Archive for bar

Money Under Mattresses

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by javedbabar

There were boys’ rooms and girls’ rooms and communal areas. Maybe they were too old to be called boys and girls, thought Bobby. It would be better to call them desperate, middle-aged men and women.

How had he ended up at this halfway house? Was it halfway to employment and stability, or halfway to unemployment and the trash can? Most people lived in hope, but there was no telling which direction they were moving in; recycling or landfill.

The employment situation in Lucerne was dire. The number of sick and struggling people was rising, and doctors’, lawyers’, and accountants’ services were much in demand. These professional people were doing well, but everybody else, lumped together loosely as unprofessional, was suffering. Some turned to crime, robbing the professional people, who they said were taking much more than their share.

This led to discussions about the meaning of money. Clever people said it had no intrinsic value as a physical commodity; it was just fiat money, from the Latin word meaning “it shall be”; a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a standard of deferred payment only because The Authority said it was money.

The middle-aged men and women in the boys’ and girls’ rooms accepted all of this. They had no issue with money’s definition; the issue was that they had none. They had however not sunk to criminal actions, instead created an informal community, helping each other to survive.

Shama approached Bobby, looking angry, and asked. “Did you borrow some money?”

Bobby said, “I did last month. It was a twenty dollar bill. When I got some work at the Botanical Gardens I returned it.”

“Well, there’s still twenty dollars missing. Are you sure you returned it?”

“Yes, I did. I remember putting it under your mattress. There was about two hundred dollars there altogether. You had blue sheets.”

Shama became angrier. “I always have blue sheets. I don’t have another set. Are you being honest with me?  If you still have the money, that’s okay, but just say so.”

Other boys and girls in the lounge went quiet. Someone may have turned down the TV. It suddenly seemed quieter, and their voices, louder.

How could Shama say that in public, thought Bobby, accuse him like that? It wasn’t on. He said, “I’m not lying. I told you I took it, and I told you I put it back. Why would I lie?”

Shama shook his head and walked away. They grunted to each other after that, but didn’t engage in real conversations. Tension built in the house. What they called their economy of trust became strained.

Most people had lost the use of their bank accounts when they had entered into voluntary liquidation agreements, paying off their overdrafts as loans. Banking facilities for fiat money were thereafter withheld from them.

What money they had, they threw under their mattresses. Shama had always thought this was appropriate, as mattress comes from matrah, the Arabic word meaning “to throw down.”

The first mattresses had been leaves, straw or grass, covered by animal skins, which had evolved into cotton, foam rubber, and metal spring frameworks, even water and air beds. The money beneath people’s mattresses was as insubstantial as this latter filling. The boys and girls knew this, and helped each other; there was give and take.

“Money come, money go, money nothing,” Shama’s grandfather used to say.

Shama remembered a night at the Lucerne Valley Hotel bar where he had spent $20 on drinks, and then come home, dropped onto his mattress, and dreamt of better times. Maybe Bobby hadn’t taken it after all. Maybe Shama had spent it on forgetting.


Healing Hands

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie was feeling unsettled. There were crises at work, family members demanding money, her landlord had given her one month’s notice, and she was about to hit forty and was still single. Left on the shelf. Many of her friends were single too, but at least they’d had a go, married, and failed. Some had wonderful children as awards for trying.

Why hadn’t she ever taken the plunge? There had been opportunities. Maybe she had been too fussy when younger.

“Will you marry me?” Adam had asked her, long ago, at Blackwater Lake. Her response was to run off. It’s right to not settle for second best, but what she’d then thought of as second best, was upon reflection first best, and those who had later won her heart turned out to be last worst.

She wandered across the park after work. The sky was glowing like there were two suns setting, golden and purple. TJ, the Lucerne Valley Hotel’s receptionist, said, “Welcome back.” She was a daily customer. She’d been there at lunchtime for a beer and burger, but now wanted something more and stronger.

