Chapter 6 – The VIP
For Samuel, the coke had kicked in, the floor, the air, the bodies around him were all thrumming with energy and rhythm, and he was swept elsewhere for a time. It didn’t bother him that he’d lost track of Barry–his ex was such a square. It was clear that Barry missed him and the scene and he wondered what he could have had if the two of them had stuck it out, but as Samuel had told him when they broke up, there was no real future between them. They existed in totally different realms, on different layers of reality. There would never be a place for either of them in the other’s world–not without a substantial change for one of them, something neither was really willing to do. Dennis was a bore, but if Barry liked that, and he’d liked it enough to marry it, good for him. Samuel didn’t understand it at all, but knowing how much Dennis made, and how Barry had always thirsted for a climb up the corporate ladder, maybe for the right price, you could like anything, really.
It was fun, getting back together on occasion though. Samuel got bored easily–of his art, of his patrons, of his boyfriends. He thought about going to find Parker, but that was beginning to bore him as well. Sure, he was hot. Sure, he could fuck. But he couldn’t hold a conversation for more than a minute without losing track of it, and as hot as his body was, his steroid habit was taking the fun out of sex for them both, since his dick couldn’t get hard. Probably time to cut that off soon, he supposed, but there was still a little fun to squeeze out before parting ways, and moving on to someone else.
He was coming down a bit, the music was slowing, the smell of the dance floor was becoming a little more ripe than he usually liked, and he allowed himself to be washed up on the edge, damp and breathing hard, but exhilarated for the moment. He made his way towards the patio for another drink, and maybe another bump from Hugh, but before he got there, a bouncer came over and stepped in front of him.
“Pardon me, Mr. Boone? Samuel Boone?”
He stopped short and looked around. “Me? How do you know my name?”
“I have a member in the VIP lounge who would like you to join him for a moment,” the bouncer said, avoiding the question.
Samuel hadn’t even been aware that Depot had a VIP lounge. “I mean…sure. Did he say why?”
“Follow me,” the bouncer said, and they headed for a corner of the room, off to one side from the stage, which Samuel had always assumed was a blank wall. In fact, there was a hallway that wound deeper into the building, until it came to a red lit junction. There was the break room for the staff ahead, and to the left a velvet rope. Not a very attractive VIP area. The bouncer unhooked the rope, and they ended up climbing a flight of stairs to the upper level, where the old overseer’s area of the building had been converted into a rather cozy bar above the stage. There were a dozen or so men there, most of them sprawled out on something between a bed and a pile of pillows, engaged in rather slow, methodical sex. To Samuel, it looked like acid sex. The bouncer didn’t give the orgy much of a look, but took Samuel over to the short bar, where an older fellow in a well tailored suit was sitting, sipping a cocktail. He turned on the stool and his dark grey eyes lit up. “Ah! I had heard we had an emerging artist in the building. Welcome, my name’s Rod,” he said, getting up and extending his hand, “Have a seat, won’t you?”
Samuel did, and the bartender set the drink he’d been mixing in front of him–the same he’d ordered earlier when he’d walked in, but with top shelf liquor this time. “Alright, this is a bit strange. How did you know I was here? And how did you know to make this?”
Ron motioned to an alcove behind the bar, where there were a number of television screens, all of them broadcasting the activities of the folks below. Most of them were focused on the…seedier corners and corridors where the sex was happening, but there were also a few at the entrance, and the patio. Enough to collect intel, if necessary. “Perhaps it seems invasive, but I want my guests to have a good time. A little supervision goes a long way towards letting my team deal with bad actors.”
“I see,” Samuel said.
“Now, I must apologize, I wanted to attend your event earlier this evening, but my work here takes precedence. I saw your art when I passed the gallery earlier this week, and was rather mesmerized. You have a spectacular eye, you know. A little more development, and I believe you would be a singular talent. When I recognized you on the screen, I knew I needed to see you this evening, and had my bouncers keep an eye out.”
It sounded like flattery, and it probably was, but Samuel didn’t mind it. That didn’t mean he didn’t want something from him, probably a discount. “Anything piece that particularly struck you?”
“Untitled number 13. I purchased it on sight.”
Samuel had been alerted to the sale, to an anonymous buyer. He was impressed, that piece was sizable, and quite expensive. “Well, if you’d wanted to meet me, why the anonymous purchase? For someone with eyes everywhere, you seem to keep a double standard for yourself.”
“Ah, well, perhaps you’re right. But wealth does afford you a measure of hypocrisy, I’ve found,” Rod said, reached over, grabbed hold of Samuel’s jaw, and turned his face towards his own. Their eyes met, and The grey shade of them struck Samuel again, like clouds rolling on a day before a storm, threatening rain or snow, and then he snapped away, something like a zap passing between them, making Samuel blink and his eyes water.
“Fuck, what the hell?” Samuel said, rubbing his eyes.
“My apologies, again,” Rod said. “I mostly wanted to meet you so that I might extend an offer. Patronage, you could say. A monthly stipend and a studio. No strings really, I merely ask that your next project be focused here, on Pigtown.”
That was a lot of money for someone to hand over, with so few conditions. He was suspicious, but also tempted. What starving artist wouldn’t be?
“Look, give it some thought–the offer is open, no deadline,” Rod said, and passed him a business card with his contact information on it.
“Thanks, I’ll give it some thought.”
“Now, maybe you’d be so kind as to step in with your boyfriend in the bathroom? That is right, isn’t it? He seems to be…escalating, and I would prefer you manage it, rather than one of my bouncers.”
“What?” Samuel said. Rod pointed to one of the monitors, currently showing the bathroom, where Parker had a young man bent over the sink, fucking him rather…roughly. “God damn it…” Samuel muttered.
“Thank you, and do consider my offer, won’t you?”
“Sure thing,” Samuel said, and followed the bouncer back downstairs to the bar proper. He’d seen Hugh and Parker go off talking, before hitting the dance floor with Barry. Those two, probably some fucking experimental shit he’d have to talk him down from–again. Where the fuck did Hugh keep getting that shit from? Why did he even care? He paused for a moment, considering just letting things sort themselves out instead…but already, he could feel his priorities realigning, after that offer of patronage. Rod had asked him to do it–and that made it feel like a test. A silly test, certainly, but Samuel also knew full well he was being watched this moment. It made him feel dirty. With a scowl, he set off for the bathrooms. The sooner he got Parker out of here, the sooner he could get out too, and think about all of this with a clear head.
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