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In Boozo Veritas #11 by Teege Braune

One Night Five Years Ago

For Jenn

Yesterday was the five year anniversary of Redlight Redlight’s last night in the original location on New England Avenue. The tiny bar was packed with everyone who had fallen in love with it during its three years in the upstairs space that resembled some secret, old-world tavern or, as one customer described it, the inside of a pirate ship. Brent and I, sad to be leaving a place that was so dear to us and excited for a new adventure in a bigger location, put our emotions aside for a few hours as we desperately tried to keep up with the overflowing crowd.

Amongst friends and acquaintances I noticed a girl I had recently met named Jenn. I didn’t know much about her, but was aware that she taught art and liked Tom Waits. Furthermore, she was the subject of a conspicuous piece of profane graffiti in the restroom, and while the slur was completely inaccurate, scrawled by a jealous, jilted admirer, Jenn bragged about being named within a bar bathroom obscenity rather than feeling embarrassed by it. I found her unwillingness to be shamed very attractive. Truth be told, there was much about her that I found very attractive.

As it was close to Halloween, I was playing horror films and An American Werewolf in London was on, mostly unnoticed by the raucous crowd.

“This is one of my favorite movies,” Jenn said to me unsolicited.

“This has been one of my favorite movies since I was six years old and believed I was a werewolf,” I responded.

I took a much needed break so that we could watch David Naughton transform into a large, angry dog.

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We both agreed that, thanks to Rick Baker’s award-winning makeup, it was still the greatest transformation scene in the history of cinema. We talked about werewolves, and Jenn asked me if I had read Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow. I said I hadn’t, and she explained that it was about a crime syndicate composed of a gang of werewolves living in Los Angeles.

“It’s an epic poem written in free verse, which means that there are lines, but they don’t rhyme,” she explained.

When my hectic and stressful night of bartending was finally coming to a close, I was pleased that Jenn had hung around still nursing her last beer. Brent, some close friends, and I had all planned on hanging out after shutting Redlight Redlight down, but most everyone had gone their separate ways, many of them too drunk to stand. In desperate need of a drink myself, I asked Jenn if she wanted to head around the corner to Eola Wine Company, which had long been my afterwork spot.

As it was a beautiful autumn night, though overcast, we decided to walk the few blocks to the bar, but halfway there a fine mist turned into a downpour. I threw my jacket over Jenn, and we ran the rest of the way in the rain. By the time we got to Eola we were both soaked.

We managed to find seats amidst a drunken office party that was raging around us, and shouting over the din, Jenn and I fell into casual chitchat, asking each other about our lives, where we grew up, where we went to school, etc.

“What did you study in college?” she asked me.

“I was an English and creative writing major,” I answered.

“So I’m guessing you know what free verse means?” she said.

We laughed it off and quickly discovered that we had an almost uncanny number of common interests and mutual loves. At no point during our first date did we suffer any awkward pauses. Instead our conversation was routinely punctuated by, “I can’t believe you’ve read that book!” or “It’s amazing that you like that movie!” Before we realized much time had passed, we were alone in the bar, and it was five o’clock in the morning. The manager Matty had been patiently biding his time, friend that he is, not wanting to rush us.

“Thanks for letting us hang out so late,” I whispered to him when Jenn had stepped away for a moment.

“No problem, man,” he said. “She’s the best date you’ve brought in her yet,” and I definitely agreed.

Fortunately Jenn didn’t hold it against me that I had gotten a little drunker than one should on a first date. She chalked it up to my stressful night of bartending and agreed to go out with me again. The second date lead to another and so on. At the time I met Jenn, I would have been excited to simply go out with someone else who liked to read, but I got so much more than that. It didn’t take long at all before I knew that I had fallen in love with her. Common interests and physical attraction had given way to a simultaneously passionate and solid union. Through some very difficult times and many more filled with joy, Jenn and I built our life together. A couple months ago in a little cemetery on the beach at Captiva Island I asked her if she would marry me. There is no one I trust or care about more than Jenn. I’m so glad that I got drunk with her one night five years ago.

___________

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Teege Braune is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.

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