Nobody knew what to expect – and I’m talking about those that were in the crowd. The rest of us, myself, Vince, Valerie and The Photographer, we all had our roles to play. The people in the crowd – I would say on that first night there were about 20 people there, but they had each paid 500 dollars for the rights to be the first ones. See, when you’re talking back to folks at parties and want them to understand where you’ve been – the times that you’ve experienced, most folks like to make others jaws drop. Without Valerie we wouldn’t have gotten the clients. She had left the club, but that wasn’t that hard for her to do. After all, without Patrick, she had the chance to live her life as she wished – without the burden of routine weighing on her, she was free to indulge even more.
Now right here I want to make clear that we weren’t interested in any kind of revolution. That’s not the kind of thinking that motivated us. Nobody had to join us or be part of any movement. Those days were over. We were just trying to survive in our city and the way to do that was to rebel in our own way against the digital revolution that was moving so fast through our city. Make no mistake about it – this was our city. A place where you could just be – where you could die and jump and dream and pass out on wherever you chose and the ghosts would wrap themselves around you. They would try to let you see that the fog in the city was just a blanket to stay warm. Everything moves in different directions. This is how it goes.
My boys looked good outside working the door. Now how I am supposed to get at this part. Where is the story going from here? I’m crazy lost. can I have a glass of water please? It’s not right to keep all of us separate you know? We’re not telling any lies. This is how we remember it.
I can’t speak unless I have another glass of water.
Thanks you. Telling all of this is too tough of a job. You shouldn’t do this to people. If I ever have a chance to break this story to anyone, I’m for sure going to let them know how you treated all of us in here. It’s not right. Just not right at all. Never a place to tell stories. I have a bad feeling about this, and more about that machine recording all of this.
So like I said, we were not planning any kind of revolution – we needed to get paid and not swallowed up. That first night though, it started to get out of hand right away. The party started pretty good I think. People were enjoying and playing with the machines. Vince didn’t like the herb smoke in there, but we couldn’t ask people to step outside. I think that’s why we eventually put in the powder rules because had we kept up with the rest, the machines would have been damaged and that would have been the end of the venue. Not sure it would have had the same flair anywhere else other than the Museum. I keep calling it the museum but you know what I’m talking about right? I’m sure Vince calls it by the proper name. You should just let him go right now. It’s the best thing to do really.
So let’s see how I can – you want to know the first night? So, Valerie comes walking in and she looks great. All buttoned up in some suit that she bought – I don’t know names or anything like that. She looked amazing though. Anyway – when she came in she just mingled in and started hanging with everyone there – touching people slightly on the shoulder, brushing up against men who already had a few drinks in them and who knows what else. The rumble of the crowd got loud. All of a sudden, she bumped into someone and, though the young man said excuse me even though it wasn’t his fault, she wouldn’t back off of him. She started cursing louder until the other rumble stopped and there was no extra sounds to combat her. I think she enjoyed this moment – gave her the feeling of being back on stage, though she hadn’t been gone for too long.
Glass smashed onto the floor. Vince winced at the mess created. He grabbed a broom and cleaned it all up, but he was background to everything that was happening. Valerie continued in.
“What the hell do you think you’re trying to do? You think you can just keep taking everything? That all of this space is yours? The world isn’t just here for you!”
She took off her belt (I SHOULD INSERT THE NAME OF THE BELT EVENTUALLY – THough not sure this character would know it. Perhaps when Valerie tells the story, this part of the story, she know the name of the belt) – anyhow, she took off her belt in one motion and lashed out at the poor sucker right there in the middle of the floor. The player piano gave the tune. The little figures in the opium den moved the same movements they’ve always moved. She drew blood and when the happened, when it first happened, it was a bit much for a few in the room. Most people are used to seeing a finger cut or small gash, at the very worse a small gash from a kitchen knife, but seeing someone’s skin open up for a nice belt whip, that’s going to take some getting used.
Well, see, that’s what everyone was there for. They wanted to get used to it. Yes. Valerie looked around at the crowd and saw their shock, so she kept on going, maybe figured that the more people look at something that shocks them, the more commonplace it would become. I was watching pretty harshly right there as well. The Photograph kept on snapping pictures, getting in close – All the work he had done in private offices had really prepared him well for what was happening. He anticipated her moves and got in some pretty amazing angles.
Valerie kept screaming at this guy – and he started to cry all over himself. Probably pissed himself as well, which was something we didn’t anticipate and had to correct. See, while people no doubt would like to sit around and watch a good beat down, they didn’t want to smell the ugly reality of it. This was, still after all, a show.
“You’re of no consequence to the world around you. What do you do? What do you produce? Who would care if I just beat you to death right here? Any of these people? I’ve already taken it this far – life means less to these people. Yours especially. But I tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to show you mercy. I’m going to let you have a few scars from this and be reborn. I’m going to allow you to feel special this night. Why? Nobody else is going to have a hand laid on them this evening. It was you who was singled out because you needed to have it taken out of you. Now look at everyone around you. Look at THAT look. This is envy. They want what I’ve just given you, but they won’t get it. Not tonight.”
The man pushed himself up off the floor and forgave himself for soiling his clothes with multiple fluids. The faces that circled him indeed held in them the look of wanting. The wanted to be cleaned. To be absolved. To be lifted of the guilt they tried to hide by purchasing life – something that’s clearly impossible. One by one, the started to clap. They offered up whatever they had to nurse him back to health and clean the young man up. He was above them now and they were looking for something – for someone to emulate.
And that was it. That’s all we really needed to get started. They came back the next week and the next, each time wanting to be the one that was chosen for a beat down. It was crazy that these people who seemed to have the life they wanted paying to have someone take it away from them. Nobody would give up their possessions out of sheer will – it had to be beaten out of them. So the came back, the entire group, until we had gotten around to everyone. Once we had completed a group, they were done and not invited back. They were released back into the world a bit more humble and less conscious of what they were creating.
They were told during their beatings that the digital world was what caused their greed and corruption from within, so they needed to move away from that world. To stop investing and creating machines to replace humanity. Slowly, we were turning the tide – but it was slow. Groups usually bonded by the 5th week, and, so – if there were 20 of them, it would take five months to get it all done and over. It was slow moving, but it was a way to work a job and do something good.
I guess that’s what we were after. Who else gets to say that each time they went to work, each meeting they had to talk about job performance, it was all about profit and changing the way people live for the better. Well, what we thought to be better. By the time we finished with the initial group, we had our bank roll and and corrected our mistakes. Things were good. Word had spread throughout the corporate world about what we were doing and we got booked rather quickly.
I had money in my pocket and was enjoying all of the free time I had to spend with Lila. I got off work just when she was going to work, so we made the breakfast dates at the Buena Vista a regular thing. I could see us getting married and living pretty well like this. The money I made for the shows would pay for decent private schools to have the kids in. The public schools in the city were already impossible to fix, so you needed cash to give your kid a chance and not have them have to be the exception to the system. I imagined all of us walking by the bay together, looking out over the Golden Gate and making up stories about sailing out the great Pacific. It was all clear to me in my daydreams. This new job was going to provide all of that. There was time left to just be.
Everything was working at that point. So nice to be in on the ground floor of something. Makes you glad to go to work in the morning.