Beach club. Crib / The Nerd, Session Two

Artwork of the Eye: Mirror Clothing

C. J. was sitting behind the wheel of an ’84 Ford Wagon and sped down the late-in-the-evening murky Beach Boulevard. The sun had already descended below the horizon, Spanish Radio was playing on the car stereo. The glaring neon lights of hotels and liquor stores kept flying by on the left side of the road. On the other side the pale beach continued for some 900 feet until it merged with the black ocean. Groups of lowlifes and drug dealers were hanging around the sidewalk. C. J. drove through a red light at a crossroads and steered the car partly on the sidewalk as he passed two vehicles that were crawling ahead of him. Mean shouts and honking followed, but C. J. just calmly pushed the pedal to the metal and drove on. Soon he noticed the familiar purple glow coming from a distance and decided spontaneously to stop by Malibu and treat himself to a drink.

C. J. parked the wagon carelessly on the lawn next to the club, put a cigarette in his mouth and stepped out of the car with a ragged, old Stetson on his head. He wandered around for a moment, looked occasionally in the direction of the city lights and took his time smoking the cigarette. Then he climbed up the stairs, walked past the two bouncers in black suits and entered the nightclub.

A fair number of people had gathered at Malibu. A group of youngsters were swaying their bodies on the circular dancefloor with the lights repeating the same shades of purple as outside. C. J. went to the bar and ordered himself a cuba libre. He took a glance at the other guys lounging by the bar. A man was sitting next to him on a stool. He didn’t look too familiar, but C. J. nevertheless thought that they had exchanged a few words sometime before. The guy had probably had a facelift since then.

“Fuck the lockdown! If this shit goes on for one more day, I swear this place will go boom,” a red-haired man (Fufu) argued. “This ain’t no real life anyway.”

Suddenly someone burst into hysterical laughter just behind Fufu.

“Ding-a-ding-a-ding-a-ding! We have a winner here,” said the bulky person with an afro (Rat King) who was sitting on another bar stool.

C. J. assumed that Rat King was one of the regulars in the club.

“Guy’s got a point. And you know what’s cooking too, do ya?” Rat King added.

“It’s the gang up there, damn high,” Fufu replied, unhesitantly. “I mean the government and the whole bunch of crooks.”

Rat King was clapping his hands. “The check will be sent through the mail.”

“They sip wine in the business class and fly around this cursed land to attend God knows what sort of orgies and meanwhile a regular Joe’s about to loose the roof over his head!”

“Just keep on digging, bro.” Rat King said. “It’s all part of the bigger plan, really. They didn’t put people under quarantine right now for nothing. You see, now they’ve got all the privacy in the world for their dirty monkey business while the rest of us are struggling to get rid of the chain around our necks. Or even better, people learning to love their own chains.”

“Hmm, makes sense to me,” Fufu grunted and gulped down the rest of his cocktail. “You never know about these pervs in the government what they’re really up to.”

“Check this out, bro, if you’re interested in the truth,” Rat King said and hit his card on the counter, which Fufu then grabbed quickly and put it in his jacket pocket.

“A dark year for Joe, dark one once more. With his pockets full of dust and an empty ol’ home, just where will he go?” Fufu chanted to himself.

C. J. ordered another cuba libre and chugged it in a hurry.

“Keep it cool, bros,” he called to the people hanging around the bar and walked through the doors of Malibu to head back to the humid streets of the nocturnal city.

***

A two-storey, luxuriously furnished house located on the hills in the central part of the city. A swimming pool out on the terrace. And a spectacular view of the metropolis sprawling in the distance. Bright rays of sunlight shone through the wide living room windows where C. J. was sitting on the couch, smoking a fat joint. He flicked ashes on the parquet and fiddled nervously with his cell phone. Soon he checked perhaps for the tenth time during that afternoon the government-sponsored list of openings for new missions. As expected, the list didn’t have anything suitable for C. J. whatsoever. The rest of the missions didn’t interest him. It was only the government’s missions that would pay you real money. C. J. tossed the phone away, sank deeper into the couch and blew smoke up in the white ceiling. Time passed by slowly.

Later C. J. went to the master bedroom and stood by an open wardrobe. He put on a green baseball jacket with a distinct letter V on the front. Next he slipped into his light blue jeans and grabbed the black bucket hat from the shelf, then the sunglasses. C. J. looked in the mirror and smirked at his own reflection. Pretty soon he left the house, hopped on his motorbike and raced off down the silent driveway.

***

The wheels of the red sportbike were burning up the asphalt. City blocks whizzed by as C. J. drove along the main road and accelerated to top speed. Just before the crossroads he hit the brakes and then tilted his body forcefully to the left in order to make a sharp turn, tires smoking. Next he twisted the throttle and sent the bike zooming down the Beach Boulevard. Like the evening before, C. J. headed to Malibu. After reaching the destination, he left his bike in front of the nightclub.

Old disco hits were blaring out inside. C. J. marched to the bar and ordered a drink. A group of people had gathered around the counter, noticeably larger than yesterday. Nearby a person called Buzzo was speaking and the youngsters next to him sipped beer and listened carefully. C. J. could’ve bet a grand on Buzzo being the same guy who hung out at the club yesterday under the name of Rat King. This time he had a massive, blond afro and wore a gold chain around his neck. Even though the name and appearance of a given individual would change from time to time, there were certain things that sometimes exposed their real identity behind the avatar. Style, gestures, the way they talked and behaved.

Buzzo was apparently recruiting people again into some sort of weird club of his.

“Another day of watching the paint dry, huh?” Buzzo inquired. “People are counting on the government to give them back their jobs and money like a bunch of gullible fools. You know what a vain hope that is, don’t you bros? They make you fight for chickenfeed while they’re keeping the real money tightly secured inside their palace. I bet most of you wouldn’t believe the evilness of their plan even if you saw it with your own eyes!”

The others broke out in passionate grumbling.

“You mean when they inject the people with microchips and shit?” Fufu asked. A black-and-gray skull tattoo had appeared on his right temple.

“Yep, you’ve got it,” Buzzo replied and Fufu quivered with disgust. “I tell you the big picture is diabolical.”

“By the way, have you ever looked the word lockdown in a dictionary?” He added. “It refers to an institution, such as school or prison. So lemme ask you, do you consider yourselves as schoolboys or prisoners? WHAT?!”

“NO WAY!” They shouted unanimously and pounded on the counter with their fists. Buzzo was smiling and gave away his cards to anyone eager to have one.

“In case you wanna see it all.”

C. J. looked at the dance floor where a woman was shaking her booty wildly to the beat. He leaned against the counter and slurped down his drink. After a moment C. J. noticed that Buzzo was heading for the exit with an escort. He got up from the stool on a whim and ran after them.

“Yo, buddy!” He shouted. “I heard you speaking at the bar. I wanna dig deeper into all this too. Happen to have an extra card?”

Buzzo turned around with the chain around his neck swinging and checked C. J. out.

“Sorry, bro. I’m all out,” he sneered then.

His dark, narrow eyes flashed in the dim lobby. The escort waiting next to him grinned at C. J. Next the oddball duo walked away from the nightclub, leaving C. J. alone in the lobby to watch them go in a bewildered state of mind.

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