That party developed its own weather system, I swear. The Underground had never failed to knock us off of our feet, but this was the best one so far. Here I sat with my two best friends, a buttery man who needed to be taken off to a back room somewhere in this warren of tunnels and interrogated, the best food I had ever eaten, and drinks that did not even get a person truly drunk, just high enough to appreciate the good things in life.
Linda and I suspected that the guys reverse-spiked our drinks to lower the alcohol content, which was fine, because the sights and sounds were already too much to process all at once. There was a gay man, one of those shrill shrieky freaky deakys who probably had spent weeks putting his endearing little costume together.
Now get this: this guy had white hair that started with a widow’s peak, smoothed over his cranium, then cascaded in waves that went to his shoulders. He had body paint that looked like a Matisse landscape, under a clear plastic jumpsuit. It looked like his penis was a little white waterfall between two rocks…nonsense, I say.
“Linda…” I started.
“Oh hell no!” she shouted, having scoped out the gyrating couple who were revolving around the dance floor in perfect synchronization. They were clearly ballroom dancers who specialized in the tango, S and M style. He wore the leash and she wielded the whip. A line of grown men was laughing and following them, hilariously begging to be spanked.
Franklin threatened to get up and join the group. He was a little too eager to be spanked, and Linda took exception. My companion withheld his opinion on the matter, and rightfully so. It would have been a major faux pas for a man who is on a first date to revolve around a ballroom, begging for a spanking from a woman in floor length patent leather with stainless steel accents that included nipple and penis piercing.
Yes, I said woman. This was the Underground. Anything goes there. A delicately scarified little wisp of a man approached our table and asked if we wanted to hear a story when the music died down. We made a space for him and his dog, a little teacup poodle, and he proceeded to tell us about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in a way that was both hilarious and tragically profound.
We wanted to adopt this delightful little bit of human being, but he flitted off to be the delight of someone else’s evening. Before the sound could come back to slam everyone back into their seats, I found out that my companion was named Robert, and that he had a PhD in Anthropology, of all things. I asked him if he had seen any Trobriand Islanders, lately, and he said that he had actually gone there to live among them for a while back in the ‘90s.
“Anthropology is the only social science where people get to actually study people without having to do quantitative analysis just for the sake of doing quantitative analysis.”, I said.
“Will you marry me?” He asked without hesitation.
“If your wife approves and if we do not have to move to Utah or Burundi”. I replied.
“Are you getting married?” Linda shrieked.
The music was pounding again. This time the music was pumping with an acid jazz vibe. Oh boy, what was going to happen now? A hugely horned devil floated down from the roof of the vault, looking like something from Cirque de San Francisco. He was clad in a body suit so tight…no…it was body paint! But it was shiny and red, as if he was freshly dipped in blood. His horns were curled, but would have stretched to at least five or six feet in length, if they were straightened out. He had monstrous, ragged wings that spread out and collapsed as he flew, then stopped and grinned with a horrible delight at the audience.
The entire crowd stopped yammering and stared briefly in horrified awe before bursting into applause.
“They give a standing ovation to the Devil, the sorry bunch of bastards!” Robert griped.
Suddenly, three blindingly white angels, flew in from the dusky corners of the ceiling, their wingspans of at least ten feet flashing in the strobe lights as they bore down on the Devil, engaging in a horrific battle that carried itself down the back wall of the ballroom and out of sight behind the stage.
There was stunned silence. No one had even noticed that the music had died. Then there was murmuring, with no shortage of tension and alarm from the crowd, followed by screams of horror as the formerly white angels, now doused with blood red paint, suddenly rose from behind the stage and violently flapped their wings, rising to return to the darkened upper reaches of the room and disappear.
“What the…” Franklin began.
“Don’t you get it? The angels won! They sent the Devil back to Hell and ascended back to the heavens!” Linda cheered.
This summation spread through the crowd, which erupted into whoops and cheers as the musicians, who were covered in drops and gobbets of red paint, recovered from their shock, started up the backup music from a recording, then fled the stage. This time, it was a blues number that featured a Black woman who came out in nothing but a few feathers and pearls. She warbled about a problem with her husband’s girlfriend’s wife.
“Uhh..Robert…let’s get the girls some more drinks, hey?” Franklin yelled. He was a bit agitated and seemed to be up to something. Linda noticed this, too, but the guys had excused themselves and headed for the bar before we could find out what was going on.
A couple of Las Vegas perfection people came and cleared our table of dishes and silverware, then brought fresh fruit and cheeses from the buffet. We asked them where they were from, but they did not speak English. They spoke to each other in a rapid, clipped language that I had never heard of. I looked closely to see if they had navels, but they were wearing sheer bodysuits, probably to protect themselves from drunk, horny people.
The bodysuits had an amazing texture that I had never seen before in fabric that was so sheer. It was as if the weave managed to be velvety and sheer at the same time. A pushy woman barged up and tried to feel the Las Vegas people’s bodysuit fabric, but was quickly escorted away by a stern gentleman who did not appear to be her date.
Just when Linda and I were getting back to our speculation and conversation, the blues song ended, and a great mess occurred.
The lights went out. Suddenly, there was only the periodic glow of table lights, the lighted nooks and crannies of the sixty foot high walls, and the strangest thing that any of us had ever seen…a perfectly round orb that looked suspiciously like ball lightening.
Linda screamed. She knew about ball lightening. I had never seen any real ball lightning, so I thought that it must have been another special effect.
“It’s going up to the roof! We have to get out of here. Where are the guys?” Linda yelled.
“Isn’t that just a special effect?” I screamed back.
Robert and Franklin had returned, bewildered at the spectacle that was slowly moving over the crowd and around the room, as if searching for someone or something in particular.
“Franklin!” Linda yelled, “We have to get out of here now!”
“Why? Oh sweetie, was it that sick show with the Devil and the angels?”
That was all that Franklin got to say before the orb rose straight up, flew around the cavern, then wobbled straight toward a group of about ten laughing, chattering people, pausing only slightly before it dipped down and consumed them in a great gout of fire, burning flesh and boiling blood that spilled over four more tables full of people, who unmercifully, weren’t so instantly killed before the destruction was complete.
That was when the stampede began.
To be continued…