Season 1:9 ‘Be Free Tonight’
by P WIlliam Ross
We’re just a group of strangers sharing the same experience. Expressing ourselves with abandon.
The cool night air provides an odd sense of satisfaction. We change at a nearby hotel before hitting the downtown area. Everyone seems rowdier than before. Not our team, but the people out on the streets. Before they were sober and full of anticipation, now they’re drunk and filled with uncertainty. The night is at its turning point.
Our parents were pretty strict about letting us go places. Looking back it makes sense. Jason was prone to get himself in trouble and who knows if someone would try to kidnap us. Our identities were not so secret after all. Jason spent most of his free time involved in sports, and I either read or messed around on the computer. I had always been a bit of an escapist.
“All of these places seem loud,” Sam says.
Janice and Sam hadn’t taken very long to get ready. Jason might have taken longer. I’d always heard girls take forever to get ready to go anywhere, but I’d never had such an experience. Mom was always the first one ready at home. None of us had packed clothes for clubbing, or whatever it is we’re doing.
“That’s kind of the point,” Jason says.
“Guys come on, let’s just pick one without a line and go in,” I say.
We decide on ‘Bossa Nova’, a tall concrete slab with the Brazilian flag painted on one side. I have to work my telepathy on the bouncer for us to get inside. The music is an upbeat fusion of samba and modern dance. It’s unlike anything I’ve experienced before.
Our group huddles in a corner. It smells like incense and cheap cologne. The whole atmosphere is intimidating; people dance as if they’ve done it every night for their whole lives. I don’t think I could get my body to move with the rhythm. Jason asks Sam to dance and they disappear into the crowd. There’s a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach, and it’s creepy, but I consider entering his mind. Someone bumps into me and shakes the thought from my head.
“Sorry,” she says, I think. I shrug and she walks away.
“Well, we may as well get out there,” Chase says.
Janice and I follow him out onto the dance floor. Everyone is jumping up and down with the beat. I can almost see the hairs on their bodies pulse with the bass. The music is foreign to me. At home I would listen to bands with emphasis on guitar and vocals. This is all raw beats. Each song is like a menagerie of modulations and electronic instrumentals.
Lights from the mirror ball swim over my face. I start getting a sense for the beat and bob back and forth. Someone bumps into my back. The rhythm makes us reckless.
All around me are people my age, maybe a few years older. At high school I never felt a sense of belonging. I had friends and we shared classes, but I didn’t feel like they understood me. In their defense they had no idea about my ability. I’d checked. In this moment none of that matters. We’re just a group of strangers sharing the same experience. Expressing ourselves with abandon. Not giving a fuck.
It’s two in the morning. I get the feeling no one would leave if the club stayed open all night. The combination of drinks and decibels makes for an unending stamina. We only saw Sam and Jason once across the room. Chase says something but I can’t hear him.
“What?” I ask. He grabs my arm and pulls me through the crowd. Janice follows.
Jason and Sam are dancing, rather close, on the other side of the floor. Chase clamps down on Jason’s shoulder. They exchange a few words and then we’re heading for the exit. It’s much easier to hear everyone outside.
“That was fun,” Sam says.
“Yeah I hadn’t been out since college,” Chase says.
“Old man,” I say.
We talk about the music, which none of us had heard before, and walk to the hotel. The lobby is littered with other people who had been out; some of them from the same club as us. It hadn’t hit me how tired I was until just now. I feel like curling up in the elevator and passing out. Fortunately, I make it to the bed.
I wake up at the sound of a thud at the door to our room. Jason and Chase are still in a deep sleep. I trudge over to the door and find a newspaper on the floor. No one else is in the hallway. It must still be early.
The headline reads, “Hi-Five, Too Slow”. The article is about the death of five INTERPOL officers.