This is what remains of my sequel to Underworlders, now scrapped due to the plot resembling the upcoming film, As Above, So Below. The plot of that film was so close to my original storyline that I didn’t want people to think I had gotten inspired by it. So without further ado, here’s what’s left of the tale.
(By the way, the prose changed after the first page. Was going to clean it up, but I figured that there was no real point now.)
After all of the bullshit that happened the last time we went spelunking, we decided to hold off on anymore underworld exploration. At least for a few more months. But that was a good thing, because in that time we had also started saving up for what was to be our greatest spelunking adventure ever. And I mean fucking ever.
I stripped at Don’s almost every night in the months that followed, after undergoing a few more procedures, (Don admitted to me that I was going to end up burying him in dept with all my nips and tucks)but I wasn’t sure if I was trying to impress Jazz or impress myself. She never showed up at the club, not even once; and I barely received a text message or even a fucking phone call from the bitch.
You mean to tell me that you can’t fucking call a bitch every now and then? We were fucking friends, ho! We used to sit outside and talk about boys and fucking (even though we didn’t have no idea what that was like at the time) and how much our parents sucked and how we could really never do anything because they wanted to lock us up in their houses while they did whatever the fuck it was that they did in the city.
My dad worked for an insurance firm. Never knew or gave a shit about the firm, never knew or gave a shit about insurance either. Mother was a receptionist at some fashion boutique that you had to pay a shit ton of money to be able to afford. Just to get a fucking haircut. It was like a grand. Sometimes the stars would come up in there, people from soaps and tv shows. She gave me a couple autographs, but I burned most of them. Those people weren’t fucking gods, just actors.
Still, my phone doesn’t ring anymore. It just doesn’t. I’m not even sure why I still have it. Haven’t had sex in I can’t even fucking tell you when, and my vibrator’s my only friend when it comes down to that. Felt like a lonely bitch when I went into the sex shop to buy a small bottle of lube. But maybe that’s because I was a lonely bitch.
It’s pretty odd to walk into your fucking house and realize that it’s vacant except for the sound of my air conditioner. Dance all night, sleep all day. Put the phone on silent, wake up and no messages.
Again. Stare at the fucking pigs who want to ogle my expensive breasts, and then go home and stare at the fucking walls. It’s my life these days, and I’m telling ya’ I don’t know how things could get any worse.
My father was an asshole. He’d yell at me and sometimes even forget to feed me. Bastard told me I was good enough for dog food one time. I was seven. Mom didn’t give a shit. She never had to. She could just work overtime, make more money doing not much of nothing; and then go down to the bar and fuck some dude, or some chick, or some dude and some chick. Then she’d come back to the house and crash.
Dad never said a word about it. But that’s probably because he was doing the same shit too. A couple years after I turned eighteen, the fuckers disowned me by legal right, and I had no idea that people could actually fucking do shit like that. The fact that they could just each sign this paper without me even having to be there, (or maybe they paid some other girl to be me and sign it) was fucking sick to say the very least. When I came home that night, my shit was outisde.
You heard me right. All my shit was sitting outside. What hadn’t been stolen, anyway.
Yeah, K’s got a sad life. I know that’s what you’re saying. I can understand how you’d feel that way too. You’re living comfortable, got friends, got food, got sex, got love. You got what I ain’t got. I got money, more money than you’ve got. But I ain’t got all the other shit and that’s where it hurts.
But then there was that one night where I felt like my life was worth it. That night I dismantled the god. Or the thing that thought it was. I still remember being covered in blood, as I tore each and every part of that fucking machine – how could I forget? Maybe it’s why I feel so bad now.
Then I locked those two fuckers in there, Travis and Walker. Maybe I still feel bad about that too. I’m really not sure at this point. Maybe Karma really is a bitch and she’s trying to teach me one of her cold lessons. My mother and father dropped me – just dropped me, an eighteen year old girl out in the middle of the city. What was I supposed to find?
I wasn’t able to go outside. They practically chained me up within those four colorless walls. The only times that I was allowed out, was to play with Jazz. I remember the first time I met her, she was like some kind of shining beacon of light in my life. It was like chasing after a lightning bug, you didn’t want to stop it until you had in the palm of your hands. I think I’m still chasing after her like that.
But the lightning bug doesn’t want you to catch it. It can’t be free if it’s clasped in between the palms of your hands. That little lightning bug wants to be with other little lighting bugs, even if it might run into a predator or two along the way.
Jazz’s mother was mean and she didn’t have a father. I was told that her mother killed him. A fork right to the heart during an argument. He was stone cold dead before he even finished his breakfast. Not sure what the argument was about, but I remember her running out of the house in tears.
All those men out there, the ones that took their penises and poked her like a pincushion – they weren’t there for her that day. All those men who beat the hell out of her like she was some kind of fucking practice dummy – they weren’t there for her either.
It was just little old Caitlin. I was the one who would give the girl a hug while she bawled her eyes out. I was the one to tell her, “It’s alright Jazz. Things will get better. You’ll see.”
But they never fucking did. I felt like I was doing nothing more than giving the girl reverse psychology, convincing her that things were going to eventually get better one of these days.
But that was a fool’s errand. I knew better than that. I fucking knew so much better than to just tell her “it would be alright.”
What does telling someone it’s going to be alright do, anyway? What if it doesn’t become alright? What if I’m just filling the poor girl’s head so full of shit, and that’s why she doesn’t want to talk to me anymore?
Some asshole slapped her in the back of her head one time. He didn’t give a reason. So what did K do? I hopped into my car and I held her head in my hands so sweetly, as I whispered yet again that same familair fucking phrase: “It’s going to be alright, Jazz.”
Another psycho started chasing her through the hosue with a knife. Some fucking meth head she found on the streets, is my guess. The cops came and shot him in the head. Jazz came out running again, tears flowing out of her eyes like water.
I say the same fucking words. “It’s going to be alright, Jazz.” But it never was. It never fucking was.
Why was I always the dispensary of good advice? Why the hell did she always look at me and smile? And even then, she’d just go right back into the same habits again. Back to the same paddling mother, or the same deadbeat asshole of man. I felt like I was wasting my breath with the girl.
Yet my phone still remains silent, and I’ve heard nothing from her for months now. Seems that all my little assurances had been in vain.
Don’s was empty tonight. Which wasn’t out of the ordinary for Tuesday, as most of the pigs actually stayed at home to watch tv and pretend that they still loved their wives.
As I was getting ready to go out on stage, there was a knock at my dressing room door.
“K?” The man thundered. “K?”
