Sonder (n): [You are] strung together with countless other stories you’ll never be able to see. That you’ll never know exists. In which you might appear only once. As an extra sipping coffee in the background. As a blur of traffic passing on the highway. As a lighted window at dusk.
Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“Open up,” yelled the man through the cracking green wood “hurry it’s cold as tits out here.”
The black nob turned and the door, creaking, swung open on it’s peeling gold hinges. The room was plastered with peeling white wallpaper.
“I thought you liked tits?” Said a second man leaning on the door frame.
“Only the warm kind,” responded the first.
There was a pause as the two looked at each other. Waves crashing in the distance. They both laughed, hugged and walked inside.
A round black table supported the gold light of a swinging bulb, set in motion by the wind. The table is adorned with various military equipment all in sets of four; four night vision goggles, four rifles, four pistols, four ski masks, four black shirts, four black jeans and four flashlights. Surrounding the table were white metal chairs, four of them, draped in green pleather. A haze of cigar smoke and the nasal piercing aroma of alcohol wallowed in the crisp dusty space.
A third man sat in the far chair of the table. In his palm was a hand crafted seashell turtle. No larger than a cubic inch. He stared lost in it, his thoughts unknown. Never looking away he addressed the first man.
“So you’re him?”
“Pleasure to meet you, my nam-”
The second man stopped him and shook his head. The third man faced the second.
“Are you sure we want this guy,” he asked in a charcoal voice.
“Served many years with him, he’ll work fine,” said the second smilingly at the first.
The third man stood, his chair skidding, leaving black streaks along the white floor.
“Fine? We aren’t here to do fine,” the third said hands pressed firmly on the table glaring at the two of them.
“He’ll do the job,” said the second firmly.
“Kid looks green,” the third said talking past the first, “I’m not loosing my weight in gold cause some punk newby tried to take a load he wasn’t ready to handle! He looks 15 for god sake! Has he even shot a gun?”
There was a beat that struck the tension of the room, a sour cord that strummed the first man to action. He picked a pistol off the table and aimed at the third man through the square horns.
“I’ve killed my fair share of men and it wouldn’t phase me to kill another,” the first said firmly. A gust of wind blew through the still open door, puffing his black hair. A bead of sweat hit the floor. The second man closed the door and stepped forward.
“Green, uneducated, retarded it doesn’t matter I’ve seen him in action, trust me he will be a fine addition to the team,” the second man said attempting to calm the room.
The first man grinned pointing his pearly whites at the third. “I’m just joshing with ya,” he said to the third. He ejected the chambered gold cased bullet before setting the gun back.
The third man visibility annoyed wrinkled his aging face. “Someone is gonna die on this job and it will be because of YOUR stupidity,” he said whipping his ziggy finger at the first.
“No one is dying,” said the second stepping towards the table, “we’re all skilled and this is a fairly low risk job.”
“What’s the job,” said the first.
The third glared at him, “you accepted without even knowing what we’ll be doing? That’s the kind of shit I’m talking about! That will get you killed!”
He pounded his fist on the table sending the objects shaking. The bulb still swung.
“When I heard what the payday was I didn’t even need to hear the details,” the first man said grinning. He was trying to piss the third off more.
“I told him I’d explain the job when he got here,” the second turned to the first, “it’s fairly simple. We’re driving to a house stealing some powder, crank–the works–then driving it to our employer’s place. There will be some guards around the perimeter but we should be able to get in and out with out any hassle. The guns are just insurance if things go south.”
“And there’s a private residence, just right up the road, with enough drugs to offer three pay days at the ungodly amount you told me,” asked the first.
“Four,” interrupted the third man, “the fourth member isn’t here.”
“And you say I’m unprofessional,” joked the first.
“This isn’t an ordinary house, the haul’s so large we’ll need a moving truck to secure the load,” said the second.
“I acquired one to use this morning,” said the third, “some family moving into a new place on Broker Street.”
