The bar was called SAX Lounge. It was the hottest place in town. Places like this were very popular in the Old World. The SAX Lounge had a 60-foot-high ceiling reminiscent of an Italian opera house. Two floors bedazzled with everything from nine ornate chandeliers to inlaid medallion tabletops evoking images of Versailles. The staff served food and drinks while performing choreographies, where ballet meets burlesque, meets Cirque de Soleil. A place where all the good-looking people in town came to have a good time. That evening the venue was closed for a private party. But Marcel was a regular, well acquainted with all the staff. His connections helped them to crash the party. It was not the kind of place Levi would go for a drink. No place would fit this category anyway since he barely went out or drank for that matter. But Marcel felt at home and convinced Levi to try to have fun at least once in his life.
They had been best friends for a while now. They started working at NASA on the same day. Two rookies, both pretty intimidated by the whole thing, they had many reasons to hit it off and so stuck together from the beginning. Marcel Williams was also from New York, he had graduated in physics from Cornell University and then specialized in astrophysics. Handsome, 6-foot-tall black guy, and quite fit for a geeky physicist, Marcel had always been a ladies’ man. He never cared much for long and stable relationships. His loyalty was reserved only for science, the New York Yankees, and his buddy, Levi Adams.
The music was loud, the place was packed, and Marcel was beyond drunk. Levi had maybe two or three more than he should, but he was still trying to be the responsible one by not losing it altogether.
“Come on, man! Loosen up,” Marcel said, fighting gravity, bouncing in all directions, having a hard time keeping himself steady. “Let’s meet some girls.”
“Look at yourself. You are too drunk. Nobody wants to meet that,” Levi said, with a serious face.
“Oh, yeah? Watch and learn, ma-man.” He turned around and hit on the first girl he saw. “Did it hurt?” Marcel shouted at the blonde in red to his right at the bar.
“What?” the girl replied, not understanding the question.
“When you fell from the sky. Did it hurt, my angel?” Marcel mumbled at her with small eyes and a big smile.
“Really?” the girl answered, trying not to laugh.
“Get lost!” demanded a man who was the shape and size of a wardrobe made of muscles. He seemed to have come out of nowhere and pushed Marcel away. “She is with me,” he said menacingly.
“What are you pushing me for, monkey? Let the lady choose who she wants to be with.”
“Monkey?” screamed the angry Nephilim with closed fists moving rapidly towards Marcel’s face. Levi pushed Marcel aside before the monster’s jab reached him. Heroic maybe, but a stupid move. Now the big guy was coming to get him. And he was not alone. He had brought his gym buddies with him. While Levi was trying to run through the sea of people crowding the place, Marcel was still trying to get up, not an easy task when your world is spinning and you see everything double. The bodybuilder’s gang cornered Levi; it seemed to be the end for him. They exchanged punches, but fortunately, security stepped in before too much damage was done. Levi and Marcel were kicked out of the party. Marcel couldn’t stop laughing, but Levi didn’t find it funny at all.
Levi was from a humble background, the only child of a family of immigrants. His father’s dream was for his son to graduate university, find a good job, have a beautiful wife, and eventually give him many grandchildren. Sadly, his father passed away when Levi was only a little boy. The first tragedy of many to come in his life. As a young man, Levi left New York to attend the University of Chicago, which he attended on a scholarship. There he met his wife to be, Anne Castle, who was also graduating in physics. Right after graduation, Levi and Anne moved to Maryland together. They got married and lived deeply in love for eight extremely happy years, until the next tragedy struck. Anne was five months pregnant when she lost their baby. Shortly after that, Anne was diagnosed with cancer, which eventually kill her a few years later. Another part of Levi died with her that day. Many years had passed since then, but one could still see the pain in his eyes. Only Levi’s mom and his best friend Marcel were sometimes capable of making him smile, but not that night.
“What you did in there was stupid,” Levi said holding his arm close to his body. His right shoulder hurt, and he was limping. He felt like, once the alcohol and adrenaline levels went down, he would find out that those drinks had cost him much more than a black eye.
“I am so sorry. I didn’t mean for our night to end up like this. But, you have to admit, you were a freaking fighter in there, man! Don’t you feel alive?”
“I feel pain, you idiot!”
“Come on. Was it really that bad? You have to do crazy stuff sometimes, Levi. Life is too short, and you have to live it to the fullest while you can.”
“Exactly! I have better things to do than to hit on girls and pick fights in bars. Give me the keys, you knucklehead. You’re not driving.”
“Okay, Mom,” Marcel replied.
