It was the weekend before St. Patrick’s Day and I was getting hammered. That’s the only way to start this story because it’s partly why I’m in the situation I’m in: it was the Saturday before a stupid made-up holiday about green beer and watered-down Irish heritage and I was out with my friends getting absolutely destroyed.
Yeah, not the cute white-girl-wasted where you lose one of your shoes and cry about ex-boyfriends. Not the kind of drunk that lands you in the bathroom becoming BFFs with the equally drunk chick in the next stall. This was one of those epic, tragic nights where you just say goodbye to your brain cells and hold on for dear life.
I don’t drink beer so I passed on the green food-colored crap and went straight for shots. Tequila. That should’ve told me that my Saturday was going to hell in a handbasket but the bartender was flirting with me, making my shots just a little too full, smiling a little too much and I began making a series of increasingly bad decisions.
We were at one of those charming dives where the bar is a hundred years old, probably hand-carved by George fucking Washington and blessedly free of the college crowd that seemed to swarm certain parts of town. The three of us were supposed to be looking out for each other and that plan went right the hell out the window within the first hour or two. Tricia was on the prowl for some dick, I could tell because she wore her bubblegum pink fuck-me pumps and kept looking past me at any guy who came in. Liz was in one of her moods where all it would take was some chick looking at her sideways and there’d be a fistfight. The more we drank, the more the rules of polite ladies in society fell away and we relied on the laws of the urban jungle: every bitch for herself.
This is how I ended up outside in the alley behind the bar, the hem of my body-con dress hitched up around my hips, pissing like a racehorse, barely hidden by a dumpster. It smelled like rancid meat and old stale beer but the line out the ladies room was outrageous and I was drunk enough that an accident was entirely possible so I slipped out the kitchen exit and just went for it. I felt like I was being pretty covert – hunched behind the dumpster, back against the rough brick wall of the bar for support – but something tells me if I go back there and check out my little hiding spot I’ll be unpleasantly surprised.
After peeing for what seemed like forever I did that little butt-wiggle to shake dry (girls who’ve been in this kind of situation: you know exactly what I mean) and found that somewhere along the line I’d lost my thong. Typical. I sighed, inched my dress back down over my ass, and stepped carefully around the dumpster. Avoided the puddle, got my footing in my heels, grounded myself. Peeing seemed to have helped, cars weren’t splitting into doubles anymore when I squinted at them on the street. I walked up to a Lexus with shiny tinted windows to check my makeup and nearly tripped when a big metallic CLANG scared the shit out of me.
I caught myself in time, wobbling on my pumps but not falling face-first into a car that probably cost more than a year of my salary. My first thought was that it was probably a beer delivery guy dropping off more cases to be colored that awful Exorcist-puke-green but my soggy drunk brain reminded me that it was past midnight last time I’d checked my phone – and shit, where was my phone? Probably wherever my thong had disappeared to, fallen soldiers in my shitshow of an evening, may they both rest in peace.
I straightened, smoothed my hair, looked up and down the street. Traffic was light, being the big bar night that it was most people hadn’t stopped drinking yet; it was that eerie part of the evening just before last call but after midnight. I was about to give up on the noise and go back inside when I heard another CLANG, this one not quite so loud, followed by a metal-on-stone scraping sound.
I turned towards it and saw a manhole cover at the entrance to another alley slowly, carefully, inching to the right.
For a second I thought it was moving by itself because as the cover slid off the manhole, a huge puff of steam erupted out of the street and I couldn’t see anything past the smoky white cloud. Now, if I’m being honest with myself, I have to admit that sober-me would’ve been out of there like a fucking shot because there is nothing good that crawls out of the ground after midnight in the middle of the city but sober-me wasn’t anywhere in the vicinity at that moment. Shitfaced-me was at the helm instead, and she stood there staring at the opening manhole like an idiot until something finally emerged.
That something was, quite simply, the most attractive man I’ve ever seen.
