It's a full moon and me and the Sheik, we're riding dirt bikes out in the desert.

Whining little Honda with 250's that buzz like mosquitos and knobby tires that bite hard into sand and dirt and mud. The Sheik guns it and bounces high off a shallow ridge, a jangling bit of leather and chrome arcing high over spitting lizards and shadowy weeds, and I follow. High and up and over and crashing down, the bike flattening its suspension, my knees buckling, my arms buckling, my body compressing over the fuel tank as we hit the ground. But the bike stays up, straight and even, the front tire nestled into a smooth track laid down by the Sheik. He turns and smiles, all sunglasses and supernaturally white teeth, thick black hair whipped back by the wind. I smile back. He twists the throttle, hits a ridge and goes flying over the sand.

I'm heartbroken. I'm heartbroken and angry and falling to pieces. My bones are sagging. My lungs don't fill. I can't focus on anything further away than my hands. My ears are ringing. My teeth hurts. My tongue is mossy with mold or bacteria or dryrot. My gums are dripping red into my spit. My stomach and my liver and my kidneys, they're just floating around inside me, bumping into each other, wrapping around my spine, squeezing past my ribs. Untethered. Loose. Uneasy.

Which is why Sheik Europa, why I went and dug him up from the titty bar and asked him to take me out for the night. 'Cause it's the Sheik, y'know? Nothing but testosterone and alcohol and adrenaline, the attention span of a ten-year-old on speed, a fundamental love of fast cars, strippers, guns, motorcycles the occasional bit of mindless violence. The Sheik is where I go when I'm cruel to Mags and I need to forget what a complete piece of shit I am for a little while. For those couple days or that week when it's nothing but party and party and drink and fuck and speed over the desert on dirt bikes, hit the Autobahn in a 300 mph Ferrari that hasn't even been conceptualized yet, get in fistfights with cops, drink till I can't walk, pass out and wake up in a bed the size of a Cadillac with Victoria's Secret models snuggled up left and right.

I don't like myself all the much when I'm hanging out with the Sheik, but, really, that's better than absolutely fucking hating myself. If you don't believe that, then you've never been enough of a bastard to hate yourself. You've never fucked someone over so hard that you want to throw yourself off the nearest building, knowing that you'll be heading back to do it again in another few days, a week. When your only remaining escapes have come down to the artificial oblivion of 24 hour partying or just slitting your throat and you're beginning to not see much difference between the two...once you know that, once you've been to that part of your head...fuck, there's no point. Never mind. You know or you don't.

It's all about Mags, right? It's always all about Mags, and the Sheik knows it and he's a friend enough to not try and get me to talk about it. Just brings out his toys and turns on his smile and we go off into the night, fast cars, loose women, strong drinks. That's all I need him for, really. It's as bad as what I do to Mags, what I'm doing here, to the Sheik. But he, at least, can cut me loose, if he ever really wants to.

Which he won't. He doesn't really get it, the betrayal that's at the heart of all your fair-weather friends. All his friends are fair-weather friends. He feeds off it. It makes his life perfect and beautiful, to see his pals only at their darkest. He loves his own glitter, his own pristine existence. His friends, me, really, just show him how lovely and wondrous his life is. The joys of simplicity. The joys of the simpleton. The joys of being not-too-terribly-concerned about anything in particular.

He was the first friend I made out here. Still kinda wondering how that happened.


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