Cold Moon

Blue Moon.  The second full moon in a month.  Won’t happen again for eighteen years, won’t have a blue moon on New Year’s Eve for… I don’t know how long.  Not long enough?  Too soon?  Maggie said a Blue Moon in December is a “Cold Moon.”  Every Blue Moon has a name according to its month.  It’s not actually cold in L.A.  More like “Lukewarm Moon.”  Cold, maybe, in emotion, in action.

One o’clock New Year’s morning and everyone is dying.  Two hours before most of L.A. was screaming “Happy New Year!” already drunk and then drinking one more in complete bliss and humanitarian spirit.  Maybe another for the road.

Two hours later, after the witching hour in this brave new world, people are screaming for help.  I hear nothing but sirens.  Police.  Paramedics.  Fire trucks.  I heard nothing but sirens at 2 am, when the celebrating citizens realized they had three too many and were drowning in their own filth, or crashed on a freeway, or victim to some other horror that happens when unarmed and intoxicated people walk the streets believing the world is a better place than it is.  So, there were many cries for help this morning of the New Year and those sirens were the first thing I heard, like the trumpets of Revelation.  The end.  Was it seven angels and their seven trumpets bringing down cities?  The analogy amuses me but I don’t believe in it.  The end is the beginning for those who survive.

I heard the world end this morning, but maybe those were the cries of a newborn. Wailing sirens sped past the hospital room window hoping to be there in time, hoping this wasn’t a year like all the others where people got hurt or died by ignorant and embarrassing means.  I was unable to rest and after the siren’s were gone I listened to Rachel sleep.  I wondered what she would think of it all when she woke up because I knew what I thought now and I couldn’t sleep because nothing had changed in world.  I couldn’t do anything, just like last year and the year before.  I wished I had drank as much as she did so I’d be unconscious during these first clumsy steps into the new year.

I sat awake knowing that those sirens were rescuing people who had made resolutions.  Millions of people thinking over and over “I am going to _____” or “I am not going to ____” and now those resolutions were forgotten in a panic of just trying to survive to see the sunrise, or drowned by intoxication to be forgotten in a fog of headaches and de ja vu.  Those resolutions were off to a good start.  I hadn’t made any resolution, I don’t think most of my friends did, either.  After so many years of wishing I noticed there was always more alcohol and drugs and larger screens than the year before.  Far less wishing and even less promises.  I was just waiting around like so many other young adults in L.A.  Waiting, wanting, waning.

I thought about the dinner.  Around nine last night we, that is, Rachel and I walked with Maggie to a swank restaurant close by, dressed to kill and die for, Rachel even wore heels which she never does.  It’s nice to play dress up and go out on the town, to down champagne in a fine place where everyone is smiling.  We huddled at the corner of the bar, waiting for our table, wondering what to drink.  It’s important to start the night off with the right drink, especially tonight.  I shamefully picked an amber ale, not even on tap, while Rachel and Maggie got the sales pitch for a champagne cocktail, something with top shelf bubbly and raspberries.  Rachel allowed me a sip, just one, and it was everything the waitress said it would be, a rare moment where advertising meets expectations.  Our table was ready and we took our drinks to a booth in the back, close to the restrooms and quiet.  We ordered fondue served with apple slices and bread, Rachel got a salad, I ordered something with meat and potatoes, and Maggie… I forget.  The night gets foggy from here.  I remember the food was excellent and then I had another bourbon with bitters and a slice of blood orange while Rachel and Maggie were going into their third raspberry champagne elixir.  I sipped bourbon the rest of the night and even with the heavy meal I was feeling buzzed.

