I went back.
Battling with memories, some fond and some less so, I went back.
The streets were slick with rain, and maybe some blood, and we’d thrown back a couple cans on the train – it had been a long journey to the Old Town. One of several Old Towns in my life. We were picking our way through the Old Town towards the meet, and the skies were oppressive. Even then, they seemed to know what I was thinking.
I saw Rudy by the Irish bar. He always called me ‘Bill’ although he knew my name was ‘William’. Or did he always call me ‘William’, even though my name was ‘Bill’? I don’t remember. It all seems like it was a lifetime ago. His teeth were still half-gone and he cackled without knowing why. For someone who laughed so much and so hard, he always seemed so sad. I hated Rudy.
On the Parade, there was a demonstration. The students were loitering, placards, banners, shouts and screams, as the militia and the riot police fingered their triggers nervously. As we passed by, I wondered how long it would be until they started shooting. I didn’t mind. As long as it had rhythm.
The fancy dress shop was still going, although with many fewer costumes. Nothing controversial. As we passed it, I cut a smile. I had passed out in that doorway once, several years before.
The rain was gritty. I could taste it. It made my head itch.
It didn’t take long for us to reach the bar. Treading those same streets that we had trodden so very long ago. Me, I took my time. Scoped the place out. We’d passed two of our old haunts, shut down, bullet-holed and boarded up. It didn’t surprise me. Another one had been taken over by the militia. No drink for us there.
We swayed and muttered and reached the bar. And we found some comfort there, for a short while.
It’s not the same anymore, as it was. Or maybe it is. I don’t know.