Ride the Whirlwind
by Bob Brill
Table of Contents
Part 3, Part 4
in issue 232.
Djaminko and Magnoonia descended the ornate staircase to Fazlop Zookins’ basement apartment. Djaminko expected to see a wild bacchanal, but the party was winding down and people were sprawled about on couches, cushions, and the floor, in various states of dress and undress. He did not see Viloshiana. The room was lit only by numerous candles in elaborate candle holders, the floor was covered in rugs and cushions, and the walls and ceiling were lined with fabrics in bold patterns. It must be my expectation, thought Djaminko, but this sure looks like a firetrap to me.
He wandered about, stepping over people as he did, and discovered other rooms leading off the main room. Searching for Viloshiana, he entered one rather dark chamber where an indefinite number of people were copulating in a heap. He came close to see if Viloshiana was among them.
A voice from the pile spoke up. “See anything you like? Trying to figure out if there’s an opening available?”
“I’m looking for Viloshiana.”
“It’s a bit hard to tell, but I don’t believe she’s here. Viloshiana, are you part of this pretzel?”
“Sorry to disturb you.” He started to leave.
“I believe an orifice or two has just opened up, if you care to complete the loop.”
“Thanks, I’ll just keep looking for my friend.”
In another room about a dozen people, sitting on cushions with their backs to the walls, were passing around a pipe. They appeared to be playing a word game, but Djaminko could not make any sense of it.
“Marinate,” said one. This produced a few chuckles.
“Masturbate,” said another. Bigger laugh.
“What does that mean?” said someone. Derisive snorts and titters.
Viloshiana was not there.
In another room he found a woman lying face down on a mattress. He turned her over. It was Viloshiana, unconscious. He shook her. “Wake up, my friend.”
“Stop that,” she mumbled.
“Viloshiana, you’ve got to wake up.”
“Leave me alone. I don’t feel good.”
He put an arm under her back and lifted her to a sitting position. “Most annoying,” she said and slumped forward against his chest.
“Viloshiana, you must wake up. We need to leave this place.”
“Not me. I’m not moving.” She turned her head to look up at him. “O my goodness. It’s my old pal, Djaminko. How ya doin’, old pal Djaminko?”
“Listen to me, old pal Viloshiana. There’s going to be big trouble here soon and we need to clear out.”
“What a nice surprise. I never thought I’d see you here. I want you to meet my friends.”
“Okay. Can you stand up?”
“I tried a new drug tonight. I didn’t like it. It made me feel yucky. Help me up.”
He pulled her to her feet and half carried her into the main room. “Oh, Fazlop, this is my friend, Djaminko. He came and helped me stand up. Wasn’t that nice?”
“How good of him, Vilosh, darling. You never could have done it on your own.” He turned to Djaminko. “I’ve been hearing all about you from Magnoonia. Now where did that woman get to?”
Djaminko said, “Fazlop, I have to tell you something very serious. I have the strongest reason to believe that this place will soon be in flames. It would be a good idea to alert your guests and get everybody moving out of here.”
“Everyone is always telling me what a firetrap this place is with all my rugs and tapestries. One of these times it’s all going to go poof.”
“This is that time. Look at all those candles, just waiting for their chance.”
“I’m going to be sick,” said Viloshiana.
“Come on,” said Fazlop. “You take one side, I’ll take the other. We’ll help her to the bathroom.”
“No, let’s take her out to the street. The fresh air will do her good.”
“No, Djaminko. Fazlop’s right. Bathroom is what I need.”
Fazlop started them moving toward a doorway at the back of the room. Djaminko acquiesced. He was anxious to get Viloshiana out of there, but he also trusted his trance vision which foretold that they wouldn’t be leaving till the stairs were burning. They passed through several rooms before coming to the bathroom. There was a line waiting to get in.
“I can’t hold it anymore,” said Viloshiana.
“Let’s go outside,” said Djaminko. “You can barf on the street.”
They turned around and threaded their way back into the front room. As they headed for the door, Magnoonia, with a man in tow, blocked their way. “Dear Viloshiana, there you are,” cried Magnoonia. “Chesko has been looking all over for you. Chesko, darling, tell her what you told me.”
“Oh, get away,” said Viloshiana. “I’m so sick. I need air.”
“I’m so hot for you,” said the young man. He grabbed Viloshiana around the waist and started pulling her away from Djaminko. “When I saw you dance on the table, I knew I must have you at once.”
“Back off,” cried Djaminko. “She’s with me and we’re leaving. Can’t you see she’s not feeling well?”
