In this basement, I am layers below color. Everyone at the concert wears clothes that are faded like a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox. Black shirts with cracked white letters. Torn black jeans and holey black canvas sneakers. Its concrete walls are chipped and unadorned. It smells like burps and armpits and cheap beer, the stench of my parent’s house, an odor I want to forget.
Tonight is a repeat of the previous weekend which was a repeat of the previous weekend. Four men stand behind their instruments in a corner. The drummer demands a tempo that offers no breathing room. Power chords hide behind distortion, and bass notes shake the support beams. The singer tears his throat on summoned traumas.
My sneakers pop off the sticky floor, making the sound of a tight lipped kiss, the one a man gives his wife before chasing a tornado. I enter a whirlwind of flying elbows and swinging shoulders and high-kneed stomps. Down here, violent dancing suppresses violent thoughts: my dad is a drunk; my younger brother is a clone of my dad; my mom is an enabler; I’m not failing college; college fails me.
The music pivots from a toxic blur to a mid-tempo groove. We crowd the singer, and I shout into the microphone what I mouth during my morning shift at the grocery store and write in notebooks during philosophy lectures. They are the lyrics that my brother and I screamed when I picked him up from rehab months ago.
Someone pushes me out of the pit. I land in the chest of a coworker. He crumples under my weight. I pick him up, and he tells me that he was at my brother’s place an hour ago.
“What were you doing there?” I ask him.
“We were just hanging out. I hadn’t seen him in months.” Even in the dark, his pupils are as small as a turntable stylus.
“What were you doing there?”
“C’mon, man. Don’t do this here.”
A fight breaks out on the other side of the basement. The lights flip on, and I turn away from my coworker and head upstairs and leave the house and run to my car.