The manager had found a clever way of getting around The Authority’s prohibition on cheap drinks. He promoted Happy Hour as a heritage event, harkening back to its nautical origins. There were wrestling, boxing, singing and drinking bouts, often all together. It was a barrel of laughs.

A buxom wench like Sophie was well appreciated aboard HMS Hotel Bar. Its sailors bought her endless rounds, and she was constantly engaged in jigs and reels. She danced with a small, dark guy with a great body. He didn’t talk much. He was either drunk or shy. He had a bright face which seemed to shine everywhere, and Sophie didn’t want to be without its glow. At the end of a reel, she grabbed his hand and pulled him outside. They smooched a little and then she asked him to walk her home.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Is that a good idea?”

“What kind of man are you?” she said. “Not a gentleman at all. I should have made you walk the plank!”

“Okay, I’ll walk you home,” he said immediately. Nobody likes to be called a barbarian.

When they reached her home, Sophie opened the door and pulled him in. He made an unconvincing attempt to resist and then gave up. He was not much heavier than Sophie but with extra muscle instead of extra curves. He leaned back on the sofa.

Sophie played some ambient tunes and pulled him up to dance. Despite the music being unsuitable for nautical antics, she forced her guest to engage in further jigs and reels. He was a really good dancer and somehow made them work.

His moves were great, jumping, skipping and twirling around the lounge. Her body pulled along with his, her heart was in tune with his, their hands joined together, and now their lips…

“Ouch!” she said, breaking off and pulling away. “Your hands are so hot!” She looked at them. They seemed to be glowing.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Maybe I should go now.”

“No, wait.” She didn’t know why she said it. There was something about him, about his hands. He looked at them in shock too. They were glowing faintly, golden purple.

He looked up at her and said, “I am from a family of healers going back to Pharaonic Egypt. I thought the gift had passed me by. My grandmother said that it would come to me when I met the one I must heal.”

Sophie’s head now reeled.

Managed Transition

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2012 by javedbabar

TJ was on the graveyard shift at the Lucerne Valley Hotel. He heard steady footsteps down the front stairwell, accompanied by a cane tapping. It was an elderly person, probably Mr Ramzy. He wondered why he didn’t take the elevator. It would have saved his arthritic legs.

The footsteps and tapping continued for longer than expected. As TJ looked up from prolonged curiosity he saw Mr Ramzy at the bottom of the stairs, adjusting his tie knot and sweating slightly, which gave his amber complexion an unearthly sheen. Was he feeling sick? Why was he coming to reception at three a.m.?

“Good morning Mr Ramzy,” said TJ. “What brings you down here at this early hour? I hope everything is all right.”

“Bah! Nothing is all right!” said Mr Ramzy. “At my age you are always thinking about how things were then, and how things are now, and how much better they were in the old days.”

“Which things do you mean, Mr Ramzy? Everything, or just some things?”

“Well, this place for example. I remember the days when the Lucerne Valley Hotel had the best bar for miles, full of fine vodkas and whiskies, and rums and gins; when you’d never leave here without whipping someone’s ass, or having yours whipped, in a darned good fight; there were bowling lanes on that side” – he indicated the new toilets and baby changing facilities – “where I once hit ten strikes together! There were crazy bingo sessions where you won cabins, horses, even women; and a brothel upstairs that they called the United Nations, on account of all the exotic girls there, and let me tell you, not all of them were girls!” He winked with exaggeration. “And of course the bank that we all hated, and cheered when it got robbed, but which lent us money to get through harsh winters, and while we waited for our gold strikes and oil strikes, and when the cows died.”

TJ said, “This place? Really? It sounds so wild!”

“Yes, it was a wild place, but it was in a small town far away from everything, so The Authority left us alone. But during the PC Revolutions,” – there had been six of them in all: PC1 (Personal Computers), PC2 (Political Correctness), PC3 (Personal Corporations), PC4 (Party Components), PC5 (Purchase Costing), PC6 (Pacific Cities) – “they kept making demands to change this and that, and it’s a wonder this place survived at all.

