Curb Society
A Short Story by Doug Dean
Written using the suggestion "Curb"
Originally featured on 06-02-2007
As part of our series "Endings"

Scott stood at the doorway while I bought two admissions. I slid two fifties under the painted bulletproof glass, waited a moment and a looked back over my shoulder to Scott, looking small at the large steel door. I looked back and the twenties were replaced by two hard rubber coins. Imprinted on was the face of comedian Larry David, but I didn’t need to look to know that. And we were a little late. I put the coins in the pocket of my black overcoat.

“I don’t want to go in here anymore,” Scott said. I looked both ways down the alley and then waved to the security camera. A buzzer went off and I heard the door lock click.

“Too late. Let’s go.” I pulled open the door using both hands and gestured with my head for Scott to enter. “Just put one foot in front of the other my friend."

He took his first step into the dark opening. I looked above him at the painted stripes above the door. To anyone else it might look like a painter cleaning his brushes. Green above Grey above Midnight Blue — the sign of the Curb society.

After the echo of the door slamming shut behind us dissipated, we sat for a moment in silence. Scott held his breath. I didn’t.

Bright amber lights from bulbs throughout the walls. He squinted. I nodded to him. After a breath, he nodded back. They thundered off, replaced by aqua blue lights from the ceiling. Scott looked a lot like one of the Blue Man group with his shaved scalp. I think that’s why they still use the blue lights. Scott noticed the glass door in front of us and I gestured towards it.

It took both of us to slide it open, breaking the air seal. When we did pounding techno music filled the rectangular room we were in. I tried not to smile.

We stepped through and a man with a Mohawk wig pointed behind us. He mouthed, “Close that” and returned to dancing.

The room is enormous in there and even I am impressed every time. I think it’s like a city block.

I was scanning the poles, looking at the dancers. I thought I recognized the one to the right as being from the cover of Maxim magazine a couple of years ago. The redhead from that sitcom about the seventies, I think. It was hard to tell as she was hanging upside down and on the cover of the magazine she still had hair on her head. And with all the strobe lights-

“Now what?”

“Let’s get a fucking drink!”

We wade through the sea of shiny heads, all gyrating in their own ways to the thumping bass. I want Scott’s first drink to be at the Egg bar. As I turned to point to it, I walked into the back of a tall shirtless man. He pointed to the sweat imprints on my button down shirt and then with a big grin rubbed my smooth head vigorously. I rubbed his head back. A standard greeting among strangers in the Curb society.

We passed a man wearing a matching reflective vest and pants passing out combs. He is known as the Reflective Comb and was a legend the first time I came here. He offered us combs. I rubbed his head and smiled. I felt Scott grab the back of my arm. He pointed to a corner of the crowd that seemed much darker than the others.

“Oh, those are the wiggers!”

“Wigs?!”

“Yeah, without shame!” Scott smiled for the first time watching as the false mullets and dreadlocks bounced.

As we got closer I began to see the white of the Egg Bar through little holes in the crowd. It was maybe ten feet and fifty people away.

I turned and grabbed Scott’s arm just as he was about to touch the scalp of a buxom girl dancing.

“Not without permission, Scott! Don’t touch any girls’ scalp in here without asking or talking to them, Okay?”

We continued.

I saw Linda at the bar. She’s one of the most beautiful girls I’ve seen, Curb World or otherwise. She was watching as the bartender, who could have been Patrick Stewart’s brother if not him, poured a shot onto the bellybutton of her friend Diane. I reached out and began to massage her scalp with my fingertips.

To massage a hairless scalp is not the same as a breast despite the similar shape. I’ve seen many a Hair-free relationship spoiled before it began by a man not sensitive to this fact.

She turned and we hugged. Her emerald eyes seemed to reflect all the lights in the room at once. They are a completely unique green, although I didn’t really notice this until after she stopped coming as a wigger.

We exchanged smiles and I introduced Scott.

“His first time. A ‘freshly painted curb.’”

She smiled at him and Scott really seemed to relax. Then, remembering, she turned and sucked the whiskey out of Diane’s navel. A small crowd cheered and Patrick Stewart blew a whistle and made his way back down to the other end of the bar.

I think I remember somebody telling me that Patrick Stewart does come here. I know that the guy from ‘The Green Mile’ does.

Diane hopped off the bar and I leaned over the spot where the small of her back had just been. I could feel my elbows moisten, perhaps from her back sweat or maybe spilt whiskey. I didn’t care. After ordering two whiskeys for Scott and I, I turned and saw Linda showing Scott the proper way to touch a woman’s scalp — something I dreaded showing him.

I know that the Egg Bar was originally called ‘the Thinker’ and was supposed to be in the shape of his head — perhaps to generate some mind energy. It ended up being called the Egg Bar because of the color I think. The white really is kept so clean and bright.

I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Diane beckoning me to the dance floor. I handed Scott his whiskey with my free hand as she led me. The look in his eye as I passed, his fingertips just above Linda’s forehead is difficult to describe. Maybe appreciation but perhaps he just felt at home. Back at home. I didn’t see him again until a couple of days later.

 

 

Rebecca stood at the doorway, hat pulled tightly over her head as I slid two fifties under the painted bulletproof glass. She doesn’t get out much, chooses not to, but that’s what this is all about.

Read More By Doug Dean

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Portland Fiction Project

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