The New Bohemians
By Utahna Faith.
he light creeps into the edges of their night, their night that feels endless, timeless, like they’d like life to be. Vampire nights flying between New Orleans’ Lower Decatur Street, Frenchman Street, the Hideout, the Spotted Cat, the Dragon’s Den, The Abby.
They will live forever, young and beautiful and exited and exciting. If only the dawn wouldn’t come.
They are dizzy with decadence, with guitar notes or brush strokes or poetry, with Cosmos or bourbon or Chartreuse or Burgundy, each to his or her own. They are dancing and laughing and making plans they are forgetting to make time for. They are spilling out secrets like liquid from a top-heavy but beautiful martini glass onto the already sticky Abby floor. They spill their secrets into one another’s ears, in the drunken fest of trust and love and temporarily invulnerable vulnerability.
And then the light comes. The staunchest of them deny, hide. The slotted plastic curtains of the Abby doorway fall. The light inside doesn’t dim for night or brighten for daytime. One of the group, the one farthest gone, might pull out black-rimmed sunglasses; another might say, gently, baby, it’s not that bright yet. Sweetie, no, we’re inside.
And the dawn keeps coming. They ignore it, but still it comes.
City workers wash the streets. Sometimes the drinkers see the big, low, street-cleaning trucks inching by. More often they don’t notice; they only look outside, marvelling at the lightness and the hour, as they deposit more quarters in the jukebox next to the door. They see that the street is wet, and each time it tricks them for a moment. Has it rained? They look at the sky, clear and lavender and growing lighter by the moment. Soon the sun will shine. They will wend their way home, helping one another. They may stagger or skip or meander. Sunglasses are de rigueur, now.
They pass the creamy buildings on Ursaline Street, Antebellum structures milky in buttercup yellow, rosy brick, white-chocolate mint.
They duck into Croissant d’Or, black-clad and smoky among fresh morning joggers. The revelers lean against one another sleepily and order hot cocoa and croissants.
This is living. This is dying, slowly, as we each are from the moment we are born.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Utahna Faith lives in New Orleans. Her stories appear in various magazines including Exquisite Corpse and Clean Sheets and in collections such as French Quarter Fiction and the Norton anthology of flash fiction. She is co-editor for 3:AM Magazine and is editor of Wild Strawberries, a journal of flash fiction and poetry.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, August 9th, 2001.