Concrete Paradise

By Nova Rodriguez


Flashing lights and blaring music, the perfect time of day. Whether that’s why it’s perfect, or because the all-seeing eye is tired and weary. For some, this is the only time they live outside of their homes, and that’s just how he ended up here. 

Xavier Morje stood in a gloomy hallway with his forehead to the wall. Though it was muffled, he could hear every word of the music above, it shook his brain inside his skull. An old, gutted T.V. sat at his feet. Xavier stood up and pulled his overall strap back in place. With a quiet groan, he placed the T.V. over his head. The screen lit up with a loading screen, and – with a robotic ding – two bright green eyes opened.

Without any more hesitation, Xavier begrudgingly climbed the stairs to the ground floor. The music, getting louder, rattled around his eyes, and his thoughts jumbled along with them. The lights lit up the building as bright as possible without staff being at risk of getting chewed out by higher-ups. Xavier contemplated wearing sunglasses to preserve his already splotchy vision.  

“Where’re you headed, Linux? You get kicked off stage for Rick Rolling the crowd again?” A coworker called out to Xavier while cleaning the bar. She kept her hair tied in a distraught high ponytail. Tattoos almost completely covered her visible skin – which was most of it. Her expression took on a similar distress when he continued on without acknowledging her. “Linux?” She chased Xavier out the door, abandoning the passed-out man at the bar. She squeezed past to confront him in the alley behind the club. “Xavier. You’re acting weirder than normal. What happened?” 

“Nothing. I’m just gonna walk home early tonight. The new DJ should get some stage time,” he said. A scripted response.