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4A—Ari Nix and How It All Began

Tequila had never been Ari’s spirit of choice. In fact, he didn’t have a spirit of choice at all given bad things happen when alcohol was involved and bad things on top of bad luck just didn’t mix. Not like a well-shaken drink.

But on this auspicious evening, at, oh, eight o’clock, after having nicked a bottle from Chase down in 1C, Ari opened up a brand new app and attempted not one, not two, but three separate recipes all involving a cheap, gold liquid that tasted surprising like melancholy and self-pity. Not a bad combination if he was any judge. And then the app crashed. And he broke his tumbler. Leading to a not-very-smart-decision to switch to a shot glass.

With breath tasting of orange juice and a sticky residue clinging to his pale blue shirt, Ari threw himself into the chair by his full-length keyboard and began to stumble through the beginnings of sad melodies he’d memorized in his youth during his angstiest stage. And then, for some dreadful reason, he switched to love songs. The sort of love songs that would leave a lonely man sobbing if he didn’t have a lick of sense not to delve too deeply into emotions best left alone.

And Ari was a little short on sense this evening. Even he could admit that.

When his fingers became too unwieldy—the damn things were like butterflies, flitting about uselessly, flubbing notes left and right—he turned off the keyboard in disgust, downed another shot next to the kitchen sink and turned on the flat screen. There he keyed up one song after another, intermixing love songs with tragedy as he fluctuated between self-serving feelings and dwelled on the pointlessness of life after all the mistakes he’d made.

One particularly sad song reached through his chest and caught his soul in a grip so hard he wondered that it didn’t punch right out of his flesh. He set the song on repeat, thinking to mope a little longer on the words, and returned to his bottle of tequila and the over-used shot glass. Above his head, his clock said six oh two. Lies. All lies. Roan wouldn’t like it.

Ari laughed at his own joke, downed the shot he’d poured himself and then spun around with the sudden need to pretend to dance with a man like Roan. Not Roan himself of course, the damn man hadn’t even acknowledged Ari’s presence—again—but someone like Roan. That’s what Ari had planned on doing at any rate when he spun.

What he actually did was lose his balance, twirl all the way around, face plant against the side of counter and then spill to the ground where he smacked his head again. If he hadn’t been so numb, all of that would have hurt.

Should have hurt. He blinked and scrubbed at the spot above his forehead where he’d first hit, but pain was a memory, an ethereal idea ghosting away. With his motion came a rush of vertigo and dizziness and the next thing he knew he was free-floating in an upside-down spin all while looking down at his graceless form lying prone on his kitchen floor while blood gushed out of his actual head, not the one he thought he was rubbing.

He froze as an influx of horror suffused his whole body. No, not his body, because he was staring at his body. So maybe his soul? His soul became suffused with horror? He no longer even knew the correct terminology. He closed his eyes, hoping that he’d just had a slight mishap and not the epic proportioned one he seemed to be facing. Nope. When he opened his eyes, he was still floating above his kitchen table, his actual body remaining stubbornly stretched out stomach-down on the linoleum.

“Great. Just great. Black cat syndrome strikes again,” he muttered to himself. “And there goes that nice numbing tingle I’d had going on too. What a waste of stolen tequila.” He threw his hands up in an outward expression of his irritation and that single motion took him sailing toward his kitchen wall.

Ari flinched as he reached the wall, but he needn’t have bothered for he simply continued right on through the paint and drywall, his world exploding into darkness as he left his warmly-lit kitchen behind.

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Tune in next week on June 6th for the second installment of Ari’s Tour: 4C—Mrs. Jameson and her African Violets!

This is a teaser for my novel Bridle the Unicorn.