Dust in the Wind - Part Five
A lone figure waited covered in shadow on the stage in the middle of a bar filled with the pungent aroma of stale cigarette smoke and alcohol. A single light lit the stage and started to heat Brand's face, rendering his eyes useless. But that didn't matter. He knew the words this time; there would be no need to look into the monitor to find his way. This time he would let the music control him. This time he would become the vessel for the music to leave that silent, unknown abyss and enter into the world of the living.
The twang of plucked guitar strings filled his mind and body. The pull of the music was stronger than he'd ever remembered. This was going to be his shining moment. He felt it as his eyes closed and the audience disappeared. Now it was just Brand and the music merging together in a beautiful, loving embrace. His voice sang out like never before:
Only for a moment and the moment's gone
All my dreams
Pass before my eyes of curiosity
Megan smiled in that loving way only she could and it touched Brand to the core. It was a special smile between friends... between soul mates that would forever be linked, no matter what happened in their lives.
They were sitting around the kitchen table in Brand's apartment. Old pizza boxes and Chinese take-out containers littered the sink. A fly had landed on Buba's nose as he rested his eyes (which seemed to involve snoring, go figure). After Buba irritatedly smacked at the fly, Brand and Megan both shared a chuckle.
"Have a good nap, old man?" Brand asked. "It's almost morning, up a little past your bed time aren't you?"
"I wasn't sleeping," Buba replied grumpily but with a smile.
"Shame on you, Brand," Megan said, coming to the rescue. "It's not Buba's fault he's ancient and we are so young and vibrant."
Buba let out a playful growl then reached out, placing a massive hand on each of their heads and tussled their hair until it was a wild mop of a mess on their heads. Megan squealed like a pig, barely refraining from shrieking. Brand just rolled his eyes and grinned at Buba. As he sat back, Buba admired the new hairdos with approval. "There, now you look more like the kids you are."
All they are is dust in the wind
Blood was dripping onto Megan's just-cleaned white carpet as Brand staggered/was dragged through the front door by Buba with Megan in tow. With a gentle ease, Buba settled Brand into the nearest chair. It was rather fluffy and also very white, not for long.
A loud groan escaped Brand's lips as his surely cracked, if not broken, ribs jarred while he settled into the chair. His hair was matted with blood and sticking to the side of his head, while more blood than seemed humanly possibly decorated his face and clothes. Had this been Halloween, Brand would have surely won the costume contest.
Megan rushed back into the main room and knelt down in front of Brand. She set a bucket down next to her and pulled out a warm washcloth. While she worked at cleaning some of the blood from Brand's face, Buba went over to the window and peaked through the blinds like he'd seen in some movie.
"I hope it was worth it," Megan said softly. A quick rinse in the bucket and the washcloth was used to wipe away more blood, revealing the inch long, ragged cut just at Brand's hairline.
If it hadn't hurt so much to breathe, Brand might have made a really shitty reply right about then. Lucky for him that he didn't.
Buba returned from the window just in time to see the nasty cut. Shaking his head, he took the bucket as soon as Megan rinsed the washcloth again then went and refilled it with clean water. As he set it back down, he looked toward Brand with a supportive smile. To Brand, that smile was the greatest gift Buba could ever have give him at this rather painful moment.
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
"Don't give me that shit, Brand," Megan said loudly, nearly a shout. "You could have been killed." She turned her back on him and gazed out the window at the night sky. The stars were barely visible above the bright lights of the buildings nearby. She was fighting to hold back tears, fighting harder than she probably ever had fought before. There seemed be a lot of fighting going on lately, one way or another.
"You're overreacting. You do this every time."
"Nine months ago I was cleaning your blood out of my carpet and my furniture," Megan said. Her voice was quiet now as she gazed unfocused at the night sky.
"That wasn't my fault. What's the matter with you?" Now Brand was getting loud. He slammed his fist against the arm of the sofa, hard. "This is how it's always been dammit. Nothing has changed, Megan. I mean for fucksakes, this is our life. This has always been our life!"
"Your life, Brand. This has always been your life. Some of us have grown up. Some of us have become the adults that we are. While others of us have stayed the children we were."
"Now... oh, I swear to fucking... you know what? Go to hell, bitch." Brand spun on his heels and stormed out the apartment, slamming the door hard enough to knock a picture off the wall. A dog started barking several apartments down. Brand shouted something at a nosey neighbor, but his voice was too far by then to be heard clearly. Megan's tears finally escaped.
