The Beast, Pt. 50 (Chapter 16b)

Monk looks over his shoulder at me, smiling like a goofy kid. There’s an innocence to it that I can’t help but smile back at. “Matchstick Corbo!”

“I’m not even going to try and decipher that, but right on.” I step closer but hang back, watching with crossed arms and a faint smile on my face as the group draw cards from an assortment of decks, pick tokens out of a pile and return them, roll dice, shout in excitement, curse in frustration, joke and laugh. Ladies and gentlemen, my friends. They fly out to the Meadows, win enough money to live like kings (at least for a little while,) bring a group of young beautiful women back to their obscenely expensive and lavish hotel room, and then they play a board game.

I love these guys. I truly do.

“Where’d you guys even get that thing?”

Papa Chub answers without looking up from his hand of cards, his lips pressed into a tight line from concentration, his brow furrowed. “Googe was saying that we could get anything we wanted here. Desiree bet him he couldn’t. He called her bluff, so she told him to try and get a board game delivered to the room by a man dressed as one of those old… Old what-do-you-call-its.” He pauses, looks up from the cards, his eyes locked on some distant thing that only he can see. A place where they know the word he’s wracking his brain for, perhaps. “French maids,” he finally says.

I laugh. That’s so ridiculous I don’t even care that no one bothered to point out who Desiree is, that no one volunteered themselves as the woman in question. “You got a man dressed as a French maid to deliver you a board game?”

“Damn right we did. Biggest, hairiest, meanest looking motherfucker you’ve ever seen.”

I arch an eyebrow in disbelief. I’m mildly curious if an individual with those qualities was requested, if it was dumb luck, or if whoever had handled the request had just defaulted to “big hairy mean motherfucker.” Probably the latter. The appetites of men and women can be strange and specific, and when you have the funds to indulge your every whim, they probably grow only more so. Maybe the villa had a history of the rich and debauched requesting people of all shapes and sizes and colors in French maid outfits. “Is that so?”

Erb nods, his eyes locked firmly on his cards. “He was definitely big and hairy and mean looking. I can’t speak to his status as a motherfucker, though.”

I glance around the table. My four friends, a blonde, a brunette, a redhead, and the lone caramel, looking so much like a candy, looking dark and mysterious (but not tall. That’s my thing.) We make eye contact, briefly, and we both look away from each other. I try to decide if she looks like a Desiree or not. I can’t make up my mind. “So the staff will bring you anything you want, and you stopped with a board game?”

Googe slams his cards against the tabletop, leaps to his feet, and pumps his fists in the air. “Matchstick Corbo!” he shouts. There’s laughter, booing, applause. I wait for it to die down and I repeat my question. “Yeah. I don’t know. We haven’t tried anything else yet. What, do you have an idea?”

I shrug and glance around the room. Past the giant windows, the artificial sun is setting in its artificial sky. If the Meadows weren’t a hornet’s nest of light and sound, there would be real stars coming out, but instead the bubble that protects us from the void of space is the deep black-blue of the edges of a bruise.

But somewhere beyond that, there are stars.

A smirk comes to the corner of my mouth. “You know, I might.”

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