By Kenneth Justice
Part II (If you missed part one click here
~ So there we were standing outside an abandoned concrete commercial building with Weird Suit Guy pounding on the door,
“So how do you know these people?” I asked. Weird Suit Guy had said he was taking us to a local party but so far all he’d successfully done was park our cars in the middle of the ghetto eight blocks down the street and walk us up to a sketchy looking abandoned building and for the life of me I couldn’t hear any music or sounds coming from inside; if this was a party perhaps it was a cloister of monks meditating or something.
“I met these guys at a bar last night” he said. Of course I couldn’t be upset at Weird Suit Guy’s lack of real meaningful connection to these people because looking in the mirror; I had only met Weird Suit Guy an hour or so before thorough Barista Girl (and Barista Girl I’d only known a little while longer than that). At this point Barista Girl was tripping out big time, I have no clue what pills she had swallowed while we were still driving, she’d offered me some but I politely declined.
You’d think a twenty something coffee barista would be a little more concerned standing in the middle of an abandoned commercial section of the city in the dead of night with two guys she barely knew; but she wasn’t concerned at all. Instead she just had this goofy grin on her face that made her look like the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland…..although her demeanor was more like the Caterpillar since she was so stoned out of her mind from whatever drugs she was on.
After what seemed like an eternity Weird Suit Guy broke the silence, “Maybe we’re just supposed to go in” he said
“Really dude? In my experience when you’re at a rundown building in the middle of the night on the wrong side of town and nobody answers it usually means you’re supposed to leave” I said
“You’re really starting to get annoying” he said, my humor appeared to be lost on him.
“I thought Buddhists don’t get annoyed; I thought you guys were always at one with the universe” I said
And with that he pushed on the door and we walked in. If ever there was a good place to get robbed and murdered this place was it; outside of the building we had the luxury of a single street light that gave us a small glimmer of connection to the rest of the world, but inside the building it was pitch black, I could barely see anything. We were in some kind of entry-hall and my imagination ran wild with crazy vampire movies in buildings like this who throw parties to entice mortals to come and get eaten. Yet at least in the movies the parties that the vampires throw seem to be pretty cool and off the hook; I think the vampires have a little kindness in them in that they want you to have one last good party before they suck your blood and take your life.
Of course, I could have turned around and left, but at this point I felt a sense of obligation in protecting Barista Girl because every time I had suggested we leave, she kept wanting to press on, and I wouldn’t trust Weird Suit Guy to protect her whatsoever. In fact, he seemed like the kind of guy that would sell her into slavery if it meant protecting his own fake-Buddhist skin.
As we walked down the corridor, I could make out a flickering light in the distance and eventually we came into the great room; it was a huge concrete cinder block room that looked like it used to be used to store cars owing to the fact that there were oil stains all over the place. You could probably fit more than a hundred automobiles in this place, but now it was entirely empty and littered with beer cans and crumpled up pizza boxes…. and I imagined extremely rat infested; I always assume empty buildings are rat infested, don’t ask me why. In the very center of the room there were two small card tables set up with a small lamp that was connected to some car batteries. Five guys sat at one of the card tables playing poker, and three girls sat at the other one doing lines of coke and drinking cheap booze. The eight of them stared at us and didn’t say a word; they clearly didn’t know who Weird Suit Guy was and were on edge that the three of us strangers had suddenly walked in on their little soiree.
All of a sudden it finally hit Weird Suit Guy that this idea of his was probably not the best of ideas. Yet wanting to be the cool guy he walked confidently towards the guys sitting at the table and began engaging them in conversation, I had grabbed Barista Girl by the arm and wouldn’t let her walk over to them, “Look sweetheart, we’re staying right here by the door and if they decide Weird Suit Guy is an idiot, then we can at least get out the door before they can get to us” I said
“Oh, okay” she said, she was so out of it I could of told her we were waiting for Space Aliens to take us to Mars and she would have acquiesced.
To say that the situation felt awkward would be an understatement. Everyone sitting at the card tables were dressed in typical downtown urban fare, yet there was Weird Suit Guy trying to mingle with them and remind them how he met them, all while dressed like Don Johnson from Miami Vice. I was wearing my usual ripped designer jeans and T-shirt and was probably dressed more appropriately for our surroundings than Weird Suit Guy; but I had no desire to strike up a conversation with the dudes at the poker table. At this point I was getting tired of the whole situation and was ready to get out of there.
After a few minutes Weird Suit Guy came over to us with a big smile, “Hey, I told you I know these guys!” he said, “They’re totally cool with us partying with them, and they said we can do coke with them too!” he looked very proud of himself, like a school boy who just showed his parents a well-marked report card.
I turned to Barista Girl, “is this your idea of a party? Hanging out with a handful of people in the middle of nowhere doing coke and playing poker?” I asked. She looked at me with her spaced-out eyes and then turned to Weird Suit Guy, “I don’t know how to play poker, can we just go to a bar now” she said
Weird Suit Guy look deflated, “C’mon, I went to all the trouble to get us to this rocking party and now you both want to be straight-edge’s and bust out of here?” he said. Barista Girl was about to open her mouth and say something but at that point I had enough and decided to take control of the situation, “Look, we’re taking off, you can either come with us or not. It’s up to you” I said
I actually love poker. My dad raised me on poker from when I was very young and had drilled it into me that poker was not about chance, “Kenneth, poker is all about playing the statistics and most importantly, always make sure you play with people that you know”. Well, I definitely didn’t know these dudes in the empty building and wasn’t about to buy into their game. Hey, I’ve seen the movie Rounder’s with Matt Damon and Ed Norton and I know what happens to you if you beat a bunch of guys who don’t take kindly to losing to a stranger.
“Well can I at least do a couple lines with the girls before we leave” asked Weird Suit Guy
And with that I kept a firm grip on Barista Girl’s arm and ushered her out of the place. Weird Suit Guy stood there for a few minutes not sure what to do, but eventually he ended up following us out of the building and on to our next adventure of the night. I could lie and say that was the end of the night, but it wasn’t. We ended up going to a bar to get a night cap, but that’s a story for another time.
For now I think I’m going to finish the coffee on my table and get ready for the start of my day,
Categories: Culture & Society