The beams of the city lights are completely visible in the smoke covered streets of Vienna. Omar, intoxicated and bloody, moans like an outcast creature in a foreign horror film as he paces behind me. The cut on the bridge of his nose bleeds consistently, leaving a trail of red freckles on the concrete slabs. "You shoulda had my back, nigga," he cries, "You shoulda had my fucking back." He's holding his shoulder in his left hand as his steps, heavy and pronounced, echo off the alleyways. I'm having a problem admitting to him that we're lost and that I have no idea where the hostile is. I stand off to the side of a homosexual couple who are laughing with their arms around one another. When they walk past Omar they stop laughing and stare briefly before looking at each other and carrying on with their unintelligible Austrian conversation.
"What was I supposed to do, bro," I begin to ask in an apologetic tone, "There were so many of them. I don't want to end up in no Austrian hospital. Have you seen the people in this city?" I notice a red dot on my shoe lace turning brown and can only assume it has come from somewhere on Omar's body and begin getting angry at my best friend. "These were fucking new, dude. You got blood on my fucking shoes." By this time, the buildings are few and far between and none of them look familiar at all, as if we'd gone beyond city limits. I begin looking around, not exactly sure what I'm looking for, maybe a taxi or a sign or maybe another set of skinheads to finish off Omar for what he did to my motherfucking shoe. I stop just short of the next alley and pull my pants down to piss on the side of a storefront window. My nerves have settled by this time and I look back to Omar who is pissing on the other side of the store, holding himself up by his shoulder. "You all right, dude? You think you need medical treatment? I gotta be honest with you. I'm not exactly sure where we are right now."
He props himself up, shakes it off, and brushes his nose with his thumb--which I find to be somewhat disgusting. He says "Typical," and begins walking the other way.
I suddenly remember the itinerary in my backpocket. I reach for it and unfold all four sections the first of which is simply a title page reading Sam's Birthday Bash in Vienna. Omar is almost a block ahead of me and I find it somewhat humorous that I can find him by following the red splashes on the ground. Humor quickly turns to sympathy, however. He is my best friend. I really should have had his back tonight. The sympathy lasts a few minutes while I go over the map in the itinerary and I catch a glimpse of the blood stain on my shoelace. I'm not mad at Omar anymore, but I definitely think he should have to pay to have these cleaned. I look up to see where the trotting bastard is, and am surprised not to see him in the distance. I slowly begin to panic, "Omar?" No answer. "Omar!" Nothing. I begin to follow the trail of blood immediately. Walking briskly, heal to toe so as to not ruin the tread of the new pair of shoes. "Omar!" Still nothing. The trail leads to an alleyway a block and a half up and I follow it all the way to a panting body laying on its stomach, "Omar..."
"Right here, homey," his speech is mostly guttural noise, "they got me good." There is blood spilling into the streets from underneath him, and I stay back three paces so as to not get any on my clothing, "You shoulda had my back, nigga."
"I know, man. I'm sorry. You want me to call for help?" I am trying to comfort him, but the place is a ghost town. And I am not knocking on any doors this time of night. I don't even speak Austrian.
"I don't know nigga. I'm not feeling too good." His voice is muffled by the wet and moldy pavement in the alleyway, "I don't think I'm gonna make it homey," he says and begins to whimper, "Do something for me man. I don't wanna die without you doing this for me."
"Anything, Omar. Just don't ask me to touch you."
"Just don't ask me to touch you."
"No no no, nigga. It's not that," He manages to prop himself up with his last ounce of strength and sits with his back against the building. The steam from the sewers creates a dense fog--a touching and dramatic scene for Omar's last request. I stand staring at my best friend with tears streaming generously down my cheeks now. Omar begins to speak and I can see the life passing through his eyes, "Tell Sam to have a happy birthday for me, all right?" And with that, I lose my best friend just outside the Vienna city limits.
To my brother, Sammy. It's his birthday today!