Chapter Twenty-five- It’s all over but the cryin’
I’d been sitting in Herschel’s strip-joint for what seemed like hours- a club called Diamond Lust, serving up adult entertainment on a smaller scale than most of its competitors. This was the second consecutive night I’d been in here which was extremely rare for me. I was feeling lost, drained, weary of consciousness in the barely lit incessant flashing of strobes and flood lamps. It camouflaged my sullen nature with the fuzzy velvet glow of black lights and cheesy rope lighting.
I nurtured another beer, my fourth, tipping it and tracing the condensation in figure eights on the table. Or was it the symbol for infinity? Infinite problems, infinite bad luck, and poor decisions. Oh Wires why did you ever get me mixed up in all this? I’m sure your intentions were good but now it’s all fucked up. I wanted to fall into the stupor an alcoholic daze would certainly bring. Put the weekend not only behind me, but erase it from memory all together.
The thundering beat pounded, as one after another, women took to a small stage and removed clothing strategically during their three song sets. I found a dark corner, as unobtrusive as was available, without being in the V.I.P. lounge. However, I had been bothered all the same by the annoying gnats dressed in their Frankenstein-pumps and their barely concealed shaved triangles of invitation. “Do you want a dance?” They had all asked as if it was the first line in the, So you want to be a stripper?, handbook. I guess it was a rather polite way of inquiring if I’d like to part with my money, while they ground into my lap with nothing but a towel and some denim between me and their naked, siren flesh. I would smell the perfume, have it attach itself to me like spores, to join the putrid smell of smoke already lingering on my clothes. I would feel the bouncy clockwise rotation trying to coax an erection from my nether regions. But I wasn’t in the mood and moved to a place where I felt safer— a small table by the kitchen. My chosen sanctuary was a place where angry orientals squabbled about the overcooked fries next to a leaning tower of a Ruben sandwich, visible behind the slowing pendulum of a swinging door. I had parted with enough money this weekend; the radiator, the money for the chicken and the matches, the drum heads, the broken Jesus now flipping off the garbage men from the studio’s curb. It was all a blur and there had been far more damaging financial propositions to follow to which Arsehole Party had been only the first domino to fall.
Where the hell was The Mayor? After everything in the past few days, I needed to talk to him. I certainly wasn’t going to discuss anything with Herschel or the strippers. I needed the fresh perspective of a friend, but also, an outside view to try to put this in perspective.
“Could you have picked a worse table Johnny? I can hardly see the stage from here.” The Mayor smiled down at me and I motioned for him to sit. A server was on him as if she’d been waiting under the table and he ordered a beer.
“I needed someplace quiet to talk.”
“So you chose a strip club. Good choice.” He almost laughed.
“I think I’ve made enough bad decisions lately without you criticizing my choice of venues too.”
“Don’t get defensive. I’m here to help. Remember?”
“I think it’s a little too late for help.”
The Mayor rubbed his head which was now a short jagged patch of stubble. I watched over the years as his full head of hair had thinned and receded until he’d finally said “Fuck it,” and buzzed the damn thing to its current state, like he was sheering a sheep. It suited him, a good accent to the goatee and his skate boy motif of baseball cap, T-shirt of some obscure musical group, and shorts that exposed the Celtic tattoos. It was a far cry from his work wardrobe of charcoal suits and speckled ties and held a strange comfort for me.
“Thanks for coming. How was your trip?”
“Ah work, you know.”
I smirked. “That convention in Vegas must have just drained you physically.”
“What about you? How did the recording go after we talked?”
“Let’s just say things didn’t work out as planed. The whole world got a little out of control and disintegrated totally in just a couple of days. I don’t think this was the outcome Wires had in mind.”
“I have some news for you too, but let me hear your story first. Lay it on me my brother.”
The Mayor had always been a good listener when appropriate, I knew that. He could be the life of the party and boisterous when called for, but quiet and unassuming, reading a book cover to cover in one sitting if he felt the need. He could also be opinionated if your ass needed kicking. Right now I needed all of the above.
“Where do you want me to start?”
“Wherever you want John. The beginning, today, last week? I’m listening.”
“First, I think I should tell you, I’m not sure the guys and I are on speaking terms anymore.”