***Warning*** this story has a lot of profanity*** you’ve been warned.
“Man you missed everyone,” Marco said. “There were all these kids here that I’d hang out with, and they all just left. We were so blown out for the past week. Mutherfuckers’ party hard here.”
He chuckled a bit and shook his head as if he were shaking off some sordid memory. He pulled a cigarette out from his front pocket, and put it in his mouth as he spoke. “Everyone’s comin’ back though,” he patted his shirt and looked around the table. “They just went away for a bit. You’ll like everyone — we’re like a family. Like the crew we had in Paris.”
Marco noticed the flame from the lighter. The blonde guy was gripping it like a pacifier, using it to emphasize whatever point he was making. Marco turned around in his seat to face the guy then taking his cigarette out of his mouth he held it between his first two fingers.
“Excuse me,” he said.
The blonde guy didn’t respond. He just kept on speaking, and shaking and flicking the lighter at the girl sitting across from him.
“Excuse me,” Marco said again.
The guy still didn’t respond.
Marco turned his head with a snap back towards me, and gave me a huffy glare, “What the fuck? Motherfucker’s deaf or something?” He turned back to the guy, and cleared his throat, with a loud, uh hem he said, “EXCUUUUSSSEE me.”
Without a break in his conversation the guy stretched his arm back and held the flame out. Marco leaned in and lit his cigarette then blew out a quick puff of smoke. “Thanks.” He said.
The guy pulled his arm back.
“So where’s your roommate?” I asked.
“Oh shiiite le’mme tell you ‘bout this.” Marco stood up out of his seat and moved his shoulders about like he was warming up for a workout.
Marco considered himself a natural-born storyteller. He said his ability to tell incredible tales was passed down in his genes from his grandmother’s, grandfather’s, father’s mother’s, half-cousin. I wouldn’t call him a storyteller. He was more of a gossip, but a good gossip. And it was always entertaining. His ability to meet some of the most fucked-up characters the world had to offer, all perfectly nice people, just questionable life choices, added to the potential for gossip and the occasional over-the-top tale. When he talked, it was as though a spotlight were following him around. When he moved he strut. When he spoke he sang. He transformed his energy into robust thundering laughter and loud self-applause. He used expletives as colorful adjectives and descriptive nouns. He swore as though he needed to — as if the world would not be right or the experience would be unreal and not felt if there weren’t a “muthufucker” involved. If there were entertaining gossip to tell Marco had to stand to tell it. And he stood often.
“Muthafucka’s crazy. Him and his best friend Sebby, they don’t get real jobs. They sell their bodies to the Germans to be used as experiments.”
“They what?” I was taken aback. I knew that we were lucky to have been able to raise enough money to come to Europe, but it had taken ingenuity, luck, timing and serious networking, plus crashing in some unsavory places to be able to stay. Money was always an obstacle whether traveling through Europe or in the States. But selling your body for experiments? That was something I had managed to avoid so far.
“They go to Dresden and they sell their bodies for military medical experiments.”
“What kind of experiments?” I asked.
“The kind that fuck you up.” He took a drink of his beer then set his glass down hard on the table. “I don’t know. They’re health science things, but I swear they both come back a little more fucked up each time. It’s drug stuff. Mental stuff. They’ve got this system set up, it’s kinda like giving plasma, you know, but they keep you for a while to study you an’ shit. Like how you function sleep-deprived and then how you function sleep-deprived on a drug that they just created for people who are sleep-deprived.”
“You’re bullshitting me.” It sounded, creepy to say the least, but I wasn’t one to judge. “Have you done it?”
“I’m not fuckin’ witchoo, and no I haven’t done it. I know how to get a job. That’s like muthafuckin Dr. Moreau an’ shit goin’ on over there.”
Marco would vacillate between seriousness and joking as he was talking, but he pretty much always told the truth, lying only when he absolutely had to. They say truth is stranger than fiction and Marco had a way of meeting the strangest truths. People have done crazier things for money.
“Are these American military doctors on a base or German?” I asked him, my curiosity piqued.
“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “You just came from there, right?”
“Well I was in Germany working on a military base, but I was working at the PX not getting eviscerated and then sewn with cats for some military war experiment. Although that would have been cool as shit.”
“Yeah it would’av.” He laughed.
A woman with a mess of short dark blonde curls walked toward us. She looked like a stick figure, a wire hanger dressed in loose black leather pants and a shimmery red top. Her cherubic face contrasted her emaciated frame. Her eyes were dewy and warm and her cheeks were round, full, and young. She smiled wide at Marco and showed that she was missing a couple of her back teeth.
“Hey there, Marco,” she said in a voice like Southern buttered cream.
Marco kissed her hand.
“Sandy, this is my friend Annabelle. She finally fuckin showed up,” he said giving me a stern look like a father reprimanding his child.
“Oh, heya. Nice ta meetchaya. Marco was so worried aboutchu. What was the hold up?”
I felt that uncomfortable moment where I felt the need to lie, but still hadn’t come up with a good story, but before I could answer, she turned suddenly toward the direction of the bar.
“Sorry ya’ll. Dimitri’s here. I gotta go. See ya, Marco. S’real nice to meetchya.”
“Likewise.” I said.
She turned and walked toward a little alcove near the bar.
“Dimitri’s her boyfriend. He’s the Russian guy over in the corner there,” Marco said pointing in the direction Sandy had walked.
All I could see were a couple of long legs in dark blue jeans and black work boots.
“He’s one of the owners of this place. If you see some creepy silent guy with long black stringy hair that hangs in front of his eyes that are so dark they’re black, and he’s staring everyone down like he’s pickin’ out his next victim, that’s just Dimitri.”
Marco leaned back against the wall and stretched his arms out at his sides. “We could go out if you want,” he said with a yawn. “I’m kinda tired, but if you want to go out we can.”
“No that’s all right,” I said matching his yawn. I pushed myself up straight and tall to stretch my back. It ached and I was tired of carrying my entire life on my shoulders. The thought that I still had to carry everything to Marco’s place exhausted me. It wasn’t a lot to carry, just one large camping style backpack and a daypack the kind that kids use for their schoolbooks, but at the moment I wanted to leave them on the floor. Let the thieves take everything. I knew I wouldn’t feel that way tomorrow. “I’ve had a long travel day. I wouldn’t mind getting some sleep.”
“A’ight. Let’s get your shit and get outta here.” He bent to pick up my pack. “This shit’s heavy.” He handed my pack to me. “You carry this.” He picked up my smaller daypack. “I’ll carry this.”
“Always a gentleman.”
“Oh you be talkin’ snippy for standin’ me up.” He strutted up the stairs with my light weight in tow.