“Just one second!” I said, still trying to lace my boots. You’d have thought I was going into the wrestling ring with this odd getup.
The knocks continued though, ever more violent with each reverberation.
“I said, can you just hold on a second? I’m still lacing my boots!”
Ever continued the knocks. At this point, I thought that the door to my dressing room was going to come down. Finally, I got the last of the laces tied.
“Coming!” I yelled out to the furious knocker. I walked over to the door and opened it.
“Now what’s all the commotion? I thought you were going to bring the fucking door down on top of me.” I said.
“Look at this shit, K!” a portly man screamed. It was Don, and he didn’t seem to be too happy.
I looked at the small piece of paper he handed me. It was the bill for my many plastic surgeries over the past few months. The total was well over twenty-thousand dollars and my mouth dropped open upon noticing that fact.
“I didn’t expect it to be…”
“I told you K! You’re going to run me into the fucking ground! The goddamned ground, with these fucking surgeries! You don’t even look the same as you used to!” Don bellowed, cutting me off.
“I didn’t really think…”
“Think? You’d better stop thinking and start fucking dancing! You’re gonna have one hell of a paycut to make up for this. I’ve already told you that my club isn’t doing as good as it used to. I don’t even know where you’re gonna get the money from tonight. All I know, is that you need to get that damned money, and you need to get it fast. Or you and I will both be out of a fucking job.”
Out of a fucking job? Was he serious?
“You wanna waitress fucking tables, or clean the vomit up from the Get-It-Mart restrooms? You ain’t got no fucking education, you don’t know nothing about office management, and you sure as hell won’t last in retail. If you want to keep dancing, I’m going to need more money, and more patrons.”
I understood that the portly little fellow on the ground was right. Don’s major contributors had either died or were too unhealthy to make it to the club these days, and our regulars were getting to the age where they were ready to settle down and stop watching girls like me strip for a living.
A new generation was setting in, and it was going to replace the old soon enough. I just didn’t realize how soon it would come.
Then I said it.
“Don. I just don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to do this. I’ll pay you back your money, but maybe it is time for me to find a new profession. Even if it is waiting tables, or selling cellphones or modeling. You don’t have to go to school to be a model, right?”
The old man sighed. “Do what you want, K. I’m getting too old myself these days. I took you in when you were ripe, but now you’re getting to the point where maybe you should start thinking about a family.”
“A family?” I laughed. “I’m a lesbian. I like women.”
“Then you can adopt a child.” he said. “Get one of them out of the orphanage. God knows they’d be greatful for it.”
“That’s not like you.” I said.
“I’ve been re-evaluating my life. Maybe it’s that movie I saw with my wife. Maybe it’s just middle age creeping on me. But something told me that it’s time to maybe give this place up.”
“What movie are you talking about?” I asked.
“The New Hand.” he replied. “About how we’ve got to find our destinies in the world, make ourselves a new hand of cards.”
“Sounds weird.” I said.
“Well, it was at first. Of course, after I sat down and watched it; the whole thing made perfect sense. Some French film, but it was translated into English. It’s also a book, so I’ve been reading the book version of it lately.”
He handed me the book, which had an odd, yet intriguing cover that featured a golden hand with a large pyramid and an eye in the center.
“Freaky!” I said. “Here, you can have this back. It reeks of the occult.”
“No, take it.” he said. “I’ve got copies.”
As soon as my shift was over, I picked up the book that Don had given me and studied the cover a bit more. A hawk appeared to be jutting out from the top of the pyramid, which I didn’t remember seeing before. I swear, that wasn’t there before. I turned the book around and read it’s short summary:
“Some feel that life always has a way about bringing them down. No matter who we are or what we tell each other, things just don’t turn out the way that we want them to. Is this divine providence, or an error marked by our own terrible actions? In The New Hand, previously recovered knowledge links man with the notions that we can, as Horus; become arisen beings that are able to manifest our own hands in life as we traverse through into newfound godhood.
These proven methods work with the mind, the body, the soul and the Sun, to achieve greatness never before imagined by the whole of humankind.”
I must admit that the whole thing felt a little dangerous to me, with words like “arisen” and “godhood” sounding very much like the same words I remember hearing when I dismantled that robot just a few months ago. I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the same individual, or group of individuals acting under a new pretense.
Then I looked at the country of origin and found one more intriguing notion:
“Published In Paris, France.”
Paris? The city of love? Since when did the city of love get involved with the occult? When they’ve got nothing better to do, I guess.
I walked home from the club with the book tightly in hand, ever curious to glance at it’s pages. If this isn’t the cult, then perhaps it does have some real applications. Maybe I could make everything right again. I was that person who felt like everything was crashing down on her head, even though I reassured people that everything would be alright.
It never was. But it can be. I just need a new hand in life.
The first night that I read the book, I didn’t really gain any startling new revelations about myself, to be honest. It read like some weird college textbook and was full of big words that I just couldn’t understand for the life of me. Images did populate the book however, and from those I could at least discover some inkling of what this fucking thing was about. It was definitely occult in nature, judging from all the symbols – some of them I remember relating to the devil. But the damn thing was way over my head, so I just closed it and put it on the shelf with a bunch of other books that I’ve never read and probably never will.
A few days had passed, as if things had never really changed at all. I was glad for it though, because the next few nights at the club were quite dull and I even had to double as a dancer/janitor because the mexicans that Don hired were complaining about the little bit of money that they were getting to clean the place.
Yeah, they were illegals. But it’s America and even people who don’t have a citizenship think that they have the same rights as everyone else because they’re technically on our soil. This country’s really going to shit.
Anyway, I spent most of my time cleaning the toilets and scrubbing the floors, maybe spraying a little bit of air freshener every once in a while. Every now and then I would be asked to get up on the stage, even though I smelled heavily of industrial cleaner and sweat. I don’t think the few men who went to see me cared all that much though. They seemed to be far too gone into their beers to give a damn who was up on the stage at that point.
It’s the same ol’ thing. I get up on the stage, dance around to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” or maybe Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher.” These songs are about as old as the hills, as far as I was concerned and I was getting tired of them. I made a deal with Don that I wasn’t going to have to come out to anything by Poison, especially “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn.” I’d grown a distaste for that song many years ago and won’t be caught dead dancing to it. On the other hand, I don’t mind dancing to Alice Cooper’s “Poison” or Rob Zombie’s “Living Dead Girl” every once in a while. I always liked those songs, but the D.J. would never play them.
