Sin City, Hotpockets: 3 years ago, January 5th
Dan stood by a busker, huddled beneath a puffy black coat and woolen bobble hat, trying to resist the icy gales that tore off the highway. The music reminded him of old country songs the pirate radio stations used to play. His mother contantly having to correct the mast to try and pick up the wavering signal that, no matter how hard they tried, they could never get without the static.
Dan spun just in time to catch Bea as she collided into him at full pelt. He swung her around in his arms laughing.
“About time Bea! My toes were about to fall off standing out here so long.” He said, a broad smile spreading across his face. Her ferrero-rocher eyes looked him up and down before resting gently on his. He leaned in greeted by the warmth of her lips…
“DAN! Daydreaming again are we lad?” Dan felt the heavy palm of Graham Harris slap him on the back. Suddenly, the city rushed back to him. The chill Winter air, the nostalgic tune, and the suffocating aroma of exhaust fumes. Graham and Bea stood in front of him entangled with each other like a pair of snakes. It took all Dan’s strength to put on a polite smile. Why did she have to choose Him. Him, Graham, the WEXCORP lackey that wore that twisted W with the pride of a newly graduated med-school student. From what Dan had found out about him – nothing stalkerish, just a light bit of social media research – he was some sales nobody from the lowly thirtieth floor. Yet here he was, parading around like a top-floor dog. But that was nothing special. They all did it. WEXCORP owned 90% of all the buildings in the City, mostly through a network of subsidiaries. And because of that, anyone who wore the W marched around like a king.
“So, you ready to go lad? We’ve got quite the climb ahead of us!” Graham said, slapping Dan on the back of the neck again. Dan resisted, his muscles stiffening at the mans cold touch. “Like a regular old trio of mountaineers!” Bea quipped, giggling into Grahams neck. Dan nodded in agreement, pretending he was too cold to talk by blowing into his hands. The three of them set off, making their way across the near stand-still traffic to the ground floor entrance of The Flaming Martian.
Every big city had to have one. It was said the Henry VIII established the law in old England that every city had to have a Cathedral, Dan had learnt that one from his high school English teacher, Mr Bruno. Well, times had changed since the 16th century. Now instead of cathedrals the mark of a city was one of these spinning top monstrosities. Rotating restaurants were all the rage among the not-quite socially elite. Those middle of the road pretenders that had managed to lift themselves up from their uncultured surroundings to poke their heads through the clouds – even if for a brief moment. But a glimpse of Heaven wasn’t enough to inspire anything more than jealousy. They wanted to be part of the in-crowd, the socially acceptable element, the sons-of-bankers and slaves-to-fashion. What a thing to aspire to! King’s of the roost, in their little enclosed prison society. Head north on Highway 88, turn off at the Mayfair toll-road, and after less than 10 miles – there, these men were nothing! That was it, the limits of their power, their social boundaries, the City had them trapped! No barbed wire or guards needed – what a trick!
Of course, Dan was thinking none of this.
Because Dan, back in those idillic, ignorant, blissful days was one of them.
The not-quite-socially-elite. Or, at least, he wanted so very desperately to be. If only to fit in with her…
Thank you for reading this canto of Sin City.
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