We slid past storefronts that gleamed like liquid metal; the long, unwieldy body of the car turning quicksilver and distorted in the plexiglass afternoon windows. We passed old women clutching bags in knarled liver-spotted hands. We passed wage slaves, ties firmy in place about the neck, coming from their meaningless jobs back to meaningless houses, where they would sit down with their meaningless families and eat dinner, before retiring to their beds and starting the whole vicious cycle over again tomorrow. Everyone was part of the cycle, in my eyes, even Collie and Sandy- as any society needs miscreants and mischief-makers. Everyone fit. Except for myself, of course.
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The world slipped by, riding the rails of time.
Once upon a time, the section of well-nigh unused old storefronts and abandoned buildings along the line from Shadeland Avenue to North Main Street were beginning to look like demolitions committee material. The residents were leaving, the businesses were moving- things were looking bleak for what remained of the populace.
Then, one day, things began to change. A group of semi-wealthy artists opened up a cafe/dance club called The Alley on the corner of Shadeland and N. Main. It was a ramshackle, amateur operation at best. Handpainted designs on the walls. Staff of starving artists and local freaks. Official Graffiti Wall. Live bands piped in directly from local garages. It had all the makings of a textbook failure, and the remaining residents waited smugly for the inevitable. But such was not the case. To their surprise, the Alley began attracting more and more people each week. In four months, it was literally packed every Friday night. Nor was that all. A block of sub-par apartments, run from the remains of an old hotel, was filling up with people of a very specific type. They were very rarely wealthy, but seemed to aquire large-ish sums of money in great spurts, followed by dry spots where they were again forced to resort to Beefaroni and ramen noodles. They dressed outlandishly, often in hand-painted jeans or t-shirts with obscure slogans hand-ironed onto them. They often wore numerous tatoos, piercings, jewelery, or other assorted adornments. They spoke feverishly when together, and groups of them could sometimes be found arguing quietly at one table or another. They were distressingly polite.
From there, everything began to pick up speed: Family-run video stores, cult book stores, obscure restaurants, etc. etc.
Roughly a month before, the owners of The Alley had abruptly closed down shop and disappeared, for reasons unknown. In that same month, a Starbucks had opened on the far end of Shadeland. Two weeks later, a nightclub had rushed in to fill the void.
Even from the outside, the Orb was worlds different from the old, broken-down Abbey (called The Shabbey in the more yuppie parts of town). The sun gleamed off polished chrome, steel, formica, fake wood panels, painted a disturbing purple color by professional hands that did not leave streaks. Baby spotlights, carefully positioned, would light the Orb up like a candle at night, stopping just below the carefully positioned purple neon sign reading- of course- THE ORB, next to a VERY dilated purple-and-white eye. I despised the place on sight.
The narrow, road-side parking lot was absolutely filled, even in the middle of the afternoon. Only half the cars could possibly have belonged to the people who lived on Shadeland Ave. The rest- symbols of the thoughtless middle class. Conspicuous consumption cars, serving only to boost the egos of their occupants, although technically, they could still drive from place to place, or else they wouldn't have been clogging up our innocent parking lot.
Sandy sniffed. "Looks like we're being invaded."
"What's that?" said Collie.
"Do you mean 'what exactly are you implying by use of the word 'invaded', or 'what does invaded mean'?" she said.
"Um, what do you mean, I mean."
"Well, you see, Collie, the bourgoisie have always had a fierce hate/love relationship with the Bohemian lifestyle. On the outside, they are disgusted by the free sexuality, open drug use, penniless lifestyle, and casual social structure we enjoy. On the inside, however, they desire out artistic fire, our open-minded attitude- and all that other shit I just mentioned- with a fierce passion. They want what we have, without actually understanding what it is that we DO have. So they come in, push us out, and dance on our ground, blissfully unaware that everything that makes us what we are is already gone. This is a well-documented cycle."
"So..." said Collie. "What are we?"
"I am a Bohemian," said Sandy. "Wheras you, Collie, are a freak, and Renton...well, what do YOU think you are, Renton?"
I shrugged. "Nothing much," I said.
"Wheras Renton is Nothing Much." Sandy turned to face me. "Honestly, Renton, I think you're one of those artists who stare off into space a lot, and usually have NO idea what's going on. We Bohemians love your kind. I think, however, that you really need to loosen up first. Have some sex- no, have a LOT of sex."
I rolled my eyes.
"I'm SERIOUS, Renton," she said. "I think what you need is a constant partner who is not only on the same sort of level as you, but who can also bring you out of your shell and into bed. It'll be good for you: Trust me."
"I'm not in a shell," I said.
"Right. Sure." Sandy rolled her eyes. "Collie, I crave sex."
"Not just yet. I feel like doing terrible things on a dancefloor first. This place may be horrid, but I'll bet I can scare the shit out of the college boys." She licked a finger.
Collie grinned. "I love you, babe."
"If you love me, then don't call me babe," Sandy said. "Now, we go like so: I'll distract Bobo the Bouncer long enough for Collie to slip in and do something terrible. I've changed my mind: sex can wait. Renton, watch our backs." She slid out of the window. "Let's show these unlucky boys and girls what they've REALLY bought, hmm?"
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.