He stood towards the back of the room as The neon lights painted the walls electric blue, green and purple.
The audience appeared alien in both appearance and behavior under the strobe lights. Soon the room would go almost black until FLASH! White, the stage lights penetrating the room. Amidst the glow, the band appears. Poised on a platform center stage, floating above the meager mortals who worshiped them.
If there was ever a night to worship a band it would be tonight. The Bender was a band that was the last of their kind; loud, abrasive, and unapologetic in their unruly stage performance. It was the kind of band that made Tony feel OK with the scene that surrounded him; women flashing false smiles from fake lips while men doggedly pursued women in a drunken stupor. Tony felt alright knowing that after everybody left, he’d be the one to have to clean it up.
At least he wasn’t the only one left to pick up the mess. Alex was a balding ex-Mormon from Montana who was also a worked at a Weho gay bar. Alex was a queen, too proud to clean up the real nasty messes. If Alex was ever made to do against his will he would nasally proclaim, “These people are a bunch of ANIMALS!” Tony always wondered why a pompous priss like Alex worked in a place picking up after other peoples’ fun. Alex let Tony bum cigarettes off of him every night, so he was willing to look past Alex’s bitchy behavior.
Ralph was old and Russian that didn’t say much. Tony decided that Ralph had probably seen it all and wasn’t interested in anything anymore. Tony had probably heard him say something once or twice, but it was in Russian and it sounded very angry. Night after night Ralph punched the clock, did his time and then road his old, white bicycle back home.
Lastly there was Lola, Tony’s favorite person to work with. It wasn’t because she was a woman who also happened to be beautiful, and who happened to remind Tony of some long–lost lover he left somewhere along the way. He liked Lola because she always had a way of making work fun. She liked to play games, challenging Tony to see who could pick up the most beer cans or who could find the most change on the floor. He wondered after three years of slaving over other peoples’ messes why she still worked there. He never asked.
The Bender closed the night by chugging beers in between playing their most popular song “Faster than Fast at Last.” Soon after, crowds of people would stumble out of the club, some sharing sloppy kisses, others fixated on their phones looking for the next place to go. The familiar smell of body odor and booze hit Tony’s nose like a hit of coke and his body knew it was time to work. As the room cleared, he looked for Lola’s long black hair, which she often tied in a high pony tail. It would bounce around when she talked about something that excited her, which was often.
“For you.” Tony turned around and she was standing there with a feather in her hand.
“I got in Venice. A Peruvian spiritualist gave it to me. I whittled it into a necklace, so you know, you could wear it.” She pointed a pretty finger at a copper wire and linked the red feather to a black, felt string.
“Here. Put it on.”
It was the only word Tony could mutter as he bowed his head to her while she put the string around his neck. As he looked up, she had already turned to walk away, black pony tail bouncing, as she made her way to the storage room.