Author's note: Woo hoo. Have some words. Have some story. Have so, you know, dancing dinosaur at a club. Because why not?
One lesson learned that day: Jamie was not a lightweight. I mean, okay, he didn’t exactly drink a lot. But he did go through four Patrón margaritas without showing any signs whatsoever. By that point I was starting to focus on my own behavior, making sure I didn’t do or say stupid things. It only worked marginally well.
Over the course of a month I gradually came to like Jamie. Parsing his strange language had led to a deeper understanding of the precocious problem-solving mechanism operating in his drug-bathed brain. It was surprisingly efficient, not at all what had happened to my parents.
More than that, he was non-threatening. Despite his size, the fact that he looked like a wolf, I felt no more uncomfortable around him than I did around Tamlin. Less so, in fact. When I burned my hand frying mushrooms he was right there with a cool cloth and a first aid kit. And okay, so he had to pick his fur out of the wound, and the cloth was actually his bath towel, but it was the kind of thing Tamlin would have done after mocking or hitting me.
Don’t misunderstand: I know he’s abusive. But he’s also the closest thing I had to a brother or real father.
Tamlin invited us to a party. Jamie had to be persuaded, and then convinced that his jeans were good enough for this kind of party. Though I didn’t know exactly what kind of party it was. I had been to a Tamlin party in the past. It was… well, to be honest, I don’t remember how it was. The dino and his friends know how to party. I know how to drink. I’m sure we all had fun. I woke up on my own couch, with Tamlin snoring in the other one. A feather-covered dino rustling to hungover snores is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I recall that whenever Tamlin pulls his alpha male bullshit.
Jamie had taken the tasp right before we left; it was obvious even though he said nothing about it. He got a faraway look, and walked a little like a zombie, keeping perfect pace with us without once looking at where we were going.
Where we were going was a club in the city center called DL. To get there we had to walk down Gate Avenue, past the crowd, past the holes in the ground that construction crews and their equipment crawled into and out of daily, like termites, digging away at the city’s foundation in an effort to accommodate the impressive amount of people that had seen the experimental city’s success and wanted in on it. Skyscrapers towered over us as we walked, reaching almost disturbingly high. It was a true wonder that they couldn’t even compete with the Tower, which, true to its name, lorded over the city. Twice we had to detour for construction.
DL was the kind of place I wouldn’t have gone without Tamlin: three stories, with an opening in the center that let you see all three levels at once. Sound nets strung across the openings in the floor damped the sound so much it would have been eerie had each floor not had its own DJ to compensate. The effect was still bizarre: the people on different levels were all dancing to different music. I thought it was a bit impractical. But there was no denying that it was cool.
Tamlin’s friends were a weird bunch of people. Whenever I asked what they did, they inevitably responded with “Tour guide, Corey!” I didn’t exactly know how they all knew my name, but that didn’t stop me from sliding a mean glance or two Tamlin’s way. They to a one looked athletic, like they spent their days doing whatever and their nights at the gym. I did not for a second believe that they were tour guides. Looking at Tamlin, I never once got an impression of innocence. He seemed like that guy that good parents told their children to avoid. You know, the one who seems all right, but might be into some heavy shit. Like they have a whole secret life, and that’s fine as long as it stays a secret. There’s a difference between knowing someone has a secret and knowing exactly what it is.
Tamlin was in his element, and it was a sight to see. Even among his other friends—that’s how I liked to think of them, his “other friends”—he was something of an oddity. With one exception, all the rest looked like pretty standard humans. The exception was a girl (I think) modified to look like a bird. She looked fragile, so thin she’d snap if you ran into her, and her feathered wings being tucked up under themselves didn’t seem practical for things like drinking. The latter problem she solved by simply not drinking anything at all, and the former problem didn’t seem to be a problem. I knew nothing about bird-humans, but I did know their bones were hollow, everything in their bodies tuned lighter. Apparently that didn’t make them weak. Tamlin tossed back his drink, then he and the bird girl cut their way through the club’s second level. Lasers and fog, artfully overdone, further separated our level from the ones below and above. The music pulsed through everything, and even I joined in. We danced nonstop for the better part of
“You should dance,” Tamlin suggested, pulling Jamie out of his seat by his hands. Jamie obliged, protesting the whole time, but eventually he started to get into it. He was very obviously unpracticed, but that didn’t make his haphazard gyrations any less fun to watch. In a sea of standard humans, Jamie towered above most of them. He was attracting attention, too, though I seriously doubt he noticed. He didn’t seem to be able to focus on anything that moved… and boy, could he move….
At some point I realized I was staring. Lucky for me, Tamlin sliding back into the booth provided something to draw my attention away from the gyrating wolf on the dance floor. “So,” he breathed, feathers puffing up and down. “Enjoying yourself so far?” He wasn’t able to sweat, so he got rid of excess heat the same way a dog did: panting. Thankfully, his tongue didn’t loll all over while he did. I found myself wondering if Jamie’s tongue lolled when he panted, then stopped wondering that immediately.