by Raud Kennedy
The job was suit and tie stuffy, but still a rebel after years of conformity, Will fought the dress code by wearing Sex Pistols t-shirts under his white button down shirts and leather thong underwear that made his butt crack itch. He felt the itch was more than worth putting up with considering what it said to the world about who he was. Will was in his thirties and living a dual life. He worked for the DIP Corporation. They manufactured everything from baby formula, sold for consumption outside the US only, to the plastic heel tips on women’s shoes.
DIP Corporation was painting itself green for an upcoming consumer advertising campaign, and Will was one of several assigned to buying other companies’ pollution credits so that DIP could keep on polluting as usual, but say they weren’t. His new job assignment was like being stuck in a McDonald’s drive thru on a hot summer day with the car’s air-conditioning on the fritz. Some days he would drift off and daydream of a future where he would free himself of his corporate trappings and show up on Casual Friday, wearing only his favorite Sid Vicious tank top and red leather thong, and maybe his poolside flip flops.
But until then he would have to content himself with his parallel life as a doorman and bouncer at Dingo’s Dive Down Under, a greasy spoon turned nightclub just over the river, in the industrial part of town that was being encroached by high-rise condo gentrification. Many of his DIP coworkers lived in these condo towers with their concrete walls and spackled ceilings, but Will had yet to run into any of them at Dingo’s and been forced to integrate his day job with his night job persona.
At Dingo’s they called him Cow Killer, or just Cow, because he wore a lot of leather, and this was Portland, Oregon, where even a homeless guy on a tricycle had a PC streak about wearing animal skins. In winter Cow wore a leather overcoat over leather jeans, and in the summer he wore leather shorts, not lederhosen, but tight black hot pants you’d be more likely to see on Stark Street where the gay bars and saunas were located. But Cow didn’t swish that way. He just loved his leather painted on tight so it creaked like a schoolgirl’s desk.
It was in these shorts that he bent over to pick up the fake ID of a very nervous, yet pretty teen when he heard a terrible sobbing. It was pure emotion, a young woman wailing in pain. He stood up and looked down the line of eager ravers waiting to get in the club, but he didn’t see anyone who was crying or even looked like they’d been crying. His gaze paused momentarily on one woman who looked familiar, possibly from work, but her clothes were too outlandish for that, and his gaze moved on.
He handed the teenager back her fake ID and let her and her two friends in, then he heard the crying again. It was quieter now, more of a resigned sobbing.
“Do you hear that?” he asked the rocker standing in front of him, as he took his offered ID.
The rocker’s expression was blank. His iPod was plugged into his ears, and he could hear nothing over the Megadeath vibrating his synapses. Cow handed back his ID and checked the next person’s. “Did you hear that crying a moment ago?” he asked the woman whose ID stated that her bursting cleavage was twenty-three.
“You must be a Sensitive to be able to hear it. That’s mother Gaia feeling the pain of global warming. Mankind’s pestilence is making her sick.”
Cow returned her ID. “Shouldn’t that be humankind?”
She slipped her drivers license behind her bra with a smile. “Same difference until womankind runs the show.”
He let her in ahead of the rocker who was resigned to waiting. He didn’t care, though, he’d smoked a full bowl of Oregon homegrown before showing up and right then couldn’t honestly say he cared about anything.
A new silver Cadillac pulled into the valet parking in front, and the club’s owner got out. He was short, portly and bald and only in it for the money. He always said, “Give the kids what they want, they’ll come and their parents will pay dearly for it.” He’d put this in practice twenty years ago when he opened Portland’s first underage dance club. It was a big success and really pulled in the predators. He had to hire guys like Cow to keep them out by checking ID’s for anyone over twenty-one.
“How’re they hangin’?” the owner asked as he stepped around the line.
Cow unhooked the red velvet rope and lifted it aside. “Close to capacity, Mr. Naval.”
“It must be those shorts you’re wearing. One of my Stark Street clubs is in a slump. Maybe I should move you over there.”
Cow was trying to think of a snappy comeback when he heard the sobbing again. “Do you hear someone crying?”
Mr. Naval grinned. “Oh sure, that’s my ex-wife, still in the trunk since our divorce,” he said with a conspiratorial wink. “I got a tip the fire marshal is out tonight doing surprise code checks, so don’t over pack it, okay?”
“Sure thing, Mr. Naval. I’ll hold the line here,” he said, then added, “I was serious about the crying.”
“I was serious about my ex-wife,” the owner said and disappeared into Dingo’s darkness.
At the end of the night when the club stopped serving drinks and closed down, Cow and one of the barmaids, Serena, went to an after-hours speakeasy in Chinatown and ordered ‘cold tea’, a teapot full of beer sold illegally after serving hours. He hadn’t heard the crying since soon after the owner’s arrival, but asked Serena about it anyway.
“Nope, I didn’t hear anything like that, but you can’t hear in the club. Once that music gets going it’s just thump, thump, thump, like rabbits humping the floor.”
On Monday morning, Cow, now Will, was in the DIP office following up on some loose pollution credits he hoped to snatch up to meet his quota for the month so he could slack off for the rest of the week and daydream. One of the secretaries from the typist pool entered his office and set on his desk a couple sales contracts she’d finished typing up. “Wow, it’s really loud in here. Do you hear that shouting?” she asked, looking about the office for its source.
He didn’t hear shouting, but the crying from the club was back. Now he was worried. Maybe he was going crazy with voices inside his head. But then their eyes met and they recognized each other.
“You’re the bouncer at the club,” the typist said.
“I saw you in line. You had a Pippy Long Stocking thing going on.”
“We stayed until the line stopped moving. I liked your shorts. I dare you to wear them Friday.”
As he looked her over and liked what he saw, he realized the crying had stopped, and she noticed the shouting had stopped, too. The room was quiet, and Cow broke the silence with his smile. “And what will you wear?”
And she smiled back.