Cocktails and performances

by Stefano Stradaioli

Do I want the dreams
The ones we’re forced to see

He’d left his workplace, the restaurant where he served as cook by day and barman by night, with little thanks from the owner. He’d bought tickets to a concert and hopped on a train. He didn’t know much about the performers, a quasi-rock band that had been popular in the 2000s and was now well past washed-up. There was something about their music that he had liked as a teen, but you know, back then it was easy to fall in love with the first hit you heard on MTV.
He was a man now, a man someone had dared call “high-functioning and integrated in society”. With a part time jig, half the pay struck off the books, and a degree under his belt, he had very little to complain about.

Why was he going to that concert?
He kept toying with the unruled notebook he kept as a receptacle for his writings and doodles. He liked art, as long as it didn’t require too much effort. Just enough to impress people, basically. His luggage consisted of his old class president scarf, a change of clothing and a couple more beloved knick-knacks.
His mind kept going back to that morning, trying to piece things together. His memory of it was confused. There were gaps in his recollections, as if he hadn’t been fully conscious for the whole time. He should’ve been upset, instead he felt euphoric.
Then the train came to a halt, and he saw her. A woman, a gorgeous one. A thrill ran through him, he could barely stop himself from sketching out her figure. He was filled with the urge to create. One glance had been enough. Perhaps he loved her already?

He was off the train. The sun was down. Another gap? Out of the corner of his eye he’d see the woman again and start to move. Every time, the background and lighting changed. That was how he got there: he was following her. But something else was beckoning him. A distant music. The whisper of silk, the clink of glasses, laughter in the air. The scent of laurel.

He was in front of a bar counter now. Just standing there, his notebook in one hand and his ticket in the other. The sound techs were setting up for the show. The barman put a golden cocktail in front of him and smiled.
“Ambrosia. On the house.”
“Seems pretentious.”
“It is.”
He sipped it, critically. That was his job after all. It was sweet, but he could detect no particular ingredient. All his senses were swept up in a wave of inebriation, his heart started beating wildly.

Music enveloped him. The concert was in full swing. Now he was somewhere in the audience, squeezed in with people as intoxicated as him, sweaty and joyous. He looked up and his eyes met with the front man of the band’s. He was middle-aged and out of shape, with an old black leather jacket that looked like too much even for a stereotype. Up on the stage, the front man smiled down and pointed at him. Then he started his solo. His hands flew up and down on his Gibson, and the guitar sang with her soulful, heart-wrenching voice.

A spotlight lit up above him. He was standing in the middle of the pit, completely alone. Another spotlight was pointing at the front man, alone on the stage. He kept playing, but he looked different now. Hazel curls, glowing skin, an ancient, immaculate dress. His guitar had turned into a lyre. The music was still heart-wrenching, and it carried a message that now felt crystal clear. His father was speaking to him. He told him a lot, in very little time. Then he smiled at him.

The audience ran and screamed, pushing each other around in a panic. The music had stopped. The stage was empty. Other figures— never seen before, colorful, inhuman— were mixed in the crowd, some scared, some hostile. He saw the woman again. She was fleeing. He tried to run towards her, but someone loomed over him, someone with big black horns, and threw him to the ground. He rolled down the stairs and landed face down in an alley. He saw the woman getting thrown into the back of a van. With a hiss of burnt rubber, she was gone.

He looked up, hurting all over. Standing over him were three other people. He knew they were like him. Epigoni, bastard children of the gods. One stepped forward and helped him up.
“Welcome to reality, bitch.”
“We need to get her back. She’s my muse.”
“Her name is Clio and you don’t own her. But you’re right about the muse part.”

Book now your Quickstart

Fill out the form and you will receive the link to access the folder where you can download the materials. Remember to check your Spam or Promotions folder.