The hallway was dark, illuminated only slightly by the red light coming off of a near by neon sign. I was itching to leave. The bugs that crawl under my skin had come alive with a vengeance. I had to leave. It wasn't until I was halfway down the hallway that I saw them. I could feel the cold sweat settling in on their hot upper lips, the red light making the wet beads look like splatters of blood. Before I could cover my ears the grinding of their teeth obliterated my eardrums. These are the kind of people you want to run away from as much as you want to help. I needed to leave.
"Leaving so soon?"
The bugs were really dancing then. I knew I had to answer or he'd keep pushing.
"Yes. Right now."
I grabbed my girl and made a forward motion that can only be called walking if one is feeling particularly generous. It looked more like a fumbling false start in an olympic race. He took advantage of my stumble and blocked our way. When was the last time he had a shower?
"It's so good to see you."
"Do I know you?" was what I wanted to say but I happen to be a fan of propriety.
"Um... yeah. You too."
He looked familiar, but only in a vague, blurry sort of way. Out of nowhere "Somebody That I Used to Know" started playing on a loop inside my brain. The bugs always loved Elliott Smith. He started rubbing his nose and snapping his fingers. This, I could tell, was a problem. Clearly, it meant that he was having a wonderful time and no one was going anywhere. His girlfriend was shifting her weight from one foot to the other. She was so busy trying to pretend that she too was having a wonderful time that she didn't notice the little bit of white powder left on her right nostril. Yes, darling, you are clearly having a wonderful time.
A crowd had gathered in the hallway, a minor traffic pile up. The bugs had spread. Everyone was tired. The night was over. Chattering had given way to yawns and the signing of credit card slips. The angry mob behind us was growing larger. He didn't notice. To him it was a captive audience. He used his considerable girth to block the way out. He smiled his best mayoral smile and started shaking hands. He smelled faintly of baby laxative.
"Where's your boyfriend?" He leered at me.
"I don't have one, but this is my girlfriend."
"I see, no man could compare to me, eh?"
I assumed the elbows he jabbed into my sides were an attempt at camaraderie.
"You know, you're a classic, strong woman. You belong in a different era."
The only person he made sense to was himself. He failed to notice that he had sprouted four heads, which was surprising given that he seemed to be checking out his hair in our pupils. The bugs are uncomfortable with multi-headed persons and as such I feared they would burst out of my skin, which is never pleasant, what with the bits of epidermis, pus and blood that tend to get everywhere.
The crowd from the back had had enough. They were pushing to get out, lest their skin burst as well.
The force was enough to push us past him and into the street where it was safe. I saw a blur of moving lips as I rushed by. It wasn't until we had burst into the open and the dull roar had died to a sharp hum that I heard him talking to his lady.
"You know I'm a teacher. Like Jesus, only better."
I looked back for her reaction, but he wasn't talking to his lady. There was no lady. There was only him. Alone, talking to a brick wall. I wondered how long he would stand there. I wondered if he would die there. I recognized him then. I started to go back in after him, as I had so many times before, but this time it was too late. My only option was to save myself. I turned my back and walked away.