Joie de vivre

The night began with half-note arrangements, dusty boots slamming the accelerator as a cloud of history and corruption blew into the wind behind me. I, Louis Delacroix, was on a wild-eyed journey in the way only the French can be; a canopy above my head and a brown ruddy road quaking beneath my greedy tire. Frenzied, I brushed my hair aside as I held my phone close, shouting in ecstatic acquiescence as the voice, dearest Cameron, friend of the House of West, scurried in his shuttered half-squealed way, his HA-RA-RUMPHING and mad hatter sermons cutting through the dreary rain of an uncommonly cold summer afternoon

I arrived at Cameron West's temporary home, the residence of an ex-girlfriend whose soul ruptured after their sporadic bouts of romance came to a grinding halt. A wide-grinned Cameron returned with surrender in his eyes and a warrant stitched into his soul, but we renegades, raconteurs of the forgotten questions of eternal happiness, climbed into my jalopy and crashed along the open dusty back road, the kind that has a number for a name

Two thousand years of tyranny flooded the veins of Cameron, but he held a cheery form of pandemonium in his pocketbook, whooping out into the uncaring dead day, where the sun refused to be uncontained by its curly blankets of iron admonition. But we persisted, pressing into the mad storm clouds as though they were salvation, as though we could hold them to ourselves and coo to them in the night, the sort of unremarkable infatuation that men and boys are so frequently infected with. But I did not lust for carnal emptiness, I wanted the sky to crack and the wisdom of Sophia to embrace me, as I would melt inside of her with fervor and completion

We stopped into a bookstore, a dingy old place with knowledge stacked in hundreds of rows, happy little books cascading along each other, jutting and demanding a new home. This orphanage was closing soon, screaming babes crying out for help, and Cameron laughed in his half-mad way as he trudged along, picking and slicing three books from ancient-looking shelves. I could not see his wildly shifting collection, jabbing at a shelf as he plucked a book, smirked and mumbled three words from it, then buried it among the other forgotten treasures others had passed along. I pored and searched and believed in Heaven at that moment, needing to feel alive and feeling a sudden shock along my spine as I wondered, could this be my one true love? could this book enlighten my soul, enrapture me to higher callings? And breathless, I stumbled into the poet's corner, snatching with greed Ginsberg, Whitman, Frost, and others, too many to count, too many to care. Enthrallment, encapsulating my soul, eternally bound within a hardback cover

We made a pact to gather the other members of our band, trudging along the black asphalt hopefulness of the city so that we could knock upon the window of Dante Page. We climbed along the sideways half-warped deck behind his house, and when certain that there was no need for privacy or indecency, we rapped along his window, as we were accustomed to doing. Mere moments passed before Dante, with open arms and that look of confirmation that dwells within the hearts of the righteous and courageous, took us into his home, greeting us as though we were soldiers returning from some forgotten, ancient war. He exchanged words with Aurora, the warm-hearted exuberance that filled his steely blue eyes with the conviction that compels his every atom into the assured grasp of knowing salvation, and the plan was set into motion

We climbed into the jalopy again as both Cameron and Dante made calls, simultaneous summons issued to our other companions, to complete our hysterical fraternal rite. Arranging to meet at a sterling bar of ultimate and unconquerable tranquility, we found our respite as we crawled through the swinging-swaying doors, an infectious brilliance in our souls and the trumpets of Dante's thousand choirs of angels thundering behind us, reminding the world of the divinity found in fellowship and piety

The next to arrive, swiveling in a begrudgingly conciliatory way, was Dean Skeller, the goggled two-eyed captain of knowledge who exudes the sense and mindfulness that encircles us in a ring of indigo, transforming our humble society and elevating us to reach Sophia's waiting hand. Dean was nearly silent, attesting only in glimpses of confession that his soul was, like all mortals, wounded by the clawing demons that condemn us to a life of pain, but all the same he celebrated life with us, embracing Sophia's reminder that to be alive was to be supreme

We began to speak of women, with Dean in his quiet manner reminding us that we should all be thankful for our past, his own conspired and muddled in the tasteless spirals that left him in a humbled and hat-tipping mood. Cameron then spoke in disjointed, many-minded way, grasping at a hundred thoughts and spraying them, a machine gun of a million bits of cosmic fluorescence sparkling along the dim rivets of the somber table we seized and painted in our vibrant way

