Thus, we endeavored

Week-old corpses looked better, tho he’d not yet died. We sat at the bar, drinking shots of tequila bought on credit, another debt we’d be unlikely to repay. Whatever illness was killing him was just as likely to kill me as well, unless we drank enough. Thus, we endeavored, forgetting the names of one another. Jim, maybe. It didn’t matter, and it never does.

Tall walls of tan stucco wobbled and swayed. Windows, round at the tops and bottoms, formed stained glass mouths, agape with dismay. Jim’s barstool fell out from under him when he leaned over to slur something. I tried to help him up and we both tumbled and rolled. Though once on the floor, accepting our place in the world, getting back up just didn’t seem important anymore. So we stayed, lain prone, listening to the salt air spin around us in warm, warbling, oval swarms until prompted by the coffee-skin barmaid.

“Ready for another?”

There’d been no need for a reply, and the shots were already waiting for us.

A man dressed in fine linen helped us to our barstools, his poise enough for anyone who’d misplaced their own. We’d earlier learned his name to be, “Alejandro”, though by now, we’d forgotten again.

Jim looked much better the next day. Nine shots of tequila chased down with cerveza had murdered whatever illness he’d contracted, replacing it with a dim hangover, the type that makes the world turn slower, the type that makes us taciturn, listening instead of talking, the type that reminds us that we all will perish of this life, and of our loves, but not today, and that we’ve still a bit of time to make some sense of it all.

By evening, the setting sun, leaving us both warmed and chilled by its departure, laid its iridescent lavender dress upon the Pacific’s glimmering depths. We drank more tequila at the beach bar. Our bartender, a mustached fellow clad in white ruffles with a black vest, notably less lovely than our barmaid the night before, demonstrated his clairvoyance, bringing us drinks before we’d ordered them.

Another world, far from this one, its round-eyed faces pressed against the glass inside a distant bottle, stayed where it belonged.

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