Tucked in the bend of the living room couch, my darling slept. I brushed her baby hairs away from her forehead, paying special attention to her slumber. I didn’t cease watching her until the roll of the movie’s credits began.

“My magic angel, I’ll guard you forever.” I murmured. The credits’ music sounded. A somber tune worked up into a cry. The music paired with the moment moved me. The way the tv screen lit up her tan face. The heaviness I felt from wine and drowsiness. The dreams we traded during the night echoing in my head. Time passed as I relished in the moment, and finally I said it, “I love you.” At that very moment the music went mute. The timing was no coincidence. No, this was my angel’s magic at play, once again.

Sometimes her powers are too strong. I’d never utter this against her, but… It’s true. Wrapped in her snare, she’ll whisper things that frighten me. Frighten me with murky confusion.

“I only want the best, that’s why I push you.” she’d say. “Make you big-time, on my watch. All mine to enjoy.” she’d laugh afterwards but I’d remain disconcerted.

Worst is, I can’t say when I started belonging to her. I don’t like to be owned, not by anyone. There’s no sense in it, I’m no docile creature. In the night, there’s a thirst, a hunger, and it rules my world, or did rule my world. A downtown wolf, draped in mystery, radiating heat, and sharp as a tack, that is my identity. On Winter nights, I’d float through the hot bars like a ghoul. Covered with a long overcoat, and a wide brimmed hat of felt, hiding my grizzly face in shadow. I was out of reach, observing. With one tattooed finger pointed to heaven, I’d call for my drink and let the roar of nightlife consume me.

Though detached, I had a small society as company. A community of eccentrics feeding off one another’s weirdness, to a point where our styles meshed into a collective. We were a grungy bunch. Jewelry hung from our necks and ears. We loved vintage leather goods and silvers. Every article of clothing had a past Victorian appeal, faded in color and acquainted with grime. Our outfits looked thrown together, yet cohesive in its own strange way. Trousers rolled up revealing mucked up combat boots. Velvet blazers slipped over thin turtlenecks that we had tucked into our pants.

“My styles very Euro-peculiar.” I had explained countless times.

Then my angel took hold. Magic always surrounds her story, so naturally my meeting her was memorable and hard to fathom. Everything prior to our meeting was on fire. I recall early on, I, passing a cigarette back and forth, with a nice girl sitting on my lap. My friend Sticks found her, she was a rich little thing, dwelling near the Dominion. What’s comical is she had never really left us since her arrival. A group of us rendezvoused at a taco truck. We all planted down on a picnic table. At my feet, my backpack rested against a table leg. I withdrew a stack of plastic cups.

“Hey Sticks, grab extra limes.”

I poured five small cups of tequila from a flask. Sticks returned with the limes and I went to work, wetting the rims with lime juice and sprinkling the salt.

“You, hey you over there!” I called at a scabby boy eating a torta. “Have a drink with us.”

He stood up.

“No, no. Take your plate buddy, have a seat.”

The boy shrugged and collected his things. We clinked our plastic cups, the Dominion chick, Sticks, Sticks’ roommate and my new pal.

“Ack!”

The boy and the Dominion chick shoved the limes against their pursed lips. Sticks and myself began pouring our second shots, far more composed.

“One more before the tacos come.” he murmured knocking his cup back.

“There they are.” I said once done, pointing at the carry-out steaming on the ledge of the truck’s window. “Grab ‘em, won’t you?”

Sticks stood up and took our Dominion chick with him.

“So what’s your story, kid?” I asked the rascal at my right.

He shrugged.

“C’mon.” I shoved his shoulder. Still mute the kid shifted away from me, so I gave him another shove, a bit harder, but in good fun.

“I’m gonna go.” he finally said

“No, no. Have another drink.” I said. I did not receive an answer from the boy.

Before he looped his second leg over the bench seat during his departure, I gave him another push. It was a funny sight and brought both Stick’s roommate and I to to laughter. All that arm flailing didn’t save him, he went crashing down on his ass, dropping the remainder of food he had on his plate in the dust and gravel.

“Clumsy bastard. Get up won’t ya.”

He picked himself up. Dust covered his already dirty jeans. Before running away, the boy started brushing off his thighs. His attempt to get himself clean did not bode well for him. I can’t say what he did was a big deal, but I did observe a disrespect being practiced. He ought to have dashed away when he had a chance. Instead, he taunted me by standing his ground.

