Hanging around in here seven hours now. New Rose Hotel Bar. Saturday night, and as always I drew every eye in the place the second I appeared. I paused and lounged against the door frame for maximum effect: Ten-gallon hat with twin rotating satellite dishes, gleaming mirrorshades, neon shirt at maximum power, its humming gas-filled glass tubes filling the bar with flickering light, flashing "CYBERSTUD!" in pin-wheeling letters of orange, purple, brown, setting off the latest Parisian fashion, recycled crushed-velvet Elvis jeans stuffed into cowboy boots of solid chrome.
I checked out the action. There they were, three lonely, man-starved females lounging against the bar, aching for completion, longing for Mr. Right, waiting for rescue, that knight on a white horse, that one perfect man, that supreme overwhelming raging stallion masculine perfection thundergod-avatar.
I look at them now, doubled over laughing as they share some in-group joke.
Ma Reen. Ann Grybitch. Donna Matrix.
What went wrong? Was I simply too much? Did they measure themselves against my own shining presence and judge themselves unworthy? Have I ruined all other men for them forever?
What have I done?
Filled with loneliness, unrequited need, the drill sergeant's chevrons tattooed on your shoulder quivered with fear and anticipation as I approached. Nervous, oh so nervous the way you bit the cap off a beer bottle as I leaned against the bar next to you. My cheek stings now where you flirtatiously spat the cap into my face. With perfect insouciance, I slid my hand along the bar toward your back. You chugged the beer and coquettishly slammed the bottle onto my hand, spraying suds all over your body armor.
I opened my mouth to speak, and your anxiety to cover your naked emotional vulnerability made you blurt out something first.
Get lost, you little twerp.
Hey, baby, I said, you can pour out your heart to me, I always listen, I always sympathize, they call me the Consolin' Cowboy.
Ma, you were the Statue of Liberty as you held the beer bottle up, then Babe Ruth as you brought it back down...
Flakes of brown glass fall from my hair when my head moves, robot dandruff, metalloid oxide post-nasal drip, drifting down in twisted helices, piling up in little brown glittering heaps like dung from a teeny-weeny silicon cow.
Ma, Ma, I feel your pain.
The flame of barely restrained passion was a constant fire in your eyes. Your fingers drummed a tense, expectant beat on the bar, wood chips flying from underneath your steel-edged fingernails. I knew you were desperate. The guys in the bar told me you were always hunting men.
I went to the music synthesizer, dropped a coin in. No one noticed the thin carbon monomolecular thread attached to it. I punched in the style I wanted, then pretended to fumble with the keys as I activated the Japanese Ono-Notme nano-winch in my pocket. Its high, faint whine filled the air. I pretended to slap at a mosquito. The slot choked and gurgled and vomited the coin back into my pocket.
Music rose and permeated the bar, soaked into my skull. My brain Prince William Sound, the synthesizer the Exxon Valdez, the music the oil spill, slowly spreading through my neurons, drowning the sea gulls and harbor seals of my thoughts in black, sticky goop...
Head bobbing, snapping my fingers, doing the Crazy Robot back to the bar to stand in front of you.
Hey, baby, I said, you wanna get down to some cyberfunk?
The descent of a giant foot, squashing all.
The splinters of the bar between my teeth fill my mouth with a bitter, acrid taste. Teak, Brazilian teak, ripped from the steamy Amazon jungle at midnight by a sweating immigrant Swedish lumberjack who likes to dress in women's clothes and wish he was a girlie, just like his dear Mama.
Ann, Ann, the intensity of the attraction is terrifying, I know.
Your respirator and wheelchair motors beat an oiled, smoothly syncopated rhythm, whirr-click, whirr-click, whirr-click. You sat in your German armored wheelchair and watched the world go by with a jaundiced eye. Its yellow color matched your skin. I knew you were rich. The guys told me you possessed all the New Roses in the world.
Cautiously I sidled up next to you. You took the initiative, reaching out and running your cat-o'nine tails lightly across my mirror shades, your place or mine.
Dammit, don't mess with the shades.
Your lips compressed to a thin white line with the intensity of your longing. I took a bag out from under my hat, rattled it.
I got some hot chips.
You were interested. You gripped the side of your wheelchair and leaned over it to fix me with a glare, cold, calculating, intense.
What? Japanese? Chinese? Swiss?
Thin steel spikes slid from underneath your fingernails and into the wheelchair's side, punching holes deep into its armor. Out through the side came a bubbling crude.
Oil, that is. Black gold. Texas tea.
You wrenched your hand free, crooked an oily spike at the bartender and ordered me a drink. I knocked it back with a single gulp. You jammed your face directly into mine.
I want you to meet the Finn.
He's pocket change in my league, baby.
Not him. Mickey Finn.
I noticed somebody was gradually turning the lights down...
Two A.M. Closing time at the New Rose. I've been up far too long. My head droops with fatigue. Below me, a white plastic bottle lies on its back, stamped with the baleful face of Elmer, cow-Cassius, bovine-Brutus, glaring up at me with soulful brown eyes.
Too much, too fast, I know. It is the old story. My charm overpowered them, made them too aware of their own inadequacies.
The girls file out. Hey, c'mon guys, wait for me, I try to say, but the North American duct tape across my mouth performs its terrible magic, and the words do not get past my lips.
Casually, carelessly, one of the girls flips a switch on the wall as she leaves, and the ceiling fan I have been glued to starts to revolve.
I am weary. The curse of Adonis is a heavy cross to bear.
I am so, so, satired out...