seven deep and seatbelt free

In the time when man reckoned his life by season and snow, it was called the hunter's moon. The hunter's moon meant many things, sinking low in the sky, gravid with the promise of winter; the time to procure the beast and fowl that, preserved, would be the mainstay of winter.

In the time of rapidly shifting electrons, it is nothing more than an impediment to the Leonids.

We toddled off for Thai in the borrowed van of a near-stranger, piled seven deep and seatbelt-free on our way to the ATM. Despairing of a way to connect various ATM cards (held in the pockets of various near-strangers in the back of the van) with the exterior ATM, Sean declared a Chinese fire drill.

We bailed out, our breaths pluming silver trails behind us. One by one, money in hand, we climbed back in the van and headed off for Thai, where we learned that the difference between three-star heat and native Thai was the difference between a pleasurable tingle and mouth-numbing fire.

Thirty minutes before the show was scheduled to start, we found ourselves once again seven deep and seatbelt free in the van, but with a different driver.

We arrived.

We waited. I toyed with my braids; Margaret threatened to play jump-rope with them. I retaliated by taking photos of her.

The total: two hours, one rumor of the drummer having his car broken into, one pitcher of beer, one round of tequila shots, and countless cigarettes later, we got a show. Not a concert; a concert would imply a performer playing to a group of strangers. In this room, the audience talked back, demanding favored songs, heckling, collectively blowing smoke rings toward the unseen ceiling hiding that silent hunter's moon.

The drummer muffled his instrument with sheets.

We bought music and cheesed.

We stumbled out of Crossroads hoarse and husky from the smoke and pointed the van to Krispy Kreme, carefully jostling each other as we reached for stray dollar bills to fund the 1:40 a.m. purchase of donuts. Three dozen, chocolate and regular glazed, were passed through the drive-through window, the boxes warming Kat's hands as she snuggled up against them.

We opened the boxes before we could get back to the apartment, wolfing down dough and sugar and that special southern something that we were all addicted to.

Someone put on coffee, which nobody drank. We avoided the napkins, licking our fingers instead, and pretended not to notice that we weren't the only ones going back for a fourth donut.

We pulled up at Kat and Sean's sometime on the wrong side of two a.m., having divided up what few donuts hadn't already been instantaneously devoured. We exchanged email addresses and promises to see each other next week before the Thanksgiving diaspora.

Our breaths left silver trails behind us as we fumbled into cold cars, hands clumsy like clubs in the chill.

I had dreams of a quick race home and a kamikaze jump into the warmth of an early Sunday morning bed, dreams that hardened and stilled under my breath as I attempted to defrost my windshield with nothing but the heat of my car's engine.

I drove home, viewing the world through slowly-expanding patches of clarity, bobbing and weaving from patch to patch in an attempt to see the road and upcoming traffic. By the time I crossed the highway, the heat of the car had cleared the windshield.

I drove faster, angling north, tucking my car into the safety of the garage and greeting the cats with unfamiliar odors of donuts and cigarette smoke.

The bed, when I finally slid into it on the wrong side of three a.m., still held the chill silver glow of the hunter's moon.