Our DJ was a guy by the name of Mixtape Mike. They called him that because he was the kind of fat ass white guy that would make mixtapes for women in the hopes that they would let him fuck them. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time it didn’t. I understand that the guy has fucking weight problems, but it wouldn’t hurt him to properly take care of his daily hygeine. That includes taking a fucking bath and brushing his goddamned teeth every once in a while. But some women will just fuck anything.
A couple days passed with not a word from Don, until about Friday when he’d asked me if I’d looked at the book. Well, what was I going to tell him? “Yeah, I looked at it. But that’s pretty much all I did” was what I wanted to say, but I don’t think he would’ve liked that answer very much and I didn’t want to piss him off after he found spirituality, religion or whatever the fuck it is that old men discover when they’re about to kick. They think it’s a fucking lifeline I guess.
“Yeah, I read through it.” I lied. “Not really my sort of thing.”
Don frowned, putting his elbow to the wall. “K, K, K…” he muttered.
“So you’re into that now too?” I asked.
“Dumber than a sack of bricks, K.” he mused. “I guess that’s why you needed to get fucking cannonballs under your shirt. Without those breasts, you’re just another dumb blonde.”
“What the hell, Don?” I screamed. “You’re going to insult me, now?”
“Nah, I meant it as a fucking compliment.” he laughed. “Open up the goddamned book and maybe you can be something.”
“But I am…”
He stopped me for a second.
“K, you’re just a confused little girl that got lost in a strip club one night and never came out. Don’t you think it’s time to move on?”
Even though I hated to admit it, the prick was right. I have been dancing too long, so long in fact that I think it’s the only thing I know how to do. I go to the club, I dance and then I go home and masturbate, eat and crash until the next day. Then I repeat the whole fucking cycle again. I’ve been on this goddamned wheel for years now, not doing anything more than getting older and using plastic to cover that fact. Men will fuck me, but I can’t find love from a woman. Even though that’s what I want.
Damn you, Jazz. I wanted your chocolate coated skin so bad. I wanted to lick you from head to toe, feel you from the inside out. I’ve been dancing in hopes that the same cocoa angel will come back to the club and dance with me, just like she used to.
But maybe she moved on, started a new life and found the right man. I spent so long trying to get her attached to women that I forgot how to let her be herself. But holy shit, was she beautiful. I bet she’s still beautiful – that tight little ass and those perky little breasts – she’s got those great big lips that jiggle every time she smiles… she was built the way a black woman should have been built.
But damn it, I can’t go on and keep fighting this now. I have to be strong and most importantly, I have to open that book and attempt to decipher it. But that might include going to Paris, because I wasn’t going to understand one line of the thing without some sort of guidance.
“Don,” I said. “You’re right.”
“What?” Don replied, shocked.
“I said, you’re right. I am nothing more that a dumb blonde with tits that are too fucking big, and maybe I am eaten up over something; maybe I’ve been trying to dance around it all these years. I’ve been trying to run, but life has finally caught up with me.”
Then I said it.
“Don, I’m done with the club.”
The cigar that he’d been smoking fell right out of his mouth and burned against the red velvet of the carpet. He continued to let it smoke, as if he hadn’t even noticed the carpet starting to catch on fire.
“So, you’re done?” he muttered.
“The little girl finally decided to look for her way out of the strip club. I don’t want to dance anymore.” I said.
“Well, what are you going to do now?”
“You know, I think I’m going to take a little bit of a vacation. Try to find myself. I think I want to go spelunking again.”
“Don, I think I’m going to visit the catacombs in Paris.” I smiled, and then I walked out of the door of the club, never to step foot in it again.
“Fuck? You want to do it again?” Ben replied on the phone. He seemed to be a bit disgruntled about it.
“Yeah, why not.” I said. “I’m on a permanent vacation.”
“Doesn’t that mean you’re unemployed?” he asked.
“Different things to different people.”
“You always were an odd one, K.”
“I’ve always wanted to visit the catacombs. What’s the problem? We go in there, we look around and then we come out. I’ve got a meeting with The Illumined Ones the day after, so I’ll get a chance to do some exploring while I get my life together.
“Sorry, but don’t you understand a word of what you’re doing?” he asked. “You want us all to go in under cover of night and sneak into something that’s now regarded as a tourist attraction over there, with the possibility of jailtime and deportation. Plus, they’ll hack up my passports. Do you even know how much I went through to get these things for Charles and I?
“Oh.” I said. “Forgot about Chuck. How’s he doing?”
“He’s fine.” Ben said with a tone so sharp that it could cut razors. “But I think he might even be more gay than I am.”
“Really?” I asked. “What do you mean?”
“Well, he wants to paint the kicthen pink.”
“Well, here’s the thing K. The man won’t settle for lavender, and he won’t have rose or even a nice shad of periwinkle. He wants to cook all of the meals in a hot pink kitchen.”
“Did you just say…”
“I just said hot pink.”
“That’s… I mean, you know that’s not even fucking practical.”
“Well, he wanted to get Charlotte dyed blue, but I told him that I dying a dog is probably not the healthiest thing for them. She’s a little poodle and doesn’t deserve it.”
“You can dye your dog blue?”
“As long as you don’t parade it around town.”
“No, the fact that you dyed it blue. Well, probably both.”
Quickly, he changed the subject as if Chuck might have accidentally came in and heard something.
“Well, I’m going to have to let you go.” he said. “Let me give it some thought, and I’ll give you a ring later in the week.”
“All right.” I said. “That works for me. I’m going to sit at home and catch up on television.”
I hung up the phone and did exactly what I said I was going to do, but for five days straight.
I must’ve sat on the couch for about a week. It was just me, junk food and the television. I was probably eating myself right out of attractiveness, wouldn’t be able to bring my ass up on that stage if I wanted to. But I don’t think I gained all that much weight. I had a high metabolism from dancing anyway.
The phone rang. Finally. After five days of nothing, the phone rang.
“Hello?” I said, overjoyed beyond belief.
“K, this is going to be tough to hear.” Ben said. “I don’t know how you would feel about this, so I wanted to ask you first. I mean, you two were kind of personal so…”
He stopped for a second.
“I got in touch with Jazz.” he said.
But without him saying anything else, two rockets lit off in my eyelids and blew right out of the top of my my head. My ears began to steam as if they were a hot kettle, and my heart started to race as if I was running a marathon. My vagina began to grow moist and involutary assured me that I was now going to have to change my panties. But it was Jazz, so all of this felt necessary and natural to me. It was like whatever in the hell is up there was giving me another chance. Another chance with Jazz.
“Jazz says that she wants to…”
To what? I thought. Maybe she just wants to walk over to my apartment and undress herself. That’s enough for me.
