The rhythm was too much, and the ecstasy tablet Gilbert bought at the door was starting to kick in. His legs were telling him to get his arse in gear and get on the dance floor.
He wasn’t sure how long he’d been standing at the entrance to the men’s room; forty-five minutes, maybe longer. He was trying to get a glimpse of the ladies’, but it was still early and he didn’t spot a soul going in or coming out.
Girls can keep it in longer than men, anyway, he reasoned. Give it some time, Gilbert. As soon as a girl steps into the ladies’, I’ll be in there like a flash. Tonight’s the night. He stuck his hand through the gap in his trouser pocket and fingered the roll of duct tape in his underpants. He also felt for the two Temazepams which he’d taped to the inside of the duct tape. Yes, yes. Tonight’s the night.
Now and again a guy would shove past him. Not wanting to look suspicious, he lowered his head and ran a pale hand through the Bryl-creemed Mafioso atrocity he called a hairstyle every time someone walked past.
Gilbert was anxious. His had a sweaty upper lip and sweaty palms. It’s probably just the chemicals talking, he thought and felt a tingle in his spine.
Gilbert was dressed in a cream and pink stripy 70s shirt (and we’re talking big collar here), his mom’s coffee-brown bell bottoms, which fitted nicely, and his old faded green Converse skating shoes.
“I look fucking fantastic,” Gilbert had said to himself in the mirror while applying a gob of Brylcreem.
“Do you know what time it is?” he said as he walked passed his father and stood in front of the TV. Gilbert didn’t wait for an answer. “It’s time to get laid. How do I look?”
“Like a prat. Nice strides, by the way,” his father replied. It took Gilbert a few seconds to realize that his father meant nice trousers. “Where are you off to, Bertie?” his father asked.
Gilbert hated it when his dad called him Bertie.
“Going out, Phil,” Gilbert said, raising his left eyebrow, “And what the fuck’s it to you anyway?”
“Gilbert, don’t speak to your father like that, please. Show a little respect. He works hard to pay for your studies,” his mother shouted through the kitchen door.
“All right, Lizzie. Keep your knickers on.”
Phil saw the humour and choked on his White Horse and soda. His eyes watered.
Gilbert gave his father a wry smile. He was a good guy, old Phil, but Gilbert failed to see the link between Phil working hard and being a professional pot head/landscaper. He had helped out on a few projects with his dad before, and it was the same story every time:
Phil would drop off the crew, six of them (Gilbert included) drive to the liquor store to pick up a six-pack, a box of menthols and a Bike magazine. When he arrived back onsite, he has a bit of a wander, told (read: barked instructions at) everybody what to do and then scored a marijuana joint off the Rasta lawnmower man. He would return to the pick-up truck, hotbox the cab, and listen to the same Thin Lizzy tape he’s had for decades.
“Can I borrow the pick-up, dad?”
“What’s the password, Bertie?”
“No. No. That’s not it, Bertie.”
“There you go, son! Be back before midnight.”
“Ah, cheers, Phil. Promise. Bye, Mom.”
Bertie flooded the Chevy twice before he pulled out of the driveway. He made a left at the stop sign and, forgetting to turn on the headlights, headed straight for Starlight, the name of a disco he saw advertised in the paper. He’d only scanned through the ad, and now the words Ultimate 70s Fun! and Happy Hour! were floating over the Chevy’s grimy windscreen like movie credits.
The DJ pumped up the volume to an ABBA tune, and Gilbert couldn’t resist the urge to have a boogie.
He had some trouble finding the middle of the dance floor because it filled up fast with sweaty bodies, and the lights were crazy.
Behind him a pair of hands massaged his neck. Someone else shoved some Tiger Balm up his nose. It burnt like hell, but the feeling was awesome, the E drilling pleasure holes into his heart. A young man with a thin moustache shoved an energy drink into his hand.
“You’ll need that! It’s going to be a long night!” the man shouted.
“Wha’?” Gilbert cupped his ear.
“I said you are going to need the energy. Long Night. Deffo.!”
Gilbert pretended that he understood. The music was deafening. He nodded.
“Right, right. Thanks”, Gilbert shouted, tripping the light fantastic.
“Music’s great, isn’t it?”
“The. Music. Is. Great.” The man gave Gilbert a double thumbs-up.
“Fantastic! What a cool place!” Gilbert replied.
“What’s your name?” The man leaned forward. He smelled like Old Spicy and last week’s Balti curry.
“Bertie … ahem … Gilbert.”
“Do you want to FUCK?” Paul made the international hand gesture for fornication.
The music stopped, and the DJ, an Arnold Schwarzenegger lookalike who was wearing a blonde wig and blue eye shadow, shouted into the microphone: “Right, boys! It’s happy hour. Everyone knows what that means! Free for all in the ladies’ room! Ultimate seventies fun! Woo-hoo!”
Gilbert’s stomach dropped faster that the can of Red Bull from his left hand. For the first time he realized that there wasn’t a single female in the disco.
“C’mon, Sunshine,” Paul said and grabbed Gilbert by the scruff of the neck, and before Gilbert knew what hit him, he was bent over in a toilet cubicle with his own duct tape tight over his mouth and eyes.