“God damn it, buddy.” I stood up and gave him a good push. Once he was skidding on the gravel, I gave him another, this time with the bottom of my foot. His shoulder dived hard into the dirt. Initially, the plan was to rough him up, work a sweat and let the boy off the hook. After all, it’s the weekend, everyone has a right to a little fun, but it didn’t get on that way. Once I got worked up, stopping didn’t seem practical. It takes energy to get moving like I was, throwing it away would’ve been such a waste. So I continued, continued until the gang suggested I stop.

To save the kid some embarrassment after defeat, I gorged on the tacos with my back turned away. Crawling away from the scene is humiliating enough, being watched while you lick your wounds and scrape along the ground, forget about it.

“Let’s drop in Bottom Bracket for a sip.” I muttered.

Taco’s in my belly, dirt in my eyes, and a little tequila keeping the gears oiled up, had me feeling like a million. I was more than content, there was just one thing left to ask for. I wanted a different sense of fulfillment; my spirit needed its feed. Fed or not though, I was in good shape.

A dance installation in Lady Gaga’s honor was underway at the bar. Elaborate costumery shimmered under a passing beam burning from a spotlight. Bar goers watched or didn’t. The mix of people filled the space with no unity, scattered like fallen cards.

Lyssette, my magic angel would first grace me in that bar. At the furthest corner, adjacent to the jukebox, she leaned on her elbow, watching the dance from a distance. At first glance she seemed rather ordinary. Her white shorts were rolled up high and a baby blue blouse was tied above her belly button. Over the summer ensemble she wore a puffy white jacket. The attire was unassuming but she was hot enough to earn a longer looking at. High cheekbones and thick, dark eyebrows captured my attention. It wasn’t until I drew closer that I could really appreciate just how incredible she was. The darkness in the depth of her brown, nearly black eyes screwed with my insides. I felt like crumbling upon the nearest chair to catch my breath, and then I did.

“Alright, yeah, hold that table man. I’ll get the drinks.” Sticks said to me as I sat, slightly dazed.

I gave Sticks a weak thumbs up in response, and held the table.

My whole world was spinning. The jolt felt from her look unleashed nausea upon me. I felt irreparably drunk, but throughout my spinning, I maintained a constant awareness of her. As if she radiated energy from the very spot she stood. I didn’t even have to look to know where it was coming from. Finally, I managed to sneak a second glimpse. The harshness of tattoos and dirt mixed with glowing skin, and mounds of curly hair piled about, gave her a refined native appeal. I had to talk to her. The wish for the sound of her voice was too much. Defying my sickly state, I stood up and approached her. Occupied with the jukebox, she didn’t see me coming. I tapped her shoulder.

“Are you like, a witch?” I asked her.

She smirked. “Do I look like one?”

“No. It’s just, I saw you from over there and was like thinking, wow, your energy, it’s heavy. It doesn’t feel… normal.”

“Well, I’m not normal.”

“What’s-your-name?” I blurted.

“Lyssette.”

A familiar ring sounded loud in the fibers of my soul. I never met this girl, the ring didn’t come from something so simple as a previous run-in, this understanding was on a spiritual plane. It felt as if a vibration ran along her path, adjacent to my own. I could feel the rumble of her journey galloping alongside mine. I had no choice but to reach out, extend a hand that I so desperately hoped she would take. For I knew, if she did, we would gallop at speeds and lengths, alone we could never meet.

“Give me a quick chance to get to know you.” I withdrew a pack of Marlboros from my pocket. “You smoke?”

She withdrew a cigarette from the box in my hand and lead the way outside.

“I saw you wiping the floor with that man over at the taco truck.” she said after a puff.

I looked down, I’m no savage but I found little inclination to argue against that. Considering her first impressions were established by such violence, I found it unfruitful to try to sway whatever opinion she had made.

“Earlier he was a real pain, yapping at me, trying to do whatever he was trying to do.” she continued.

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. I guess I thought it was… kinda hot when you, you know, killed him.”

“Killed him?”

“Yeah, he’s probably still where you left him. He’s scum, nobody’s gonna go help him out.”

“That’s true.” I nodded, feeling satisfied. “So fighting isn’t a turn off, huh? Cause you know, I’m no brute. You see, I’m selective, I’m reasonable, but there’s a time and place—”

“Of course! No, I know. I get it.” Lyssette interrupted.

