characters without stories: a series

Arabelle was lost in a world without connections. Or, rather, they were all missed connections-a series of possibilities she watched pass her by. There were so many at one time, she ceremoniously burned the “what-ifs”of fake memories in a garbage can fire two alleys away.

There was the little girl she met on the subway that she envisioned would one day be her greatest success story. She would help her get into Princeton, Harvard, Yale-or at least SUNY Albany. But, they never took the A train at the same time again.

There was the man she met under a canopy of green, green trees. He was more intoxicating than the whiskey they were both drinking out of coffee mugs, and she wished he knew that. They talked for hours about anatomy and aliens until he went home to his wife. She would see him again but she would never have a conversation like that again.

Arabelle often thought about Oliver. He was her greatest loss of story. That could have really been something, something she was so sure of deep into the last cells in her bones. That really could have been something. Something like jumping into a waterfall after miles of hiking, or felt similar to running straight into the face of danger, laughing. He felt like that. Even better. Their story went on for generations in her sleep, but in real life, she only had their one, brief, encounter buying cigarettes at 2 am.

At night, when she got enough courage to fall asleep, she would meet all these people again and their stories would continue. This made it hard to wake up. It made the waking hours seem too mixed up. So, in order to make things a little clearer, she wrote down all the stories about all the people and places she had been in her dreams, spoke of their real life counterparts, and slipped them into the fire.

Fragments from Mardi Gras

“I think that police officer has a raccoon on his shoulder.”

“It’s been stuffed and put in a uniform…”

“Is he on duty?”

“Who the raccoon or the dude?”

 

***

“It’s Super Bowl Sunday.”

No, it’s Bacchus.

***

“All I want to catch this year is a plunger and a coconut. God knows I have enough beads.”

***

“How long have we been drinking?”

“37 hours straight. One more mimosa and Zulu should start rolling.”

***

“Your friend slept on the floor last night.”

“I’ll be hiding in the shower. Please, get them out of here.”

***

Champagne on the porch. Oysters in the cooler. 

“When does the parade start to roll?”

“Soon, let’s just have one more drink before we walk up to route though.”

“Yeah, perfect, just let me get my wig on right.”

***

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“Let’s go find the Mardi Gras Indians.”

“Do you want some of Melvin’s moonshine?”

***

Frank’s cousin said to me, “Weren’t you blonde a minute ago?”

“Yes,” I said. “You didn’t know it was a wig?”

“Nope.”

Maybe I can pull off being blonde.

***

“Is your koozie in the shape of a toilet?

“You bet your ass it is.”

***

I always knew when they wanted a cigarette the most. That’s when I’d slide one out, keep it taught between my teeth and wait for them to see if I needed a light. I always needed a light, and they always needed a cigarette. Every year, five years straight. 

***

“I mean, where else can you say you were partying on the streets with thousands of the citizens of your city, dancing, drinking….”

***

Mardi Gras reminded him of what it meant to be young. To feel so alive and feel every feeling so thoroughly and loudly he felt like one of the bass drums in the marching bands; to constantly be beating through the chests of everyone on the neutral ground. He remembered what love was always supposed to be, not what it actually was. He let himself eat pizza on the streets and kiss the girl he could never get it right with, right next to the guy that just sold him the pizza. He wanted anybody to know he loved her; at least for this one week.

***

Confetti EVERYWHERE. Beads ALL OVER THE TREES. Excess is OVER. UNTIL NEXT YEAR NEW ORLEANS. Or, you know, next weekend.