After downing Biondetta’s cocktail the world went black. The next thing I knew I was clutching the porcelain toilet, giving to the sewers everything I had taken in and there was a black cat purring near my leg. Whatever it was Biondetta gave me sent me spiraling into the abyss and I came out of it on a bathroom floor.
The man outside the stall calling me señor had walked off and returned with another man, who wasn’t quite as pleasant as he had been.
“Sir, you need to get out of the stall.”
“Okay, one minute.”
“Sir, you need to stand up and leave now.”
“Fine. Fuck! Hang on.”
The guy kept knocking on the door until I stood up and opened the stall. There was an older Latino man standing next to a guy about my age, dressed in slacks and a polo shirt with a scowl on his face.
“Sir, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
His eyes narrowed in on me.
“How did you get in here?”
The black cat that had been keeping me company hissed at the man in khaki slacks and a red polo shirt. I assumed he was the manager since he was dressed in that distinctly dipshit middle manager kind of way. Neither the cat nor I liked him and his khaki pants very much.
“I came in with a girl. We’re leaving now.”
The manager guy moved to cut me off.
“What girl? And where did that cat come from?”
“Jesus man – let me by. There is a girl outside waiting for me and we’ll be leaving now. I have no fucking idea where this cat came from but I’m pretty sure having a cat is not up to code. I’m sorry I got sick in your bathroom but I’m leaving now.”
“Sir, there is no girl outside. The place is empty and that’s not our cat. We are just now opening. How did you get in here? Did you sleep here last night?”
I had no idea what he was talking about. I hadn’t slept since the nap I took on Captain Alvaro’s boat after banging Desi. I needed sleep and water badly and I didn’t need to deal with some self-important manager in bad khaki pants who was standing between me and getting some rest.
“Look guy – I have no idea what’s going on. I just want to leave.”
He looked me over closely for a few more seconds and then he stepped aside and let me pass. When I opened the bathroom door, the morning light that came pouring in gave me a moments pause. Shit, did I sleep in the men’s room? I didn’t even know where I was. By the looks of the decor and the tables I was in some kind of Mexican cantina. I was hoping I was still on the island and not across the border in some crime-ridden town. Where was Biondetta and how the hell did it get to be morning? Those were the first two questions in a long list my feeble brain was compiling.
I staggered out of the cantina and onto the even brighter street that seemed overly ready to embrace a new day. The cantina was just off the makeshift beach on the island. The sun was coming up and people were already dressed and wandering around. People who, unlike me didn’t smell of piss and vomit and whose clothes looked fresh and clean. I started walking toward the dock, hoping I could catch a water taxi and get back to our boat.
As I was walking over to where I had seen the water taxi before I bumped into Ike and the rodent boys.
“There he is! There’s our sport! Told you we’d find him boys!”
Ike came over to me with his standard bigger than life smile and gave me a solid hug.
“We were worried about you sport. You kind of went AWOL on us. No big deal but let us know where you’re headed next time.”
“Sorry about that brother. I ran into Biondetta and she whisked me away and I woke up this morning in a cantina on the men’s room floor.”
Ike started laughing and the rodent boys joined in from behind.
“Who is Biondetta sport? Did you pick up some girl while you were wandering the island last night.”
“Biondetta – the one I should have made a move on instead of sleeping with Desi.”
“Whoa! You got laid last night? How did that happen? You were a complete mess!”
Ike was feigning surprise but he seemed very genuine. I was too tired for his games and wanted a cold drink of water, a cup of coffee and some sleep.
“Whatever Ike. Did you stay with Cindy last night?”
“Cindy? Ok, do you know something I don’t?”
I was growing exasperated.
“Cindy! The girl we followed and the girl you hooked up with on Alvaro’s boat? Cindy! Christ dude – I am too tired for this right now.”
Ike broke into peals of laughter and then he slapped me on the back.
“Man, I don’t know what party you ended up at but I should be pissed you didn’t drag me along. It sounds like it was a blast.”
He stood in front of me, smiling and looking me in the eye but gave nothing away. He was waiting for me to say something else. Now my confidence was waning. Yesterday had been a long day and the clouds hadn’t completely cleared out of my brain. I needed some kind of reality check because a weird panic was creeping up on me.
“What did we do last night Ike?”
“Ha, sport you were a trip last night! I have never seen you let loose like that before – like a mad man. We talked to those girls on the boat next to us – that crazy chick in the white and she suggested the bar we went to last night, the one with the suit of armor. Ring a bell?”
Bell no, but maybe a chime.
“Okay, Cindy – that’s her. Then we all went to that party and then the bar? Am I forgetting something? I feel like I blacked out at some point.”
Ike furrowed his brow and kind of chuckled but there was a slight look of concern in his face.