“Cool.”

She smiled. “Cool.”

Once we returned to the dance floor the deal was sealed, on my end anyhow. I couldn’t stop fawning over her. We were so absorbed with one another. It was only when it seemed absolutely unavoidable that I introduced her to my pals. They weren’t as enthused as I had expected, which serves as a perfect example of just how inferior they are. No shock there. These individuals lacked an eye for the finer things I came to understand. Without me, they’d be nothing.

I took Lyssette outside for a second smoke. We brought along our Lonestar tall boys and found an unoccupied picnic table.

“I don’t really like your friends.” she said.

“Oh that’s alright. They don’t mean much to me anyhow.”

Lyssette smirked.

“I especially didn’t like the rough man with that big red ring on his hand.”

“Oh? Sticks, you didn’t like Sticks?”

“No, especially not him.”

“Why?”

“He was giving’ me a weird look. It made me uncomfortable… Oh, it’s nothing though.”

“What sort of weird look?”

My curiosity was ablaze. How I missed the look I didn’t know, but I did know I wasn’t going to let any recklessness like that slide.

“Let us square it away, shall we?” I suggested, but to know avail. There was no straight-forward solution. Lyssette was far too stubborn and bashful to confront the situation and I didn’t blame her. Being a girl must be a true horror in that respect. The constant intrusions by hungry men she must deflect seems downright tiresome. For her, the night must grow more taxing as it progresses, and all this befalls upon the girl solely because of her beauty, what rot!

The roar of an engine across the street caught my love’s attention.

“Oh. I gotta go, sorry…”

“Wait! Give me your number.” she finished adjusting herself and stood up. “Lyssette, hook it up. Here’s my phone. Type your number in.”

“No, I gotta go.” she said backing away. “I’ll be right back though, don’t get bent.”

“Get bent?”

Gone. My heart sunk. Looking back at that moment, I realize I may have reacted inappropriately. Sticks was always a stand up guy. If there were any friends I truly enjoyed, it was him. At times I catch myself missing the guy even. My mind was wound up unfortunately. I was completely out of sorts. Lyssette up and left so abruptly and my longing for her had already been at its peak, where else could it go after being abandoned? The answer is, through the ceiling. In a frenzy, I rushed into the bar, fearing the worst. Worry that Sticks had already left to chase Lyssette raked deep into my skull. I began to think that maybe he was in the car that had pulled up. Fretting over any and every detail, I scanned the bar for a glimpse of my newfound enemy.

“Oy! Over here!” Sticks shouted. “Where’s the pretty lady?” he asked in greeting.

Drunk by now, I don’t have a full sense of what followed. The both of us were in a odd embrace at first I recall, what started as a civil exchange between friends, changed into a drunken grapple on the floor. With arms and legs tied up in the wrestle, I was forced to beat his forehead with my own until his grips tired. Once free from his hold, I really let loose. For how long, I can’t say, next thing I know I’m lying outside, my back on the gravel, too sore to relocate.

A car door slammed within earshot. Gravel crunched nearby. It was much closer than the prior sound of feet heading to the bar’s entrance, or the feet taking leave to their respective car. These feet were scampering my way.

“Shit, I thought that was you.”

It was as if Lyssette teleported herself to me. At my greatest time in need she arrived. I could feel her magic reversing the pains of battery by the moment.

“What happened?” she asked.

I couldn’t answer. Stumped, she told me she’d come back, and eventually she did! From there, I was guided to her parents little home, just a short jaunt away. The house smelled like sopita and weed. She lied me down on her living room couch and put a movie on. Short of ice-packs, she offered me a bag of frozen vegetables to help reduce the swelling. My pain was ever expanding, I didn’t know where to put the pack first.

“Put it over your eyes, it looks like they’re gonna bruise the worst.”

“Shit” I grunted through a near unmoving mouth.

She tended to my every wound that night. Her compassion moved me, and my allegiance was further solidified. We talked and smoked for hours. Never had my spirits been higher. I was certain my soul was having its fill.

Reflecting on that night warms me once more, it’s a comforting reminder that I’m where I’m supposed to be. The house still smells like Mexican food. Weed is still within reach. Water has once again pooled beneath a frozen bag of vegetables and I am, hopefully forever, holding my magic angel.

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