Bloody Brandon

February 16, 2011      James Hayes Nichols
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It’s a flame and we draw to it like moths, like flies, like the make money money this street has become. What does the visiting Englishman say when he sees this street and its Resurgens stagnation? Does he see Manchester in it? Or maybe East London? Certainly the names have changed to protect the uncaring, and the curbs are red with the blood of Brandon who fell from his bike onto the curb, face-first, after leaving Noni’s latelate one night- drunk- and there was a band playing there and the Noni’s party people noted how odd it was for a band to be playing there, and pretended it was cool but secretly and in grumbled ear-leanings resented that they couldn’t drink their wine and yellow Italian beer in quiet Edgewood Ave. peace, but we loved it and didn’t care about the Noni’s party people and their V-necked elbows-on-the-bar ways. We watched the band, we listened to the band, we sang along when it was called for (and when we knew the words) and we became gloriously furiously gin-drunk and had to stop each other from harassing the harassed bigtitted bartenders and from trying to hit on the girlfriends of the hip Noni’s kids. It was ugly and it was sacred and a headpounding heartpounding thing, that night and that early morning, and Brandon’s blood all over the Edgewood curb and we figured it was bum blood, bad drugdeal blood, not silly drunk Brandon blood. That night we thought him the craziest, sweetest bastard in the Old 4th Ward- saintly, bloody Saint Brandon on his bike, then off it, bloodying the curb and sleeping in a North Highland condo parking lot, eliciting the sympathy of horrified Highlands girls who called us from his phone- ”Um, we’re Brandon’s friends and he’s hurt and he doesn’t know where he is and you need to come get him and figure this out, he’s all bloody, he’s hurt“- but they didn’t know that we didn’t know and how could we know, drunk as we were on gin and the Noni’s smoke and the perverted thrill of being abrasive just because we could get away with it and no one was gonna stop us (skinny V-neck hipsters vs. burly half-fat scumbag Atlanta nincompoops)? Brandon abandoned himself that night and left only the bloody curb in his wake and we thought it funnier than it was sad or scary but the Highlands girls were harried- bless their Samaritan souls- into helping this poor, bloody mess, bloody Brandon of the bleeding condo parking lot, bloody Brandon of the curb.

The next day, with heavy air and black clouds and rain on the green grass, darker green kudzu, red clay, we inspected a shady house in a sketchy hood, cheap but at a price- we of the pounding heads and rumbling guts, hangovers so severe we couldn’t hold our heads up, heads rolling, tongues lolling, vomit suppressed with supreme exertion of will- “Ryan really wants to buy this place?”- “Yeah. It’s kinda smack in the middle of everything”- “Smack in the middle of…shit, dude, look at this place”- “It’s cool, man”- “I don’t know”- “God, I’m so fucking hungover”- “Ugh“- ”I can’t hold up my head, I’m so hungover”- Walking around the place, sniffing through the attic, leaning against the rotting clapboards, chugging up humid breath and ruing the Noni’s night, the ginsmashed night, and Brandon, bloody Brandon.

And then, with a splash of kicked gravel and a clunky giggle, he was there, at the hood house, astonishing us with silent ubiquity and brass balls: Brandon, atop his bike- banged, scraped, but still trusty, still delivering the rider diligently despite the non-diligent drunk delinquency of the Noni’s nighttime- in the same ratty white undershirt of the night before, now covered in redbrown spattered dried blood and yellowish something (puke?), – bloody Brandon of the curb, at the sketchy hood house, and alive, and kinda OK.

“Ho. Lee. SHIT man! What the FUCK happened to you?”- “Well, I got really fuckin’ wasted, man”- “Oh, man, you crazy bastard”- “Are you alright? What happened last night?”- “I left that bar and fuckin’ upended somewhere on Edgewood and I lost my keys and I had all these fuckin’ bums going up and down the street looking for ‘em”- “But what about your bike? What about those girls that called?”- “Ah, man, those fuckin’ girls. Man, I don’t know but they were fuckin’ freaked out, man. I was just like, ‘hey it’s cool, I’m just gonna sleep it off, y’all,’ but they were freakin’ out and getting all mad at me cuz I wouldn’t go along with…hey, did you see that girl checking me out at that bar? What was that bar called?”- “Noni’s?”- “Yeah, Noni’s. She was eyeing me. Man, my bike is kinda fucked, huh?”- “Dude, YOU’RE kinda fucked.”- “Are you sure you’re ok? Are you still drunk?”- “Huh? Oh, nah, nah man. My head hurts”- “So Brandon, you’re OK? You almost died…”- “Oh, yeah man. That was a lot of fun. I mean, looking back it was a lot of fun, y’know?”- “Fuckin’ maniac, Brandon”- “Lunatic”- “Hehehehe!”

Laughing, Brandon was, his shirt ragged and torn and covered with what had to be two pints of old blood, and his knees scabby like a child’s knees, and his right ankle blue with bruise, and his bike bent and busted, too, and Brandon was laughing. He was alive. He’d made friends with the street people of the Edgewood night, he’d caught a pretty girl eyeing his wide-eyed drunken reverie, he’d heard a good band, and now he had a good story. He was happy- happy, bloody Brandon of the Edgewood curb, Saint Brandon the hero, riding off into the Edgewood sunset on his bent and bloody bike.

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