Soho Surprise

by Gary Beck

One night, about 11:00 PM, there was a knock on the Cafferty apartment door. Lee Cafferty wasn’t expecting anyone and she was afraid that something was wrong and anxiously went to the door. But when she opened it, Tanya, an actress friend of her son Roy, was there. Lee was surprised to see her at that hour.

“Hello, Tanya. Isn’t it a little late for a social call?”

Tanya wasn’t the least bit put off by the abrupt greeting. “Hi, Lee. It’s not too late. I’m going to take Roy to this cool new club.” Tanya was wearing a long black trench coat. She opened it and displayed a black vinyl mini dress underneath, with round holes that revealed her body. Thigh high black vinyl boots completed her outfit. Lee just stared silently at her until Roy came into the room.

Tanya kissed him hello. “Hi, baby. Get your jacket.”

Roy was happy to see her. “Sure. Where are we going?”

She smiled mysteriously. “It’s a surprise.”

They left to Lee’s admonitions not to get home too late. Downstairs, a chauffeured limousine was waiting at the curb. Tanya walked to it and got in and Roy followed her, trying to be cool. A dissipated looking couple in their forties, dressed as hippies, were sitting on the back seat. They were stoned out of their minds. Tanya introduced them as Teddy and Donna. They mumbled incoherently, then offered him hash and acid. He refused the acid, but accepted a big hit from a hash pipe that set him floating. The car drove off and Roy was adrift in a tiny world that seemed to expand and contract as they moved. They headed to downtown Manhattan to an underground club that was south of Houston Street. They found the old, industrial loft building near Canal Street. They got out of the car and entered a rickety elevator. As soon as the door closed, the lights went out and the elevator shook, so it was hard to tell whether it was going up or down. The total darkness was unnerving and distorted the passage of time.

Donna was getting slightly upset and started to ask what was happening, when the door opened on a totally dark room. Unseen attendants took them by the arm and guided them to a dimly lit reception area. It was staffed by highly attractive young men and women, in very short, revealing togas. Teddy paid $100 each for their entrance fee and they were given short togas and a cloth bag to store their things. Teddy, Donna and Tanya took off all their clothes, put them in the bags and put on togas. Roy left his pants on, without being sure whether it was Cafferty self consciousness, or some other reason, a feeling he sensed about the place that wasn't reassuring. Tanya insisted that he remove his pants and he did, but he refused to remove his underwear.

They followed the attendants, who caressed them as they walked, into a large, dimly lit pink room with small, interconnected platforms running around the outside and a large platform in the center. They had to cross already occupied platforms, and the people they passed were lolling about, some in the revealing togas, others naked, making love, smoking pot, talking, listening to some kind of strange environmental music that was playing on concealed speakers. Their attendants led them to a platform, showed them where to put their bags underneath the platform on the floor, gave them a puff of a large blunt and left them with a final caress. Roy’s eyes were getting used to the low light and he could see about 30 platforms, almost all of them occupied. Roy smoked a little more hash and felt a warm sensation flow over him.

The lights dimmed and the music kept getting louder and softer, in a rhythmic mood that was lulling. Teddy was snuggling with Tanya. Donna, looking better to Roy by the moment, courtesy of ‘Monsieur hash,’ moved closer to him. He looked around curiously at the
nearest platforms and several people looked back at him, waving dreamily. A sexy girl on the next platform moved her naked body sensuously, either flirting or teasing. Roy started to get an erection and Donna slid her hands under his toga. The lights dimmed even further. Attendants entered with bells, chanting “Love, love,” over and over. They brought a large white parachute to the center platform and urged everyone to move under it. Other attendants went to the platforms and encouraged the move with caresses and gentle words. In a few moments everyone was gathered under the parachute. The attendants gently raised and lowered the parachute above them, and urged them to move closer and closer together.

Tanya ordered Roy to remove his underwear and he slipped out from under the parachute to go back to their platform. The attendants waving the parachute tried to keep him underneath, but he ignored them. They were leading a chant for the people huddled under the parachute, repeating “Grow closer. Grow closer.” over and over and they couldn’t stop to deal with him. He paid no attention to their growing agitation and went straight to his platform. He was feeling good, but not very high and he had a growing unease that something wasn’t quite right about the club. When he reached down for his bag, he saw two men under the platforms with grocery tongs, pulling the bags to them. They were quickly going through the wallets and taking some of the cash. When they noticed him, they didn’t stop examining the bags, but they started giving him menacing looks. One of them gestured for him to go back to the group. They were not the appealing, semi-nude young attendants. They were thugs. Roy half expected to see Fat Tony, or Benny Stiletto, or some of the other hoods that he grew up with under the platform.

As Roy quickly began to dress, he realized that it was only a cheap, well-organized robbery, rather than a more malevolent situation threatening bodily harm to the captive audience. As soon as he was dressed he went to the center platform and tried to get Tanya. She was too involved in group escape to listen, so he found the door and went out an exit to the street. He left the club to avoid a possible confrontation with the staff, who were obviously stealing a lot of money while their patrons were being entertained under the parachute. It wasn’t worth it to him to risk a fight for someone else’s money. He knew that Tanya would be safe, so he told the waiting chauffeur he was leaving and he took the subway home. He was a little frustrated that he didn't have sex, but he couldn't help smiling at the effrontery of the club. When he noticed people staring at him, he rode the rest of the way wearing the neutral subway rider's mask.


Gary Beck's recent fiction has appeared in Enigma, Dogwood Journal, EWG Presents, Nuvein Magazine, Babel, Vincent Brothers Review, L'Intrigue Magazine, The Journal, Short Stories Bimonthly, Bibliophilos and many others. His poetry has appeared in dozens of literary magazines. His chapbook 'The Conquest of Somalia' will be published by Cervena Barva Press. His plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced Off-Broadway. He is a writer/director of award-winning social issue video documentaries.

Soho Surprise
© 2007 by Gary Beck






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