Nothin’s Gonna Stop the Flow
?Yo, do you like these?? I asked Damian. He was sitting on my bed, disinterestedly watching me model half my wardrobe in front of the mirror.
He shrugged, tendrils of smoke creeping from the corners of his mouth.
?I guess.? As he spoke, a huge plume of smoke leapt from his lips, filling the room with a sweet smell.
?Lemme get a hit of that,? I gestured towards the glass pipe. He handed it to me, and I quickly lost interest in finding the right pair of pants.
?You like this?? I asked him, nodding towards the stereo speakers. Jungle beats were pounding from them.
?Yeah. Did you mix this??
?Nah. Chris made it for me.? I returned the colorful bowl to him. My hands, now empty, began to flow in sync with the music. Soon they were dancing in circles around me as my feet led the way. I watched myself in the mirror, satisfied with my body’s response to the music.
Damien watched approvingly, moving his head in response. ?You gonna go to Burst tonight??
?I’m waiting for Chris. He’s supposed to spin later, but if he doesn’t call me, I think I might just chill on the corner over by Nick’s.?
?Well, I’m gonna go pick up a 40 and head down to the park up on 218th in a little bit if you want to come along.?
?Nah. I’m gonna hang around for Chris for a while, but I might stop by later.?
?Alright, cool.? Damien stood up to leave. ?Later,? he said offering me his hand.
?Later.? I joined hands with him and patted his on the back as he made his way to the door. I returned to the mirror almost immediately.
I continued to dance in front of it, completely stoned, for what seemed like only a few minutes. By the time the phone’s ring interrupted my movement, I was already starting to sweat.
?What’s up?? It was Chris.
?I’ll meet you on the avenue in twenty minutes, and we’ll jump on the bus.?
?And then take the 7?? I asked.
?Yeah. That’ll leave us right by Palladium.?
Chris and I hung up. I picked a brightly striped shirt off of the heap of clothes on the side of my room and flung it over my sticky shoulders. I pounded down the stairs, ran into the bathroom, and squirted a gob of gel into my hair. Blond spikes poked up in all directions. Perfect. I grabbed my wallet off of the television in the living room and sauntered into the kitchen while tucking it slyly into my back pocket.
?Dad?? He was sitting at the kitchen table, going over some papers from work.
?What?? He reacted sharply, as always.
?Can I borrow, like, twenty bucks??
?Twenty dollars?? He questioned me as though I had asked for a thousand.
?Where are you going??
?And when will you be home??
?I don’t know. Whenever.?
?Hmm, I see.? He paused. ?And why do you need twenty dollars to go to Chris’ house??
?I owe him money.?
?For what?? The questions were killing me.
?Dad! Can I have the money or not?!? I threw my arms out at my sides. He got me so frustrated, I couldn’t help shouting.
?My wallet’s on the television.?
?Alright,? I sighed, relieved that our conversation was over. I walked back into the living room and located his wallet above the stereo.
Unfolding the worn leather, I counted the bills inside. Forty-six dollars. I plucked a twenty and two tens out of the creased material and tucked them into my pocket. He’d never notice. ?Goodnight, ma!? I shouted upstairs. She was probably asleep anyway. She had a lot on her mind these days.
I walked outside and was greeted by the sounds of my neighborhood. Police sirens wailed nearby, I could hear the baby next door screaming, and the barking of dogs could be heard coming from every tiny, chain-linked yard on the block. I walked quickly down the street and ducked into the bodega on the corner. I picked up a 40 and walked up to the avenue while discreetly sipping the cheap malt liquor from a moist brown bag. I met Chris at the bus stop. We talked little during the ride. We took the 7 train after the bus trip, and we didn’t end up at Palladium until almost an hour after we had gotten on the bus. ?Public transportation sucks.? I complained to Chris.
?Whatever. We’re here now, right??
We got on line behind kids in big pants and drag queens with pink high heels and shiny makeup. Oversized brightly colored clothes, multi-colored hair, tight mini-skirts, exotic headgear, and freakish clothing marked the eclectic mix of individuals. After a few minutes of standing on line, I neared the ticket booth situated at the main entrance. From the door, I could hear the bass pounding like industrial machines in a factory. I paid fifteen dollars and joined the party.
As I entered the vicinity, darkness devoured me. I was greeted by chaos. The bass shook my body. Teenagers swarmed about. Some danced, and some screamed to each other in an attempt to talk.
