"Rebel, Rebel"

It's safe in the city to love in a doorway
To wrangle some screams from the dawn
And isn't it me, putting pain in a stranger?
Like a portrait in flesh, who trails on a leash.

He lifted a finger to his lips, the useful eye closed as the music washed over him. Dorian’s head lolled slightly as he made willing surrender to the sound in his earbuds.

Will you see that I'm scared and I'm lonely?
So I'll break up my room, and yawn and I
Run to the centre of things
Where the knowing one says
Boys, boys, it’s a sweet thing
Boys, boys, it’s a sweet thing, sweet thing…

They were coming for him.

The slight rush of air from the rear of the bookshop told him that the front door was open. Just seconds remained now. Dorian uncrossed his legs, then leaned forward. A quick touch to the purchase icon set things into motion, just as Kate and her muscle arrived. “We’re ready,” she said. “Come along.”

He removed the earbuds, one index finger raised. “Just a second,” the medic replied. “Downloading.” After an impatient moment had passed, he noted that the classical work Diamond Dogs now rested in his new cortex reader. “Ah’ve been waitin’ fah this one,” he offered a quick smile to the woman, before regarding the beefcake with a critical eye. “Soviet or Cosa Nostra,” he said, his tone sardonic. “Ah can’t choose which this resembles most. Soviet, Ah suppose,” he fixed Russokova with a pointed glance. “Very well,” Dorian shrugged. “Lead on.”

As he passed them, the muscle fell into step behind him. Two mammoth hands clapped down upon his shoulders. “Damn,” Dorian winced.

Ahead, the shopkeeper stood at his counter, eyes wide at the unfolding drama. “I should call the police,” his voice trembled.

Dorian shook his head. “No need,” he offered as the brutes propelled him toward the door. “It’s a role play. Mah wife loves this!” He was shoved out onto the sidewalk. The air was cooling; lengthening shadows of the night to come were slowly enveloping the streets. A glossy shuttle coasted through the deepening blue, gliding smoothly to the curb. It settled upon its’ skids, the passenger door a black swan’s wing as it arced gracefully upward. “Is this where tha sack comes out?” Dorian asked.

Russokova smiled. “We’re not savages,” she uncapped the syringe as she stepped forward. “Sleep well, my friend.”

“Oh, fah fuck’s sake,” Dorian scowled as the needle pierced his neck. The escorts gripped him as he slumped, before expertly sprawling him in the back seat. As the limo accelerated into traffic, he could barely feel the motion. The world became an easy spiral into blackness.

Boys, boys, it’s a sweet thing…

It would be a long night. “Visceral peritoneum,” Dorian whispered to himself as he hurried across the commons. “Parietal peritoneum…greater omentum…mesosig…mesosig…gorram it!” he cursed the faltering memory. Tomorrow’s midterm exams were the most crucial step in the lives of second year med students. The university’s dining hall and cafes would be open all night to offer coffee and sustenance to a campus full of stress driven sophomores. The outcome would be a number grade, but the true measure of success or failure would be revealed in the nature of a followup meeting with one’s faculty advisor. Success involved a handshake and a signature that opened the door to a future as a physician or nurse practitioner. But failure, as held in the minds of students all vying for a coveted spot in the top third of the class, involved a lengthier meeting in which “other opportunities” were discussed. In other words, for the son of Dr. Lawrence Adler, such an academic death sentence would make a return to Hera impossible. “Douglas pouch,” he muttered as his key card opened the door to his room. “Mesocolon…small bowel mesentery…mesosig…mesosig….dammit!”

“The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone,” Lorraine’s voice teased. “Wanna see?”

He whirled, arms still laden with books. “Lorraine?” Dorian exclaimed. “How’d yah get in here?”

She was stretched across Dorian’s bed, her back propped against his pillows. The pink chiffon party dress she wore had seen better decades, as had the heavy black leather boot upon a leg she’d exposed nearly to the hip. She laughed at his serious nature, shaking a head full of spiked black hair. “Boggs let me in.”

“Oh god. He’s afraid of yah…hell, everyone here’s afraid of yah.”

She cupped a palm to her exposed knee. “That’s what they say,” Lorraine quipped. “What’s in their eyes is something else…what do you think? Should I give it up to Boggs? A little pre-exam tā mā de to take the tension off?”

“That’d prob’ly kill him,” Dorian observed as he set his burden upon the desk, “but he’d die happy. And Ah’m serious…Ah have tah study tahnight.”

“But I’m all dressed up,” she pouted. “Let’s go out dancing. It’ll be good for you.”

“No,” he said firmly. ‘Tomorrow’s exams are fah all tha marbles. If Ah don’t get this anatomy right…”

“You can practice on me later,” Lorraine offered a sly grin as she got to her feet, “if you’re lucky.” She threw his closet open and began rifling all the neatly arrayed clothes. “Take those things off,” she ordered as a pair of tightfitting black slacks sailed in his direction. “Now, the right shirt…my god, this all looks like your mother picked it out!”

“Actually, she did.” He’d begun undoing his trousers, an almost subconscious obedience to the punkette who even now was ripping the sleeves off a worn cotton work shirt. Lorraine was an irresistible madness, a bizarre yang to his tightly controlled yin. Since their chance meeting over a shared music download, she’d taken keen delight in being the quintessential “bad influence,” sewing a dichotomy of revulsion and subtle arousal among Dorian’s classmates as she dragged him from one misadventure to the next.

“Here,” she proclaimed, proudly handing over the wreckage of his work shirt. “Now, the right shoes.” Dropping to her knees, she dove into the bottom of his closet to assess his footwear.

He stood, the black slacks unfastened on his frame, gazing upon the tattered shirt in his hands. “Lorraine,” Dorian said earnestly, “Ah’d love tah go with yah, but tahnight? Darlin’, this just won’t work. Ah must try tah study…”

She was hidden from his view by the closet door, but for the two lace up boots and a burst of faded pink chiffon which moved with her bottom as she lunged about his shoes. “When you ‘re on your death bed,” Lorraine replied, “do you really think you’re gonna regret not spending more time at some desk?”

Curse this demon witch and her logic. “See tha box?” Dorian asked. “Open it.”

Shèngjié tā mā de gǒu shǐ! she exclaimed as she emerged with her prize, a pair of black leather ankle boots whose toes ended in sharp points. “Where did you get these torpedoes? They’re perfect!”

A moment later, her shuttle roared and rattled its’ way off campus. Both occupants wore rounded lens goggles, more than a mere fashion statement as Lorraine had previously taken a cutting torch to remove the roof. They raced the darkened Osiris streets, music blaring.

“You like me and I like it all,
We love dancing and we look divine.
You love bands when they play it hard,
You want more and you want it fast.
They put you down, they say I’m wrong.
You tacky thing, you put them on.”

“Mesosigmoid,” Dorian smiled.

Russokova turned in her seat. “What did he say?”

“Damned if I know,” replied the lead muscle.

“He’s talking,” she observed. “Should come around within the hour.” The agent glanced out the window as their driver tapped the gate code. Soon, the headlamps played on the tree lined drive which lead toward the main house. “Take him downstairs,” she said as the limousine eased to a rest. “I’ll inform the network.”

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