It’s only 7pm, or at least it was the last time I looked. In this dark room lit only by bright red I can’t tell how much time has passed. The cadence of a heavy instrument that holds ancient power disrupts my circadian rhythms, and I’m dizzy.
I stopped checking the time a while ago. I’m only looking at her, the way she trusts her body to tune in and take over, the fringe of her boots swishing and flying, five six seven eight. What time is it? Doesn’t matter.
"I feel great!” A euphoric near-scream, just so I can be heard but it doesn’t work. No one really listens here because something else, something instinctual, is roaring in their ears. Intoxicated under bare red bulbs, I stand very still watching it all unfold by the minute, hour, and it’s midnight.
I’m locked in, hypnotized by her hips. I reach forward in pure craving, but really I stand still and watch her sweating, smiling, laughing in a place I don’t recognize or belong. I don’t exist to her there, but neither does her boyfriend, talking to the girl behind the bar with the low-cut shirt and sparrow tattoo.
"Another?” The sparrow asks me. Yes, thanks, no I’m not ready to close out. I’m still watching, lusting, memorizing each minute of her. Boyfriend makes his way to her and I fall further into non-existence. But I’m comfortable here and still, and there’s the sparrow tattoo winking as it hands me another glass bottle.
I’m dizzy, I’m dizzy, and I’m surrendering to the delirium. I clutch the bottle but imagine her waist, and hold the glass to my lips a second too long, nearly spilling, chugging relief. What time is it? And there she is spinning faster than my eyes can follow in a carnal yet delicate ritual, a lioness ripping into a fresh kill with only the tips of her teeth, on tiptoes but also stomping. I look at myself in comparison, a timid giraffe, sipping at a nearby water hole as she glances nervously about, gangly limbs barely managing to find balance. Oh how I wish to dance like the lioness, to join her in the hunt.
But I’m still. “Another," I’m slurring, the sparrow tattoo frowns yet I find myself greeting another glass bottle, grasping it and the counter ledge, my lifelines. She spins so perfectly, so intentionally. I spin by accident and imagine what she feels like now, and what she would feel like on my fingertips, warm. But all I have is a cold bottleneck on my lips and a chill down my spine, and my head in my arms. Too dizzy.
I start the short, unbearable walk home, keeping this or that unfriendly street man at bay, their hands cold like the bottle and the early morning air, maybe at 3 am. I imagine how she’d feel, warm, the lioness devouring the very sun itself with a dainty lick of the lips. The image of her keeps me warm until the key fits in the lock on the fourth try and I’m inside.
I lay down and succumb to the spinning, imagining myself to be graceful like the lioness, to embrace her and consume her spirit. But I am only a passive observer, no monarch in this jungle, and I fall asleep to dream of dancing.