The seahorse sat in the flames like a devil perched in Hell’s doorway. We were all laughing and half hoping that he would go through with it. Six pairs of idle hands cutting through the air in an attempt to convince him how cool it would be. John stared at the seahorse, studying it. Then, he began to detail the process for us knowing well that his words were impotent. We were all drunk and hazy from the keif. It would happen how it happened, and thats all any wise man could predict. After about 20 minutes, the seahorse bottle opener was hot enough. Ryan picked it up with a wet rag, but dropped it back into the flames. Then someone grabbed some tongs, but they stuck out too much to press the seahorse bottle opener into the skin. I stepped into orchestrate the process and moved the seahorse to the edge of the grill with the tongs. John watched over this whole fiasco silently. Our incompetence did not bode well for the operation, yet he was already gone, mentally. The fifty buck he was getting for this already held the carrot in front of him. Swaying left, then right. Hypnotising and whispering false predictions of better times. I brought him back when I grabbed the seahorse with a doubled up wet rag and still burned myself through it. Jeezus! I folded and then folded again, eight times thick. The stained rag hissed as I picked up the bronze brand. In one motion I pressed the head into flesh. The smell hit me first and the seahorse dropped to the deck. It smelled like cooking meat. Some kind of rotten fajita dish at Chilli’s. We had missed on the horse’s body and John insisted we do it again. This time it pressed longer, and I could see the skin peel away from the edges as if the cells themselves were fleeing disaster. “Holy shit!” someone cried. And we laughed ourselves to tears. Someone gave John the money, and the novelty of the whole situation began to wear off. “I’m going to get some blow,” John said. And the reality of the whole thing just sank in. “I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” Watching him drive off down the dark street with no headlights, and then we went back inside to the TV. We waited for almost an hour before turning it off.