are spinning in a circle. You see that?”

“Roy, are those…”

“… Aliens? Naw, prolly just some toy drone someone’s playing at, trying to fool us.”

“Are there suppose to be so many of them?”

I blink and realize my focus has been too narrow. 

Julie won’t shut up. “I seen lights like that at a concert in Cincinnati, once, they…”

“Shh now,” I tell her. “You smell that ozone smell?”

“Ozone? What’s ozone…”

I can feel the hair stand rigid on my arms, on the back of my neck. I can handle most things, strange things, and this is no different. But my hair is standing regardless—like electricity running down my scalp, down my back and into the granite rock beneath my feet.

“I feel funny, Roy. Like the time I was barbecuing next to a pool and someone plugged in a boombox and I walked through the water and my feet and whole body started to buzz.”

Shit, I say to myself. We got to get off the rim of this canyon. “I don’t think those are drones, Julie. I think something’s wrong with the air. The ground and the air and the bones in my legs. I hear humming in my head.”

“Roy, is that blood dripping down your nose?”

Yaldabaoth – for Dracul Van Helsing

“Pour me a pint or I tarn yoo into a toadstool!” Yaldabaoth banged his empty stein, a stag’s head to one side, a boar—tusks and all—the other, loudly on the dark-wood bar.

“You dent the mahogany, ya wee pest and I’ll drag yoos out of me bar by the nape of your foul Irish neck.” Greagan, the owner of the Flaming Dragon “Pub & Fine Dining” slammed the register’s drawer closed.

Yaldabaoth, a tiny fellow, with an odd cap tilted roguishly on his copper-wire hair, changed tactics. “Ah, I apologize my fine keeper of the brew. I see now the ancient hue and legacy of this vast plank of which you speak.” The diminutive man slid his free hand along the top of the glassy wood, taking in its creases and grain. “Amazonian, I detect, seventeen-eighty-one. A fine year, although,” Yaldabaoth straightened his leather cap, “this particular specimen ran afoul of you British as Napoleon…”

“Hand me your damned mug.” The barkeep snatched the cream-colored stein from the stubby fingers of the last Leprechaun left alive after a strain of the influenza virus mutated to infect the race, killing all but a scant few.

“That be me mother’s ‘airloom, that mug. Treat it kind if ye would.”

Greagan scoffed and flipped the container as a trifle in the air. It spun around and just as the man attempted to catch it, Yaldabaoth slipped from the stool he stood upon and fell upon his ass, well below sight of the barkeep’s careless antics. The big man missed his grab and the entire bar shushed to silence when the stein shattered at his feet.

The leprechaun wailed at the imagined loss, a sound that pulled at their eardrums, drilled down through their skulls and shook the back of their minds like a gourd full of pebbles.

“Do ya know what you’ve done, ye daft fool?” The tiny man had leapt to the top of the bar, his bent-toe shoes tapping violently as he stormed up and down the mirror surface of the acre of mahogany.

Greagen smiled devilishly. “I do, you flaming wizard o’ the highlands.” The barkeep had kept his right hand below sight. “Get the hell off me bar or I’ll truly smash your ‘airitage mug.” The big fellow, molasses dark and burgundy red stains painted as continents across his bib, lifted his hand to reveal the tiny man’s stein, intact and full to the brim of a sudsy pour.

Yaldabaoth knuckled both hips giving Greagan a wry look. “Yous sir, be a right git. You all have no idea hows close yous come to ending your night as a forever bell toll.”

The bib-stained man motioned the other off the bar. The noise of the place kicked up and the three fellows, paid to play the fiddle, harpsichord and guitar, loosed a lively tune.

“Take your damn mug and go have a dance with Molly. She’s been eyeing you for ages.”

The wee man tipped his drought, foam decorating his burly mustache, and wandered over to the table where a brace of lasses sat, chatting up the event.

“Me name is Yaldabaoth, would ye care for a dance, sweet Molly?”