I could see kids sniffing little bumps of powers off of their hands and swallowing colored pills. Smoke wafted about, drawing surreal pictures in the air. I knew what I needed.
I saw a tall guy in the corner slipping things in and out of his pockets and shaking hands with kids he didn’t know. He was the man. I made my way through the crowd to him. ?How much?? I asked.
I slipped the three crumpled bills I’d stolen from my dad into his hand as he dropped a bottle of clear fluid into my outstretched palm. I nodded and turned away.
With my drugs tucked safely into the folds of my pocket, I decided to voyage upstairs. I felt like I was entering some foreign galaxy as my feet floated up the lighted stairway. As I climbed, my body became illuminated. I was brought back to reality when I reached the second floor and stopped to investigate the scene. Before me, throbbing with lights and sound, was the main dance floor. The massive floor was dotted solely with pulsating lights. They were organized into specific color combinations and swayed hypnotically to the mesmerizing music. The floor looked artificial, yet it was incredibly beautiful. I admired the dance floor for a while, but then I proceeded further upstairs to find Chris.
?What’s up?? I shouted over the music. He was sitting down, and I chose a seat next to him and joined him.
?What’s up. You get the *censored*??
?Yeah, yeah. Some guy downstairs had tons of stuff. Yo, he’s gonna get busted. You remember when the took Mike into the back room that time?? I asked.
?Yeah, they took all his money and stuff. That was so *censored*ed up.?
?I know. They busted me for selling K one time at Vinyl, too.?
?Yeah. But they didn’t do nothing. They just, like, told me not to sell anymore bags. And I was already done anyway.?
Pausing, I relaxed into the chair and looked around. I noticed that the top floor resembled a movie theater. The seats rested on an incline and faced two screens in front. Psychedelic images were being projected onto the movie screens. ?Look at the screen. That’s crazy.?
?Whadaya think I’ve been lookin’ at while you were downstairs??
Chris asked. ?And look down.?
Looking down, I noticed our feet were immersed in darkness. Toward the side, I noticed that we were directly above the main dance floor and we had a spectacular view of the mechanical functioning of the lights. ?That’s dope.?
?Yeah, I know.?
?Wanna smoke now?? I reached into my jeans and pulled out the corncob pipe I had grabbed from my room earlier. I handed it to Chris. He packed a dust bowl and returned the empty bottle to me.
He raised the pipe to his lips and sucked in a mighty breath as he held a flame near the top of the bowl. His cheeks caved in and his eyes widened as his chest expanded enormously.
?Nice hit,? I said as he handed the pipe back to me. I raised the pipe to my mouth and struck the lighter. Almost simultaneously, Chris exhaled a plume of smoke. The smell of the dissipating cloud was eerie and unnatural. I took a huge hit. I was instantaneously lit.
I looked at Chris and uttered, ?Whoa.?
He just nodded blankly.
All of a sudden, the chaos that lurked about violently infiltrated my brain. I was perplexed by the simplest of notions. My body grew numb, time ebbed slowly, and space became distorted.
The screens in front caught my eye once again. An elliptical mix of disturbing images that included sex, cartoons, and computer-generated graphics dashed by. Pictures would quickly flash on the screens in rhythmic coordination with the booming bass.
I had to get up. I had to move. I was already making my way downstairs when Chris looked up. I’d find him later. I headed towards the dance floor. By this time, it was congested with people. The crowd bounced up and down in rhythm with the heavy electrical beats. I heard sounds that I had never heard before and was put into trance. I found an open spot and joined the waves of bodies. The music engulfed me. I was cut off from everything. Though I could see the crowd, nothing else existed besides the electronically produced beats and me. I could see them and taste them. They were juicy. Every distorted beat I grabbed, I pulled toward me. They soothed my body in a way that was somehow therapeutic. I was surrounded by music. I reached out to touch the sounds, and they moved me. My environment was ill-consorted and my body became ill-contorted. I tried to produce a visual image with my body for each new sound that I heard.
I became digitized. Quantum light flew by me. I flowed between it. Bursts of energy shot from my body. I became electric. Lasers produced by the high tech lights shot all around. A massive wall of televisions at the front stage flashed computer graphics. Data flashes blasted around the dance floor, and, occasionally, the stroboscopic lights took control of my body. After an hour or so of dancing, reality and fatigue slowly leaked into my mind and body. I exited the dance floor overheated, dripping in sweat. The drugs were finished, the money was spent, and Chris was nowhere to be seen. The night was over.
original paper by alexa liguori