There was a party of some sort, a formal occasion. I was dressed in my black suit, sitting at a round table laid out with glistening silverware, surrounded by other guests chatting and sipping from champagne glasses. The women wore satin dresses and leaned affectionately against their dates as they laughed. Our table was in the middle of a vast ballroom, the ceiling vaulted far above and murals of grape vineyards painted high on the walls. Candles flickered at every table and the evening light shone down from the windows, casting a soft haze about the room as though this were all already taking place in a memory. People got up here and there to dance, and the brass band up on the stage would launch into another number with a sharp blast of their instruments.
A fat, balding man in a white suit and a bow tie, some local big shot, came in with a brunette draped on his arm. There was a blonde in a glittering dress at the bar. Her face fell when she turned and saw the fat man walking in with the brunette. The blonde was apparently the man’s wife and the brunette was his mistress, or perhaps it was the other way around. At any rate, a huge screaming fight broke out between the two of them with the fat man in the middle hanging his head in shame. The blonde and brunette sniped and clawed the air at each other, while the bartender stood by, not saying a word and hoping that none of his glasses or bottles would end up broken. Over at our table we raised our glasses and whistled and yelled as someone proposed a toast to all of them. They stopped and stared over at us. The blonde sneered with disgust. We didn’t care. We all laughed. The music started up again, the drummer rattling the cymbals, the trumpets and trombones piercing the air.
The music was still pounding in my ears after the event was over and we started hitting the town in a long black hearse that had been converted into a limousine. The back of the hearse, where they used to keep the caskets, had been made into a small lounge with a bench that wrapped around the sides and windows that still had the little pleated white curtains hung over them. We all crammed onto this bench, smoking cigarillos and passing bottles around till morning. I peeled back the curtain and looked out the window over someone’s shoulder and I could see that we were parked outside of a convenient store somewhere, rocking the vehicle around on its springs, and I felt the flush of normal, sober life come back to me. I started thinking about getting home. Everyone else was still half drunk, and they argued over who would drive the hearse.
Someone took the wheel and started weaving their way towards my house. About a mile from the house there was a point where the driver almost veered off of a cliff and I had to lunge up front and grab the wheel. I looked around the car at everyone laughing, and I realized that they were all on this drug that made everything seem like a cartoon. Either the driver hadn’t seen the cliff, or they had all thought that some cartoon physics would come into play if we went over the edge. Maybe they’d been on the drug all night. Maybe I was on it too and didn’t realize it. I asked them to let me off at the curb. Faces and hands popped from every window as they all yelled and waved and the hearse drove away.