All we are is dust in the wind
The song had enraptured Brand. Now the violin medley started up, giving Brand a moment of wordless reverie. It didn't matter much, though. He was lost in the fluid emotion of the song and the invisible audience as he continued to sing his heart and soul out.
Nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won't another minute buy
"I lost her."
Brand was seated on Buba's sofa, his cheeks stained with red streaks from now dried tears. After wandering aimlessly and throwing back some disgusting alcoholic beverage or two, he finally ended up at the one place he could always go when he was in trouble. The one place he'd never admit he could go, but where he'd go nonetheless.
Two steaming mug of hot chocolate spread a tempting aroma throughout the small apartment. Buba held his hand warmly against one of the mugs and sipped from it. Usually when Brand came like this, Buba was good for one thing: listening. More often than not, he came to his own conclusions without much help from Buba. At least, that's how Brand saw it. That wasn't entirely how it was, though.
"I lost her and now... now, I don't know what to do." Brand looked up at Buba and frowned. "Put that fucking mug down and tell me what to do!"
Both of Buba's eyebrows shot up, but only for a moment. "Didn't your mama ever tell you ought not use such language, Brand?" Without waiting for a reply, Buba continued. "Do you know why she lashed out like she did?" The shrugged shoulders reply told Buba what he already knew. "Perhaps she's scared. Perhaps she's afraid she's going to lose you. I ain't a smart man, heaven forbid anyone confuse me with one, but golly Brand, she needs you just as much as you need her and when you get into fights and the like, you are making her worse fears come that much closer to reality."
All we are is dust in the wind
They held each other far into the night.
After the apologies were said and the forgiveness given, Brand and Megan talked for several hours. Hidden fears were brought to the light in a manner Brand had never experienced before. Looking back, he would say this was the point in his life he started to truly become a man. Flanked by the unknowing guidance of Buba and the love and support of Megan, Brand was slowly reshaping the world he lived in as well as the rules he lived by. It was the first time in his life he'd ever even considered how someone else's feelings were affected by the things he did.
He still had a long ways to go, but it was a start.
Everything is dust in the wind
The table was decorated in white. In the center of the table, a magnificent golden-brown turkey begged to be carved. Mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, peas, green beans, stuffing, sweet potatoes, corn, rolls, and more surrounded the turkey. The delicious mixing of the various aromas provided Brand, Megan, and Buba with appetites they couldn't wait to satisfy.
Megan started to hand the carving knife over to Brand, but he just smiled and shook his head. Buba received the honors, and the pure joy that filled his face was more than anyone could ever have dreamed. He carved the turkey and placed slices of moist, white turkey meat onto each of the plates.
The food was beyond heavenly. Everything was perfect. The pleasant conversations mingled with the overwhelmingly wonderful scent of Thanksgiving, giving the air an almost unreal atmosphere.
These three were family. Perhaps they were even more of a family than most real families. They all loved each other and they'd all do anything for each other.
As the pies came to the table, Brand let out a belch that nearly shook the walls. At first Buba looked at him sternly, but that didn't last. All three of them broke out in a fit of laughter, followed by a monstrous burp from Buba. Then Buba and Brand both looked at Megan expectantly. She didn't disappoint. Her enormous belch could probably have been heard in China. A raging laughter consumed all three of them for the longest of times.
Sitting around the table, picking at leftover turkey, Brand looked at his two friends and smiled. He couldn't help but feel connected to these people in a way that was beyond description. They were his lifelines, his connection to life and despite all their ups and downs, they were the world to him.
Peaceful silence lazily blanketed him as he watched Buba and Megan, each tugging on an end of the turkey's wishbone. When the bone snapped in half, he couldn't help but grin at his friends. Megan jumped to her feet and celebrated her victory. Her half of the turkey wishbone was bigger therefore her wish would come true.
She closed her eyes tightly, then opened them and turned to ash in an instant. Brand watched, frozen with horror. The fear of even breathing overcame him as sprinkles of ash started to fall from the standing monument of ash that was once Megan. Then Buba blew on her and the ash flew everywhere, turning the once white Thanksgiving meal into a blanket of Megan's ashes.
When Brand turned to look at Buba, he found a sick looking grin directed at him right before Buba's face melted off, sloshing down his neck and clothes. Moments later, the skeleton that remained standing collapsed into a useless pile of bones on top of Buba's clothing.
Brand was alone. All he could do was scream.