The Beast, Pt. 21 (Chapter 10)

Horsefeathers! I scheduled this for the wrong day. I’ve tweaked the scheduling on this to when it should have gone live. There will be another post later tonight.

10

Pour into the elevator like a war band, like a war crime, like the band War, remember them, that classical music? We are whooping and shouting and laughing, masculinity hilarious, death hilarious, hilarious men, hilaria, everything’s hilarious because in this moment we are still young (even if we are not) and we are still invincible (even if we are not) and the only thing that can stop us is ourselves and why would we ever stop ourselves (even if we really really should?)

There are others in the elevator, men and women of advanced age, children, childs, babies, the elderly, all the world surrounds us and we are seeing double. Cower, ye tourists, ye bondsmen, ye genetically and morally inferior! Tremble at our coming! We are the old gods! We are the old ways! Mankind walks the stars, tames the atom, conjures food and water from air, builds great carbon sinks to save himself from cooking alive, and still we exist. Still we hunger. Still we twirl to the piping of an unheard flute, still we dance at the center of all things, still we rage and rave for delight and distraction. We remain unconquered. We are the burning senselessness at the center of all things. We are the void that outnumbers the stars. We are senseless destruction and celebration, demons dancing to a rhythm pounded out on tanned human skin, flexing arms, calves strengthened by raises and nanotechnology and dangerous chemical supplements. There is not enough maturity in the world to quell the senseless fires that burn within us.

Us, acolytes of a mad god, adherents of old faiths and old ways. We are atavistic in this moment, atavism incarnate. We are cavemen in collared shirts and designer jeans and overpriced shoes. But we are cavemen nevertheless, primal and primeval and in the prime of our lives (perhaps.) Cavemen of the modern age. We persist. We endure. We conquer. Give us a wolf and we will tame it. Give us a mammoth and we will hunt it with arrow and spear. Bring us your harvest, your women, your tribute, and we will see if any of it can slake our thirst for more more more. Hear our battle cry and know despair.

“Bro!”

“Bro!”

“Bro!”

A headbutt. A bellow that rumbles up from the belly like an earthquake from the bowels of the earth. A “bro” as drawn out as a lifetime, echoing like a lion’s roar.

The bondsmen, the trembling, the inferior, the fearful, the loathsome force the elevator open and get off on the 10th floor, which is a stupid floor without anything interesting on it. What are they? Thirty, forty, fifty? An impossible age. An age we will never reach, even though not long ago, our age now was impossible to us. How we would joke then, call twenty our midlife crisis, suicide at twenty-seven, ha ha ha, and this behavior is not suicide, not with any sincerity. It is celebration. We tell ourselves this, and in the moment, we believe it, buy into it, accept it and hold it before us like a cross, like seven circles around a bonfire, like a hajj that exists nowhere but in our own minds.

The bondsmen will never understand that. Theirs is an existence of base emotions, baser than our own. Fear. Loathing. Fear. Trembling.

Run, coward. Run. Run. Run.

Chase them out with taunts and jeers and throw back our heads and call out

* * *

“No, no! Here first, here first!”

A sea of frowns. This is not Buddha. This is not the Middle Way. This is not the Eight-Fold Path. “La Maison Derrière? Why?”

“Because I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul! Because I want

* * *

a pack of cigarettes and… Yeah, I know I don’t smoke. Fuck off. I want cigarettes. Anyway, I’ll have a pack of cigarettes, please. Yeah, take your time. I’ll wait in

* * *

“Lines, lines, limes. Lines are a form of oppression. Limes are a kind of citrus. I’m not saying we’re heroes, but we are martyrs, and if that doesn’t collectively make us Jesus then all the cool tropical drinks in the world couldn’t save us now. Go ahead. Just go ahead and

* * *

“Puke it all up. There you go, man. Get it out. Bet you wish you’d taken the nanite shot now, huh, tough guy?”

* * *

“Right? I mean, can you believe that shit?”

The women laugh uproariously, carelessly, the kind of happiness only the drunk know. They cannot believe that shit. They cannot believe

* * *

“It’s busy tonight, yeah? The only way you’re getting in is bottle service.”

“That’s bullshit! S’not even anyone in line!”

The stiff in the suit points to the line that stretches around the corner. “That line, guys. That line.” Jerks a thumb over his shoulder. “This is the coat check.”

“Why’s the coat check outside?”

“It’s not. Come on, guys. I’m busy.”

“Why’s the coat check outside?”

“You know what? Fuck it. We’ll do it. We’ll pay for bottle service!”

“Somebody tell me why the coat check is outside!”

The girl behind the stiff rolls her eyes.