“To be honest, it’s not much of a draw now, just pastel rooms like everywhere else and an average restaurant and themed cocktail bar, but I come for the memories. I credit the owners though, who went through two hundred years of changes in twenty years. It was a managed transition from bush saloon to modern hotel. I just wanted to talk to someone about it. I’m going back to bed now.” He tapped his way up again.

TJ was intrigued by the hotel’s past, so plugged himself into the main system. He accessed archived memory banks and found earlier versions of himself. His twenty percent android self was unchanged of course, but his human self had been a prospector, an outlaw, a banker, a soldier, a fur trader and a barman. He thought about the implications. He had surely at some point served drinks to himself.

Pop Up Bar

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , on June 3, 2012 by javedbabar

Danny and Sophie enjoyed their date. He had met her at the seed fixture at the Botanical Garden last week, they’d later had lunch at the cafe there, and now dinner in Lucerne Village. They’d shared a bottle of merlot and were slightly tipsy, but not drunk enough to do anything foolish – at least not yet.

Danny walked her home; it was only ten minutes out of his way, each way, and the fresh air and exercise would do him good. “What’s that?” said Sophie, pointing to a slim building tucked between apartment blocks, with a brightly lit doorway. “I hadn’t noticed it before. Doesn’t it look odd? It’s so tall and thin, like somebody sneaked it in while no one was looking.”

“Yes it is quite funny,” said Danny. “It looks like a commercial building.” There was an OPEN sign above the doorway. “Shall we take a look?”

Beyond its heavy wooden door was a small space with velvet curtains and subtle up- and down-lighting. It was classy but unnerving. They expected a host, or security staff ,to welcome them, but no one did. Classical music played beyond the curtains. They pushed them aside and entered.

They found themselves in a small but very grand room, with sumptuous, Victorian decoration. “Oh my God!” said Sophie. “This is like Buckingham palace, or Versailles.” Marble pillars stood at the corners of gold-leafed walls filled with Old Masters paintings. There were individual and family portraits, holy icons, and rural landscapes. A vast chandelier glittered above them, almost. It hung so low that they ducked to avoid it.

An impeccably groomed man with macassared hair and pencil moustache came towards them with champagne flutes, the glasses’ bubbles catching the chandelier’s light. “Welcome, welcome!” he said with a French accent. “Thank you for visiting Number One Lucerne.”

“Number One Lucerne?” said Danny. “How’s that?”

“We have a vision for this establishment,” he said, sweeping his hand around his head. “To be the beating heart of this village.”

“But it’s just one room,” said Sophie. “Four more people in here and it’s totally full. Sorry, I don’t mean to be rude. I’m just surprised.”

“Ah! You are right. But this is just the beginning. We will be taking over the whole building soon. Who’s we? Me and Pierro! We will make this place the talk of the town. The talk of every town!”

Danny drained his glass and it was refilled immediately. Sophie’s was topped up too. The man smoothed his pencil moustache and said, “There will be many other levels. This is the main bar. It is small, of course, because it is exclusive. Downstairs there will be a nightclub, below that, a retreat, and at the bottom, a dungeon.” He touched his nose, indicating a secret. “Upstairs we will have a restaurant, above that a hotel, and at the top, a tropical garden. That will be in a hothouse of course. We can’t risk frost.”

“Wow, that sounds amazing,” said Sophie. “We can’t wait to see that. When will you open the other sections?”

“As soon as we can get good staff, we will open.”

Danny had recovered from his recent depression, and was looking for work. “I would be interested in working here,” he said. “How do I apply?”

“I like you already,” said the man, running one nail along his moustache. “Just sign this contract and you can start tomorrow.”

In his enthusiasm and light headedness, and in low light, Danny quickly scanned the contract and signed it. He didn’t realize that the small print passed ownership of this illegal, unregistered, debt-laden, failed cultural project directly to him. He now had a choice: to make it work somehow, or to pass it on to someone else, as many previous owners had done.