Friday, February 22, 2008

The Pegasus Revelation


This Week’s Theme: Insert this song lyric into your fiction: 'We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after a year.'



In the shade of the narrow eves of the building she lay her sweaty cheek against the wall of the building. She had never been religious and spirituality was a concept she was only just beginning to explore, yet this building held a sacred place in her heart. In this incarnation the building was painted livid green on the bottom half and eye scorching purple at the top. In the fledgling light of the day the paintwork was faded and beginning to lift in several places. A smattering of graffiti now studded the walls.

She stood at the far end of the building, at the entrance that had always been the Pegasus Bar – until now that was. Above the wide doorway, there was an obvious shadow on the paintwork where the neon sign had once held pride of place, accompanied by the telltale rivet holes, now empty. It had always been bright and working, unlike the Cherry Blossom sign – until that New Years night.

From the small cloth shoulder bag she took out a brand new thick black marker pen, she’d bought at a newsagents on her way there - connecting with the civil disobedient she had never been. Throughout her life she had held the highest regard for both private and personal property – having a high regard for herself though was another matter all together. She had never written graffiti on anything, even on the back of the toilet door as a teenager. She did once write Stephen de Jong’s name on her pencil case and then had to go with the crush all year, lest she have to scribble it out. With a rush of defiant adrenalin, she pulled off the lid and in shakey script wrote;

“Long live the Pegasus Bar. Gone but not forgotten.”

It had been an absolute fluke that she had been in town on the day that the building was scheduled for demolition, much less known that it was going to happen. Everyone from those halcyon days, including herself, had moved on, yet she was back to see the changing of the guard. She had picked up the local paper in the lobby while waiting for the courtesy coach for the hot air balloon adventure, when saw the article buried somewhere on Page 10.

“Pegasus flies on new wings”

She had cancelled her balloon flight and walked the few blocks, as the sun was coming up, to where the monolithic building stood. It had been a holy place to her and Tex, of Dionysian proportions, but its era, just like Dionysius’s had come to a close. It was about to be a whole lot holier when the demolition ball ripped through it.

Across the road, she sat on the edge of a concrete garden box, the one out the front of the Port Authority compound. She tried to remember what building had been there before, knowing that even ten years ago, when she regularly pulled her battered red Mazda 323 up infront of it, she couldn’t remember. Was that what would become of the Pegasus Bar now? Would the locals forget what was there? Would the tourist assume that it had always been a multistoried holiday apartment block with boutique shopping and cafes in the lobby? It seemed a travesty of history. Would all her stories die too if this place was forgotten?

Taking her camera from her bag she went back across the street and took a photo of her piece of graffit. She’d send it to Tex and tell him that she’d enacted her first piece of civil obedience – perhaps that’s what divorces did to you? Turned you into a delinquent at 31. No time like the present huh?

She wondered if she hung around long enough, they demolition team would let her take home a chunk of the smashed outer wall – like taking home a piece of the Berlin Wall. Would she even be able to find the piece where she had written her tribute?

At 21 she was a long standing regular at the Pegasus. She didn’t wait in line, she never did. With a confidence born of youthful enthusiasm and arrogance she would stride up the line, and cross the threshold with a well executed kiss on the check to the bouncer, as the red rope gating off the crowd graciously opened for her. She as like a rabid sexual bride seeking out her next conquest.

Yet there were more nights than not, when it was in Tex’s company she arrived. Wednesday night through to Saturday Tex would follow her into the faux Grecian interior and they’d pay homage to life, love and fuck ups at the long black marble bar. Sitting back on the concrete garden bed, she remembered the first time she’d taken Tex in there – his initiation into her life behind the walls. He’d got drunk in record time. He had slammed down the Liquid Ecstasy shooters as fast as the guys behind the bar could serve them up, as she had wooed the exotic Soiux Indian backpacker over the rim of her long black coffee. He hadn’t made it to the toilet in time when his stomach finally turned, and his vomit found the mark of a girl sitting at one of the high cocktail tables near the toilet door. Radioactive green vomit meeting white linen, it hadn’t been pleasant. Then he’d disappeared. The only thing that had remained was his shirt in the same garden bed that she now sat on. A fifty dollar taxi fare bought him to the general store the next morning because he couldn't remember her address and she’d left the backpacker in her bed, as she’d slipped down to pick him up.

The night of Tex’s 21st had been a seminal night of partying. She could still see herself carefully carrying his present through the Pegasus door and presenting the neatly wrapped box to him. At the bar he’d torn the wrapping off and, opened the box and taken out the small glass fish bowl. His eyes twinkled in the dim light faux Grecian interior.

“Look carefully,” was all she had said.