Chesko pulled harder and Viloshiana stumbled. “I must have this woman. I will not be denied.”
Djaminko twisted the young man’s fingers till he loosened his grip on Viloshiana, who slipped to the floor. Then Djaminko pushed Chesko away. As he stooped to help Viloshiana to her feet, Chesko charged and pushed Djaminko hard with both hands.
Djaminko fell backwards. He got up quickly and pushed Chesko with all his might. Chesko crashed into a bank of candles on tall stands. The stands tipped over and instantly torched the wall hangings behind them.
The young man rose to his feet shouting, “Who the hell are you?” He charged Djaminko with fists flailing. Djaminko grabbed him about the waist and lifted him off his feet. They both crashed to the floor, grappled and rolled about.
Viloshiana headed for the door and ran up the stairs to the street. Magnoonia shouted, “Get him, Chesko. Get him for me. The son-of-a-bitch.”
Chesko managed to straddle Djaminko’s chest and began punching his face. Suddenly he stopped, leaped up and cried, “Damn, the place is on fire.”
The fire raced from one wall hanging to the next and flashed across the ceiling tapestries. The rugs and cushions began to smolder and one by one burst into flame. People stampeded for the exit.
“Where did she go? I want her,” cried Chesko.
Magnoonia grabbed him. “Let’s get out of here.” They ran for the exit.
Djaminko felt his face. He was bleeding from his mouth and nose. Seeing the room in flames, he thought, the prophecy was true, but I didn’t know that I’d be the one to start the fire.
He got up and ran to the door, looked up the stairs, which were not yet burning and ran up to the street. He didn’t see Viloshiana anywhere. He ran back down the stairs. Crying her name, he ran from room to room. In the furthest rooms no one seemed aware of the fire. “Get out,” he cried. “The place is on fire. Get out now. Fazlop, have you seen Viloshiana?”
“No, help me with this drunk. Hey, wake up, you drugged out idiots. The place is burning up.”
Djaminko and Fazlop dragged the stumbling figure toward the front room, rousing the party-goers and calling out for Viloshiana. The front room was a sheet of flame.
Fazlop hoisted the drunken man over his shoulder and ran through the flames for the door. Djaminko followed. He ran up the burning stairs and out to the street. Firemen were just entering with hoses, pushing their way past the party guests, who were exiting in bunches. Djaminko saw that the fire had spread to the street level. Firemen were shooting streams of water through the ground floor windows.
Viloshiana was nowhere to be seen. Fazlop was sitting on the curb across the street with his head in his hands. Djaminko sat down next to him. “Sorry about your apartment.”
“Yeah, me too. I just hope everybody got out.”
A group from the party passed in front of them. “Exonerate,” said one.
“Extirpate,” said another.
“Exaggerate,” said a third. They passed down the street, giggling.
“I’m sure Viloshiana got out,” said Fazlop. “I even checked the bathroom. I think we were the last to leave. God, I hope so.”
“So, your studio is somewhere else? I didn’t see any cameras or equipment down there.”
Fazlop said, “You see where they’re shooting water through the ground floor windows? That was my studio.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that.”
The sky was beginning to get light. Djaminko rose to his feet and said, “I’m going to look for Viloshiana. You’ll need a place to stay. You can come to my place.”
“Thank you, but I’m going to stay here and watch my place burn down.”
Djaminko wandered the streets for an hour, but saw no sign of Viloshiana. Exhausted, he decided at last to go home. As he approached his building, he saw Viloshiana sitting in the doorway huddled against the wall. She was weeping.
“Come on, my friend,” he said, extending his hand to her. “Let’s go in.”
After tucking her into bed, he sat in the rocker watching her sleep. Carefully he examined his face with his fingers. The bleeding had stopped, but his nose and lips were still painful to the touch. Finally he lay on the couch and curled up under a blanket. He awoke some hours later to find that Viloshiana had gone. She had left a note:
Thank you, my friend. You saved my life again. You will always be my best friend. V.
From these words Djaminko surmised that they would not be lovers again.
Emerging from the apartment in search of food, he slipped into the same mediocre restaurant where he and Viloshiana had shared their first breakfast in Pan City months ago. He picked up the newspaper that lay on the counter.
PRASNOVIAN GOVERNMENT TOPPLED
Bloodless Coup Staged at Dawn
TWO DIE IN PARTY FIRE
Fashion Photographer’s Flat Destroyed in Blaze
Copyright © 2007 by Bob Brill