Levi drove Marcel home making sure he got inside. It was still a forty-five-minute drive to his home. He was tired and groggy. He started to think that he should have spent the night at Marcel’s, but he was far too angry to stay.
He kept driving. His eyes were getting heavier. His head kept falling. He managed to stop for the traffic light, which seemed pointless since there was not a soul around. The traffic light finally turned green. He started moving slowly when suddenly, strong blinding lights traveled through his left side window, and the deafening noise of screeching tires screamed his head off. A big heavy, flatbed truck appeared in a flash and hit Levi hard. Driving over eighty miles an hour, it crossed the red light, crashed into Levi’s car, and carried him for over a hundred yards before it came to a complete stop.
* * *
“Then,” Marcel continued, “after you took me home, I started to feel really sick. I had drunk too much, even by my standards. I threw up everything I had had that night and passed out right there in the bathroom. Sometime later, I woke up with my phone still in my pocket, ringing non-stop. It was the hospital. They had found the car’s license plate on what was left of the car. I tried to clean myself up a little, called a taxi, and headed to the hospital. Once I got there, they told me what happened. When the ambulance arrived at the scene, you were already dead.”
“Dead!” Levi gasped. He sat down quickly, suddenly feeling dizzy.
“Yes,” Marcel said with a low voice. “Everything was smashed and burned with the explosion that followed the crash. They needed someone to identify the body. I had to take a good look at you before I collapsed. I couldn’t believe that you were gone. I couldn’t stop thinking that, if I had not taken you with me that night, you would not have died that day. But now you were dead, and it was entirely my fault.”
“Dead?” Levi asked staring at the floor with his hands on his head.
“I had to break the news to your Mom. That was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.” Marcel sat by Levi’s side. “I couldn’t cope with the pain. Losing you brought back memories of the death of my parents. And I dealt with it in the only way I knew how. With drugs and alcohol. Deeply depressed and tired, pretty soon, I was unemployed, and things were going from bad to worse.”
“Dead?” Levi asked quietly, almost to himself, raising his head and staring at the window.
“Then, your Grandpa came to the rescue. Back then, your Mom was living with your grandparents Jacob and Rachel, but they never accepted your Mom’s hatred towards me. They never saw me as responsible for their grandson’s death. Every other week Jacob would come to visit me in DC. Sometimes Rachel would come too and bring along some friends to help me clean my house, which at that time was one big filthy mess. The fact that they had so many friends, young and old, always puzzled me. In the beginning, I was resistant. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, but Jacob never gave up on me. It took a while, but we became good friends.”
“What do you mean by ‘dead’? You mean dead, dead, like dead as in not living?” Levi interrupted, standing up, looking confused.
“They were in their late seventies when they convinced me to move back to New York,” Marcel continued in a more positive tone. “I sold my house in DC and rented a small studio in Brooklyn. As you know, Jacob and Rachel were very religious. They became even more religious after you were gone. They dragged me to their religious meetings several times. Then I finally understood where all those friends came from. In time, I started enjoying the meetings too. Their beliefs and teachings gave me peace, hope, and helped me a lot in those difficult times.”
“Wow,” Levi said, dazed and numb.
“It was there where I met June, a wonderful and devoted woman to whom I got married a few years later. I then found a job as a professor at Brooklyn College, bought a house close to work, and started rebuilding my life. We were very happy and doing great when the twins came along. Many times, I wished you were there. And now, here you are. Back from the dead.”
“Man!” Levi exclaimed. He took a breath and tried to compose himself. “Okay, listen,” he continued, holding Marcel by his shoulders. “I’m so sorry that you had to go through all that. I know how hard it was for you to get over the trauma of losing your parents. I can only imagine how hard it was to deal with death once again,” he continued, looking Marcel in his eyes. “Are you saying that you were friends with my Grandparents? Became a religious man? Married? With twins? Who would have ever guessed that Marcel Williams would settle down one day, become a father and a preacher? I guess anything is possible, right?”
“Yes. I guess so,” Marcel grinned.
“But more importantly, tell me this.” Levi paused for a moment before he shouted: “I was dead?” he asked, now shaking Marcel by the shoulders. “Crashed and burned? What about this body? Am I a robot under this skin?” he kept asking. “How did they transfer all my memories to this body? Do we finally understand how consciousness works? And, what year is this? Where exactly are we in the future?” Levi kept throwing more and more questions at Marcel, who could not help but smile.
“So good to have you back, brother,” Marcel said, unable to contain his happiness.
Marcel is very happy. Can you imagine how you would feel? Please, let us know in the comments below.
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