"BOSTON AFTER DARK," grated out of the speaker as Julian walked past the second-hand
CD store towards Faneuil Hall and away from the Boston Federal
court house. He glanced into the window front and saw crowds milling
from one bin of archaic compact discs to the next, hoping to find
some long forgotten gem. Julian smiled at the old-fashioned practice.
Everything in the store was available on the Web, but, even though
there were public terminals, no one in the store could afford
the download prices.
"Here's what's happening round and about Boston tonight. Brought
to you by WFNX and Spud-U-Like," the speaker in front of the store
blared. Even though it was high pitched and cheerful the announcer's
voice was quite defiantly male. The next announcer's voice was
female and musky, promising a good time without promising anything.
"Tonight at the Obelisk, The Lords of Puke are playing an all
ages show with the Inevitable Gods.... While out at the Flying
Dutchhound, The Pretentious Wanna' Be's are playing an 18 plus
gig... That one starts at nine and has no opening act... but after
their last Boston performance you don't wanna miss them tonight...
make sure to bring a clean pair of socks."
Julian caught a glimpse of his own face grinning back through
the iron bars covering the sheet of plate glass. Julian's young
face was made up of several sharp, almost unnatural angles. His
thin V shaped lips ran parallel to his wedge shaped jaw line below
and his long pointed nose above, up into cheeks that looked like
they had been chiseled into his face rather than grown there.
His ears lay flat against the sides of his skull, which was shaven
on the sides all the way to the back, but stood several inches
up on top like bleached reeds on a riverbank.
Julian moved out of ear shot of the speaker, and threaded his
way through the crowds of homeless setting up makeshift shelters
to fend off the slight drizzle falling from a dark, gray sky.
Most of this part of downtown Boston was home to the homeless,
which suited Julian just fine. It meant he never had to search
He smiled at children running past him playing and laughing in
the dark muddy puddles. A child, running while yelling back at
one of his companions, smashed into Julian's thigh, forcing him
to stop walking.
"Whoops, watch were you're going," his voice kind but stern as
he brushed the dirt deposited on his wool slacks by the urchin.
The child kept running, but called back, "Sorry, Julian."
"Uhhh... Hey man you got any shit?" Julian turned to see a man's
face smiling, nervously, back up at him. The man's eyes would
twitch away for a few seconds and then back, almost meeting Julian's
own gaze, but never quite making the full trip.
"Have I ever, Bobby, my friend." Julian's exuberance overwhelmed
his customers own meek attempts to be non-chalant about their
transaction. Most of Julian's customers were pretty shy about
approaching him for his product, but this was purely a hold over
from the past century. Sure, he got busted every month or so for
dealing, but no one ever got pulled off the street in the middle
of a sale anymore.
"20 hits at 5 bucks a pop. Can't beat that price no where, no
"Yeah, but I only got eighty."
"Too bad that 1C is the asking price.You ain't got it..."
The man's face was a flooded mass of conflicting emotions as he
began to scrounge in his pockets, pulled out a fifty, two twenty's
and then a ten, and handed them over to Julian. In that same handshake,
Julian handed him back a bag filled with tiny squares of paper.
Almost instantly the man opened the plastic baggy. Obviously having
gotten over his fear of discovery, he took one of the squares,
placed it under his tongue and closed his eyes.
The tension, his nervous twitching and paranoia, all seemed to
evaporate quickly from his body. The man reopened his eyes and
looked straight at Julian, a warm smile filling his face.
"Good shit, huh? Best Nirv you'll find in New England."
"Yeah, man," his face began to glow a warm red and he turned around
and wandered slowly into the thick of the crowd.
Julian never touched the stuff himself. Didn't pay to get addicted
to his only money maker. He just got it from the lab, marked up
the price a bit, and then sold it to somebody like Robert who
would do about half of what he bought over the next few days,
mark up the rest and sell this smaller amount to others to get
money for his next score. Julian made his money from volume.