“…go with us on the expedition. She says that it’ll be fun. She’s always wanted to go to Paris and since you’re paying, she’s more than willing to go.”
Roll that tape back just a second… “I’m paying?” Whoa, whoa… I didn’t say anything like that. I didn’t say I was going to pay thousands of dollars to take my friends into Paris where we could all risk deportation, just because it was “fun.” I thought that they would have their own way in.
But if I don’t pay, he’ll tell Jazz that it’s off. Then I’ll have to go alone. I don’t think that my heart could take it.
“Yes. I’m paying.” I said, swallowing my pride.
“That’s very gracious of you.” he said. “Do you mind if Charles comes? I mean, he’s the newest member of my family.”
“As long as he doesn’t try to redecorate the catacombs. And leave the mutt at home, please.”
“Dully noted.” Ben replied. “Um… Jazz has something she wants to tell you.”
I almost exploded in that moment, consider it a case of spontaneous human combustion.
“She’s bringing someone.”
Damn, what a way to bring me down. I might as well go jump into a well and drown myself now.
“Who?” I asked.
“She didn’t say. Just wanted to know if it would be okay.”
“As long as it isn’t Travis and Walker, I’m fine.”
“Jesus, K! Have you got to bring up ancient history? I’m still on pills for that.”
“I’m sorry.” I said. “Forget I mentioned it. Yeah, she can bring them along.”
I just hope that it isn’t some charming young man that Jazz fell in love with. I don’t know why I should be so selfish, but I just… can’t help it.
“So, do you have everything ready?” he asked.
“What do you mean, ready?” I said. “I have been clearing tape with the Paris department of tourism. I haven’t had time to buy supplies.” Which was a lie, because I’ve been too busy catching up on old episodes of Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. I haven’t been out of my apartment in days.
“When we first get to Paris, we’re going to meet with the tourism department who will walk us on a grand tour through the catacombs. Only the stuff that they allow the public to see. This will give us a sort of mental roadmap as to the places we need to check out after nightfall.”
“K, what we’re doing is extremely dangerous and extremely illegal. You know that right?”
“How many times are you going to tell me?” I shouted.
“I just want you to know that if we wind up in a foreign prison, then it’s going to be hell getting back to America. We’ll also be on the news. They might even think of us as thieves or something.”
I lightly chuckled. “Yeah? What are we really going to steal? A bunch of old bones?”
“It’s the Catacombs, K. You never know what they’re hiding down there.”
“Well, I bet we’ll know soon enough.”
“I’m trusting you, K.” he said. “You know, Guardian is probably going off right now and they’ve probably got a satellite locked onto the both of us.”
“Bah, you and your conspiracies.” I said. “I’ll see you next week.”
I turned off my phone and grabbed a a dildo out of my small box of sex toys, a rather massive one that I had named Jazz. As I rammed it down into my hungry nether regions, I thought of Jazz and the possibility of us being together in a new life, in a new world.
Maybe even, a new hand….
In the few days that followed, I began gathering the supplies and calculating the costs of the trip. It really wasn’t going to cost that much for all of us to get a round-trip ticket to Paris, despite what you might here. The trip was in the middle of a colder season, so it wasn’t the ideal destintation at the time. Most of the celebrities were headed to Barbados or Brazil at this time of the year, maybe even Paraguay. But definitely not Paris.
The trip was only going to cost us around seventeen-hundred dollars, even though it’s normally from anywhere between three to six thousand dollars. I guess my Travelocity skills were being put to good use. I even managed to get us coach seats on the plane.
There were just the five of us going, Ben, Charles, Jazz, her unnamed passenger and myself; so it wasn’t that difficult to get it all worked out electronically.
Next I spent the rest of the time filling up my phone with as many smuggled tunes as I could find floating about on my computer. Nobody really buys music anymore these days, anyway. I managed to come up with a mixture that included everything from The Beatles to Joan Jett and even some Twisted Sister. God forgive me, I’m an eighties gal at heart.
As for supplies, I managed to find everything we’d need for the trip; but encouraged the others to use their old equipment. I just didn’t have all that much money after throwing down the seventeen-hundred that it would take to get us there and back, hopefully safely. I did buy the essentials though, like lighted helmets, plenty of flash lights, disposable cameras and thick suits. The Catacombs were more like a cave than the urban spelunking that we’d been used to, so we needed extra protection.
Nobody had arrived yet, so I just sat there on an empty bench and popped a few bubbles with the gum that I had been chewing for about an hour now. Popping the bubbles always made me feel good, removed a little bit of stress – and since I was about to see Ben and Jazz again for the first time in ages, I was about as tense as a bull in a red room.
Minutes passed, yet there was still no sign of them. Damn, I hope they didn’t forget that we were all going to meet at the bus stop first; and then from the bus to the airport, which would fly us to our destination in Paris.
About a half an hour later, a gentleman sat down beside me. I knew for sure that it wasn’t Ben. The man seemed to be in his early fifties, his brown trenchoat and hat looked right out of a black and white detective film. But his aged beard shown that he was long past the age for solving crimes. But I coudln’t really say much, as my spiky pink hair and oversized breasts pointed me out like a cow in a chicken coop, even though I tried my best to conceal them with a double shirt. I guess it was in that moment when I realized how out of place they looked in modern society. I stood out like a sore thumb now, realizing that there was no more money to be made from these things. I guess when I get back home, I’m going to have to pay to get them taken out.
But as I was analyzing my swollen chest, I heard the footsteps of another individual appaoraching.
“Jesus, K!” the man said. “How many more trips are you going to take into the boob factory? You’re not even going to be able to walk through a cave with those things. I mean, that’s ridiculous. You think you would’ve mentioned that you stuffed two beach balls into your chest before you decided to have this little adventure.”
I looked up and sighed. “Nice to see you too, Ben. Have you seen Jazz?”
Ben sat down beside me and sighed. “Guess I’m chopped liver again to that girl.” he laughed. “She’s having a little bit of problems right now. Her passenger is being difficult.”
“Oh, I forgot about that.” I said. “Who is this other passenger?”
Seriously Ben, you’d better tell me who’s tagging along with us.
“Jazz is bringing her kid.” he said, and that was all he said.
“Her kid?” I replied, shocked. “I didn’t… well, she said something about having kids – but they were young back then.”
“Not that young.” Ben clarified. “She’s bringing Monica with her.”
“Have you met Monica?” I asked.
“No.” he said, “but from what I’ve heard, Monica’s a full barrel of apples.”
“So she’s a teenage girl, then?” I said.
