I snapped awake, not aware that I’d been asleep. I was looking at the inside of a truck door. I blinked, confused, afraid to move, not knowing where I was. Then he stirred, and I realized that I’d been sleeping with my head in his lap. We were in his truck, in the parking lot. I sat up slowly – I expected to have a pounding, top drawer caliber headache – but I just felt a little fuzzy. There was no pain. We looked at each other, amazed, appalled, guilty. It was daytime.
Finally he said, “What happened?”
I thought back, tried to recall how we had spent, obviously, the entire night. I remembered the light and darkness thumping in and out with the driving disco beat. I remembered him dancing close to me, spinning me around and catching me a few times. I remembered beginning to feel hot and sweaty and incredibly excited, just like I had at the teen disco as a kid. The music got louder and louder, the beat faster and faster; the crowd pressed closer and closer, flappers and Chicago-style gangsters.
My eyes widened: I clearly remembered kissing him, long and hard, right there in the middle of the dance floor – his mouth tasted like cherries. I didn’t remember going into a stall in the men’s room with him, and I only could remember flashes of the glorious, forbidden things we did in that small, cramped, black-painted space. Overwhelmingly, I remembered the music and the crowd and the pulsing of the light and darkness.
Something had happened last night, something that shouldn’t have happened. Thankfully, mercifully, I could tell that he couldn’t remember it any clearer than I could.
I shook my head. “I’m not sure. Maybe it was from the . . .” The bottle was on the floor of the truck. I picked it up and looked at it. It was corked, still about half full.
I truly felt sorry for him. I was going home with no hangover, to try to sort out and giddily remember what may or may not have happened, and he would no doubt be trying to forget what may or may not have happened. Poor baby. I hadn’t even hoped for any of this; it was wrong. I pitied him.
I got out of the truck and he drove off. I looked at the label on the bottom of the otherwise blank bottle: Mohini’s House of Dreams. Maybe they would have some insight into why consumption of just a little of what it contained had led to all this untoward behavior, had caused me to black out.
I stopped on the sidewalk in front of the place and peered in the storefront window. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was expecting – an imaginatively named liquor store, perhaps? It was not a liquor store, however. It was an occult bookstore. I opened the door, the bell tinkled.
The woman behind the counter was the most unusually gorgeous woman I’d ever seen. She wasn’t young – she was my age, at least. She was statuesque, with yellow hair worn in a thick braid down her back. She had large, violet-blue eyes; she was a Valkyrie.
I just stood there staring at her in silence for a moment. At last she asked me how she could help me. I stammered out that I had a question about something from the store. I took the bottle out of a plastic grocery bag and set it on the counter.
“Ah!” A smile bloomed on the Nordic features. “Wherever did you get this, if you don’t my asking?”
“An old boyfriend gave it to me,” I replied. “I wouldn’t think that a place like this would have a liquor license.”
The violet eyes blinked. “A liquor license?”
“Well, yeah . . . you sell this here, right?”
Amused, she said, “You were led to believe that this is liquor? This doesn’t even contain alcohol. It’s used in certain . . . magical rituals, shall we say? Rituals of a . . . solitary nature. Consuming this in public, with another, could result in all manner of mayhem.” She smiled at me curiously. “Did you drink this with someone? Was there mayhem?”
I nodded. “I don’t quite remember what happened.”
“Would you like to remember?” she asked with a sly smile.