After the sale, Julian approached the market building, ducked
behind a booth selling second-hand clothes and through a doorway
into the ancient structure of Faneuil Hall.
He ascended the stairs two at a time, even though they protested
his every step, and followed a corridor that opened into a large
but dimly lit bar. It was crowded for a Wednesday but Julian figured
it must be that everyone wanted to get out to hear the news about
the riots in D.C.
Julian weaved his way through the cacophony of people towards
a big table in the back. It overlooked the large open courtyard
in the front of Faneuil Hall through a ceiling to floor window.
Through it, Julian felt that he could pretty much guage the mood
of the whole world by watching the masses below.
"Hey, Julian how'd it go?" a thin man called to Julian as he approached
the table. He was tall and gaunt and, despite his mulatto complexion,
had ice blue eyes. His long dark hair was pulled back into a pony
tail. He wore a black and gray striped shirt under a severely
tailored Italian gray wool suit. Although ties were out this year,
he wore a thin bright red leather one, flying in the face of fashion.
A Newton 9000 Cyber Node spun around his left ear. It was fairly
inconspicuous, except for a thin wire running into his ear and
a small red light that looked more like a ruby earring than an
LED. The light was on.
"How are you doing tonight, Sasha, my beautiful friend?" Julian's
voice dripped with hospitality. "Haven't seen you out all week."
"Working on the revolution, brother, working on the revolution,"
he said while blowing out smoke from a pink coloured cigar that
he held in his left hand, from which he would periodically flick
ashes onto the floor. Sasha Brit had been born to wealth, and
he was still doing better than 95% of the rest of the country,
but the Depression had hit his family hard, and the Brits had
fallen out of political favor with the current administration.
As a result, Sasha styled himself a revolutionary, always spouting
on about Paine, Marx, and Proudhon.
"Ain't got time for none of that shit." Julian sat down next to
Sasha and motioned for a waitress who was dressed in clear blue
"Still pushin' junk?" his nose rose up in disdain at the concept.
"Not just junk, THE junk." The waitress came over and Julian ordered
a vodka neat, his trademark,"I got the best Nirv this side of
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Keep the poor, poor and the rich, rich.
And that shit you sell just makes them happy for a while so that
they don't see how bad things really are." Sasha took another
drag off his cigar, exhaled loudly, and then turned and fixed
his eyes directly on Julian. "Have you ever wondered where that
junk comes from?"
"I get it from a lab in Brookline." Julian was surprised by the
question. He was not worried about Sasha being a narc (Sasha was
wanted by the government for treason), it was just that Sasha
had never really challenged him like this before.
"But where do they get their chemicals from?"
"Don't know, don't care. They give, I sell, and I don't live down
there with those rubes." Julian jabbed a thumb towards the window.
Sasha looked down at the groups mulling about small fires trying
to keep warm.
"Hmmm... but there gonna' get tired of this one day, despite your
"Blah... Blah... Blah... I say: 'Fuck the system' but not too
hard." At that moment Julian's drink arrived. He fished out a
ten and handed it to the waitress.
"In fact, I just got back from a trial. Didn't even have a lawyer
and got off with a $10K fine. Why? Because I don't threaten the
pigs, and they just spank my hand every now and then. Ten thousand
bucks! Ha! I make that much with Nirv in a week, man, in... a...
week... Sometimes you got to go along to get along."
An oblique smile peeled from Sasha's lips.
"We'll see about that. What are you doing tonight?"
"Dunno. I'm done for the day, thought I'd check out some clubs
"There's a new club over in Harvard square. The 3rd Man. Playing
Gunga music tonight. Wanna go?"
"Hey, they'll be good to go. Let me stop by my apartment and pick
up some fresh Nirv. Might get rich tonight." He threw the shot
of vodka down his throat and said, "Oh, and I told Wendy I'd take
her out somewhere."