“Nope. She’s only twelve.” he sighed. “But you know how these tweens are with their internet culture. Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. And any of those guys from Twilight, even though I’ll have to admit that Robert Pattinson is something of a wet dream of mine.”
“Eww!” I shrieked. “That’s gross, even for me.”
Yep, he was still the same old Ben.
“So what does Charles think about this trip?” I asked.
“Wishes he could’ve came too. But has to be at a meeting in Tokyo.”
“It would’ve been his third trip to Paris, you know.”
“Third trip to Paris?” I scoffed. “What does this guy do for a living?”
“He’s a retail agent for Target. Apparently, Japan wants to open a store in Tokyo.”
“But what about the radiation leak?” I asked.
“It’s all under wraps now. Don’t tell anyone that I told you this, but it’s still pretty bad over there. The government hushed it up, and they did a good job about it; because now everyone’s worried about Kim and Kanye’s wedding.”
“That’s such a ruse.” I said. “I watched some of the footage from it, you know – the stuff that was leaked?”
“You and everyone else.” he muttered. “It’s the internet.”
“I’ll bet they won’t last for one year before divorcing. You know, he’s got that job making rap music that even I won’t dance to, I like my Run DMC personally; but his shit is just horrible, plus he ripped of Marilyn Manson’s beats to use on another one of his songs.”
“I used to like Marilyn Manson.” said Ben. “Before I heard him singing with Avril Lavigne.”
“You’re joking, right?” I laughed. “I mean, I don’t really listen to him that much any more; kind of grew out of that phase when I got out of high school and realized that they wouldn’t let me wear black fingernail polish at Arby’s.”
“You worked at Arby’s?”
“Yeah, I was fine for about a month. But when I realized that a minimum wage can’t support a person who’s trying to stick it out on their own, I walked into Don’s.”
“Are you still taking off your clothes, little lady?” Ben asked in squeaky voice.
“No.” I said. “That’s it. I’m not taking off my clothes for anyone, anymore. Anyone but…”
I quickly reverted my train of thought. “Nevermind, Ben.”
Both of us turned to look down the edge of the long sidewalk, where the figures of two women seemed to be walking in our direction. Both of them seemed to be around the same height, so I was no longer sure that Jazz was bringing her daughter along. Or if that was even Jazz at all.
“Yeah.” Ben replied. “That’s Jazz.”
“That’s her daughter? What have they been feeding her? Brussel sprouts?”
“I wouldn’t have expected her to be as tall as her mother.”
“You sure she’s twelve?”
“That’s what I remember Jazz telling me on the phone.”
“For twelve, I’d hate to see what she’ll look like when she’s twenty.”
“Probably due to all the hormones in the food.”
“Yeah, you’re probably right.”
Then came the shock.
“K, Good lord! What in the world did you do to yourself, baby?”
I couldn’t say anything, wanted to just push a button on my back to make these things deflate as much as possible.
“She got lost in a silicone factory.” said Ben.
“Are you going for a world record? Because you’re about to reach it.”
The girl who was beside her, (who looked more like a woman than Jazz did to be honest) began to flip open her smartphone and started taking pictures of me.
“These are going on my Instagram.” she blared.
“Oh, no the hell they’re not!” Jazz shrieked, snatching the girl’s phone away from her.
“Delete, delete, delete. Here’s your phone back, baby.” she smiled as she handed it back to the girl who turned around in a huff.
“So this is Monica?”
“Oh, good lord no.” Jazz said, with her sass still intact. “I couldn’t bring that young one with me if Nick Cannon was going.”
“Kids these days, huh?” Ben chuckled. “Makes me glad that I’m gay.”
“You’re not going to adopt?” Jazz questioned.
“Adopt? Well, that’s all up to Charles. I’m barely making it with the dog.”
“This is Joliqua.” she said.
“Where do you get your names?” I laughed.
“Hey!” Jazz snarked. “We don’t ask you where ya’ll get your names. So don’t make fun of ours.”
“So how are you doing with a man?” I asked.
“A man?” she laughed. “Baby, the only man I need in my life right now is Jesus. He told me just last night that it would be a life experience to come down into this cave with ya’ll, maybe give this one some life skills. Lord knows, she ain’t got any.”
Well, there goes my fantasy. But this isn’t the Jazz I remember either. She seems matured, more grown up.
“K, you need to get your butt into church. You know, you got all that pink hair and battleships in yah chest. That ain’t normal. Hell, it ain’t natural. Lord’s gonna look at you and laugh.”
“And he’s gonna point. Amen, he’s gonna point. He’s gonna point you into a direction and say to you; I’m sorry, but I don’t know who you are standing up in my kingdom, but maybe the devil can send you back to hell where you belong.”
What the fuck just happened here? Did I just get damned?
“But I don’t want you to go to hell, too much suffering there and you’ve done enough of that here. But after all that mess down in the sewers, I thought you’d get a wakeup call.”
“Lord gives me what I need, so maybe he’ll give it to you.”
“I feel like I’m in church.” Ben scoffed.
“Good, because I like to bring the church with me. The whole congregation, honey.” she said, proudly.
“You know that Jesus wasn’t actually black.” Ben said.
There was a pause so deep that the sound of crickets chirping in the night would’ve been comforting. But it was still in the middle of the day.
“You know, I’ll pretend… Pretend that I didn’t hear that.”
At the risk of starting a holy war right here at the bus stop I said, let’s just all sit down on the bench and talk for a while.”
Then I realized that the gentleman who had been sitting next to me was staring with anticipation. I turned over to him and asked,
“What’s your problem?”
“I’m sorry.” he replied. “But this is the most entertainment that I’ve ever had while waiting at the bus stop. I’m just waiting to hear what one of you will say next. Is this one of those reality shows? Am I on film?”
The three of us looked at each other and then quietly sat down. Jazz pulled her offspring to the bench by tugging on her ear. The girl sat glued to the bright screen of her phone, just like she will also do while in Paris and probably inside the catacombs too.
The bus to the airport was nothing if not crowded. People seemed to be lined up all of the way to the back of the bus, as if they had no other means of transportation.
“Perhaps we should have just driven to the airport separately?” suggested Ben, although it was now too late for that.
“Fuck.” I said to myself. Why are all these people here?
Even Jazz looked a little dishevelled at the amount of passengers on this tiny little transit bus. It was probably meant to hold about thirty or forty passengers, but was now overweighted with close to sixty people.
“Where are we gonna sit?” she shrieked. “Your damn boobs are gonna take up a whole seat just by themselves, K.”
She was right, and again I kicked myself about the fucking plastic surgery.
