I followed Oz into the bar. It was like every other bar we had gone to -- dark, dingy, cheap, and it would be like every other bar we would go to during our "vacation". It was like Oz instinctively knew where to find the trashiest bars in all of Berlin, and he'd lead me there, the blind leading the blind in the hope of finding Jesus.
The place reeked of smoke and cheap beer, the fog inside caused by either cigarette smoke or, fuck, I don't know, the sheer attitudes of the people in there. There was a thrash hardcore heavy metal band grating out of the jukebox, but as far as we were concerned, it was smooth jazz and the fog was the finest incense. We weren't there to have a good time. We were never anywhere to have a good time.
It was about redemption, salvation, getting ourselves finally fucking clean. So we came here. I don't know why, it just seemed like a place to go.
It was better than L.A., that was for certain. Good old Los Angeles, city of angels, pretty angels that stocked you up like a pharmacy. Coke, speed, meth, acid, pot, special k, heroin...
We had to stop it. And Berlin was just a place to go, or so we told our agent, the bandmembers, the press, his mom, my girlfriend, going to get clean clean clean and write new songs that would revive our flagging fame.
So we moved from bar to bar, crawling dazedly. No drugs for us, no sir. Nothing but constant cigarettes and alcohol, because those weren't real drugs, no, not at all, they were legal. Kill you in a few decades instead of a few years. Perfectly safe for a rock star life.
And every night, as Oz held me as I puked into the toilet, I wondered why I believed that. And why he believed it as well.
But before that, before the sickness and the drunkeness and the eventual death that lingered over everyone we knew, there were the bars. The glorious bars with the glorious people. And we were in such a bar, with large German bikers surrounding us. I kept quiet, I don't know any German, and Oz led me everywhere, including here.
I ordered a beer, rich German brand served in a regular bottle with an elaborate label, and Oz ordered vodka, neat. No one else there drank vodka, and they all stopped to stare at him, their glassy eyes ogling the small pale thin man in the black clothing.
He was fucking gorgeous back then, did I mention that? Still short, but he managed to act tall. Black suits that should've hung on him like curtains, but were perfectly fitted to him. Pale, pale skin and thin, thin body, like a corpse, almost, except for that hair. Orangey-red, like a goddamn carrot, except at the roots, baby white blond, and it was fucking gorgeous. It was longer than it had ever been, down to his ears, and he looked good. He looked a hell of a lot better than I did.
Oz on drugs was more alert, to the point of twitchy, always knowing exactly what was going on when and never ever deviating from the fact. He was electricity in a five-five frame, like his soul was about to shine out of his body.
I was asleep. Asleep in my body, asleep in my mind, asleep in my soul, a zombie to the streets. Long limp hair, skinny, yeah, but on me it looked sickly, like I had risen from the grave and had forgotten to suck the blood of the nearest virgin.
And together, we were quite the pair. Tall and stumbling drunkard and quiet, always aware small creature. I was the dead, and he was the never-born.
And together, we were simply victims of a decadent culture, the last clubbers who missed the final subway home and could never find a cab. Shipwrecks of the streets, shipwrecks of the life.
And it was no wonder we spent hours in that dingy little bar, drinking and drinking until, finally, it closed down and we stumbled out onto the sidewalk. I stumbled. Oz never seemed to take a step, always gliding like his feet never touched the ground.
We made our back to the exhaustingly opulent hotel, hiding out in our room with the clean sheets and dirty lives. And it was the same routine over and over again, puking and passing out on the bed, while Oz sits on the edge, stroking my back and smoking a pack of cigarettes, lost in the nicotine haze and activity.
And eventually, eventually, he'll curl up next to me, wrap his pale arms around me, and hold me against the eventual doom we both face. He'd kiss the back of my neck, clammy and cold, pulse shaking erratically, and just hold me until I was alive again, until we both awoke and went out to the bars again.
I drank and drank, losing myself in bittersweet hops and the flush of drunkeness. Oz just sat there, lost in the sensation, one ear on the crowd, one ear on the jukebox, one eye on the bartender and one eye on me, always one eye on me, making sure I'm coherent, protected, alive. I leaned in and whispered a dirty joke under my breath, something I had picked up from a bored college groupie in the Midwest.
He chuckled lowly. "You're drunk."
That ethereal creature I called my best friend gestured towards the door. "Let's go."
He stood, and I followed, stumbling, tripping over my own damn feet. The cool night air woke me up slightly and I looked at him -- I mean really looked at him -- in the light of the near-full moon.
He wasn't human. There was no fucking way he was human, the gorgeous pale ghost who's feet never touched the ground. Fairy guitarist, always crashing in the same reality over and over and over, sparkledust and future smashing into asphalt and concrete.
He was exquisite. And I...I loved him. God, how I loved him. I told him that, ears springing to my eyes. Drunkenly, sobbingly, I told him I loved him, that I had always loved him, and that I would do anything -- anything for him.
He just smiled a razor-thin smile and whispered "I know."
Of course he knew. He knew me inside and out, better than I knew myself, knew me the way the drugs knew my body. Which exactly what he was. He was my drug, and I was his, and we'd never break that particular addiction, 'til death do us part, all the fucking way.
And I collapsed against his arms and knew I'd never be able to leave.