Chapter 5: Bomb Club

See previous post for Chapter 4 of my first (serial) novel, "Bluer Than Blue."

The girls found their pot of gold on the other side of the South Side Diner. Clip-clop, clip-clop. Rachel’s head was ringing with the lyrics to that mega dance-floor burner “I Wanna Be Sexy 4 U.” Or was it “For You?” For You:

Tonight’s the night / I’m gonna demonstrate / My power / Tonight / All right / Feel the hands of fate

I want to be sexy for you / (you heard that) / sexy for you / (won’t hide it)

There was no line in front the place. Bomb, it was called. There were no bodies lined up aside the felt rope, meant to seem like velvet. They fancied it was. It was dark purple felt, to withstand the elements. Large security men stood guard and barely acknowledged the freshly over 21 bunch. They were completely into themselves and their intimidating statures and a supposedly sexy half-stupid aloofness. But “Bruno” cracked a smirk at how early they’d arrived to the club, hearts jittery, heels clip-clopping, excitedly grasping identification, thrusting it forward.

“Just get me inside. It’s chilly out here!”

“Okay – just hang on a second ladies.”

A couple of other college-aged skinny guys in striped shirts pulled in behind them and breathed their hot buzzed breath into the autumn night, hands in their pockets. One guy patted his pointy hair as if to make sure it was still there.

“Who’s the DJ tonight?”

“It’s DJ Tusk, and Chanteusse.”

“Chanteusse? What do-“

“Chanteusse – that means ‘singer’ in French.”

“Oh – live singing. Okay... That’s not all it’s going to be right?”

It was typical line banter in front of the Bomb Club. But Rachel was interested in Chanteusse. They walked through the open door into the sound, and beheld the mostly empty dance floor in the distance. The rotating light machines sent criss-crossing beams across the hardwood. Their spiked heels sank into the hotel style carpet that looked innocuous in the dark.

“Oh God, we are so early. Why did we get here so early? Someone tell me.”

The bartenders were readying their stations for the upcoming assault, stacking glasses and dumping ice into the troughs. For the most part they were lean mechanical people, trained to perform in intense conditions. They could maintain their composure or seem to with people yelling in their faces or whip out large orders, bottles flying and dodging co-workers. For some of them, it was an adrenaline rush. For the ice boy, the empty glass collecting boy, it wasn’t at first, but he loved the throbbing music and the out of control people, the decadence so discouraged but not actually avoided by his family. It grew on him. And he had begun to converse more and more with his co-workers and grew to love their shouts over the club noise. He would work himself up to being one of the glamorous bartenders. Already he’d begun an intense gym regimen during the day and his forearms had started to ripple as he’d imagined and at this he was extremely pleased. There was something within reach. He could be a glamorous bottle-flipping, shot-tossing bartender, serving all kinds of sexified people with panache unparalleled. Anyway, he eyed the girls and striped skinny guys who had just entered as he dumped his load of ice. “Ouch,” he thought. But he could understand their anxious impatience.

The girls looked around Bomb’s expanse. They’d wandered into a geodesic chamber. Refracting light hypnotized their eyes. One moment they were one color, the next moment, another. Then a bright light would pass by and they’d have to squint. They complained and loved it. The sound system wasn’t yet at full tilt, but the subwoofers tucked away in the corners were already warm. Speakers perched in the ceiling corners were tweeting the songs DJ Tusk prepared for the lack of crowd, the warm-up when those few gawkers contemplated their next move.

“So let’s get a drink. Come on. Over here!”

They all shuffled, including the skinny guys, because they saw safety or at least comfort in numbers, over to the counter directly opposite the scene of future action, opposite the elevated DJ booth, so they could turn around or half turn around, leaning on the bar, and watch.

Chanteusse’s curled hair was piled atop her head and dangled beside her glitter-dusted face. She wore green eye shadow and dark pink lipstick. Her white dress was draped, vaguely Grecian except quite short, with a braided tassel around the waist. The girls beheld her. She was quite tall.

“I bet she used to be a man.”

“Come on – what? No, look at her neck. There’s no Adam’s apple.”

She was androgynously appealing, her body curvaceous and her face angular. The shelf was artificial, though, which the gawkers noticed of course.

“Well, her boobs are fake. That much I can tell from over here.”

Rachel rolled her eyes. She had the urge to walk over and talk to this Chanteusse, to ask about the lifestyle of a club singer, to ask her how she started down that path, if it was all she ever imagined. Chanteusse sipped her fruity Cosmo with a curly orange rind that dangled on the rim and looked into the distance in the direction of DJ Tusk. They had known each for a while and also worked together at a strictly gay club, where she was expected to really wail and belt it out. She and Tusk had once dated, just to try it out, but it turned out they were meant to be friends, collaborators. Yet she sat there, staring into the distance, at her friend working the empty room, idling before the masses. She realized how many nights she’d been at the Bomb Club. It was the same old same. She was having trouble reinventing it for herself that particular night. It was a difficult day. “I’m too big for this place,” she thought ruefully and ever so subtly adjusted her sparkling nude nylons.

“Order something!”

“Okay, okay... Umm, I don’t know. I don’t know what I want. What should I get?”

“I don’t know. Just get a drink. Geez. It doesn’t matter.”

“No, I want to order something different, a sexy drink.”

“What, like her over there?”

“Yeah, why not?”

The bartender strolled over.

“Umm...I want a purple drink. Like...like that over there.”

“A purple Cosmo?”

“Yeah, I don’t know. Just make it purple. Look at my eyes.”

“Yeaah. I see... Okay. I’ll make a Purple Iris.”

“Ohh, yes. Yes, that sounds perfect. What is that?”

“Just trust me. You’ll like it.”

Rachel laughed. “Okay, I like the sound of that.” She felt a little buzzed already from the flirtatious exchange with the hawkish, tan bartender.

“What did you order?”

“I don’t know – a Purple Iris?”

“What the hell is that?”

“I don’t know! But it sounds fun.”

The bartender placed the martini glass on a napkin in front of Rachel and it seemed to glow.

“Oh thank you.” She smiled and pushed a dollar bill to the inside edge of the counter.

“Keep it open?”

“Yes. I’ll be back soon.”

Rachel was imprecise and kind of shaky when it came to flirtation with people she found physically attractive. She questioned her impulses. Sometimes she thought she was flirting but outwardly it sounded to many like the usual conversation. Yet, she was considered attractive by quite a few people, including the bartender. It was her imagination that exuded beyond her skin, which was both alluring and unsettlingly mysterious. Her daydream world sometimes eclipsed the one outside. She was not for the faint of heart.

All of them sipped away, hugging and caressing the counter, as Bomb Club began to fill and the volume increased. They laughed.

“Oh my Goooddd. I love this song!”

The first few bars of “Up In Flames” boomed in the geode.

“Oh, look, look! She’s going to sing to this one!”

Chanteusse had stepped up to the DJ booth and took the mic with her strong manicured hands. It takes strength to be a singer. She glistened in the passing lights and her body tensed for the first verse.