“Bruce,” the faint sweetness in her voice was a vestal foreboding of a paradise lost and returned; was I dreaming? “Bruce!” she shook me awake, her piercing blue eyes slid me into focus.

“Hello love,” at least I knew where I was, what I’d been, and what year it is, a good start to any day after a bender. 

“I know you don't sleep but this can’t be the answer to chronic insomnia,” she picked up a fallen tumbler along with a practically empty 2-liter Black Label bottle.

“Even Sottunga could be the answer,” by this time I was fully aware of what I was saying, probably.

“Oh, you're still drunk,” she scoffed with this beguiling gaze straight into eyes.

“Question: what is the least populated city in Finland? Answer: A municipality of the Åland Islands; Sottunga has the smallest population of only 104 people as of February 2013.”

“Bruce…” she rolled her oceanic irises, “I know you know I’m from Oslo,”

“And even that could be the answer. Question: what is the capital of Norwa—”

“What are you trying to say?” she interrupted with this harsh overture, “That drinking is the answer to everything?” it was only because she really, truly cared, and seeing her like this tore me apart like I imagine Cerberus does to the lost souls in Dante’s third circle of hell.

I look around for the bottle, she was just holding it, “It certainly can’t be ruled out…”

“I’m ruling it out,” it was just one of the infinite reasons I love her—if I was the kind of ignorant soul to believe in something as bland as love—she protects me the demons in me rather than the ones in the closet or under the bed; saving me from the numerous construct-ridden fatalistic behaviors that I know will eventually consume me, even if I can’t help but indulge them.

I lit a cigar on the balcony just as the sun was coming up, squeezing up from the laden darkness; I didn't want to deal with her in there nor did I want to deal with myself out here, but some things can’t be helped. There's always a war somewhere: inside, outside, here, there. Even if I believe the fairy tale of an almighty that would strike down the degenerates, the liars, the savages, and the demons, there'll just be more to replace them by sunset. Nothing makes a difference, the world's wilting away, and I fear that my front row seat for it has rendered me too close to the burning hell-fire of our sun.

She joined me a couple of seconds later, sighing in the dewy morning air, “I know there's something poignant, or melancholic, hidden here,” she put her hand on my chest, and everything she was talking about disappeared from within me, wrapping the mist around the ringlets in her hair, “I know you feed off it; use it…but I don't want you to kill yourself with that,” she pointed back inside the apartment with her perfectly chiseled chin, “Or this,” she grabbed the cigar from my lip and threw it over. I guess she was right.

I stopped watching the sunrise and turned to her, slipping my hands around her waist ever so slightly, “I can’t do what I want to do without–you can’t take a paintbrush away from a painter anymore than you could take a muse from a poet or the ability to lie from a politician,” I was hoping I could make her understand that certain monsters only have one weakness, and she was making me fight them at their best rather than their worst, and if I can barely manage them at their worst, I’m not exactly dying to see them at their best, or maybe I would.

“All you need is this my love,” she closed her eyes and moved closer to my lips, putting a Mont Blanc pen in my hand, tightening her palm and eloquently rubbing her face in my chest the way we’ve seen lionesses do to their lesser halves on those BBC documentaries. I watched the orange sun with its red and pink hues rising to tell me that perhaps better days were ahead, if I wasn't such a cynical-pain-in-everyone’s-ass of course.

“I'm going to be late for work,” her little kiss jolted me like a bottle of Gold Label, walking back inside and fumbling with an earring she found under her bed.

I looked at the pen in my hand and the now risen sun in the horizon, moving my hand in front me to gauge motor control: completely sober, great…I was already late for work.

Man in Village Inn;  Vincent Van Gogh; 1883

Man in Village Inn; Vincent Van Gogh; 1883