Each of the drinks came with a little plastic animal hanging from the rim of the glass.  By the time I noticed just how drunk we were we had a zoo, two monkeys were mine, the other ten animals (four neon green gazelles, a lone blue elephant with half a trunk, two pink wolves, and three yellow monkeys) were split evenly between the women and they were trying their best to conceal just how drunk they were.  I was feeling pretty good myself and I sipped the last bit of bourbon and chewed on the slice of blood orange.  I gathered up the animals and Rachel slapped her credit card on the check that appeared out of thin air.  Rachel got up to use the restroom and I watched, hoping she wouldn’t fall flat on her face.  She made it to a short line of other tipsy young ladies waiting their turn, no longer smiling, just waiting and leaning hard against the wall, watching the ladies’ room door.  We had decided not to stay for the countdown and I was glad the plan was still sticking because the night was losing its original handsome luster.  The check vanished and returned, just in time for Rachel’s return.  She signed and complained to me that her phone wasn’t working.  I picked it up.  Her phone was vibrating and wouldn’t stop.  The screen was dark.  I knew she had dropped the cell into the toilet and she was too guarded to admit she was that drunk.

Outside, Rachel made me stop so she could gauge if her heels would be too painful for the trek home.  She decided to go barefoot and balanced against a divider separating the outside seating section from the sidewalk so she could take off her heels.  She lifted one heel off and I heard Maggie yell a warning.  Rachel fell into me and I was thrown back.  Our fall echoed all around Wilshire Boulevard.  The partition Rachel had held onto was now lying on top of her legs.  She removed one leg and whimpered.  The partition was not bolted to the sidewalk and I don’t know why I assumed that the part wall, part garden partition for the restaurant’s outdoor seating area would be secured to the sidewalk, but as I looked into Rachel’s watering eyes I couldn’t believe it.

I picked up the partition with Maggie’s help.  Rachel screamed, the leg she hadn’t moved didn’t look right.  Underneath the gardening soil from the partition and the increasing flow of blood I could see bone, a tiny sliver of white jutting out of her knee.  The people inside were pointing, laughing, and trying not to stare at the drunk people and their antics.  They couldn’t see what had happened now that the partition was back in place.  Maggie called 911 and I held Rachel’s hand.  I never thought I could see pain, but I saw it where I usually saw love in Rachel’s eyes.  Watery, intense, and blind.  I don’t think she could see me.  Her broken leg held her hostage.  I thought it was an awful thing for a body to do.  Pain was a message and Rachel had received it loud and clear and it was time for it to go away, but it wasn’t.  I helped her sit up and held her hair back as she puked next to me.  She gasped and said something to me, but her words were drowned out by the siren, the first of many to come.  Two paramedics climbed out of the back and pushed me aside.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be like last year.”  Said one of the medics, the younger one, and his hard-boiled partner looked at him like it was already a long night.  The younger medic asked Rachel basic health related questions, allergies, that sort of thing.
“Make any New Year’s resolutions?”  He asked with a forced smile.  I appreciated him trying to cheer her up, but it wasn’t making anything better.  The older medic grunted, a sign for the rookie to shut up.

I sit in a chair next to Rachel’s hospital bed.  My mind comes full circle as I look up at the setting full moon, the cold light dying out and the sun only hours away from making its first appearance this year.  Rachel sleeps soundly, she’s going to miss the sunrise, but that’s fine.  Her leg is hoisted up and in a cast.  It wasn’t as bad as it had looked and from the hustle in the hospital I can tell hundreds of people are discovering they are getting much worse from the coming year.  I stroke Rachel’s hair and she murmurs in her sleep.  I wonder if she did have a resolution.  What would I resolve to do this year?  I thought about it while watching the revolving red lights from the ambulances.  The spinning lights cast Film Noir shadows across the hospital room in red waves.  I wouldn’t want to start over, to repeat anything, I had no regrets.  I made my resolution with no witnesses in the pale lunar glow and the swirling lights of emergency vehicles.  I resolved to do what I could, to keep trying, and to make the best of what I couldn’t control.  I would tell Rachel in the morning what I thought.  She would like it.  You couldn’t promise yourself so many specific things, only promise yourself you’d try to roll with the chaos, try to make some warmth in the light of a cold moon.

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