January 16, 2018 | Rome, Italy | °C

The Tour Pro

By Peter Vilbig
Published: 2016-10-10

The whole thing, though perhaps only half consciously clocked, offended Nata's nascent narrative sense. Poor Nata. Her version of intelligence was ever to be one of those flickering oil lamps that lights the entrances to seedy amusement parks. Intelligence for her then, no bonus. In some ways she thrived as an orphan, but by her mid-teens she had had enough of the sing-alongs and marshmallow roasts — she ran, as, in a sense, she was expected to, and was, as of the day she was walking down the street, living at a communal house on the corner of Alpha and 13th (in the gaming zine zone known as Alpha Bet City).

At the end of the street she turned in at the cafι, sat at a table off to the side and sipped a Krul. She waved off the inevitable sailors and watched the night come on. Nothing really bad had happened to her yet. Two years later, she would meet a guy, not a bad guy at all, Rodge, a local businessman, a hustler, who treated her well, but from time to time they'd smoke the cracks — just weekends, on special nights of carnival lights — but still they'd smoke the cracks, and it wasn't long, of course it wasn't. But all of that was to come. The Nata to come. All the nots to come of Nata. Tonight she was just a girl with a cup of Krul, looking into the street and letting the life flow past her, watching it with curiosity, as if it were not a wild beast —or even if it were, someone would tame it for her. That was Nata. She told her story. I felt nothing. Then the sex inside 33 A stopped, and in the vacuum of silence, like the ending of essential music, I came like Roy Rogers.

"That was the Modern Blowjob," she said.

I stuffed a bill in her bra. "Go buy yerself a starbuck," I said.

And she was up and gone and then in the silent hall I rapped on the door.

•

Ms Holly Brudge: Shit, thought Ms Holly Brudge. Really. These fucking foreign. And that fuck-sweat Jafe, cutting out. She thinks, trundling the TravelPro with retractable wheels behind: Must of walked maybe what, five miles in this moiling mush of human vile. Must of passed three buy zones. Bloody fisted buyers having it out. Toaster ovens, purtzels, sheet rock guides, micros, old tube radios, hand-held winch retractor shielding, gabardine cloth, conduit pipe molding, aluminum shims, water dispersion valves, anthels (silver ion), blade guides, a really fine five-speed Hamilton Beach multipurpose. One street lit up in TV screens. All the dark corners of their souls lit up, and then a darker street, voices coiling from doorways, and the brief pleasure caverns of coral mouths glimmering an instant in half light. Further on, hash slingers drip their sweat into fryers. The grease so slick she slid. And on and on, diagonalling the city in its waxing uproar as the night deepened on and on.

And she thinks: They don't even see me. Real business is invisible. Wink might have said. Now she walks through streets of great crystal palaces of one-armed bandits glitter-gleaming wet, shiny as sex flesh. Yargh, yargh, cry the boys, the old ladies, the dreamers lost in their thrill machines. A crowd of plug uglies sauntering. Just then, someone shouts: Hey lady, want a lick of the cracks. Ah, not so invisible after all. She walks on apace. Quickening her. The zone changes again. This time to subterranean vaults, dim hallways, doorway-eyes burning like drops of molten yuck.

She casts about for the familiar, and just then a sodden boy, dimmed in drink, carrying a crate, quite empty, falls in beside her stride for stride. She turns confidently, demands: "What do you want."

"Not a turd furling thing," he responds. He seems to be one of the local exotics. She's heard about these revolutionaries. She can see the crate might not even be functional: the wood's flimsy as balsa.

"Why are you carrying that," she says pointing, imperious.

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