My life is an open wound. This story is not about the past although it does play a big part. This story is actually about the future. I am not going to begin with the contrite saying this story begins whenI would not do that to anyone who happens to be reading this.
Parts of this story were related to me after the events had transpired. I do not have the ability to be omnipresent, but it was necessary to state all the events that had transpired because some of them were beyond my scope and the scope of humanity.
Before I begin, I must explain who I am and what I meant by the very first sentence. My name is Eric Cromwell, and I am the proverbial jack-of-all-trades. I seem to be blessed with the gift of being good at everything I do, and I can do a lot of things. My past shaped my life, and events led me from the innocent childhood I once had listening to my mother play the piano to a jaded law enforcement officer who was part of the Special Investigations Bureaus Rave Unit. My job is to go to the raves in Los Angeles and monitor the activities of those selling drugs to the ravers. The most notorious of these pushers is Benny “the Skunk” Carlisle. It has become my mission in life to destroy him. Because of his bad drugs, many people have died, including someone very close to me, but for some reason law enforcement does not want to go after him.
I always know at which raves he is going to be. He only goes to the big ones. The Skunk is not the only reason that I go to the raves although he is the reason I came back to them. About a year or so ago I caught sight of a young woman who had the face of an angel and a very sensuous body that must have aroused an immeasurable amount of jealousy in Aphrodite. I had never met her in person but I knew who she was. Her name was Avery Norris. She was a pianist as my mother had been and was the utter embodiment of Love.
Growing up I used to sit in the living room and listen as my mother practiced for her performances. Every time she made a mistake she would look at me and we would laugh. The best times were when she would teach me how to play. Sometimes we would play Chopsticks together.
I was twelve years old when my life was destroyed, and all that I have left is my mothers piano, which I refuse to play. When my mother was killed, her body was so badly charred by the fire that destroyed our home it was unidentifiable. The only things that survived were the garage and my mothers Wurlitzer piano, which was inside. Anyone who knows anything about pianos
would not keep one in the garage. My mother did. She had just gotten a grand piano, but it was turned to ashes in the fire, like her dreams of one day playing at Carnegie Hall. She was working on a piece that she called “The Waltz of Death.” Despite, its macabre title, it was sweet and lyrical. I can still hear her playing it, while my imagination envisioned an orchestra conducted the Great Maestro (Death). Everyone dances this waltz from the time our birth to the time when the conductor waves his baton for the very last time. My mothers dreams of playing her waltz went up in smoke during the fire that consumed my childhood.
I never played the piano after that day. I have taken up painting and drawing. I have to do something with my hands. The funny thing is that we as human beings try to run so far away from things that we end up running right into them. That is the way it was with pianos and me. I seemed to be always caught in a vicious circle trying to shadow box my memories without realizing I
was perpetuating the very thing I was trying to avoid. Life is like that.
I have never tested the veracity of my beliefs, but I know they are true, which is why I find myself attracted to Avery Norris. She played with such skill and passion that it seemed as if the Angel of Music herself was playing Averys piano. Averys playing reminded me of the ghosts of my mother. Full vicious circle.
All of this was running through my mind as I watched the dancers at a rave in the San Fernando Valley. The rave took place in an abandoned warehouse and it attracted many of the young, local denizens of LA. Including Avery Norris. The warehouse had been abandoned for at least a good ten years. In the year, 2032, nobody in his or her right mind went into the Valley. Ravers were never in their right minds, which is why they chose the Valley to hold all their raves.
Those SIB agents who monitored them were even crazier. Many of the monitors were ex-ravers like me, so they knew how to play the game. The warehouse was large. About twenty thousand square feet of youths, music, and drugs. The whole place was illuminated by thousands of tiny lights powered by electric generators. The DWP had long since cut off the utilities to the Valley, which had been completely abandoned in the years following the Third World War.
A rudimentary stage had been set up where the DJs worked their magic and created the hypnotizing beats of the style of music known as trance to which the ravers danced. Many of who moved like people caught in the rapturous sensations of sexual intercourse. In fact, some of them were doing it in some form or another. The others were just too caught up in the sensations caused by the Ecstasy that they had taken to give a damn about what their bodies were doing.
