Silent As the world
By Daniel Warhol
First we got there, Toronto. First we got there, and after sitting in his car with his girl, both of us mundane drooling while he did something secret in the hostel, her and I went up to the room with him. The room was hot and orange and bright. And then the yelling started. And then the money started. They both were seething, and they both yelled into their phones or at the screens on their phones waiting for someone to tell them it was okay, they were not broke. Their bank accounts taunted them, inaccessible and far away.
While that was happening I cut out of there. I got foreign money from a familiar machine and walked around smoking and looking for beers. They don't sell beers up there like they do in the states, at any twenty-four store during any of the infinite twenty-four hour cycles. I found that out and returned to the hostel's porch to smoke more.
Getting there, dry and sober, I found the man who managed the place. I thought he was French on the phone earlier but he told me he was Mexican. He had two teeth. He sucked his cigarettes in a way I had never seen. He told me about the owners, the wife a painter and the husband a two-bit musician. Of all things, he went on about the mediocrity of the husband's violining. There were paintings of them all over the house, even one staring down at us there on the porch. I felt uncomfortable and put my cigarette out before it was kicked.
Back in the room they had figured it all out and needed to drink. So we told our friends uptown to meet us downtown at a club and we cut out of there. I flopped with my slim legs ahead of them with a fever in my eyes, dry as suns.
It took a while for the bartender to take my order. I looked at him in the eyes a few times and he looked into mine but only stood to my left or to my right helping out girls. I ordered a jack and coke. I ordered a rum and coke. I ordered a rum and coke. I ordered a beer and then I was gay. It doesn't take much to make me gay. Everyone in that club was in high school, just a year or two younger than me and my friend and his girl. Everyone was yelling into everyone's ear because the music never stops. All around us were screams but to me it just looked like mouths opening and closing.
We were posted up in the corner and those two were sober even after a few drinks which meant they were stronger than me and they told me so. I did a little dance so they could laugh. We figured our uptown friends weren't going to come and we cut out of there.
Those two, sober enough to give verdicts, stuck their heads into every convenience store on the way back in hopes of beers in the fridges in the back. I kept telling them there would be no beers in the fridges in the back and they told me I was killing them. They were sincere.
There was a monster on those streets in Toronto. You coulda seen it on the sidewalks or coming out of a building and one fella could see it across town the same time you see it. Its gaze casts hot light on splendor and pleasure, making our blood boil for it. The desperation for this insatiable lust is how it lives, drinking deep from young bodies until it swells bubbling red.
We all were its victims. In our room they lurked low on their bed, starving together. I was only raw then, my mouth filmed over with bread mucus and stuck open like I was screaming. I looked at the ceiling while their skin touched.
When I opened my eyes he was putting on his clothes. She was already dressed and lying in bed again.
I cut out of there and smoked my last cigarette on the porch. The manager was out there again and he told me that the city is thirty-three percent Asian, thirty three percent Mexican, ten percent Canadian, and then everything else. I didn’t say anything.
The convenience store down the street kept their cigarettes in drawers so I didn't know what to ask for. Stammering for whatever they had I swiped my credit card. I didn't know how much money I had but the screech of the receipt printing let me know I would be alright.
He let me know when I got back that our uptown friends were going to meet us here later. But then it was time to do it right and check out the liquor stores.
We walked for hours. It was November but we were sweating, our bodies insulated away from each other's bodies and the bodies of the pedestrians and the homeless, so many homeless.
Our phones misled us, and our stomachs grew stiffer, eating themselves in a churning ouroboros. They starved to be ready to drink at any moment and I only ate cigarettes.
On the way back to the room to look up better directions I decided to cut off and went to a store I saw closed that last night called The Beer Store.
The Chinese beer was too expensive. I looked at it for a while. The Mexican beer didn't have enough alcohol per volume. I had almost sweated out all my vitals and the black ring around my vision was closing inward. I grabbed a twelve pack whose name I couldn't read, letters I had never seen. I didn't talk to the cashier.
With my knuckles scraping the concrete I made my way back and collapsed on the porch.