Scanning the bowl he had finally come across the intricately engraved words…
We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after a year.
“You bet,” was all he had said, putting it down carefully on the already sticky marble and hugging her tight to him. Closing her eyes she could still feel his taunt young body pressed against hers.

As the heat of the day began to seep into the humidity, she squeezed her eyes shut as tight as they would go, afraid that tears would flow where there had been none for months. She picked up her mobile and sent a message to Tex.
Wish you were here

As always when it got tough, when her life was upside down and her insides were on the outside it was Tex that she wanted to be with. Her phone sounded a gong, letting her know that a new message had arrived.
Thanks for reminding me that I need to dust my fish bowl. How goes it Jos?

And that was when she got it. The fish bowl, the lost souls – they were the lost souls in the fish bowl, the fish bowl of the Pegasus. The bar had held all their souls for so long, each of them coming there, lost in their own ways, seeking connection with others. When she was too afraid, too worn out, or too over seeking connection with new people she would take Tex with her. The connection had never died between the two of them. And they had swum, in somewhat epileptic circles on the dance floor together to Easy Like a Sunday Morning, tossing down bourbon at the bar, shooting pool expertly at the table – partners in crime. She was his Twubacca and he her Han Solo. Because everyman needed a good wookie by his side to navigate life's travails.

But the Pegasus was a fish bowl of life contradictions. Rick the solo pianist and vocalist who wouldn’t play ‘Piano Man’, Dammo the bartender who was on the wagon, Dan the guitarist who loved women but didn’t do monogamy, desperate people looking for love and getting a fuck instead, and her and Tex, just friends.

“I don’t understand why you and Tex don’t just get it on together,” Simmo the bar
manager had once commented to her, on one of her lone trips.
“Because he’s like a brother to me. You can have all the fucks in the world, but true friends are hard to find,” she replied back, feeling a bit odd about it though.
What if?

It wasn’t the first time someone had suggested Tex as a suitable partner. And not just those close to them. Guests in a restaurant she once worked in commented that he sounded like her soul mate when she was telling them about him coming to live up there. She’d scoffed, and they’d never gone there.

They had been content to be adrift on the sea of 20 something humanity together, but apart, only to wash on the beach of 30 something just as screwed up, heart broken, alone and disillusioned. Still together, but apart.

“Hiya Tex. Are you busy tomorrow?” she asked, standing to move under the one
shady tree in the street, as the demolition team began to arrive.
“I’ve got clients until 6pm.”
“Do you drive any better than you used to?”
“No, but I have a car that isn’t falling apart.”
“Yet!”
“How come?”
“I was trying to decide the safest route to your place – by taxi or with Han Solo.”
“You’re coming to visit - here.”
“I think it's time,” was all she said and began the walk back to her hotel.

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9 comments:

Annie said...

A story that resonates the soul - of loss, of what ifs, or opportunities not taken or recognised. a whimsical dredging up of the past..for a lot of people.... love it...

Square1 said...

Jodi, it was brilliantly done yet again, and now I see why you came up with this prompt. Beautiful. I have to say this one was a hard one for me to do.

keith hillman said...

Your piece was a joy to read, and made me feel quite inadequate! I was at something of a disadvantage having never come across these words before, but I did the best I could!

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Square1 - when I strolled over the check out the prompt on Wednesday, and saw that it was mine, it was an immediate 'argh!' ... followed by an almost instantaneous 'I dont want to write about that!' .. punishment for apparently choosing such a difficult prompt. I had no idea what would become of this when I started writing - other than the image of the fish bowl (which was intended to be a 21st birthday present, but I just never got around to having it done!)

Keith - you sly dog! Admitting that you had the album not more than two feet from where you were sitting. But different lines resonnate in different ways, and are remembered for different reasons. This was a bit of a youth anthem for my friend and I - and that line seemed to sum up where we were and where we weren't.

Annie - what ifs? Perhaps the topic of the first spotty dog club morning tea and luncheon discussion and writing line? (do you reckon I could get that tattooed on a spotty dog?)

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Oh PS: sorry to everyone who found this a difficult prompt. Sheer brilliance comes out of adversity (even if its adversity within your own intellect and creative pond) I've loved reading all the very different takes on it and makes me feel very blessed to belong to a group of such diverse and gifted story tellers.

anthonynorth said...

You caught perfectly the transience of some places - terminals, bars - where people just pass by. The symbolism of moving on from this was excellently provided.
I like this very much.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Yes Anthony - regardless of the number of years your religiously patronage any bar etc, you are just passing through. I had never quite thought of it that way. Thank you for adding that extra dimension.

lissa said...

I like how her memories overlap into the now and the part about civil disobedience at age 31. well done.

CHEFDRUCK said...

Jodi,
Nice nostalgic piece. I liked the sadness of the demolition mixed in the with the promise of what's to come with Tex. Great name by the way.