Ben motioned to the driver. “Hey? Why are there so many people on this bus?”
“Gas too high.” he said. “No one can afford it anymore. Sold their cars to keep their rent.”
I guess the three of us never realized it, as we ‘d been lucky enough to afford the eight to ten dollars that we were now having to shell out on gas here in the city. I never complained, as I made more than enough money to afford it; but it seemed that all of these lower class people were having to scrape every bit of change they had, just to survive.
“Excuse me.” said the older man who was still standing behind us. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I’ve got a twenty here – might be my last twenty, but wherever you can take me… I’ll go. Doctor says I haven’t got much longer to live anyway.”
We moved out of the way of the man, who gave his twenty to the driver.
“They’re getting rid of these. So you’d better spend all you’ve got. I think this is the last week of the dollar before they start switching over to the amero.”
By the looks of it, no one on this bus had a single amero.
“Yeah, I forgot to tell you about that, K.” Ben said. “I know how you don’t like to keep up on world news, but they’re phasing out the dollar. It’s part of the North American Union.”
“When did that happen?” I asked.
“Last month.” Jazz replied. “Been reading my book of Revelations and waiting on that mark. Just so I can spit in their face and tell them, no hell no! I ain’t defiling my temple with the image of the enemy.”
“Satellite can look all it wants to, but it ain’t gonna force me into that branding. That one doesn’t ever come off and you’re burning later, because you didn’t realize it.” she continued.
“I don’t know what’s got into you, but here lately you are doom and gloom, sister.” Ben said.
“The holy spirit got into me.” she replied. “Girl, give me that damn phone.”
“But momma!” Joliqua cried.
“Butts are for whipping, and if you ain’t gonna give me your phone; then I’m gonna whip your butt right here in front of all these people.”
The girl held back a tear as she gave the phone, which dazzled the bus with all sorts of bright colors, to her mother. Jazz pressed a button and the screen went blank.
“Are you all getting on or not?” the driver growled. “I’ve been stalled for about ten minutes now.”
“Yeah, we’re getting on.” I said. “Here’s five ameros.”
Ben and Jazz both looked at me like they’d seen a ghost.
“Where did you get…?”
“I’ll explain later.” I said, as we took our seats and the driver closed the door.
“Buckle up!” he shouted. “And don’t make direct eye contact with the Red People. We should be safe inside this bus.”
I sat down next to Ben, doing my best to push my breasts out of his way.
“Who are the Red People?” I asked.
“Where have you been, K?” Ben replied. “The Red People are a group of radiated thugs who have been hanging out in the alleys of Manhattan. Once you look at one of them, you’re dead. They’re crazy, like zombies or something – just start eating people.”
“Another sign of the apocalypse.” Jazz replied from the other seat.
“Momma, I’m bored.” I overheard Joliqua say from the opposite seat.
“Well then, read your Bible.” Jazz snapped back.
“But that will put me to sleep.” she protested.
“Good, then I’ll wake you up when we get to the airport.” she smiled.
“Damn.” Ben sighed. “Talk about tough love.”
When we had finally gotten to the airport, we found that it was heavily crowded. Yet we couldn’t figure out why. Why are so many people booking flights out of season?
But that wasn’t all. People appeared to be fighting each other for plane tickets, as they literally beat each other senseless with their bags and suitcases full of luggage. It was fucking unreal, to be honest and I don’t think that I’ve ever seen people beat the living crap out of each other like this unless it had been during a Black Friday sales event. Blood stained the floor of the well-worn carpeting as people transformed into animals right in front of us. It looked like an unsanctioned battle royale.
As the three of us walked past an older man in a bright yellow trench coat and hat (what is it with all these old men and trench coats today, anyway?) who had just stabbed some overweight guy in a Mickey Mouse shirt in the eye with a pencil, we noticed that the fight was even worse on the conveyor belts.
As a matter of fact, the passengers who had already gotten off planes were having their luggage stolen from them by other passengers, with not a single TSA agent in sight! But that’s probably because the bodies of finely dressed men and women lay scattered throughout the area like the mauled remains of dead animals – which is what they were. These finely dressed men and women still wore the badges of their employment, although they sure as fuck weren’t going to be getting their pay checks this week.
“Lord Jesus, this is horrible.” squealed Jazz, as she clutched a small brown Bible that she had brought tightly against her chest. “I can’t believe that people would commit so many sins!”
She paused for a minute, although just to recharge for an outburst.
“What part of “thou shalt not kill” do you people not understand!?”
In all my life, I’ve never seen Jazz so upset. She’d been fuming, almost reminding me of the angry little girl who I tried to save. The bitch who wasn’t good enough for her mother, not good enough for a decent meal or decent clothes. Jazz wore fucking rags up until about the time she started working at the club. The bruises healed, leaving a scarred but beautiful woman on the stage; a woman who danced as if her life depended on it. Because in those days, it did.
And even though she found religion and carries the word of God around with her, I can still see that same little girl. The same frustrated little girl who’s still trying to make sense of it all. The world that she wasn’t good enough for.
“What in the hell are you doing, Jazz!?” I screamed. “You’re going to lure them to us! Don’t forget that we’re here for plane tickets too.”
“So, if they disobey the word of God, then…”
“Shut the fuck up, Jazz!” I yelled in her face. “I know you. And this… well, it ain’t you.”
“What the hell do you mean, “it ain’t me?” she scoffed.
“Sure, you might have gotten saved, might have made it a habit to go to church and pray every Sunday, might have even masturbated to images of Jesus in order to keep celibate. But that doesn’t mean that it’s you. Jasmine, you’re wearing a fucking mask.”
“And if I am wearing a mask, then why?” she thumped. “Explain that to me, K.”
“Your mask is religion. It’s nothing more than men’s ideas of what God should be. You don’t believe any of that. Not really, I know better. I know you.”
“And my mask… is this fucking plastic surgery and these… these breasts.” I said with a sigh.
I can’t even see my shoes. Can barely tie them, had to go with slip-ons. Motherfucker.”
At that moment, Jazz started to smile. There was a bit of a laugh to go along with it. Despite the fact that people were still slaughtering each other around us, she still managed to crack up a little. Maybe we were all in the mood for laughter, given are situation and he pure absurdness of it all. But really…
“K, you’re such a cunt.” she said, still arolling with laughter. “Why do you have to be such a fucking cunt?”
“Because you only call somebody a cunt when they’re telling you something that you don’t want to hear.” I said. “Yeah, we might die here in this airport – eventually. I already had to knock a guy out who wanted to get a spoonful of my brain. But there’s no use in wearing masks in the afterlife. If there is an afterlife, and a Jesus.
