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Fiction #267
(published February 23, 2006)
by Joel Van Noord
"If you had a microphone in front of you what would you say?" I heard a guy ask his friend in a bar.

The friend answered, "I wouldn't say anything, I'd walk away."

I was living just outside the arm of the DC metro, north on the Maryland side, among the disfiguration of suburban growth. The same stores in the same patterns coupled together in strip malls. There was a circle of it around the important city, a circle around the domes and monuments.

I was unemployed and living with my parents. I should have been in Norway on a Fulbright Scholarship. Traveling the arctic circle and observing the melting tundra. But, instead, they gave it to some bastard with the erudite plan to study Jewish bisexual literature in the Czech Republic. What possible good that could serve in the face of cataclysmic climate change baffled me.

So that was disappointing and I got over it. Made plans to enroll in graduate school for film; I'd make documentaries, simple enough. But those plans also fell through. So I got a job and then that job lost all funding and had to let me go as the Senate authorized another 87 billion for war.

Yeah. It was the administration's fault. They were so close I could almost feel them breathing down my neck. I paraded that for a week and had to get over it too. So the United States is acting erratic, so what? So there is no money left for anything worthwhile. And? I was still me, still responsible.

There was nothing you could tell people they didn't already instinctively know. Facts arrive after initial suggestions. "We now have an official transcript of a meeting proving Bush lied to get us into Iraq." A source will say on CNN. The reply: stoic apathy. There is no shock anymore. We are perpetually disappointed.

So it wasn't going well, is all I'm trying to say. The spirit and soul of America is in decay and I'm still me. I too was becoming apathetic to the way things are.

And the audacity of friend A to ask friend B what he would say.

Outside they were preparing for the Fourth. Tiny American flags were everywhere, tied to bridges and street signs and displayed in front of every shop and building. The churches had signs: "Remember God and the gift of Freedom this Fourth of July." And the capitol dome wore red white and blue sheaths around its entrance pillars. They'd shoot off fireworks from an island in the river the next day.

After a walk I entered another bar. This one was one of the fakest, most pompous bars available. But they played contemplative electronic music and had the best looking girls inside. Tonight they had karaoke, I discovered as I ordered a second drink and left the bar for the lounge where I found a thick arm-chair to watch the ridiculously dressed woman dance. They wore flashes of cloth on their chests and thighs and challenged these tiny articles as they thrashed about.

They were raunchy and I danced with a fat chick then sat down. She ground her ass into me and I held her soft hips.

Someone sang a Vanilla Ice song and another sang "Brown Eyed Girl," people were having a good time and three blondes got on top of the bar and danced, two of the girls made out in a chorus of cheering while the third looked on enviously as a group of frat boys looked up her skirt and gave high-fives.

Someone did a rowdy rendition of an Eminem song and the beat kept going after the words finished. It was near 11:30 and I left to get another drink at the packed bar. People stood, nursing drinks with elbows propped up, I squeezed through with a push.

The karaoke singer pulled a friend on stage and they were rousing the crowd with creative, improvised lyrics, "Get down mother fucker, get down, get down." They repeated and rose their hands like a dictator to the simplistic beat. The crowd cheered and four other girls got up on the bar. I waved to a bartender but he ignored me.

The crowd was loving it and a brunette was directly above me dropping her ass up and down, pouting her lips and spreading her legs. "Get down mother fucker, get down, get down," they kept repeating on stage and it had turned into a chorus in the bar. The soft voices acting as one. The women on the bar were humping each other's legs. Several hairy arms reached up for the laced boots of the dancers.

It was chaotic and I only wanted one of their over-priced wanna-be-euro-club drinks. A woman finally came around, all business, and leaned an ear over the bar, between the shifting legs of the dancers.

One of the females on the bar was brushed off stage and swallowed by the massive crowd. It wasn't clear if she knew these men that delicately plucked her from her exhibition or not, but there seemed to be no protest and she was quickly engulfed.

Hands violently tossed the air mirroring the dictator-chop from stage. A chorus of "AH" reverberated one of the men negotiated a stunted phrase through the microphone about how he was, "par none, the best around, getcha weak shit lock down." Then it went back to, "Get down mother fucker, get down get down."

I turned now to face the stage. The fat chick was standing near and looking at me, I smiled. She had large breasts and the waist to match it, not necessarily fat. I nodded my head. She said something but it was too loud, I motioned to her and she slid her generous figure between two males who groped her as I reached my hand out and pulled her in like a fish. It was the price to pay.

The crowd was screaming and getting wilder. From behind me I heard someone yell and someone else vomited. A small circle spread from the spot and the perpetrator was quickly swept outside the club. The circle was filled in and shoes smeared and stomped around the tile floor. Someone bumped hard into my back and I turned, pissed off, it felt like a punch between my shoulder blades. No one looked to apologize so I turned again, she asked if I was alright, I said I was and she rubbed my back.

I asked her name and she asked mine, I asked if she lived around here and she said "yes, College Park."

"Get down mother fucker get down, get down." I wondered how long they could keep it up.

Then I felt a sharp pain in my head. I turned and saw a man behind me bring his elbow down. Without thinking I pushed him. He turned on me and yelled, but it was too loud to hear. The fat chick held onto my arm and as I turned I felt another pain, like I'd been hit with a brick. I remember looking at the floor before I blacked out. I could see feet and the filth of the floor.

I wasn't out for too long but when I woke up there was commotion where the scene spilt out. The streets were busy and I felt embarrassed to be outside where they tossed drunks. She was behind me holding up my head like we were army buddies and I'd caught a bullet in the gut. My head was back against her enormous breasts.

"You alright?" She asked.

I felt like shit, wanting to vomit from a strange humiliation. I rose to my feet as she helped me. I looked at her pale face in the brutal street lights.

"What do you want to do?" She asked. It was obvious we were now together. She helped me to my feet and there was a bar across the street. I didn't say anything and only shrugged and gestured at the neighboring bar. We entered and she bought drink after drink. Again I blacked out but this time rose between soft and feminine blankets.

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