It was a night fueled by seventy-five cent black labels and drinks once called Long Islands which had aptly been renamed to Strong Islands. A night where we were free to run the streets, where we kicked over trash cans just because we could and we felt bad so we picked up all the trash. A night where you could scream out into the darkness for being alive and no one would yell back at you to shut up. Then they actually would, but you wouldn’t remember that tomorrow.
I ran behind Jake as we jumped off porches into wet grass and slapped the pavement with our broken shoes. I lost him for a minute or lost time, maybe browning out a bit. When I caught up to him he was behind a tall metal fence in a large parking lot.
“What the hell are you doing back there?” I laughed.
“I saw the gate closing so I ran in.”
We both laughed for far too long.
“Oh shit,” he said, “it’s a barbed-wire fence”
“Oh my god Jake,”
“I’m gonna . . . uh . . . I’m gonna go check over here” he stumbled and ran across the way to check the other gate.
“I’m gonna save you!” I yelled out triumphantly into the night.
I ran around the front of the building for what felt like a mile stumbling around finding another fence. I climbed up a grassy ledge and whisper-yelled for Jake. nothing. I kept climbing around nearly losing my footing and falling the three perilous three feet to the gravel below. The fence was blocking a driveway or alley of some sort. I ran along the poorly lit street and found the other gate, the one Jake ran to. Nothing. Again.
I foolishly decided to climb up on a much shorter chain-link fence and scrambled to get a better view of the dark parking lot. Some sort of factory I thought. lights were on in the large building so I whisper-yelled again.
A buzz in my pocket nearly made me lose my shaky grip on the fence.
I answered my phone, “hey, where are you, man?” I asked.
“Up the street out on Diamond where are you?”
“I’m at this factory place, how did you get out?”
I stumbled down the road drunkenly running toward him.
“How’d you get out!?” I said laughing.
“Wooden fence in the back, there was a slat I couldn’t fit but I kicked it down.”
“Shit, that’s crazy.”
“Nope, that wasn’t crazy,” he said trying to catch his breath, “there was someone in there Mat.”
“Like a worker or something!?”
“I guess . . . I couldn’t see ‘em really, I could hear ‘em, though.”
“It was too dark, but I saw something . . . too many shadows.”
“What was the sound?”
“It was like an animal or somethin’.”
“There was probably a dog back there with you.”
“It wasn’t a dog, it sounded like a guy . . . kind of.”
“Like a child really I guess, but it was deep and guttural”
“You mean like an adult baby man!?”
“No . . . maybe?”
“Come on man, let's keep walking.”
“I don’t feel good,”
“Well you’re drunk man”
We stumbled across the street and down an alley.
“Ya think a giant baby lives behind those barbed wire fences?” I asked laughing.
Jake laughed, “maybe I hit my head, do you see any blood?” he stopped as I checked his head for bumps and blood.
Headlights flashed down the alley. Without thinking, we jumped into what we thought were bushes but turned out to be an elevated patch of dirt with some weeds growing right in front of someone’s smallish house. The car pulled up, stopped and two cops got out.
“Hey guys, everything okay?”
“. . .”
“You guys jumped pretty quick there, everything okay?”
“Yeah,” said Jake, “we’re just walking home from the Meanwhile.”
“I’m gonna need some IDs guys”
Without getting up from the dirt we both handed out IDs.
“Alright hold on a minute while we run these”, the speaking cop handed the IDs to the other cop near the car.
“Where you guys headed again?” the cop asked Jake.
Jake looked up at the officer blankly.
“Hey guy I asked you a question”
“Grand I think” I interjected.
“Yeah . . .”
“I’m staying with him, I’m . . . I’m from out of town.”
“What’s wrong with him?”
“Uh . . . he’s had a bit too much to drink I think, we’ll start walking.”
“You’re a little off course.”
“They’re good” said the other cop handing our IDs back to the one standing above us.
“Head back that way” he pointed, “take a right and follow Diamond.”
“Thanks . . . ”
“And don’t jump into dirt patches when you see cops coming”
They pulled away, we stood up and brushed ourselves off.
“You okay Jake?”
“I’m fine, just browned out again.”
“Did they leave?”
“Who?” I asked, “the cops we just talked to and watched leave? Yeah, they left.”
“Man, I’m drunk.”
“Me too, let's go.”
We walked back to the main road and meandered by dark houses and trees.
“What’s this a cemetery?”
A large wrought iron fence was now on our right, an open gate welcomed us in.
We walked around quietly in the dark place. We stopped at two headstones.
The headstones were rough and warn.
“What happens,” I began “when the names rub off like that?”
“I mean you can see it said something but all I can see now is this bird shape”
“Maybe the headstones decay the same as the bodies below.”
“Like when the names are gone . . . maybe . . . like that’s when their body is gone?”
We laid down below a tree and looked up into the waving dark branches.
“We went out in a boat,” I began, “a tug boat and we sang a song and said a word and dropped my Grandma’s ashes into Lake Michigan.”
“How was that.”
“It was everything, good and bad . . . all the emotions.” I began to cry just explaining it,
“It doesn’t matter if you rot away or if you sink to the bottom . . . you can’t just be forgotten right?”
“I dunno . . .”
“I think it’s like a cycle where you . . .” I stopped abruptly, “what was that?”
“Maybe the cops again?” Jake said.
“Shit . . . maybe.”
“I bet that’s it, let's just go.”
“There it is again.”
“I don’t hear it,” Jake said.
“It sounds . . . like a growl . . . not a growl, like a voice or something.”
I stood up looking around, it wasn’t coming from one direction, the sounds seemed to come from many directions all at once.
“What the hell!? is that the sound you heard before?”
Jake stood up next to me, “it doesn’t hurt Mat.”
I looked into his glazed eyes.
“You’re so drunk you actually have me freaked.”
“Just let it happen . . . you’ll be fine . . . no one will notice a difference.”
Some sort of something quickly wrapped over my eyes and my mouth.
“No one will forget you.” I heard Jake say.