Of course, the bottle of Merlot heâ€™d nearly emptied wasnâ€™t making it too hard to unwind. But it was an unwinding that was long overdue.
Blinking himself out of his tipsy daze and turning his head south, Harlan stared at the tops of downtownâ€™s tallest skyscrapers, backlit in the moonlight, which could be seen above the hills of Echo Park. His head still rested on the railing, and his legs scissored back and forth slowly in the empty air beneath him.
But the moon was strange tonight. A dirty-orange hole in the darkness above downtown, the moon didnâ€™t so much rise above the city, Harlan thought, as it seemed to lurk along its edge, trapped in the layer of smog that blanketed Los Angeles. It looked almost as if it were peering over the rim of the city, afraid of either what it might see, or of being seen.
He smiled to himself and leaned backward, he could identify with that feeling. Reaching backward for the bottle of wine without looking or paying attention, Harlan swept his arm forward too fast, knocking the wine over. And with his dulled reaction time, the noise of the rolling bottle took a moment too long to register, and he turned just in time to watch it reach the edge of the deck and pause there momentarily before tumbling off and down into the sloping abyss of wretched ivy, roaches, rocks and dirt fifteen feet feet below.
Still smiling, but also cringing a little awaiting the noisy shatter, he looked down in surprise after hearing the bottle hit and not break, and his eyes followed it as it rolled and bounced downward, shattering only after it slammed into the rusting spike-topped iron fence that marked the property line. The remaining contents of the bottle splashed out onto the neatly manicured grass beyond the fence and looked like…blood, he thought.