I was in the room and they were back too. She had found me in a pile and carried me up the stairs in her arms. I saw bottles but they were still pissed. He was going to have to go and pick up our uptown friends from uptown and so he couldn't open up the bottles yet. I saw the hunger in his eyes which hung loose in their sockets. His skin was going grey and his hair turned to wires, he was wicked and weak. Like paper he slipped out of the room with his keys.
One of my beers had shattered but eleven of them sat on the dresser. I opened one.
She asked me how I was. I said yeah and finished the beer. I opened another one.
She told me he was really pissed. I asked her why she hadn't started to drink and she laughed at me and watched me finish my beer.
I opened another one and I could feel my vigor return to my veins.
I asked her if she thought I could smoke in here. She seemed surprised I didn't think I could. She asked who would mind like there weren't any other people in the hostel. She banged on the walls and screamed to prove it to me. I finished my beer and opened another one. I turned it over and let some of it pour onto my bare chest. She didn't ask me why.
After finishing that beer I couldn't handle her eyes on me anymore. I grabbed another beer, opened it, and cut out of there to be alone somewhere else in the hostel. My footsteps echoed and only I could hear them. I opened every door before picking the one I felt was best, third floor across and above our own. It was hot in there and I laid on the bed and finished my beer. There I only had to talk to myself.
“Who are you?”
“What another sees.”
“What do you become without another person to watch you do it?”
“Just an idea then.”
“Can you piece yourself together in the dark?”
“You do not see a thing, you cannot be a thing. You cannot watch yourself."
After all that I was pretty out of breath and so I had to get another beer.
After I had had a few more beers in the room I fell asleep again. When I woke up I was still drunk and he was back. Our uptown friends weren't with him. He was drinking but he wasn't drunk yet. She sipped her wine out of the bottle and looked at the floor.
He told me he couldn't find the house and that they were taking a cab to us and then he took a pull. I opened another beer. We drank in silence for a while.
They showed up, Salem and Shiloh and Naomi and Deb and Maria. They were all drunk already and we drank more together before cutting to hit the club from last night. We asked them how uptown was and they all said yeah at the same time and finished their drinks. I finished my eleventh beer.
I was too hot to walk next to anyone on the way down so I kept ahead with my hands on my hips or pressed to my temples. They mingled behind groaning and sighing and panting for air.
When we got to the club it was empty, the windows were broken, there was nothing inside. The homeless people gathered outside were sleeping or dead. Nobody asked where the club went. Everyone looked away from everyone else, eight different directions, and then we decided to look for another bar.
The lights were haze brown in the dive that we found. There was no room at the booth for me to sit and stare at my friends so I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer. An old wino was sitting next to me. He shook my hand and asked me who was I here with? I told him nobody. He shook my hand. He asked me who was I here with? I told him nobody again. He shook my hand. The bartender looked over our heads. I looked at a fly on the bar. I finished my beer.
My friend shouted my name from the booth by the entrance and told me to come on we were leaving. He sounded angry and sober. The wino at the bar stood up to defend me against who he thought was an antagonist and charged my friend. And then it finally happened; my friend started to grow and contort, ripping his clothing to tatters. His eyes dripped scarlet and sank back into his skull, glowering from the darkness within. The fingers on his hands grew into talons and he hunched over on his horse legs, bracing for the attack. They grappled and fell to the floor as white hair began to cover his naked body. Blood sputtered into the air when he pierced the wino’s skin with his claws and his fangs, it landed on my friends' faces and the walls and the floor. They both screamed and roared, spitting onto each other. There was a communication between them as they battled, a primal dialogue of moans and cries which made more sense to me than any words I ever remember hearing. The wino put up a fight, and just as my friend shredded his chest open he stuck a knife into my friend's neck. The dead wino fell from my friend’s clutches as he rose and shrieked like bat sonar before falling dead into a puddle of both of their blood, red on white fur.
I finished my beer as Salem and Shiloh and Naomi and Deb and Maria and my friend's girl cut out of there, silent as the rest of the world. I ordered another beer.