We’re both such beautiful monsters.
Holding his phone tight, he deliberated on a decision, staring at the screen he’d already punched in the number. It was a familiar number, one of the very few he’d ever taken the time to memorize. Sitting on a porch stoop that led to a rather large balcony, he took a sip from a beer bottle resting just beside his right leg. He made up his mind. He pushed call and his anxiety clawed at him as the ring persisted. Voicemail. The sweet voice on the other end had started to speak, though before he had a chance to leave a message, his instincts kicked in and he hung up. Hanging his head for a second he pocketed the phone and took another long swig from the bottle. The sun was setting over the mountains and it was an absolutely stunning night. He could feel it, yet the melancholy still clung in the air. Inhaling it deeply he embraced the atmosphere. Finally standing, resolute and contained, he decided to climb the steps back up to the balcony, then traversed its hardwood to the ongoing party near the fire pit.
“Hey there he is!” A young man with a beer clutched in one hand and a model in the other, shouted from the group that was gathered. It was a group of young and attractive people, all rich and or famous from either one or both of those attributes. Approaching them he forced a slight smile, which resulted in several cheers from the female dynamic in the group
“I’m here, I’m here” He said, with a very measured and specific level of amusement ringing through his voice. Laughing he sat next to the only other individual he truly related to at the event. They exchanged familiar and brief looks, as his friend cocked his head as if to pose a question. To which he closed his eyes and shook his head almost delicately. They had a silent conversation together, the friend nodding in understanding. Then abruptly the beer in one hand model in another man, stood up and proposed a toast.
“This, is to you Luke, without you… Well shit. I don’t even know, none of us would probably be here at all. To Luke!” A loud clamour of appraisal rang out from everyone in attendance.
“Yeah! To Luke!”
“Luke! Woo!” The group laughed and cheered as Luke smiled a warm thank you and raised his glass. The group went back to whatever shallow things they were discussing as Luke looked back to his friend and patted him on the shoulder.
“How you doing Kill?” Killian, or ‘Kill’ as he was affectionately known and called by Luke, was his longtime trustworthy best friend. They had known each other for what felt like ages, and was only actually almost 5 years. Killian didn’t mind the nickname, people had started to know him more commonly by that than his birth name anyway. Looking at Luke he shifted uncomfortably for a moment then addressed the party.
“I mean, its a cool group, I guess.” Luke laughed and shook his head.
“Well first, not really but it wasn’t my idea, and second, I meant how are you?” Luke looked at him with intent as Kill’s shifting became more prominent.
“Uh… I kind of was thinking I’d leave, Luke, if its all the same to you. I really don’t fit in here.” Luke nodded, keeping his disappointment to himself. He and Killian both were more or less outsiders in the Hollywood crowd. Luke had found a way to manage his anxieties and put on the show when he needed too. Killian however had never learned to truly stomach it. Smiling he put a hand on Killians shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
“Then get the hell out of here man, I’m pretty tired myself I’ll probably be calling it a night soon anyway” Kill could see through any one of Luke’s facades but returned the smile all the same. He appreciated the compassion and understanding.
“Are you sure? I know its kind of a big night, and… you know… I mean” He didn’t finish the sentence because he knew he didn’t need to and Luke already knew where it was going.
“Yeah, I tried calling, doesn’t matter. You were here, and I love you for that”
“Thanks, Luke” Killian smiled again but couldn’t help the his discomfort from showing.
“She knows how to get ahold of me if she wants, anyway, bring it in brother!”
The two men both stood and then embraced. Letting go and stepping back, Killian smiled and took his leave. Walking across the balcony and down the steps to call a cab. Luke watched as he walked away, glad he had shown up at all, but feeling the slight sting of pain as the emptiness around him really settled in.Turning back to the group behind him and sitting down, he really began to feel like he’d lost himself. The voices surrounding him seemed to grow in volume and consume him, alone in a crowded room, a phrase he had always loved.
“What was the movie called again?” A young attractive woman sitting next to Luke had apparently engaged him in conversation without him even realizing. Taken back by the sudden question he seemed startled and then blankly stared at her for a moment.
“Did you forget the name of your own movie…?” She wasn’t as condescending as she was genuinely curious. This girl was the type of person to believe a tabloid cover. She most likely only drank green smoothies and instagrammed her workout attire. Leaning in she smiled at him sweetly as he pulled himself together.
“Oh uh, no I didn’t. It’s called ‘As Sacred’ it’s kind of a thriller and drama, based on the concepts of…” Realizing his words were falling somewhat flat he returned the smile and stopped speaking. She nodded excitedly and put her hand on his thigh.
“Oh my god that’s right, it was so good, you’re so great in it” Still smiling yet extraordinarily uncomfortable, Luke nodded politely as his mind raced to come up with something, anything to get him out of there. Eventually after what felt like an eternity of discomfort he arrived at an idea.
“Excuse me, I need to go… Inside for a minute… Need to make an… Acting phone call?”
“Oh, really right now?”
“Uh… Yeah, sorry, talk when I’m back?” The barbie doll in front of him nodded and sat back and then at the last minute leaned forward and grabbed his hand as he stood.
“Are you… you know?…” Using her other index finger she tapped her left nostril, asking a very specific question. Luke closed his eyes in pain and shook his head. Why were these people even here. Right, to maintain an image. Perfect. The barbie had let go of his hand and after casually and quietly leaving the scene, he found himself in his bedroom. Checking his phone, out of habit more than anything, he saw a message. It was from Killian, it was simple yet it meant the world. It read:
Luke, you deserve all of this and more man, try not to hang yourself up on yesterday. K.
Smiling he pocketed the phone again, then turned to the closet and grabbed his favourite leather jacket and his keys from the bedside table. Locking his bedroom door behind him he made his way into the living room and then headed down to the garage. Almost at the bottom of the stairs he heard someone call his name.
“Luke, man, where you headed?” Turning around he saw that it was his roommate Garret. Luke didn’t necessarily need a roommate, he could afford rent on his own almost anywhere. He found the house too large for just him and the extra voices sometimes comforting in the silence. At this moment however, he just needed privacy.
“Oh, hey Garret, yeah I’m taking off man”
“Bailing on your own party…? Classic Luke” Luke did have a tendency to slip into the background whenever people were around, he himself never really minded yet apparently others had developed an opinion.
“Yeah, whatever I’m just going for a drive.”
“Okay man, I’ll just babysit your friends for you again” Garret always made jokes but Luke knew that he secretly loved stepping in for him and benefitted them both. Luke and Garret nodded at each other and Garret disappeared back outside as Luke entered the garage. Flicking on the light he surveyed his choices. He had two vehicles at the moment, his everyday car, and his joyride. A jet black Honda Phantom, simple yet he loved it. Walking over to the bike he picked up the helmet and put it on. The garage doors opened, and he eased the bike out and walked it down the driveway. He didn’t want too many people to be aware of his sudden departure. It was his party after all. He had found he didn’t like parties that much, especially the ones in his honour, those were the hardest to escape from. Swinging his leg over the vehicle he positioned himself comfortably and secured the helmet. It was a cool and crisp night, the best for a late night ride. Turning the machine on he was ready to go. After checking his phone one last time, with no expectations just hope, he put all things out of his mind and he was ready. Revving the engine he slowly drove off the driveway and onto the main street, turning left he picked up speed and propelled forward into the night.
We only have what we’re capable of in the moment,
The moment after that escapes us,
We have only to believe,
That in that single moment,
Everything we have,
Is everything we need.