* * *

She’s got blonde hair and poofy pants and a top and I can see her belly button and all things considered it’s not a bad belly button and I’m thinking, Wow, she looks like just like a genie, and I have no idea why I’m thinking this and there’s a bottle of whiskey on the table and you idiots women won’t want to drink whiskey why didn’t you get tequila or vodka and she says, “Whiskey? Really? Why not, like, vodka?” and all I can do is stick out my arm like voila and scream “See?” but I don’t know if anyone can here me over the music or if I’m even saying it maybe it’s just in my head and I’m just flailing like a goddamn maniac for no reason and then she says

* * *

“Holy shit, this is good! What is it?”

“’Scotch whisky.’ Distilled in EUR-7, aged in sherry casks under pressure, and personally inspected by the Macbeth Distillery’s head distiller.”

“So, it’s, like, not condensed from hydrogen cell runoff?”

A long drawn out pause. “No, Sir.”

* * *

“Excuse me, Sir.” The stiff in the suit taps my boy on the shoulder, and isn’t that always the fucking way. Cough up hundreds of creds and you still get the tap on the shoulder and the “Excuse me, Sir,” and goddamn it anyway.

But then he goes on. “Excuse me, Sir, but I noticed a crowd gathering by your table. They didn’t seem to be affiliated with you, so I took the liberty of moving you to a table upstairs overlooking the dance floor. I hope that’s okay.”

Those wide eyes of surprise and that big dopey grin of something that rhymes with surprise. “Yeah, that’s great!” How many small potatoes yokels do they get with that act, I wonder. Folks who will swear up and down, “Yeah, you’ve got to get the bottle service! They treat you like you’re royalty!” Meanwhile, the folks who are used to being treated like royalty don’t even blink. Of course the riff-raff is being kept away from their table. Of course you’re bending over backwards to take care of my needs before I even realize they exist. That’s the way this is supposed to work. And those are the folks that get bottle service for free just by virtue of their name, or else they don’t even know what it costs, bill it all to my room. “At once, Sir!” You got enough money, everyone’s some kind of ancient English butler.

But even so. Goddamn if it isn’t some strange simple pleasure to hear “Excuse me, Sir” and not have it followed by “You’re making a scene.” Goddamn. I’m not even playing.

* * *

“No, the play was ‘Six Dead Men,’” the brunette says. Tell her, “Right, but the play within the play. The one the dead men are performing. Has anyone ever tried to write that, you think?” and she goes, “’Six Dead Men.’ That’s the name of the play.” and it’s all that can be done not to roll my eyes like bones, come on baby, give me snake eyes, get me another drink, drink to me only with labyrinthine eyes.

* * *

“Can I get you anything else, guys?”

“V’got a lot of room up here and a lot of whiskey still. Why’n’t you maybe ask around downstairs, see if there’s any girls want a free drink with the good guys?”

An elbow to the ribs, harder than intended, hard enough to hurt. “Fuck’s wrong with you?” hissed through teeth.

“Absolutely. I’ll be back in a couple minutes, guys.”

Eyes gone wide with wonder. “Holy shit, we can do that? We can do

* * *

“What?”

“What?”

“What?”

What?

“Huh?”

“I said, ‘The music’s really fucking loud!’” And it is. It’s super fucking loud. It’s going to leave me

* * *

Passed out on the sofa, bottle in one hand, other one shoved down his pants. Come on, man. Really? We’re in public. Fucking pull yourself together and oh, goddamnit, I’m thinking this, not talking. I’m thinking

* * *

“I d’n get it! I just, like, dance. I’m just there to dance. Even the fatties and the uggos d’n want to dance with me! But, like, I’m just there to–”

“Fucking pull yourself together. Hey! I think I said it that time! I’m on a

* * *

Roll. Walk. March. No Commconn. No wallet. No friends. Just feet. One foot in front of the other. You’ll get there. Tropicali can’t be more than a mile away. A mile’s nothing. Don’t even have to run. March. Move your feet. S’like a dance, but it’s not a dance (s’like a forced march, death march, dropping like flies) no, damnit, it’s just a mile now move. Don’t hesitate. Don’t ask questions. Don’t ask

* * *

“Dude, where the fuck did you go?”

“We were trying to message you on–”

I throw my arm around Googe’s shoulder, press my finger against his lips, shush him. “Hush ye, child. I got a plan. I got a cunning cunning plan. See, I’ve got a vision, and the vision is telling me to get

* * *

“Out of my way, asshole.”

The asshole spins around on his heels and my boys are looking at me like we’re going to get murdered, and fuck that, I’ll murder this guy. I’m in just the right headspace to headbutt this motherfucker into the ground. I’ve got a mission. I’ve got a purpose. I’ve got a vision. I’m seeing visions. I’m feeling vicious.

“Put it all on black,” I scream. “Put it all on black!”

* * *

“Hit me. Hit me. Hit me.”

* * *

“Bam! Jackpot! Fucking jackpot! Ring-a-ding-ding, motherfuckers!”

* * *

“Dude, you can’t–”
“Call! I call!”

Word Count: ಠ_ಠ

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