We made our way through the parking lot, me peering around as if the society police were stalking us and waiting to pounce, snarling for our papers and shining flashlights in our faces. We were an hour late, but so were a lot of other people. All of them were dressed to the tens. Forget the nines.
I know that I saw one floor length Blackgama that had to easily be worth a hundred twenty five grand. The woman was letting everyone know that she was completely naked under the expensive fur coat. Linda nudged Franklin and me, causing barely suppressed snickering and snorting.
Diamonds were twinkling and shooting out bits of light like beacons in a sea of people that warned “Watch out, rocks ahead!”
“Do you see those rocks?” Linda Hissed
“Linda!” I hissed back, “Don’t you get me started! They’ll think that we’re already drunk or high!”
“That’s at least five carats! Ooh, I hope she puts those down somewhere. Maybe she’s a lesbian and I can hit on her to get a closer look…”
“I like that kind of action. I wanna see that!” Franklin piped up. He’d been uncharacteristically quiet for the past few minutes.
“I don’t even know you two. I didn’t come here with you.” I huffed.
A man standing next to me said “Don’t worry. I’ll be your guide. Hmmmm…”
He smelled like something from a romance novel. I wondered if he was endowed with more than expensive cologne. He looked wonderful. He was tall, just the right height for dancing and other activities. He was wearing a beautiful wool overcoat that made him look like a classic among San Francisco treats. Was he Italian? He was too tall to be French. I took his proffered arm and said no more.
What a shallow and horny creature I’d become. A brief frisson of shame over abandoning Jerome for new loves was exactly that. Brief. Nothing was going to ruin that night. I thought that this would be a wonderful way to party my way out of Jerome’s sphere of influence, the dog.
There were swishes of fabric that sounded as if the people’s clothes were out for blood. The women looked a little feral and territorial as they eyed each other’s garb and accessories with squinty, beady little eyes.
I had a stupid thought about two empty dresses on a steep hill, clacking horns like those horny mountain goats, fighting for supremacy.
The four of us listened to the general conversation, trying to figure out who was the upper crust and who was faking it. The flutier the tone, the higher the odds were that the speaker was a faker.
The ones who had money and did not have to care were braying like calves and darned near farting and scratching themselves. Some were already tipsy and a couple of them were downright drunk. If those drunks actually got in, then they were indeed special people. Those usually disappeared to a V.I.P area set aside for drunks who thought that they were partying, but who were actually being corralled.
One couple was engaged in a sharp, whispered conversation. The words “Marvim” and “The covocantion” escaped from their hushed little cone of secrecy. Several heads turned and a murmur went through the crowd, punctuated by nervous laughter.
I wanted to pursue that conversation, but we were at the entrance! How exciting…we could hear the pumping base beat of the music and smelled food, but it was all faint, since the party was being held deeper within the maze of tunnels. We were allowed in, and proceeded to walk down a huge tunnel that went for about a hundred feet. That tunnel, we knew, branched into three more which angled downward into increasing gloom.
The main tunnel was carpeted and lit with floodlights that washed up and across the roof. There were about fifty arrangements of benches, floor lamps, and coffee tables along the sides, all of them occupied by shiny, gleaming people. It must have taken several huge trucks to bring in all of that furniture. It was not the furniture that I remembered from the last time, either. An entirely new decorator had been brought in for this soiree.
All of us, including my gentlemanly savior were struck dumb. Nobody said anything. The others in the crowd gasped and crowed at the magnificence, some chattering about the decorator and the source of the goods, as if to establish their position of being “in the know”.
I looked for the bickering couple, hoping to find out what was going on with Marvim and covocantions, but they had disappeared completely from view.
And I mean completely. It was almost as if someone had sucked those two up with a vacuum.
Finally, we spilled into a huge room that had been decorated by one of the set designers for the San Francisco Opera. It was a wonderland of Parisian excess, with staircases and balconies, vast swatches of carpet, huge banquet tables, laden with china and crystal…and a buffet that went on for fifty feet.
A forty piece orchestra, capable of backing up Isaac Hayes, was in place. Scantily clad girls were gyrating in cages, on stages, and in lighted nooks and crannies. Some of them had to be up about sixty feet high!
But then I remembered that we had actually descended about sixty feet below ground level before getting to the main ballroom of The Underground. The girls were actually at street level. And it was good for them that they were at street level.
Suddenly, the band struck off into a deep funk number that sounded introductory in nature. The whole crowd, about two thousand people strong, stood or sat up like show dogs in anticipation of the main event. The four of us scoped out a delightful nook and took it over before someone could commandeer it.
We were already breathless when two almost completely naked women came out, wearing nothing but huge headdresses that were quite Louis XIV in nature. They had on giant eye masks as well. Once they had gained our attention and awe, they stepped aside while a man sauntered out, wearing a huge hooded robe that concealed all of his features.
He whipped out his…microphone and proceeded to rock the house with a rock-funk masterpiece, his robe flapping open to reveal a rock hard body and a large package of junk that was encased in a black thong, all of which jiggled alarmingly. It was just over the top. Linda almost fainted. I wanted to. The men had absolutely nothing to say, but cleared their throats a lot.
“We will go and get food!” Linda declared, saving both of us from making entire fools of ourselves. We spent the rest of the number filling, then ferrying plates of food to the table. The men had ordered drinks, so we were set for the evening, having secured a base camp and procured sustenance.
We all ate with gusto and with no conversation, because the music was so loud. It was all too fine. Then we noticed that nude and semi nude people were moving all through the crowd, passing appetizers and drinks, and just generally looking fabulous. Where did they get so many good looking naked people?
In the distance, someone screamed…a high pitched, shrill sound that could barely register before the music closed in and covered up the sound. It was probably some drama queen overdoing her response to a lame joke.
After a while, Linda and I noticed that, male or female, whatever race or color, the naked people were all the same height and had the same body type: tall, perfectly proportioned, and with flawless skin. When we got to our base camp, we discovered that Franklin and my companion had been observing the same thing. Suddenly, the funk rock ended and there was a lowering of the sound so that people could have a little conversation. Very thoughtful, the management of The Underground was.
“So do you all come here often?”Franklin yelled at top volume. Everyone groaned, including all of the people who were standing and sitting nearby. We all laughed, and proceeded to chatter about the perfectly matched naked people. A man who was sitting at the table next to ours commented that they came from Las Vegas.
“Were they in a show there?” Someone else asked.
“No. They just flew in from there.” The man said, offering no more information and sending a shiver through the rest of us.
I looked to the rear of the massive ballroom and watched as a group of robed men gathered together and disappeared behind the stage. On the other side of the room, a huge shadow worked its way up into a corner and stopped at about forty five feet up. I looked for the corresponding floodlight and could not find one.
For a while, my companion and I engaged in comradely conversation as Franklin and Linda got up to slow dance to some romantic tunes. It turned out that the whole thing was a setup and that the gentleman was a colleague of Franklin’s who was in town and lonely. He was single, thank goodness, and a very nice chap who studied ancient cultures and who consulted with the F.B.I from time to time.
“Do you have your gun with you?” I finally asked, just as the introductory music started up again.
I could hear another scream that was so extended and shrill that it was barely human in sound. Again, no one else appeared to catch it, except for a gray haired woman who caught my eye and signaled that she had heard it, too.
“Yes, I do. I have a couple of them, in fact.” He answered. It was clear that he heard the scream, too.
I liked this man.
To be continued….