The End of the Night – Scott Laudati

I remember some good years.
The old pilings of
the Baltimore pier
that swayed under the crowd while
we watched our favorite band.
And when I told her
I didn’t love her
for the third time
she threw their record at me
and it hurt
but we laughed
I decided to break her heart again.

There was the year
I ate sixty oysters
at the Aqua Grill.
She’d paid attention
when I said
I only wanted to eat oysters
from states I hadn’t been to
so she had the maître d’
bring out a special menu
and I tried them all
and the Damariscottas
and Hog Islands were the best.

I woke up in the parking lot
of a Long Island casino
one time
and when I put
two chips
on red
I won $800.
I paid for everything
that weekend
and the four of us walked home
arm in arm
puking in the snow and laughing
like it was our last night
on earth.
We don’t call every year but
I still smile when I think about
that birthday
and the best friends
I never see.

Some years
I feel like I’m losing.
And there are others where the score
seems to be even.
I’ve lost cousins
and girlfriends
and a brown dog
with a white cross on her chest.
But there were the other years.
There were friends who
didn’t leave me in their wake.
Girls who left me believing I wouldn’t
always be let down.
And my mother,
using expensive ingredients
to cook me a birthday dinner
that fit with my new diet,
always making sure something was safe
in a world that started licking its teeth
as soon as you
walked out the door.

Tomorrow doesn’t always come with a nightmare.
Seeds grow.
Leaves fall.
I tell my friends to hold up their bottles
and look around.
“Remember our tribe,” I say.
“Nothing will ever be better than this.”
And I know I’m right
because I still haven’t found a place safer
than a backyard
in New Jersey.
And no matter how long I’ve been gone
there’s always a family waiting for me
when I come home.


SCOTT LAUDATI lives in Bushwick with his shnoodle, Dolly. His work has recently appeared in The Bitter Oleander and The Columbia Journal, among others. Visit him on instagram @scottlaudati

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