I Touched the Universe

I had the taste of something like cherries and disgust riding in the back of my throat ever since Stan Cooper and the Rag Dolls walked off stage.
“Let’s get a beer. I think that’s the only thing that can wash this disappointment out of my system.”
“Rudy’s?” Wallace was my best friend, and could consequently read my thoughts.
The ride to Rudy's was in complete silence for fear that one of us would explode in anger.
We pulled into Rudy’s, a small kick-back down on the corner of Dark and Phillis. Ron, the bartender, recognized us and shooed a couple twenty-somethings from our stools.
“Evening boys. Uze?” He said only the first syllable of ‘usually.’ That’s the kind of guy he was.
Wallace and I responded in unison.
“Wow. I’m still not over it. That show was shit!”
“Poor Stan. He used to have something. Now…” and Wallace shrugged his shoulders and balanced his hands.
We got our beers and swilled them down quickly. We sat for another 45 minutes, just swallowing back the worst performance of our lives.
That's about the time we heard that gravelly voice that has literally caused dry heaves for the past hour.
 “A tall one, please.” Stan Cooper, the singer we saw just a few hours ago, sidled up to the bar and planted his rear on the barstool a couple down from us.
“How was the show, Stan.” Ron must know everyone.
“Man, it wasn’t my night.”
“I’ll say,” I said a little too loudly. I get loud when I’m drunk.
Stan looked over to me. I was expecting fuming anger, some red flame dancing behind his eyes, some sort of clawed vigor seething from his pores.
Instead, he hung his head and sighed a deep sigh that rocked the head of his beer. “I know. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Man, Stan Cooper used to have it.’ Well,” and he sighed again, “you’d be right.”
“Man,” Wallace leaned over and whispered to me. “Should we, you know, like, buy him a beer?”
“I guess. It’s pretty pathetic.” I spoke up. “Hey Stan, can I-”
“Let me make it up to you.”
“-buy you… What?”
“Let me make it up to you.”
I wasn’t used to having rock stars offer to make amends. “Uhh, okay.”
He slinked off his stool and lopped over to me. There was something strange in his movement, almost as if his body was moving independently of his mind. His skin was having a hard time keeping up with his muscles. “It’s been so long.”
I started to stand. “Woah, man. Not really what I had in mind.”
Wallace started to laugh.
Stan stumbled forward and reached out for me.
I tried to get out of the way, but I tripped over Wallace's stool.
Stan touched me.
Then, I could see the center of the universe.
The cool chill of the expansion of space pressed on my naked flesh as I was catapulted toward the abyss. The bleak nothingness and vivid occupation of all thoughts flooded through my skull, swirling around my consciousness in a contemptable agony and scrutinizing bliss. I could hear all prayers and see all dreams silhouetted against a crystalline backdrop, diaphanous clouds of pink and white mixed in what I could only describe as orgasmic.
And just when I thought my mind would implode.
Just when I thought my body would unshackle and shatter.
That’s when my eyes refocused.
Stan was gone.
Wallace was grinning stupidly.
Beer was frozen in mid- air as it tumbled from a tap.
The fly on the wall stood motionless.
A dart was suspended after-throw and headed toward the outer red ring.
 I was in control.
I was the universe.


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