I had the sickening sensation that someone was going to die. My mothers waltz echoed softly in the recesses of my mind. I tried to drown it out in the din of music that surrounded me, but it was to no avail. I took a sip from my water bottle. It was not Evian, but I did not really care. Water bottles were sort of standard fare at raves because Ecstasy dehydrated the body so much so that ravers needed to be constantly drinking water to keep from overheating like radiators.
> The music filled the air, and the stage lights created a cascade of colors as they swung back and forth and in every which way. Opposite the stage, where the DJs were located, the eerie nighttime darkness cast the absence of light through the massive steel garage-style doors. I watched some people enter then I caught sight of Avery. She entered with her usual entourage of friends and stood there for a moment looking around her body already gyrating to the beat of the music. One of her friends caught me staring at her and whispered something in her ear, Avery whispered something back. She turned to look at me, and our eyes locked. Suddenly I felt like a nerdy teenager admiring the most popular and most beautiful girl in the school. I felt so inadequate at that moment. To me, she and I existed on two different planes. Her friends left her while she picked up a water bottle from one of the ice chests.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar figure talking to two of the ravers. He was tall and slender with a clean-shaven face and light brown hair. It was the Skunk. The three of them were standing by a metallic staircase that led to the catwalks above. The Skunk handed something to the other two. I knew it had to be drugs. I was startled by a sultry female voice. I whirled around and found that Avery was standing only inches away from me. She had on the carefree smile of someone who was caught up in the euphoria brought on by Ecstasy…or at least it could have been Ecstasy. Now there was a new club drug on the market known as R-486 jokingly named after RU-486 the famed “morning after pill”? The drug R-486 was highly addictive and left feelings of euphoria in the user for a period of twenty-four hours. Anyone who wanted to get the drug in West LA had to go through the Skunk to get it. The drug looked like ammonia and the Skunk had been known to make the switch on people who had not paid him, thereby killing them.
Avery continued gyrating to the music “Ive seen you before, havent I?” she asked.
I shrugged and watched her dance for a moment, “Maybe at one of the other raves.”
Avery paused, the light show dancing across her face. She shook her head slowly, “No, I dont think so. It was at my show at the Troubadour this past March.”
I remembered that show The Troubadour was one of Los Angeles established nightclubs where many musicians performed while doing the circuit on the LA music scene. I sat at one of the tables in the back a few moments before Avery performed. As she played, she seemed to glance in my direction as if she was singing only to me.
Avery smiled her blue green eyes gazing directly into mine, “You felt it didnt you?” she asked >
For a few, brief moments the rave disappeared and it felt as if it was just Avery and me standing and talking I had felt like that at the Troubadour as well. Each time she looked at me while performing I felt a connection that was so intense it transcended the physical realm. We stared at each other for a moment Then Avery rubbed her forehead. “I dont feel too good,” she said.
“Maybe you should sit down and drink some of your water,” I suggested.
She nodded slowly, and together we started to walk towards some benches near the entrance that had been set up for those needing to rest from dancing Avery never made it to the benches. She collapsed about halfway there. I quickly knelt down beside her and checked her pulse. She barely had one A few of the ravers had gathered around us euphorically grinning. I glared at them as I began to perform CPR. “Dont just stand there, call the paramedics.”
One of them laughed, “Theres no emergency services around here.”
I barely noticed as Averys two friends came running over to where I was performing the CPR I did not notice their crying as I stopped pounding on Averys chest, for I was too lost in my own misery to take heed as her friends cried out her name, All I could hear in my mothers waltz echoing eerily in the recesses of my mind.
The Great Maestro had put away his baton and the music was no longer playing for Avery Norris, leaving only an empty silence in her wake. I was left without a chance at love and would have to wonder what might have been. For me, Love had died, and all that was left was the uncertainty of Chaos. My life truly was an open wound.