Excerpt | Blood Orange: Meridian
Meridian sat and watched his money pass through his teeth and form a fire in his belly. He was drunk and getting loud, pushing and slapping other men trying to drink their sorrows away, chasing away the few women that came through the doors, eager to find a bed to creep into. Meridian would laugh and hold his hands away like he’d not meant any harm. Five minutes would tick by and he would be at it again.
“Hey pal. Keep your shit together or I’ll throw you out. Understand?” The bartender was a large man and his fists were as big as softballs.
Meridian smirked. “Do you think I give a rat’s ass about this shit hole of a bar? I just came here to forget where I’ve been but there is no one to dance with. Will you dance with me?” He laughed then, those big teeth dancing under the neon signs that ran along the wall behind the bartender, giving his white shirt a sickly yellow look, like nicotine stains on pale flesh.
The bartender just shook his head.
There was a tiny stage near the back of the bar. The lights were dim and the stools sat broken and feeble. A frail, old black man meandered in from the cold and ordered a gin and tonic.
He called himself Maurice and tucked beneath the crook of his arm was a violin as old as the skin that hung from the man’s bones.
Maurice took the stage and began a love affair with those that would watch. He plucked along the strings to check their tonality and then, he began, moving in between notes like daredevils on motorcycles through highway traffic.
A melody hit Meridian that night and he could barely stand. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard and he nearly cried. Instead, he listened and bought Maurice his drinks.
After an hour, the bartender gave Meridian a tap on the back. “Hey pal. Your credit may be good other places, but not here. Pay up.”
Meridian hit him square in the face and broke the man’s nose.
Meridian, in a fit of rage screamed at Maurice to keep playing. His eyes were on fire and the old man’s hand trembled but his music swayed on through the night once more.
Meridian hopped over the bar and stuffed a one hundred dollar bill into the bartender’s mouth and proceeded to pull out every one of his teeth with his bare hands.