Mike's been working at Sherpa and Yeti's for about 5 months as a bouncer. He's got big furry forearms. When he sits he feels just as big as when you stand. He seems as broad as he is tall. He's blonde but he shaves his head. His goatee is long and brown. His tongue is pierced but you'll never see it. He doesn't talk much.
He mans the door, nodding occasionally at someone but mostly blankly checking IDs and waiting for someone to be an idiot. Tonight Naked with Milk is playing which could mean anything. The band, the crowd. No way to know. He waits. Puts his hand on his forearm and shrugs, somehow succeeds in making his chest broader and checks more IDs.
He sips a soda with lime. An underage girl offers to buy him a drink. He declines both her entry and her offer. He's a by-the-book kind of guy. If the owner tells him to let someone in, he does. But no boobs or drinks get anyone anywhere with him.
Time ticks by. The band starts and he waits. It's a warm evening so it's likely he'll be throwing at least one or two guys out tonight. He does this literally. Doesn't enjoy it. Just does it. He doesn't work up a sweat or huff and puff. He just grabs a guy by his pants, carries him out, and chucks him out the door with a genuine threat of a police call if he comes back. Then he returns to his seat and waits again, as though nothing has changed. Usually, after someone is thrown out, things calm down. The crowd has released it's tension and recognizes there is authority and order and goes back to crowd-business.
He turns his back to the door for a moment when he sees something fall from a girl's purse. He reaches down to grab it. It's a bottle of pills of some sort. Which for some reason makes his knees buckle. She's one of the people the boss told him to let in. She's maybe sixteen. He reaches down to pick them up, but then just stays down. Holds his chest. Feels it tighten.
He goes down, stays down. The room gets even darker. Grows completely silent. A familiar to him tells him to get his ass up. He does. The crowd's gone. The music's gone. The lights are dim but on. He hears the voice tell him to come here and he does. He walks toward the back to the office. His familiar gives him a talk. He doesn't hear words, but it stirs meaning in him. It is nostalgic and wise and significant and he is committing it to memory without hearing a single bit.
"Come with me." the familiar says. He is past middle age but does not move like an old man. Mike follows him, knowing that this man will change his life.
The familiar sits him down in a small, empty room. Twenty by fifty feet maybe. He gets out a film reel and tape recorder. Syncs them and begins. The light flickers through the first blank film strip squares and then the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 appear in their target's eyes. And the music begins. It is slow and sweet at first and sounds like a record a couple from the 1920s might listen to. He wades in the moment and the couple who are now on the screen dancing. The room is filling with people in black and white. He knows they are ghosts but is not afraid. They stand, solemnly watching the film. Dark shadowed eyelids on beautiful, sad women. Pin curls and saddle shoes. Fedoras and spats. He swoons internally while still holding the image of himself sitting still on a stool looking broad and foreboding. He feels them all looking at him. The ghosts are waiting for him to feel what they've been brought to teach him.
He feels better. Like the world may be right with itself again.
When he wakes in the morning, he does not know what to think. The girl, the drugs, the job, the ghosts. The feeling of it all hangs heady in the air. And that is enough.