Very grateful that my story “Closed for Storm” was accepted by The Baltimore Review. As always, thanks to God, Kalene, the editors, my friends and family, and my readers.
January 5th, 2004
The night after LSU won the National Championship, he was still partying in the Quarter on Royal Street. He had come from a bar on Bourbon—sometimes it seemed that all the bars were on Bourbon, though of course that wasn’t true—and was trying to find his way back to Dauphine, where Melanie was supposed to be taking photos for her article. He was drunk and had to piss, the nine Miller Lights in his belly trying hard to dribble down his leg. He needed a bathroom, an alley, anything. But there on Royal, he saw nothing but shops, all of them now closed. He spat
and turned around, and that was when the fist came out of nowhere and caught him between the eyes. A bolt of pain shot through his head, white light exploding behind his eyelids, and he sprawled on his back, legs in the air. He turned his head and vomited, his eyes still closed against the pain. Someone above him said
and then a hand jabbed into his front pants pocket, ripping out his keys. He heard them jingle as they landed in the gutter. Someone grabbed him by the shirt and yanked him upward and over, then pushed him down on his face. His nose cracked on the concrete, the pain like an electrical fire in his face, and he passed out. When he awoke, only seconds later, someone was cursing and shouting
Yeah I got the wallet, but the motherfucker pissed on me
and he realized that they were talking about him, the warmth spreading outward from his crotch. Someone kicked him in the ribs and he moaned, turning over just enough to see shoes, scuffed white Nikes with worn soles, the swoosh on the left one flapping back and forth like a flap of torn skin. He wondered if Royal Street was empty save for him and his attackers, or if someone might be watching, snapping pictures perhaps, possibly shooting the footage on cell phone. Perhaps tomorrow he would see his own mugging on the Internet. Somewhere a few blocks over Melanie was snapping photos of dimly-lit architecture, unaware that piss was pooling underneath his thigh and that his own blood was running down his throat like sips of fetid water.
You say you want some apocalypse? Here’s a glimpse of a personal vision…
The French Quarter was a human junkyard, bodies piled on top of bodies, throbbing and writhing with music no one could really hear and would pay no attention to anyway, the movement less rhythmic than sexual, a collective thrust between the legs of the city. The man pressing against my back gurgled, about to vomit, and I knew it would splatter onto my head and run down the back of my shirt, but I was helpless to get away, to move at all save for the almost-gentle back and forth wahhh-wahhh of the crowd. The woman to my right was topless, her breasts too rigid in the chaos to be real. Beads hung from her neck and both ears, her dead-fish eyes glazed over. I watched as a hand snaked around her waist and began pinching her right nipple. She did not notice. For all I knew she was dead. In the thronging masses she would have had no room to fall.