March 22, 2004

Neon Kisses

Neon Kisses

By Tenzin McGrupp © 2004

Miami, FL... 28 Dec 03

I sped over the almost empty causeway and attempted to follow a weaving Lexus driven by one extremely drunk and audacious driver. The soothing sounds of Jerry Garcia’s halcyon voice bounced around my rental car, fading in and out between the near deafening pockets of aggravating wind that rushed through the open windows. My fatigued face was numb. My rugged nose was running. My sleepy eyes throbbed with a sharp pain because they have not rested in over three days. I yawned out of habit. The intense grip on the steering wheel made my trembling hands sweat. I slapped my face to stay awake. I shouted out Jerry’s lyrics to keep my tainted blood pumping. I glanced out over to the left and marveled at the incandescent lights of downtown Miami, with glimmers of their luminous reflections floating in the calm, bay waters. A lighthearted flashback seized my mind and body, as a jolt of my rowdy past rushed forth and pleasant thoughts of giggling Japanese girls, their faces coated in glitter and their adorable, infectious smiles consumed all of me.

“Ah, the city of lights.”

I left stylish Miami Beach and arrived on the caliginous streets of downtown Miami. I made a wrong turn onto Biscayne Boulevard and drove past the dreggy no-tell motels. I reluctantly stopped at a traffic light and glanced at the unchaste, strung out, street walkers on the adjacent corner. The he/shes chain smoked Kools and anxiously awaited their next customer, while avoiding the keen eyes of Miami Dade County squad cars. The pink shadows cast by the neon Vacancy lights above their heads, showed no hypocrisy. You got what you paid for with those vampires of emotionless sex... a quick fix for the lonely and desperate is what they sold. And alas, let the buyer beware. One of them fished around in her oversized cow-skin purse and found a stick of gum. She walked up to a white pick-up truck and popped her head inside. The light changed and I sped off trying to get one last glimpse of the sullen transaction.

I don’t eat much when I’m on huge gambling streaks and drugged out binges so that’s why I have to remind myself to consume food at random intervals. When I saw the Wendy’s All-Nite Drive-Thru sign, I eagerly pulled in line behind a black SUV with aqua neon lights beaming underneath the car, with tinted windows, big shiny rims on the wheels, and a sound system which rivaled most clubs in South Beach. The windshield on my rental car shook with each bong rattling thump of bass. I was pleased when the wanna-be gansta rappers (confused, trend conscious, MTV-addicted white suburban kids from the Grove) in front of me turned down the music to give their late night order. I was more pleased when they didn’t resume the tidal wave of sonic boom bass.

I bought a large Frosty and a large order of fries. I loved dipping fries into the Frosty. I started my long drive back to Miami Shores and happily ate my Wendy’s. After I almost got sideswiped by a taxi cab, I spilled some of the Frosty and had to pull over to clean myself up. Without paying much attention, I drove into an empty and dimly lit KFC parking lot. I put my rental car in park, left the engine running and cleaned up my messy shirt... while still humming some of Jerry Garcia's lyrics. I looked up and realized that I was not alone in the lot. Two cars were parked one hundred feet away to my right. Something shady was going down and I got a funny feeling in my gut. Both cars were running but had their head lights off. As soon as I looked up, one guy sped off, with all the high pitched sound effects you expect to hear in that instance. The other guy turned on his brights and floored his car… in my direction. With a cold and drippy Frosty in one hand, I quickly switched gears, reversed with my head down (just in case the guy on a random coke deal had a gun and was ready to shoot), and blindly backed out into Biscayne Boulevard. I almost hit an old Chevy with Tennessee plates and ran a red light. I took a deep breath and looked back into the half shadowy, half pink neon colored street to find that no one was following me, with the exception of a tall and skinny he/she hooker, standing at a bus stop, waving and blowing kisses at me.

Tenzin McGrupp is a writer from New York City.

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