Muggers, Man Buns, & A Tooth of Gold
They were totally lost, but not yet ready to admit it. The city was a labyrinth of dark and winding streets and they were riding in a white sports utility vehicle. There weren’t many streetlights or other cars on the road. The cars they saw were compact and parked in long, uninterrupted rows. The GPS had been leading them in circles.
“Are you sure you put the right address?”
“23 Wickward Lane? It says turn left here.”
“I can’t turn here! It says one-way street.”
“What fresh hell is this?”
“We’re getting low on gas, Will.”
“Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.”
“If you say so.”
Their friend, Angelique, had invited them to a party at her loft. Everyone who was anyone would be there. Attending meant crossing the river to the north side of town. It was an area as of yet untouched by the tentacles of gentrification. Angelique was rich and fearless and had only been mugged twice before. Will touched the hairband in his man bun and sucked on his vanilla-flavored vape pen.
“This sucks,” he said with a luxurious exhale.
“I feel like we’ve been driving in circles for hours.” When Kirsten was worried, she rubbed the nose ring that pierced her septum. Will hated when she did that because it looked like she was trying to staunch a bloody nose. “I’m getting hungry. There’s a place. We can have a kebab and ask for directions.”
“Keep going,” he urged. “That place looks like salmonella city. Holy shit, is that a strip club?” A pink neon lit sign out front flashed, “Titty City.”
“Don’t you have the feeling that Batman is lurking in the shadows?” This time she turned right. If they found Angelique’s place at this point, she thought it would be a miracle.
“Not really. I don’t think the buildings are tall enough. Jesus, this town sucks.”
“Why don’t you call her again?”
“Because that just reeks of weakness.”
“It’s better than being lost like this.”
“We’re not lost. We’re just turned around.”
“I literally have no idea where we are right now. I’m gonna ask this guy here.”
“Uhh…” Will started.
But by then the Chevy Bronco had pulled up to the curb and the window had been rolled down.
A dude in dark jeans and a bright red ball cap ambled across the street. “Yo, where OJ at?” he sang. He hung his arms above the door frame and peered in. His breath stank of Swisher Sweets. “Hey girl, whatchu need?” He winked at Will in the passenger seat.
“Hi there. We’re looking 23 Wickward Lane. Can you help us out?”
“Whatsagirl like you need directions for when you got a man with an iPhone next to you?”
Will chafed at the insult. He had a Nexus 6P. “Can you help us or not?”
“Sure, I can help you out, girl.” He ran his eyes along Kirsten’s blue-sequined dress and then flashed a toothy grin with a spot of gold. “But you gotta do something for me first.”
An hour later they buzzed at the loft and Angelique answered the door. “Fabs! You’re here. What took so long?”
“Sorry. We took a detour through the projects,” Will said with a pained look on his face.
“Ghastly,” Angelique said. “No problems?”
“None whatsoever,” Kirsten said, unrolling a plastic baggie loaded with an ounce of weed. “I hope you don’t mind, but we got hungry and stopped for a kebab along the way.”