Friday, April 26, 2013

The Streak - 95

I always spit onto the face of the porcelain when I’m pissing. Seems like the right thing to do. Satisfying somehow. Stupidly satisfying. Tuh.

I’m seeing that prickly orange glow you see when you’re high, or blacking out. I bow my head. Shake my cock. Carefully tuck it back into my pants, careful to fasten everything properly, zipper it. Everything is taking a little longer than usual. Am I woozy from loss of blood? When’s the last time I had anything to eat?

I exit back into the casino and turn left, not right—I mean I turn right, not left—whichever way I’m not supposed to go, because I’m not going back there now, not going back to the bar, to Kyle, the TV; I’m going to find a nice, quiet place to get on the phone with Joe, or Matt. To call off the sacrifice of my double. To call off the sacrifice.

I stand in some kind of alcove area with a fountain, under an enormous chandelier of squiggly, sculpted glass. I redial the number and hear it ring. Feel my heart thumping. When all of a sudden.

“Here I am, Ev.”

As sure as you’re born there he stands before me.

“Matt!”

“Joe. Joe, Evan, Joe,” says Joe calmly.

“But I was calling you on the phone!”

Joe spreads his arms beatifically. “Ask and ye shall receive.”

My heart is pounding now. Who is this guy? Who is he really?

“Who are you? Joe freakin’ Gillis.”

“Nobody,” comes the reply.

“Huh?”

“Joe Gillis is nobody. My name is Joe Maines,” he declares matter-of-fact.

“Jesus Christ.”

“And you may remember Matt Gillis,” he adds, and just then the other fucking guy emerges out of nowhere, from the anonymous blur of passersby.

“Pleasure, Evan. Again. Always,” Matt says genially, extending his hand.

There ensue a few moments of silence. I hear the roiling of the bleachy water in the fountain. The faraway ululations of machines. Finally, Joe shifts his weight.

“What’s on your mind, Ev?”

“I... I...”

“You?”

“I... I...”

“If there’s anything you need,” Matt interjects.

“I don’t want my double to die.”

Joe raises his eyebrow and looks to Matt, who leans in and whispers into his ear, cupping his hand over his mouth. Matt watches me even as he speaks to Joe. With his mouth covered, his one eye looks sinister, reproachful. I think of pitchers and catchers at the mound, conversing through the webs of gloves. With their eyes like that, isolated from their faces, you’d think the world was coming to an end.

Joe whispers in turn to Matt, then Matt again. Finally they address me.

“Evan, we’ve decided to call you in,” Matt declares.

“Let,” Joe interjects. “Let. Let you in.”

Matt turns to Joe to protest.

“It’s more like call. Right? It’s not entirely voluntary. On his part.”

“Let, Matt. Let. He should sense an aura of privilege.” Joe looks me up and down like I’ve got blood on my shirt. I realize I do. I have blood on my shirt.

Suddenly Matt claps his hands together and smiles. “Well then let it shall be! Evan, we’re letting you in.”

“To where?!”

“Ask us something,” Joe suggests. “Anything.”

“I don’t have any questions,” I reply meekly. “At the moment.”

“Sure you do.”

“Ask us something,” Matt insists. A little sharply.

I find that in spite of the scrupulously maintained subcomfortable temperature in the gambling-drinking-shopping leisurespace, I’ve begun to sweat.

“OK. Who are you guys? Who are the Yankees? Who am I?”

“The Yankees are an idea,” Joe responds without hesitation.

“That only answers one of my questions.”

“There’s still time.”

“Are you guys terrorists?”

“We’re the shadow terrorists,” says Matt.

“What does that mean? What do you do?”

“We keep things moving. Keep an eye on things,” Joe replies.

“For example,” says Matt, “the abduction of Evan Benjaminson—”

“Of me?”

“The one on TV,” he clarifies, pointing vaguely over my shoulder. “That one—”

“That abduction—” Joe interjects.

“—is not the one. Is not the real one.”

Matt swings his arms behind his back, clasps his fingers, stands satisfied.

“Not the real one?” I plead.

This is the real one,” adds Joe, pointing directly to the floor. I follow his finger and scrutinize a spot on the gleaming, cream marble between his brown stitch Oxfords.

“What?”

“This is your abduction, Evan. It’s taking place right here, right now.”

“Consider yourself spirited away,” says Matt.

I’m dumbfounded. I say OK. I don’t know what else to say.

“Follow us,” Joe says with a smile, and now we’re walking down another wing of the pleasure palace, past the cashier, past the all-you-can-eat.

“Where we going?” I ask.

Neither replies. I feel strangely relaxed. Like this is finally where I’m meant to be. Maybe there’s no more choices to make. Maybe ever.

We ascend an escalator, walk a hallway past a food court, climb some polished steps and suddenly we’re in an odd little passageway with claw machines and coinpushers all along the wall. In a little alcove, a sullen teenage girl in an employee’s vest watches over the hook-a-duck from her perch on a stool within the water ring. The multicolored toys bob slightly as they make their way around and around and around again.

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