“Did you swap the plates,” asked the second, the third nodded his head adding that he also had it repainted.
“Well than I think we have all we need,” said the second sweeping his vision over the table “so let’s go over the plan.”
The air was cold–deathly cold–and saturated with water. Warm breath rapidly condensed to thin fog, it’s energy dispersed into the damp night. Every so often a wave would crash against the cliffs and a spray of water would splash onto the weather-worn porches. Olas de Oro was the border street separating the small community of Orilla Soleada and the Pacific Ocean.
Tag slowly made his way down OdO towards 68 block in hopes of finding Edward. He had put on a navy green beanie along with a white aviators jacket with gold stitching, an anniversary gift from his girlfriend. Orilla Soleada, colloquially referred to as ‘OS,’ was quiet for this time of night. Anyone who was going to get into a party surely had already and the frosty air likely drove the rest home. Home, where Tag wished he was, in his warm bed fast asleep. He had a man to find though. Edward.
A gust of wind stirred up the air sending chills through Tag’s spine. He pulled his coat closer to his neck. Tag still had the paper with the address in his pocket (along with his phone, keys, wallet, headphones and a plastic dropper full of liquid) however he recognized the address as soon as he heard it. He still had about one more block to go before he reached his destination, Tau Omega Sigma Alpha, the Black Frat.
Tag stepped onto the sidewalk allowing a passing car by then resumed walking down the street’s center, a common custom in OS. The lamps running along the street were dim enough as too allow the pinpoint holes of stars in the dark night tapestry to be readily visible. The only sign of life was the muffled music crawling it’s way through the walls of the various apartment buildings and houses.
After a few more minutes Tag finally arrived at his destination.
The old two story house was packed. The men were all dressed in white boxers, white slack or white shorts. None seemed to be wearing a shirt. The women were no different. Wearing white bikinis, white underwear or white dresses. The only color came in two forms. The first being the neon paint all the bodies were lavishly sporting and the second being the strobe light flashing a new color every few seconds. You could feel the base in the air and could see it shaking the window panes of the house. The EDM polluted the quite night like an oil spill on calm waves.
The light strobes red.
Tag began his voyage towards the door through the sea of white and neon. He carefully maneuvered himself around the cycling limbs hoping they wouldn’t smear their body paint on his white jacket. After a few close calls he ducked under one final arm and arrived at the front door. Oddly enough there was no bouncer asking ‘who do you know here,’ Tag took this to be a sign of good luck and walked inside.
If the outside was the arctic the inside was the rain forest. The living room was being heated by close to sixty near naked bodies Their sweat evaporated turning the walls sticky. If the people were the trees then the alcohol was the insects: annoying, everywhere and essential for the ecosystem not to collapse.
Tag removed his phone from his pocket and opened the picture he had received of Edward. Black, with brown hair and- his phone flew across the room sliding under a table. A large man wearing nothing but white underwear slurred “Sorry man,” his eyes nearly rolled back into his head. His body paint sported like war markings of a drunken tribe.
Tag heeded him no mind and forced his way through the waving canopy of dancers; over the shrubbery of discarded cups and cans. The table his phone was under had a group of four playing doubles beer pong. Tag told them he’d just be a second and crouched under the sticky plastic surface. A young freshman-looking boy under the table explained that he was “trolling” something only “champion” beer pong players could do. Without acknowledging him Tag grabbed his phone and was on his way.
He studied the picture for a few moments before surveying the area. He’s not here Tag thought to himself, He better fucking be here. Tag made his way to the kitchen where a group was playing kings cup around a table. He stood on an unoccupied folding chair to get a birds eye view.
The light strobes red: a woman by the speakers took a shot with a group of four.
The light strobes blue: a man leaned in for a kiss by the couch.
The light strobes green: a loaner in the corner didn’t want to be here.
The light strobes yellow: no Edward to be found.
The light strobes red.
