*REJOICE, because the sun rises in the tiny hours of the morning with the bull-stained troops continuing their chanting. Someone hollers “HAPPY NEW YEAR!” and then an echoing crack– balloon filling rapidly to a taught, purple end.
It’s 7 in the morning on the 1st of January. The warm glaze from a bottle of Jameson paired with the salt-watery GHB retreats. A loud crash through a short table of papers, cups and glasses- hidden valley ranch dressing and carrots smash across the wall.
“Shut up already, Z. I’m dying,” I say and I fall down again into the pile of sheets, coats and pillows huddled near the door of a closet in a dark hallway. The off-white carpet is new. A girl with dark hair wearing my plaid shirt, (blue-green) hangs above me with a shapely silhouette made visible through the thin material.
“Are you comfortable,” she asks?
“Yeah. Thanks for this. You’re a diamond,” I say. She laid it all out. Took linens from the top of the closet and carved us a nest.
“Try and sleep,” she says. She’s young. To hell with it and rejoice, I think. Rejoice in Carolina. Rejoice at the sheer texture of her secret skin.
“Gotta sleep,” I say. “You’re number 1 tonight.”
The tiny light shines down through the sky-light. Piles of 20 somethings under tables, and asleep in each other’s arms. A den of bears, mouth-breathing through the first hours of a golden opportunity.
Z, the last of us with his nonsensical rebellion clamors through the front door again.
“You think I’m stupid?” He raises his fist to the wall, to nobody at all. His eyes close and he smiles.
“K, get him to sleep.” E says, swaying on the backs of her heels. She puts a purple balloon to her mouth and inhales, exhales, inhales, exhales… “I know these are bad for you…” her eyes roll back and she whispers something very quietly. Her lips barely touch.
“K,” she yells again.
“What?” I say, my arms over my face. She runs into the hall and body-checks the closet door.
“You’re the only one who can get him to sleep,” she says. Young girl in plaid shirt cups my ear and starts whispering me to “run away, run away, run away,” she breathes against my neck. Dark hair drags across.
E pulls me to my feet and points at Z in the kitchen. He threatens the refrigerator, turns and sees me, leaps over the couch and rolls over a snoring couple.
“You think I’m stupid,” he says.
“Let’s go outside, Z. It’s a pretty new year. Look at the sunshine,” I say. He looks out and pulls a cigarette from his jacket.
We walk to the driveway and sit. He lies back and crosses his hands behind his head.
“So damn bright out here,” he says. “What time is it?”
“About 7. New Year’s day, man. This is it.” I turn to look at him and he’s asleep.
I stand up and stretch, go through the door and fall back into the hall to the piles of softness, and the girl in my shirt.
“Where is he? Did you leave him outside,” she asks.
“He’s asleep in the drive. He likes it. He’ll be comfortable there for a few hours. I covered him with his coat.”
“Good job,” she says, “You know you’re way around.” She drops her white thigh over my hip.
E dashes in, stepping on our legs.
“He’s not breathing!”
“He’s not breathing, Kris. I swear. Should I call someone?”
“He’s fine. He’s invincible. Christ. What?!”
She’s standing there holding a sagging, pink balloon in her chest. Something to hold on to.
*The IHOP was full. It was completely full, so 21 of us walked across the parking-lot, over the concrete divider to take New Year’s lunch at a Mexican place called Tres Pesos. It was empty. They took us to a party room with a disco ball. The reggaeton was turned up. The place smelled of lime. I ordered the burrito plate with an extra pork taco that I did not need.
*I woke around 10 or 11 and walked down the wooden steps from my brothers room to drink my father’s coffee. It was cold. I made four eggs and 2 slices of toast. I gave a plate to my brother who sat in the den. He drank yogurt and grape juice.
“Thanks, bro,” he said. The dogs were everywhere in coats of white and black, greying sand color. We watched TV together every morning and made jokes over their jokes.
-First moments of the new year in North Carolina, 2011.