I turned to Ben. “Ben, you’re gay.”
“Yeah.” he smiled. “That’s the easiest way to say it. A little harsh, but certainly not untrue.”
“Do you pretend to be someone else?”
“Couldn’t think of anyone that I would want to be.” he said with a slight chuckle. “Don’t have any problem being who I am.”
“I guess that makes you the most truthful out of all of us, then.”
“Man, I wouldn’t say that.” he smiled. “I’ve still got things I hide, just as you with your boobs, and her with her Jesus.”
“Alright, K.” Jazz said. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe I am just a little girl who’s still trying to find herself out there in this crazy world. Maybe I did find the only way I knew how and put my faith in something, even when I didn’t fully believe in it. But they told me that if I keep up the faith, miracles will happen.”
“Damn it, you know I had Monica at 16. I had Joliqua at 20. Those bastards said that they’d never leave me. Not if I had a child with them. Raised those two girls the best I knew how. Both of them came out as fiery as me.”
“Fucker!” I shouted, as I punched a woman in the stomach. She was attempting to rearrange my face with a golf club. We had to get the hell out of here and fast at that.
“Speaking of… where in the hell is Joliqua?”
“Only the three of us came in here.” Ben said.
“Holy…” Jazz gasped. “Did I forget to wake her up?”
“Bus fare won’t cover her to go any farther. They probably woke her up and let her off outside the building.”
“Well then, come on!” I shouted. “Let’s go get that girl.”
We quickly ran back to the front entrance of the airport towards the automatic doors. Even though they were covered in blood, they still managed to open. But it didn’t matter, because there was no sign of her.
“Damn it!” I shouted. “We’re going to miss our fucking flight.”
“She’s got to be around here somewhere, K.” Jazz said assuredly. “Start looking.”
We spent the next half-hour calling out her name and walking around the danger that was the airport, until we happened upon an old diner. The sounds of a young girl crying profusely could be heard from inside the quaint building, adorned with a cracking off-white paint scheme and a nearly faded sign that advertised Harry’s, or maybe it was Hartley’s. It was very hard to tell, given the nature of the sign. Nevertheless, this is where our girl was; so we busted right in.
Well, not exactly busted. That door wasn’t getting any younger, as was the rest of this building. But I must admit that it had a little bit of weight to it. The bell jingled as the three of us walked in, with Ben on the end to make sure that the door closed properly. It didn’t, so he had to push against it in order for it to shut.
“Don’t worry about that old door.” greeted a brisk man in in his forties. His face had been pregnant with several shades of whiskers; and each one of them probably had a story or two to tell.
“What can I get you?” he said.
“Well, we’re not really here to eat.” Ben replied.
“Nonsense!” the man smiled. “It’s on the house.”
“Well, we can’t pass up a free meal.” I said. “Sure, what have you got?”
“Mommy!” screamed a tear-stricken little girl, as she ran from the table to put her arms around Jazz.
“What happened to you?” she asked.
“Some mean people woke me up and forced me off the bus at this diner. I didn’t know where the hell you were… and….”
“…Chef’s special.” the man replied. “Glad to see you’re reunited. Gave the girl a burger and some fries, which she ate – and then she went back to crying again.”
“What do you expect? She’s only twelve.” I said.
“Really?” The man replied, puzzled as he finished scrubbing the counter with an old wash cloth. “She looks like she’s twenty.”
“I had her when I was sixteen.” Jazz replied.
“I can see the resemblance.” he added. “I’ll go prepare the chef’s special.”
“Which is?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about it, you’ll like it. Travellers like you need to eat, after all. It’s a cruel world out there, so they tell me.”
We took our seats and found that our places had already been set on the table. It had even already been reserved for us, as the sign stated. While kind of creepy, we just sat there and let everything soak in. It had been a long day and we just needed a rest.
I was going to speak, but I couldn’t. Just felt like the words wouldn’t come out if I wanted them to. Same with Jazz, and the same with Ben. Joliqua was also giving the silent treatment, but we couldn’t figure out why. I tried to leave the table, but it felt like I’d weighed about a thousand pounds. So I just sat there. Was I really that tired?
For about fifteen minutes, the four of us exchanged a whole lot of nothing until our food was finally brought out. The bearded man brought out four dishes on a rather large platter that had to be wheeled out onto the table. A silver dome covered each entree as the man put a different dish in front of each of the four of us. I’ll admit that this was feeling more than just a little odd, especially due to the fact that the man seemed to know exactly what dish was supposed to go to each person. But I couldn’t leave and I couldn’t speak. My lips were glued to each other, and my ass was glued to the seat.
I wanted to say, “If this is the Chef’s special, then why are you bringing out a different dish to each of us?” but I couldn’t get the muscles in my mouth to move, other than to just mumble. The others looked at me with amusement. But it seemed that they could also do nothing more than mumble.
“Compliments of the chef.” he said. “Now open.”
Strangely enough, my hand rapidly jutted out and pulled off the cover from my meal. As flabbergasted as I was, I would have expected to be in a dream world. But that’s what it felt like when I sat down. A dream. This has to be a dream.
There was one thing that I always loved to eat growing up, and that was a chili sub with a side order of chili fries. A chili sub – as disgusting as some of you might think; but it’s actually fucking delicious – was a mixture of five-alarm chili, jalopenos, white queso, Viva Caliente hot sauce, horseradish, prepared with just a hint of cinnamon. It was always served on a special kind of bread that was seasoned in hot chilli powder and dipped in lime sauce before it was toasted. as for the fries, well – imagine close to the same recipe as the sandwich, just on fries and you’ve got it.
Problem is, they don’t make this any more. It doesn’t exist, because the guy who made these is dead. Years dead, like decades dead. I was a little girl with heartburn for years because of this guy; but it was always worth it. His shop was a mom and pop that he’d operated for as long as I’ve known him. Never knew what he did before, but never thought it polite to ask. Man always could make a great sandwich, so that’s why I always stopped by if I had an extra bit of money. But most of the money I had back then was what I found on the street, or by pickpocketing. Girl’s gotta make a living. Even if she’s only eight.
As I looked up from my food, I noticed that the others were just as surprised as I was. None of us could speak, but the feeling was mutual. And all of the sudden, our stomachs began to grumble, all of them at the same time no less; and our mouths began to open. The rest was history.
“So, I hear that you’re all going to Paris.” the man said. But at this point, I’m not even surprised at how he knew that.