“You, me and the boys went, Jax. That girl wasn’t all that great and we moved on to more fertile soil. Do you remember the round of shots you ordered at the bar? We started with tequila and just kept going. You don’t look good, sport. You feeling alright?”
I didn’t remember shots at the bar. I didn’t remember a suit of armor and I didn’t remember hanging out with the rodent boys. What I did remember was Desi, Biondetta, Cindy and Captain Alvaro and champagne and magic brownies. I remembered crazy, drugged up sex and lots music and dancing. I remembered the captain’s cigarettes, Biondetta’s legs and Desi’s lips. I remembered bowls of grass and glasses of white wine and eating mussels. I remembered littering – there was a lot of littering.
I stood in front of Ike waiting for him to crack. I was waiting for a punchline. The punchline never came. Finally he spoke up again.
“Hey man – let’s get you back to the boat and get you some fluids and some rest.”
We walked over to our dinghy and headed back out into the harbor toward our boat. I began replaying as much as I could remember in my head. Was Ike just fucking with me? Was it some hallucination from residual bits of memory floating around in the sea of narcotics and booze I had ingested? It couldn’t be – it was far too elaborate. I didn’t say anything else until we got back to our boat. While the boys started tying up the dinghy and raising the anchor, I walked toward the cabin and went below. I wanted to change shirts and find some Gatorade. My head was pounding as was my pulse.
I pulled a clean shirt from my bag and took off my soaked one. As I did I felt a flash of pain in my shoulder. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. It was a bite mark – Desi’s bite mark. I raced up the steps and onto the deck to show Ike.
“Ike! See – look. This is from Desi, Cindy’s friend. She bit me while we were having sex.”
Ike started laughing again and walked toward me.
“Yep, that’s a bite. You should clean that thing. You definitely had a better time than we did. Tell us next time you find such a great party, bastard.”
He then walked away and to the rear of the boat to help the hamster with the anchor. We were about to set off. It didn’t make any sense why Ike would insist he didn’t remember the day before or how he could possibly be as together as he was at this point. I was in shambles. I rubbed my shoulder to confirm it was there and the pain tingled again in my flesh. Desi had definitely bitten me. I was sure this was some kind of elaborate prank the boys were pulling and we would meet up with Alavaro and his crew again somewhere either on the way or back in Marina del Rey.
We didn’t. We sailed all the way home without anyone mentioning The Melmoth or what happened on it. They talked about a couple of bars, none of which I remembered but no one said anything about stuff I recalled . I went below and napped for 30 minutes and when I woke up we were pulling back into the Marina.
We docked, cleaned out the boat, returned the keys to the rental center and then we all went our separate ways. I walked into my apartment and threw my bag down on the floor and I crashed on the sofa. I ordered a pepperoni and sausage pizza from Dagwood’s and sat around, mired in my hangover. Around 8pm I decided to take a shower. I walked to my bathroom and started the water and then took off my shirt. I immediately looked at my shoulder in the mirror.
Yep, still there – a bite mark from Desi. I stared at it for a long time and then I removed my board shorts. I felt something in the pocket and so I unzipped it and pulled out a business card. It was a white card made of nice material with raised black ink on it. It merely read Captain Alvaro, Man of Leisure and there was an image of a little black cat next to his name.
I flipped the card over and in very elegant handwriting was a short note:
Jackson, we will meet again very soon.
I stood in my bathroom staring at the card, flipping it over and over for a few minutes. No one was talking about Alvaro and the girls. No one mentioned him. If the boys were pulling a fast one then they were doing a damn good job of not giving anything away. I walked back to my living room and picked up the phone and dialed Ike.
“Ike – level with me now because this shit is getting out of hand. What happened yesterday?”
“Sport – I told you everything. We partied on the boat and then went ashore and went barhopping. That was it. Man, you got really twisted huh?”
“So no Cindy, Desi or Alvaro?”
“And no Biondetta.”
I mostly muttered that last bit to myself. I hung up the phone and went back to the bathroom to look at my shoulder again. I then stood there staring at the card. I had no clue what had happened but somewhere along the way my reality broke away from Ike’s. I believed him that this wasn’t a prank but that only left open alternatives that crossed way over the line of the fantastic or believable. Something happened and I had a scar and a card to prove it, or at least support the idea.
The card still sits on my dresser. I think I saw Biondetta again not too long ago but I can’t be certain. I scan the faces in crowds at times, looking for…well, just looking. The one thing that is certain, when I do encounter those people again, and I believe I will, there is going to be some explaining on their part. Who the hell are they and what the hell happened and why am I the only one who seems to remember anything? Those are the first things coming out of my mouth. Oh, and another thing, next time I am going for Biondetta with force – Alvaro and Desi be damned.