He was fair-skinned with a shock of thick, dark hair under an old-fashioned looking straw hat. Even though he was crawling out of the sewer, the white pressed suit he wore was immaculate, not a spot of dirt or muck on it, not even the shoes. As he pulled himself to his feet I realized dully that he reminded me of that guy from “Heroes”, the one with the eyebrows.
The guy in the white suit straightened, gave his spotless pants an unnecessary smoothing with the palms of his hands, and slid the cover back on the manhole. When he turned, he caught me staring. And he smiled.
I feel like I should remind you that sober-me would still be 100% off the scene by this point but Jesus Christ, the guy looked like Tom Cruise before he went batshit crazy when he flashed that perfect smile at me. The whole thing was so fucking bizarre yet he was walking towards me, shiny white shoes clicking on the damp asphalt, closing the gap between us with slow measured steps.
“Well,” he said, lips still set in that sexy grin, “seems like luck is on my side tonight. I’m not even at the party yet and I’ve already found the belle of the ball.”
It’s probably cheesy to read but god did he make it sound good.
“Were you just waiting for me to get here, beautiful lady?” he asked, leaning against the Lexus with the casual grace of men who know how good they look.
“I’m… waiting for my friends,” I finally managed. The words were only a little slurred, which was a step in the right direction. I wasn’t waiting for them, you know that, but I had to let him know I wasn’t alone. A gal’s gotta stay safe these days. Plus, you know, he climbed out of the sewer – a fact that was sort of slipping my mind the longer he stood there smiling at me.
“No you’re not.” He said it the way you’d inform a child you caught them in a very naughty lie. “You’re waiting for me. I can tell.” On the word ‘tell’ he touched the tip of his finger to my nose, a gesture that would normally piss me off but somehow felt endearing.
I licked my lips. I glanced behind me to see if any of my friends were waiting at the bar’s entrance, looking for me, but they weren’t. Then, I did what I’d been doing in spades all night: I made a very bad decision.
“Why,” I said, tilting my head towards his in what I hoped was a flirtatious way and not an indication that I was about to fall over in my heels, “exactly, would I be waiting for you?”
In a move straight out of a Nicholas Sparks movie, the guy in the white suit took my chin in his fingers, pulled my face close to his, and kissed me.
He kissed me the way I’d dreamt of being kissed since I was a little girl playing Disney Princess, the way I always hoped it was going to be before some sweaty guy in 8th grade mashed his mouth against mine during a date I barely remember and I thought, “Oh. That’s what all the fuss is about?”
I don’t know how to describe it without sounding like a cheap romance novel because that’s what it felt like: a kiss so good, so perfect that it doesn’t exist in the real world. The kind of kiss you only have in those rare dreams where you wake up on the brink of orgasm and find yourself back in your boring, normal life where men don’t kiss like that except this one did.
When he finally pulled away he kept his eyes closed. He licked his lips, slowly, like he could still taste me on them. He opened his eyes and smiled at me again.
“Yes,” he said for some reason, then took me by the hand and began to lead me back into the alley where all this started.
“Wait,” I mumbled, tottering along on my heels. At least I think I mumbled it, who knows, I was nearing that dangerous edge of blackout drunk where you start losing vital pieces of information.
“No time to wait.” The guy tugged me behind the dumpster – maybe it WAS a good hiding place, after all – and pushed me firmly against the brick wall of the bar. “I got started late this evening, no time to wait, no time for games.” I was about to open my mouth and ask what the hell he was talking about but he put his over mine and I melted back into that fairytale kiss. Before I knew what was happening he put his hands on my hips, lifted me off my feet, and I wrapped my legs around him. (Oh shitfaced-me, you’re such a slut.)
Groping, kissing, grabbing. You know how the drunk hookup goes. He was far better than me, this guy who reminded me of eyebrow-dude from “Heroes”, but my missing thong proved useful when he finally got down to business.
Maybe you want more steamy details but this is sober-me talking and she, fortunately, is not a slut.
