Artwork By Franklin Chan

My second self-published novel, RIGIL, is a journaling narrative derived from a series of short stories. I started writing these stories back in December of 2018, which you can begin reading here. Below is an excerpt out of Journal I, where RIGIL is meeting up with Nwaka, a family friend who worked with his father around TheValleys of Trenchport—a futuristic region of Nigeria. RIGIL’s awkward style of writing and how he recalls the scenes of his life is shown here. And at this specific enfranchised bar of our coming decades, here’s what he feels matters most to share.

Friday, September 17, 2021

While glancing through the Beets’ main waiting area, their low-fi indie music absorbs space between each patron. It makes way for a mellow scene—hinting at things to be good this evening. Vodka mixed aromas excite Nwaka, and a low-lit atmosphere reveals silhouettes of sitting Avantians. We approach the bar and settle near the bussing station. Smacking each cheek at my request for water, “Not drinking?” He asks.

“I am. Water resets. My man, how are you? No lady?”

“Ah, I ain’t nothing. And which one? You look great, Ahliko, Banks? What’re they calling you around here?”

.

.

.

“Not sure what that means anymore.”

“You’re the boy who never grew. Even in TheValleys, we couldn’t build those fences strong or tall enough to keep you from running rogue.”

“Yeah, but the colors are still a mess above the Laurent’co uptown. These people see them and overreact. Still beautiful, though—.”

“Though what? And colors? You’re talking the weird shit again. Don’t be quick to separate yourself from people.”

“I just miss home, that’s all. It’s been a while, and I’ve missed you.”

“Boy, not a day rests without all of you in my thoughts. I remember watching many of those families just vanish off the lands we put sweat equity into. And here you are looking like a left-behind dry seed. I brought lotion from my room if you need it,” he says, shoving my shoulder.

I spread all five fingers. The bar’s SpacePad screen illuminates through my dry skin while ordering drink two.

He’s right.

I take the lotion.

And the bartender grabs ice. She’s mixing my drink in a building formerly a family-owned funeral home. Above her psychedelic funk halter top is mismatched earrings, stretching both canals aiding her ear-hustle. It helps that her hair is pulled back, tri-colored lipstick glows, cleavage is exposed, that we attract drunken breaths. As candor eyes brush by honing for our smile, resting beast face doesn’t eye back. Nwaka, however, with desire, lays his eyes on everyone.

Boy, does this place brew its monsters.

“Who was the chick?” Nwaka asks.

“What chick?” He tilts his head. “Ahh, her…”

“Does ‘her’ have a name? Was the snatch worth that building?”

“Considering today’s monster, meh, but the sex was, well, that’s all I’ll say.”

“You’re nothing like Gus. It must be this District Water.” Nwaka gargles a mouthful of my ice water.

The crowding bar prompts me onto my feet. With patrons beneath my nose, it’s a go-ahead for drink three.

“Speaking of women?” I ask.

“She’s back home. Doesn’t do long flights.”

“The gal that flew with us into P.A.X.? And ate at Beets of SouthTown?”

Glancing up toward each Eurofase looking chandelier, Nwaka licks his lips. “Her? You’re really asking about her?”

To soothe the pounding heartbeat beneath my plaid button-up, I request another drink and head for the stall to log one while lotioning up.

Returning to the bar, I inhale, preparing to greet three shadows, including the one sitting where I sat…

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Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Budd writes because no one can 'read' him. And it's a great way to hide public thoughts...

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