"We'll climb up the side, by the gutter."

"What if we get caught?"

"We won't get caught. I've done this before and I've never been caught."

"What if we slip?"

"Eh, it's nothing. I've slipped before."

"Did it hurt?"

"Yep. I lived."

"I don't want to slip."

"Then don't"


The side of the building was wet, like it was sweating. The bricks were turning to sand, but a careful toe, a clever finger up and over to the left, and there it was. It was like the man said, it was nothing, climbing this groaning old ghost in the dark.

"Do you have the stuff?"

"No, I left it home."


"Just kidding. Here it is."

"Not funny."

"Sure it is."

"What wall should we do?"

Two walls jutted up from this shoulder of building. Jagged things, all rebar and pus. Other walls chittered in the dim, away around corners and up fire escapes punched in the gut by gravity and rust.

"I don't know. Let's drink some wine and then figure it out."

"You brought wine?"

"Of course I brought wine. We are on a roof, aren't we? Here, have a pull."

"Ah, that's good roof wine."


"You see that light down there?"

"Where, the one by the tracks?"

"No, over past the strip mall."

"Oh, yeah, the one by the Pair-a-Dice? What about it?"

"I was walking past that light when it hit me."

"What, the all-encompassing instant knowledge of forgetfulness and nothing characteristic of a Bodhisattva?"

"No, a half a bag of pretzels a guy threw out of his car."

"Hmmm... How were they? The pretzels?"

"If Plato had dreamed up the perfect form of pretzel, dancing with shadows in the idea cave with cheese and salty, he would've liked those pretzels."

"Like the wine."

"Sure. This wine is the pure form of roof wine."

"Hey, who's there?"

A roof door opened, puncturing everything with sick yellow light. The door gave out a metal-on-metal grind when it moved, frictional hands of mechanistic lust, dripping oil and preservatives. The door gave birth through gurgitation to a flashlight attached to a limb attached to a body attached.

"What're you folks doing up here so late?"

"Drinking roof wine."

"Ain't supposed to do that."

"And we're going to spray paint one of these walls."

"Ain't supposed to do that, either."

"Want some wine?"

"What're you going to put up there, with your paint?"

"Not sure."

"I was thinking either a mandala or an aureola."

"That sounds fine."

"Want some roof wine?"

"Sure. Don't tell the boss."

"We don't talk to him."

"Okay then."

"Good wine, huh?"

"Yeah, better enjoy it before they invent a wine that drinks itself, then buys more and drinks that, too. How'd you folks get all the way up here, anyhow?"


"Oh, that's a nice way to go."

"Sure is. Shit."


"Spilled my wine."

The wine, drunk on freedom and capitalization, flew down the slow slope of the roof. It snuck by spiders fleeing in the dark, it overcame cracks and bird crumbs. The wine ducked, the wine juked, the wine waved to its baby from high when it hit the edge, free floating in night space. It splattered and splotched on the sidewalk, selling rich red circles to passing feet.

Up above, spray cans sang "shhh" to the world, and it did.

About the author:

Justin Ringsak is a writer and musician living in Walkerville, Montana, which has the distinction of being smack dab in the middle of the largest Superfund environmental cleanup site in the nation. His writing has appeared in various Montana publications, and he is working on "Eat Your Dust", a collection of stories and creative non-fiction. This is his first wack at the pinata of online publishing.