Tag climbed down from the chair, if he’s not here he looked towards the stairs, I’ll have to look up there. The spiral staircase was roped off with string that hung a sign: “Do Not Go Upstairs. Bathroom that Way —–>” Tag looked behind him to see if anyone was watching. No one was. He ducked under the string and headed up the stairs.
There was a long hallway with numerous doors and… a painting? He knows this painting, feels like a life time ago, but he knows it. He’s seen it before. He thinks he may have even owed one. An M.C. Escher geometric type painting where the pathways interacted with the buildings in mind twisting ways. Tag removed his glove, placing it in his pocket–his class ring shimmered in the light–and he ran his ring finger across the rough surface. Where have I seen thi-
There was a loud thud at the end of the hallway. A black man stepped out of the last door on the right, the light pouring onto him like the full immersion of a sea of honey. The man was fixing his pants and tightening his belt. He had brown hair and a slim build. Edward? The man turned towards Tag…
He stared at the floor as he walked past. Tag stepped to the side to let him through before continuing down the hallway.
Tag walked up to the first door, on his left, fleshy red light penetrated the open slit of the door. He peaked his head inside. Four chairs were facing the far wall, three of them occupied. The red light came from a filtered covered desk lamp pointed at the tapestry on the wall. The three men were staring at the tapestry, unmoving, lost in their thoughts or in their minds. Tag simply smirked knowing what he saw. He was fairly sure, based on the hair and build of the men, that none were Edward. He pulled his head out of the door slit and continued down the hallway. Two of the three next doors were locked and the other empty. Tag finally arrived at the last one where the man had exited.
He looked in the door, the light still on, there was a woman bent over the toilet. Her panties still around her ankles. She screamed for him to get the fuck out. Tag readily obliged as a slight red formed on his cheeks. He removed his jacket and walked back down the stairs.
He ducked back under the rope rejoining the bouncing forest of vibrant natives. If he’s not up there and he’s not down here… Tag looked around once more hoping that maybe Edward had come out of hiding. He was no where to be found. Last place to look, Tag thought to himself, backyard. He turned his attention to the sliding glass door in the kitchen which opened to the back yard.
The light strobes red.
Tag thought his ears were going to burst. The live DJ was station on the far side of the yard with his speakers facing the house. Four subwoffers in total. The sound hit harder then a rolling freight train. A bombardment of base. A machine-gun of high-hats. This wasn’t the juggle anymore this was a warzone. With no chairs or tables for Tag to scout from he knew he must fight his way through to search for Edward. He slipped on his glove and zipped up his jacket, once again dawning his uniform.
The terrain was harsh and the enemies were prevalent. The air was thick as cold oil. The guerrilla warriors were flailing about with their limbs going in all direction. When one must maneuver in unfamiliar land, one would be smart to do as the natives. He began his search by swaying his body to the beat around the human weaponry.
Step after step.
Movement after movement.
Person after person.
Tag after Edward.
He started in the back and slowly worked his way towards the DJ. After making it to the front he move over to the right and work his way back down. He repeated this for many columns of capoeira warriors. Moving along with them was the only safe play. Several minutes later he made his way to the front once more. Then he saw him.
Standing stage left of the DJ just a few people back was Edward pumping his fist to the beat. Draped in a scarf and wearing almost nothing, Edward was one of the most enthusiastic of the natives. Every movement he made had purpose. Tag shuffled his way over. Hoping things would be easier from here on out.
Tag tapped him on the shoulder.
“Excuse me are you Edward?”
“Yeah,” he said turning to Tag.
“Is there a quieter place we can talk?” Tag was still forced to yell over the mortar assault of the speakers. Edward gestured towards the side of the house and the two walked over. It was a small little walkway between the house and the fence.
“Alright I really wanna get back home so let’s make this quick,” Tag began, “Cheyenne said she sold you some… items… a few days ago and that you’d pay her back after you flipped them. Well her boss needs the cash tomorrow so the time table has moved up.”
