This will likely be the final part past part fiction post I put up. As you could probably tell if you’ve been reading them, they are excerpts from a book I have been working on. I deliberately posted them out of sequence because I wanted to highlight the writing rather than the story. Thank you to all who have given me feedback, it was greatly appreciated.
One cold Friday night, I find myself down in the basement with Simon’s crew. They’re getting ready to head out to a dance party. I’ve seen the posters for this, it’s in one of the big warehouses on Smith Street. They invite me along and since I can’t think of a good excuse not to, I agree to come. Rooting around in my bag, I drag out some clothes that might just pass muster on the dance floor – so long as no one looks too closely.
Having made my selection I disappear out back to get changed. When I return, I find the others gathered around Brian’s turntable deck, taking turns at some lines of speed. I hang back, watching the ritual with real fascination, observing the unspoken etiquette of the process.
To my surprise, Brian calls me over to the circle and offers me the makeshift straw. What the hell I tell myself, I take it and snorting the line in one smooth hit. The sensation is about as unpleasant as one might expect and as I move out from the circle my nose is stinging like a son-of-a-bitch and running freely. I pull a handkerchief from my pocket but Brian says “no mate, don’t blow sniff. You’ll lose half the hit otherwise.” Feeling like a complete novice, I sniff away like a maniac until the worst is over.
A few moments later the chemical charge is flooding my system. Grief suddenly drops away like a stone down a well. I can almost hear it hit bottom. Soon I feel exhilaration pulsing through my heart and limbs. This is a sensation I could learn to like too much.
At that moment, Simon pounds down the stairs in his big coat and gives the crew one of his toothy grins. “I got ‘em,” he says and then laughs out loud as he catches sight of my flushed face and wide open stare. “That’s more like it mate.”
I realise I’m grinning like a madman and attempt to re-calibrate, futile; I’m no longer at the controls. There’s nothing for it then but to enjoy the ride.
Simon produces a small baggy of tablets from inside his coat. And a girl, whose name I haven’t caught, claps her hands with unrestrained glee. The group gathers eagerly around their scarecrow benefactor.
“He threw in the sixth for free,” Simon grins obviously pleased with himself. He rifles about in a draw and pulls out a scalpel. Then he hunches over his prize and carefully cuts each tab into halves.
Over his enormous padded shoulder, he cocks an eye in my direction. “You in?”
“What are they?”
“Ecky,” he says and then laughs at my blank incomprehension. “Ecstasy, good shit.”
“How much?” I ask trying to sound less like a rube.
“I’ll sell you half of mine for twenty.”
I don’t let myself pause for thought. “I’m in.”
He smiles as he hands it over, “you can pay me whenever.”
I pop the pill immediately trying hard not to betray my disgust at the bitter grit that fills my throat. With the speed already coursing through my system, it doesn’t take long before I begin to feel the effects.
Portishead’s Dummy is slinking from the big speakers and everyone’s moving about the room like cats on warm concrete. My smile slips up a few more notches. Several minutes later a tickle way down in my scrotum flares up and bursts like fireworks, flooding my body with warm liquid pleasure. I moan out loud and clutch at a chair-back, feeling as though my legs may give way beneath me. “Wow.”
“Like I said, good shit,” Simon chuckles.
By the time we head out for the party I’m seeing the world through the distant end of a shiny, shiny tunnel. I stop looking at people when they speak to me because there’s a disturbing delay between when they move their lips and when I hear their words.
Everyone keeps talking about how cold the night is but I’m wearing a t-shirt and I’m warm as toast – burning up in fact. Brian says I should be careful or I’ll end up with pneumonia. “I could care less,” comes the glib retort from that part of my brain even ecstasy can’t affect.
Arriving outside the warehouse, we pile up the stairs to the second floor and, paying our money, file into a huge space that seems improbably full of the most startling horde of cosmic space hippies I’ve ever seen. As I gaze about me, I spy silver jumpsuits and day-glow flares, even the odd star topped antenna poking up from between spangled dreads. It’s spectacularly silly but I find myself entranced. That’s probably the drugs.
The party’s at full rev. There must be close to a thousand people in here, each moving to the internal pulse of whatever substance they’ve imbibed. I’m instantly captured by all the multi-various dance interpretations as they weave and writhe with the undulations of the beats. There seems to be a half revealed code here, a key to identifying certain personality types. The E in my system is showing me something but I can’t quite figure out what it is.
Many dancers have aligned themselves facing the DJ as though they’re performing just for him. These move with a scary machine-like precision, eyes fixed on his bobbing head. Others seem lost to the rapture of the chemicals slinking across the floor in the embrace of some invisible serpent.
I’ve been watching all this for some time before I realise that I’ve been dancing, myself, almost since I entered the room. The music feels so in-sync with my pounding heart I’ve simply plugged myself into the stream. At this moment, in this place, I’m more in tune with my surroundings than at any time I can remember. Finally, I have an insight into what techno music is really about, what it can do. It’s a revelation bordering on religious epiphany.
Every person in the room is vibrating at exactly the same level, tuned to the frequencies of the music. We are all of us extensions of the DJ’s ego as he floods the room with the rhythms of pure and ecstatic joy. They flow out and engulf us. We ride them like waves in the surf. All you need to participate is one-half of a tiny pill.
I dance until dawn without ever seeing a single person from the group I arrived with. No matter really, everywhere I look, every pair of eyes I meet, I find a smile. This is the friendliest place I’ve ever encountered.
All along one wall of the room is a row of large windows, facing east. I’ve barely noticed them during the night – too many other things to look at. I notice them now as the room is suddenly flooded with the most beautiful golden light. The new day has arrived. A sound rises from every throat, mine included; half sigh, half gasp. Then the music kicks up a notch and we dance the sun high into the sky.
Finally, at about eleven it’s time to go. Brian magically appears beside me and I re-join my new best friends. As we step out into the cold, alien environment of the streets, the last of the chemicals drain from my limbs and sudden exhaustion wraps me like a lead apron.
Back at the basement we drink chai and talk in slow, pleasant murmurs. Eventually, one by one, the others drift away to their beds. I close my eyes, sinking into the couch and at last, at long last, an eternity ends and I sleep.
Words and image are my own.