birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Bourbon, Beatles, Trashcan Fire

It was New Year's Eve. By then, Downtown LA had enough nightlife to draw us there for the celebration, but its edges still weren't softened by luxury lofts. Our group of six started at Seven Grand, where the reasonable cover charge for the jazz band also included welcome drink and a champagne toast at midnight. We joked that it kept the riffraff out, too. And sure enough, the bar was dark and crowded, but not so packed that we couldn't find a table. We drank too many Big Macs, a beautifully purple drink of bourbon and crushed blackberries cut with soda and lemon. The hours flew. Waiters were circulating with trays of champagne. We kissed each other on the cheek as the band played Auld Lang Syne. And then the night really started.

We walked a few blocks towards another favorite haunt, and were surprised to see police tape blocking our path. The officer was tightlipped. He took in our dresses and ties. "Ok, you can cut through that garage. Go all the way to the back, turn left. Go quick. Don't stop."

We popped out of the garage through a maintenance door on the sidewalk just steps away from the bar. At the corner, near the helpful cop, flames flickered inside a trashcan.

Inside, we partially filled a large booth, and the empty seats were quickly snagged by a couple from the apartments upstairs. They argued drunkly. She flirted with my husband, offering to show him her switch blade.

Back into the night, past the smoking trashcan to the subway station, where we rode for free to our friend's place near Hollywood and Highland. We packed into the tiny, groaning elevator to his 7th floor studio with our hands full of styrofoam take out containers. We made coffee and ate greasy quesadillas while we played the Beatles edition of Rock Band.

When we finally made it home, the first newspaper of the new year was waiting for us on the porch.

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