If Edward’s pupils weren’t already the size of quarters they would’ve grown at the mention of her name. He crossed his arms, “wait you’re one of Cheyenne’s goons?”
“Well yeah I guess you could say that.”
“Man get the fuck away from me,” Edward pushed pass Tag and began walking back towards the party.
“No,” Tag said placing a hand on Edward’s chest, “That’s not how this works.”
Edward turned hurling his left fist. Tag side stepped and countered with a gut punch. Edward fell too his knees holding his abdomen. Tag waited a second for Edward to catch his breath.
The light strobes red.
“Now you’re going to give me the money or I bend ever one of your fingers back until they snap.”
Edward looked up at Tag. Then bolted towards the front yard. Tag was too slow to stop him. So he had to chase him. The stealth mission had gone awry.
Edward pushed his way through the partiers in the front yard knocking them into each other like neon splattered dominoes. Tag was hot on his tale. The bodies rubbed against him smearing paint onto his jacket. He didn’t care though. He had to catch Edward now.
It wasn’t a long chase.
Edward tripped over uneven pavement and fell head first onto the edge of the curb. There was a hollow thud. You could feel his brain slam against his skull. A trickle of blood. red dots pointed the pavement. Tag stood over him, frustrated, he ran his hands through the hair under his beanie.
“Why the fuck did you do that?!?” Tag shouted to a man that couldn’t hear him, “God Fuck!”
He removed his glove and placed his thumb against Edward’s neck. He held his breath and concentrated. There was a small pulse. He looked around at the gathering crowd.
“Well someone fucking call an ambulance!”
The crowd remained silent.
“God damn it! You,” Tag pointed at a young lady, “are you sober?”
She shook her head yes and added “mostly.”
“Then call 911. And you,” Tag pointed to the man beside her, “go grab a clean cloth and some water.”
The woman dialed and explained the situation while the other was off too retrieve the supplies. A third man helped Tag to gently lay Edward on his back. Various voices in the crowd asked ‘what was going on’ and ‘is he was going to be alright.’ After a few moments the man returned and they washed the wound then the man applied pressure with the cloth. Tag stood up. The gathering crowd encircled him.
The light strobes red.
“What the fuck is going on here?” A voice called out. A young black man emerged from a parting of white ice with a squad of three others. He was wearing a red tank top and dark blue jeans.
Tag recognized him instantly.
It was Trey.
“Holy shit Edward…” he looked down and his bleeding friend. “Did you fucking do this Tag?” Trey stepped at him with his finger finger extended and eyes wide.
“It was an accident he tripped and fell.”
“Yeah cause you were chasing him,” a voice called out of the horde.
“Why were you chasing him Tag?”
“Look, Trey, I don’t think this is the right place to be talking about this,” Tag glanced around as if to emphasize ‘there’s to many people.’
Trey pulled the gun that was tucked into the back of his pants. The strobe light shimmered off the black metal. He pointed the barrel at Tag. “Get on your knees.”
“We both know you’re not going to shoot me.”
“Get on your knees and put your hands behind your head.”
Tag obliged, “think this through. There’s at least one-hundred witnesses and if you make a scene it’s gonna be harder for the ambulance to get to Edw-”
“You contacted the authorities?”
“Yeah that’s what one does when someone is bleeding to death.”
Trey paced back and forth thinking his way through the situation, “Grab him,” two of Trey’s squad grabbed Tag by the arms and pulled him up. Trey took out his keys and unlocked the car next to him. He whacked Tag with the butt of his gun, unconscious, before the men tossed him in the back seat.
“Frank you come with me. Eric and Kevin stay here, deal with the ambulance, and make sure no one fucking says anything.” Frank climbed in the back seat with Tag while Trey got in the front.
Eric flashed the piece under his jacket and added ‘no one better do anything stupid’ while Kevin explained the ‘real’ story of what happened. A few drops of Edward’s blood were drying on the cars bumper. Trey drove off as the ambulance wailing became audible in the distance.
The light strobes red.