"Tomorrow never sees me as I saw myself in yesterday's clothes," he said with a hoot and a slap on the table, humming three notes of a song that waivered into our conversation like a crow that perches on an open windowsill. "From here on out, my God, we're all together, we're in this place, tonight is our night to seize Life and remind her that we can feel, that we are here, that everything and everyone is just another marker on our unmapped road trip across her open thighs," he laughed again and hooted and hollered as drinks were set before us, smiling slyly at the young waitress, who winked and carried on with her duties, melting into the darkness of the bar again

"I don't believe in love," said I, already feeling the first of several drinks course through my veins, faint as I was in the hours we had journeyed out. "It's a vulgar word," I explained to confused stares, "I can't be a part of it, it makes a pure intention seem like some dirty, normal convenience, an expression or phrase that everyone steals and paints on their door, six billion red doors all the same, I want more than a red door, a simple cage to put myself in, a single dream to pursue"

"Has he been drinking already?" crooned Corey Madden, the cherub-faced angel who won the admiration of all the women he happened by, though he connected with another soul, wrapping his angelic wings around her, the two of them inseparable in that newfound joyous way of lovers. "Give me what he's having," he laughed, and Cameron whooped and clapped him on the back, beaming at the completion of our covenant

"No, no, let me explain," I said, smirking with resignation as my fellows clapped and chortled. "I seek something unexplainable, something beyond words, like... I want to find a woman for whom I could pry the stars like jewels, give them to her, and be unafraid of the wraiths of galaxies or the Keeper of the Stars and all the repercussions for such an act of pure and complete gesture of gratitude... I wish for someone for whom I could sew together a million words of adoration, all in earnest dedication, and still feel unconvinced that I had said enough of her glory and her awesome, soaring notes that resonate within the fabric of my very being, rippling and waving through me as I stood with complete adoration of her temporal, cosmic, and eternal form, leathery and incorruptible, mortal and immortal, as enamored with life as all of us, a raison d'être, a refuge for renegades, a home for beggars, a warm wisdom I can enter and erupt with joy and comfort and surrender--"

"Sounds like you're talking about getting laid," Cameron howled, earning the laughter and admiration of us all, for we envied Cameron for his free spirit and his ever-growing grin and especially for his frenzied swath of emotion, that maelstrom, that symphony of enclosure, a complete yet sprawling image of himself that spilled into the lives of others, inviting us to exist in the private world where everyone was damned and yet they wore unpainted smiles

My God, the night, in its half-bound glory, bleeding into the moonlight, with chaos and angels and all the grimace that comes with too much to drink and the brilliant white-hot light of purest joy that infected every soul we came across, even as our numbers began to dwindle; first Dante, who revered the dawn and God's promises and held his oaths to be sacrosanct, walking into his home in a half-drunk state that we comforted, talking him out of further madness and knowing that when he promised to stay home and never drive, he would uphold his word, for his word was law and Dante was incapable of breaking testament or Law, and then when bespectacled Dean Skeller screamed in his silent way into the night, sober as he was known to be and without the dreams of canopies and mad-god star thievery that plagued my aching soul, and then when Corey was driven around the town in hopes of clearing his mind, finally coming to his senses around some neon sign begging for a gambler and a jack of hearts, yes it was then that we took Corey back into his truck, whooping and cavorting in the way that the dwindling armies do when their numbers vanish in the frenetic moments of pitched battle

Cameron and I slid into a gleaming red and black club where women debase themselves, sitting in the back and discussing his mad ways and impossible plans as though recalled from some fallen civilization, a dream that broke into a million pieces after being clawed and mauled by inanimate Siberian tigers, until we were expelled from this Hellish reminder of the lowest needs of mortal flesh for refusing to even buy two drinks, which was required in lieu of paying cover, but I wished to keep my senses and what remained of my wallet so we hurried back to the House where Cameron West now dwelled, and we said our cheery goodbyes

And as I droned through orange construction cones and peered at the nearly full countenance of the lunar avatar of what is surely Sophia's most blessed form, one miraculous thought burned and trembled in my ears and crashed through my veins:

"Yes, life is truly splendid in all its searing glory"