I’m still drunk as I awake inside the passenger bus. It heaves as it pull up alongside a quiet road, the bus rumbling into otherwise quiet darkness at what appears to be the outskirts of a mid-sized city. Fumbling my way outside the bus, the other passengers are whispering of Costa Rica, but each unsure if ‘here’ was actually ‘There’. Did we pay to take this bus to Costa Rica? No one could put it together any better than — and suddenly I remember the sign for it posted on the highway before I fell back asleep again. Nevertheless, I couldn’t be sure of my memory and I was too drowsy anyway to care enough to find out for sure. We had arrived, and wherever we were the place we had all agreed to go, not a lot was happening.
We soon grouped and moved in the group away from the still rattling bus, that grizzly mechanical churn shrinks as we turned at the dead traffic light, then all but lost at the din of nighttime bugs that quickly rose from the earth. Further into the darkness only punctuated by streetlamps, we moved along the pavements edge, passing empty tenements and overgrown homes, sad plastic toys and peeling slogans of old political campaigns staked into the weeds, wet from recent rain. Pools of standing water swirling with bugs trembled silently. It was the kind of strange city quiet one hears deep into the night, when an acorn fallen on a leaf could be mistaken for an animal, or even ones own footsteps. This was nowhere near Costa Rica.
They jumped the fence it seemed at once, a surge of boots and hands bouncing off the feeble brick building. They swarmed the windows and doors and were absorbed into them, evaporating as on a black and white photograph into unlit places. Everyone moving in unison drew me after them, over the fenced barrier and into the floodlight that had somehow opened just for me, scorched the grounds and the dirt path pressed into the grass. The dirt path pointed to the rear entrance to the apartment building, but I climbed. Up the iron ladder and slipped through the nearest open window into a dim musty living room. I fumbled around, tripping over this and that before pushing opening the far door that revealed a rotten wooden staircase. I creaked upwards, ever upwards, slowly, towards the sound. The door at the top must have been painted a hundred times, and the edges faintly glow.
The apartment beyond is small, and barren if not for a TV and a few pillows on the hardwood floor. They’re sprawled across the room, the men and women from the bus, coupled on the pillows or spread alone and drinking cans of beer. I lower myself down and feel the floor buckle and creak. Someone hands me a drink with a limp hand. Candles dance in the windows. A girl stands up, starts twisting her hips to the flickering silence. I watch her dance, the part where her ankles show between her jeans and her little boots. Everyone laughs, claps, stomps. She bounces and throws her hands in the air one last time.
We settle down and get to talking. The TV watching everything with a dead screen. I’m somewhere between drunk and tired but it’s not long before i’ll get swept up again, the heat building inside, somewhere further into the unknown. Am I intoxicated with alcohol, or something else? What is it happening now, that separates us, that keeps us from finding these forms? The candles glow, a faint glow that permeates the atmosphere. The floodlight clicks off, and all that’s generated now in the darkness is the warmth of those windows atop the tenement. The candles burn, melt, and lay sighed down the sills in gray morning. The bodies gone away, the cans left to collect dust and light. Beer drips from a half drunk can down into the cracks between the boards.