Anyway, we were both almost there when I decided I needed to run my hands through that thick, dark hair of his. I reached up to do just that and out of nowhere the guy yelled, “NO!”
Startled, I accidentally knocked the straw hat off his head.
This is where shit gets weird. I mean, even weirder than hooking up with a guy that crawled out of the sewer.
The thick, dark hair I had wanted to touch so badly ended in a bald ring at the very top of his head. In the center of this strangely pale patch of skin was a smooth, rimless hole.
Shitfaced-me had no idea what to do with this information. I stared at that hole, mesmerized, and he kept pumping away, his lips split into the grin that had once been so sexy but now kind of reminded me of a serial killer. As he did, I realized that the grunting noise he made as he drove his hips against mine was coming from two places: between his gritted teeth, and that hole on the top of his head.
I tried to push at his chest to get him off me but he was strong; he kept me pinned to the wall and pressed against me even harder, the grunting getting louder, his hips moving faster. I opened my mouth to scream for help and – I’m not proud of this, I swear – instead let out a loud moan as he pushed me over the edge of an orgasm I hadn’t even known was near.
“Yes,” the guy said again for no reason, and closed his eyes as he came too. He grunted one last time and I’m sure I heard that one only from the inexplicable hole in his head.
Suddenly and without ceremony he let go of me. I fell on my bare feet, having lost my heels at some point during the process, and winced at the feel of the filthy street on my skin.
The guy tucked himself back in his pants, smoothed them down with his palms again, and bent to retrieve his hat. He put it back on his head, delicately, after giving me a sarcastic sort of nod.
“I’ll see you again soon, beautiful lady,” he said as he began to saunter out of the alley. “Some months down the line, I’ll be back for you.”
“Wait,” I said again, and this time I know I said it. I was stumbling after him without my shoes, wanting to catch him before he could leave without telling me what the fuck was going on.
He was moving fast now, shiny white shoes clicking. He was trying to get away from me. That asshole!
I took the turn out of the alley hard, almost fell into that stupid Lexus again, and broke into a full-on sprint. He must’ve heard my feet slapping against the asphalt because in a flash he had the manhole cover open again and down he went. I skidded to a stop, shredding my soles on rocks and glass in the process, and looked down into the sewer where he’d disappeared.
He was already gone. The drop was sheer, straight down into a murky river of sewage and slop. How could he have been gone so fast?
And then I saw it, in the dirty water – the flip of a fleshy pink tail, the toss of a strangely pointed beak full of black teeth like sharp little stones. That’s all it was, just a flash of these features, and then whatever it was slid under the water, smooth pink skin gleaming in the glow of the streetlights above.
I waited there for about 20 minutes before my friends finally found me in the street, no shoes on, staring aghast into the open manhole. They asked me what happened and I told them there was a guy and they said ah, say no more, so I didn’t because even shitfaced-me knows her limits.
What else was I supposed to do? I caught a cab home, took a shower, went to bed. The same thing you do after any regrettable drunken hookup. Except instead of trying to forget, I did everything I could to remember. I put it here, all of it, every single detail I can recall about that night.
Because that night, I started having the dream. Waking in a cold sweat over and over again. The same awful dream I’ve had every night since that guy disappeared down into the depths of the sewer.
In this dream, I’m drowning. I’m under dark, murky water and I can’t get back to the surface. My chest is tight. I know I’m dying and that smooth pink thing with black teeth is somewhere nearby, laughing at me.
When I wake up, for a split second I feel this terrible pressure on my chest. It reminds me of when I knocked the hat away and tried to get him off me, how he only pushed harder, that awful grunting noise coming from his mouth and the strange hole on his head. Sometimes, I even see him on top of me, grinning.
He’s not there, though. He can’t be because he’s in the sewers, swimming in the dark water, waiting for me. He said he’d be back. “Some months down the line.”
How many months?
If I had to guess, I’d say nine.