The Lavender Room by Bobby Minelli
I suppose, when it comes down to it, what everyone really wants is a simple answer as to why I was out on the fire escape in the first place. They’ve all been treating me like a goddamn deviant or a lunatic or something, and the more I think about it, the more I think that’s what they really want – a simple answer. People always want simple answers to questions that don’t necessarily have them, which is probably half of what’s wrong with the world anyway. It had started to snow while I was out there, and the Christmas lights lined the street below me, I guess I could have said I was out there to look at the lights, but it would have been a lie.
I probably should’ve just told everybody I was out there to waste time. That, they would’ve believed. I was a pretty good basketball player, an all-around athlete really, but I never had any sort of lust for competition. My coaches said I lacked drive. I can also draw by hand extraordinarily well, but my AP art teacher said I lacked the discipline to pursue the field. Truthfully, reading, writing, math, and lots of other subjects come quite naturally to me. I’m a regular wonder if you ask all the adults who have commented on my potential and its lack of fulfillment over the years, but it’s my frame of mind that really makes me struggle. My Dad always says that I can’t string victories together, and I think I know what he means, despite the fact that I hate sports metaphors. Anyway, that’s all secondary, because you know what my real problem is? My real problem is, multitude of unused natural talents or no, if there’s one thing I have a true gift for, it’s wasting time. I can lose whole days wandering with my head, or my feet, or both, and the real bitch of it is, that after I’ve done it, even though I know I accomplished zilch, it doesn’t feel like time wasted. It feels like I spent the time… appreciating something. Not sure what though. Anyway, that’s what I was doing when I left the Theta Winter Formal on the top floor of the Altmont Hotel and went two floors down to the Lavender Room for the first time. I was wasting time, and feeling like a jerk about upsetting my date, Rosie. That first time, when I spotted the fire escape through the window, across the bar, in a lonely corner, glowing with the neon from the light that hangs off the side of the old hotel, I really was doing what I do best, wasting time. But the second time, when I went back up to the Lavender Room, that was when I went out through the window onto the fire escape, and that time, that second time, I went back for a reason.
Already I can see how none of this seem simple. Dr. Froman used to say that I talk in circles sometimes, but I really don’t think so, unless I also think in circles, which I guess I might. I wish I could be sorry about the way I think, but the truth is I’m not. Like I said, there aren’t a whole lot of simple answers in life, I can tell you that much simply.
I didn’t jump. How about that? Everyone seems to think I jumped. I fell, I didn’t jump. I’m still here, still amongst the wretched beautiful living. I can tell you that much too. I agree with most people who seem to think I can’t do anything right, but I’d like to think I could kill myself successfully if I really had a mind to. I didn’t jump. Christ. Isn’t that simple enough? I wish I had the perfect answer for people. I don’t get any credit for it, but I do try for perfection – I really do – but you don’t get perfection unless you’re trying to heal something that’s incredibly badly hurt, and even if you’re incredibly badly hurt, you don’t always get perfection, I always seem to land pretty far from the goddamn mark. I thought of that on the fire escape outside the Lavender Room, cold Chicago wind whipping my face, looking down at the pretty holiday lights along Michigan Avenue, purple neon softly buzzing above me. I thought maybe I was so hurt that if I tried to fix it, I’d bring about a Christmas Miracle. Am I talking in circles?
The rest of this epic holiday tragedy can be found in Sheriff Nottingham 12: Festivus, slipping under the tree on December 23rd.