What I just ate shouldn’t exist. But it did and it tasted exactly like the original. Not even one ingredient off. Delicious wasn’t the word for it, as tears rolled down my face as I felt like a little eight year old girl munching down on a chili sub and chili fry combo meal from years gone by. And yes, I got heartburn – bad heartburn! But heartburn had never felt so fucking good.
All of our mouths opened up at the same time. “Yes.”
“I’ve heard it’s great up there in Paris, plenty of sights to see. I’ve always wanted to go to the catacombs. Morbid it might be, but I always had an inkling to go see them.”
“You’re not planning on travelling to the catacombs are you? After dark, when they’ve shut down and you’re free to explore?”
Seriously, who the fuck is this guy? God? I’m willing to place my bets. Put it all on black!
All of our mouths opened again. But just to say one word and no more. “Yes.”
“You’re all marching right into the mouth of Hell, you know.”
Our mouths opened again. “We are aware of this.”
What? Did I just say that? How am I aware of this?
“But you won’t survive the airport. The cleansing has already begun.”
What cleansing? I’ve always hated when people use those kinds of words, because they always make me think about killing. Like in the…
Yeah. Like in the airport.
“So how do you get to France from here then? That’s a very good question.”
He began to hum a tune, which I later realized was Mike Old Field and Maggie Riley’s “To France.” Another eighties classic. I used to hum this one in the car as a girl, but that was until my mother would yell at me for distracting her while she was driving. Or perhaps, because she didn’t like the fact that I could hum and sing much better than she could. And she let me have it with a belt whenever I tried to prove it to her.
“How does one get to France?” he muttered. “It’s quite a bit far from where we are now, don’t you agree?”
We all nodded our heads simultaneously, as if a spell had been placed around the whole table. Maybe the food had been drugged. Or maybe we had been drugged before we came in here. If here even exists at all.
“Then perhaps I can make a suggestion.”
There was a slight pause before he said the next word, enough time for a man to walk in to record a toothpaste commercial and then walk back out of the diner, as if nothing had ever happened.
“I’ll take you there myself.”
I was definitely right to put it all on black this time. If this man claims that he can take us all the way from New York to France, then he’s God. Definitely God. There’s no doubt in my mind that this fellow who just gave the meal of a dead man is God. Or maybe I’m still tripping.
The four of us still sat there, too confused to stand and walk out of the building. If we could. Something was obviously keeping us here, yet it seemed to be coming from the same man who wanted us all to leave as well. How one person can take four people all of the way to France with no vehicle in sight (I didn’t even see any cars parked out here, to be honest) is quite peculiar. It’s almost as if the diner itself was just going to sprout wings and begin a journey across the sea. But wouldn’t the government pick that up as some kind of UFO? I don’t even know these days. I don’t really feel like I know or understand anything any more.
The four of us nodded to his rather insane request, assuring him that we would go even if it was a trip that entailed the four of us being carried on his back.
“Then let us begin the trip.” he smiled.
The man held out his arms, as if he was going to take off and fly right through the ceiling of the diner. At this point, I was quite sure that the man was crazy and that I had definitely been drugged, (no matter how great that chilli sub was) but it’s not the first time I’ve been roofied by club-goers. Still, not even roofies make me imagine shit like that.
The man proceeded to spin himself around in circles for a few minutes after that, I really would’ve laughed if I could; but I still couldn’t move my mouth or ass for the immense amount of weight that I felt they now contained. Either his hold was strong, or I’ve eaten about a ton of iron.
Oddly enough, Joliqua managed to crack a smile. Apparently, his hold was as strong on her. I’ll have to keep that in mind, just in case we get into any other predicaments.
The man kept spinning and as he spun faster, it felt as if the room was beginning to spin a little too. After about fifteen minutes of spinning, I began to feel dizzy and nauseas. What’s going on?
“And away we go!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, with a voice so thick that it shattered every single glass object in the building, from windows to wine glasses. But even though glass strewn about me like body glitter, I still couldn’t move. You wouldn’t have believed how hard I struggled to avoid the shower of glass, but it was to no avail.
And then… everything just fell silent, and the whole room faded to black.
When I woke up, I’d noticed that the atmosphere was a bit more breathable, than the unpleasant air of grease and smog which filled the streets of New York. And I woke up next to a familiar face in Jazz. She was still comatose, but I wasn’t going to take advantage of her even though that passion still burned inside of me.
Ben and Joliqua were also knocked out cold, but I didn’t have the urge to wake either of them just yet. As I rose my head up and took a look at the surroundings, a rush of amazement came over me as I found that somehow or another, all four of us had really wound up in France. Now as to where in France we were, I couldn’t say. But this definitely wasn’t New York and it definitely wasn’t America.
Ben awoke shortly after to realize the same thing.
“Wow.” he said. “Would you take a look at this architecture… This is marvellous. Absolutely fantastic.”
“Where in the hell are we?” an angered woman shouted. It wasn’t long before we noticed it was Jazz.
“What was with that box of fruit loops who spun around like a top in the diner? Devil was at work there, I figure.”
“Joliqua, go on and get your ass up!” she berated the girl.
“Momma… where am I..?” the girl struggled to speak as she crawled slowly to her feet.
“That’s… the Eiffel tower, isn’t it?”
“Yep.” Ben replied. “All __ stories of her.
“Awesome.” Joliqua replied. She looked like she had been star struck. I couldn’t say that I blamed her.
But we weren’t here to scale the Eiffel tower. We were here to dig into the festering stench of the catacombs, and we still had all of our equipment in tow. We were more than ready for a late night spelunking, which was exactly what we were going to do.
France had an interesting culture, but it wasn’t too much unlike our own. Though there were a lot more bikes on the streets, those streets were still polluted with cars and there were still plenty of vendors selling types of seafood and baked goods that I’ve never heard of.
“French people eat seafood?” I asked, as I passed a vendor pounding down the fact that he’d sold “fresh fish!” as he yelled out to the crowds of people who walked along the sidewalk in order to get from place to place.
“Haven’t you heard of caviar?” Ben replied.
“That’s what rich people eat.” I said.
“It’s fish eggs.” he laughed. “If that’s what being rich means, I want out.”
“But don’t you do well?” I said.
“Yeah, we do alright. But we’re not going to be on Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous any time soon. It’s just the normal income for a retail agent, which is substantial enough.
“Now,” he said, changing the subject. “Are you going to tell me where you got those five ameros?”
“Well…” I paused. “Isn’t it obvious? I got them from Don.”
(If you’ve read this far and want me to continue, then message me. If enough people like it, I might just continue the piece after all.)