Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Streak - 4

Evan did something backwards again. He opened the cab door while the cab was moving, while it was a few feet away from the curb. Then he reached for his wallet to pay.

"Whoa my friend!" the cabbie exclaimed.

Evan apologized and pulled the door till it was almost shut. To shut it would have been too complete a concession, too plain an admission of error to the other man. Evan wasn't wired for contrition. But he did feel a chill of shame, or more accurately of bewildered self-reproach. What was wrong with him these days? He'd made similarly bizarre cognitive mistakes recently, like a man half in a dream, like the time in Tampa: He'd ordered a screwdriver at the hotel bar. When it arrived it was pale and fizzy. He took a sip anyway, and spat it right back in the glass. He gestured to the bartender and asked him, "What is this?"

"Vodka and ginger ale."

"I ordered a screwdriver."

"No you didn't. You ordered a vodka and ginger ale."

"There's no way I would ever order that!"

A man sitting a couple of stools over turned to Evan and fixed him with a weary, jaundiced gaze. Some road warrior who's seen it all; a permanent part of the scenery.

"I heard what you ordered. You ordered a vodka and ginger ale," he declared, in a measured tone that contained the faintest trace of threat. Don't dare defy the alcoholic truth.

Things like that had begun to make Evan nervous. Like he was losing his mind or some shit. But as he stepped out of the cab he took an inventory of his physical, mental and emotional state: drunk. A bit depressed. But kind of hungry. Kind of horny. That meant there'd be something to live for.

Evan was ushered through the VIP entrance by a black man in a gray suit and a turtleneck who murmured into his walkie-talkie and didn't look him in the eyes. He walked into the darkness, where there were tables segregated from the sea of damned civilians by chrome railings and ropes. At the farthest one he perceived the silhouettes of modified women's bodies surrounding Kyle's enormous head and spiky hair.

Illustration by Louise Asherson

No comments: