“It would not be until darkness had taken indisputable control over the land, until the flames of the bonfire created an unreal world of shadows, until tequila and mescal untied men from their somber selves.”
― Warren Eyster, The Goblins of Eros
My Hovercraft is Full of Eels
Willard Waters had an undergraduate degree in accounting. He thought of himself as being an accountant’s accountant. After spending a couple of years at a desk staring at a spreadsheet to the left and a calculator spewing a long spiral of paper tape to the right he decided to go to law school. Now he was still an accountant’s accountant but he was also a lawyer’s lawyer.
He rode the foundation’s car service into a sketchy run-down industrial part of town that he had never been in before. The car disgorged him on the sidewalk and drove off. The driver knew a favorite burger joint nearby and would wait there for a call.
Waters looked at the rusty hulking warehouse in front of him and found the heavy steel door. Off to the side was a button and a small speaker. He frowned at the sign on the door:
“My Hovercraft is Full of Eels”
“What the hell does that mean?” Waters mumbled to himself. He smoothed the fabric of his expensive suit, adjusted his tie, and pushed the button. Almost immediately a voice crackled from the speaker, “Com on in, it’s not locked.”
He tugged, the door squeaked and gave way, opening into a dark, vast space filled with smoke. Waters coughed and entered. He knew the smoke wasn’t tobacco. Some sort of a massive sound system spewed out the deafening beats of overamplified electronic dance music. As his eyes grew used to the dim light the first thing he saw was a massive, lumpy pile of grayish clay heaped up in the middle of the room. He knew that must be the sculpture in question. It didn’t look like it was very close to being finished.
Waters looked around and spotted a group of three men sitting on a huge overstuffed couch. On a table made of a big wooden cable reel sat a massive hookah and a collection of plastic bongs filled with dark water. A galvanized five gallon bucket of ice and studded with bottles of beer leaked a puddle of water onto the concrete floor. Two women stood in front of the men, eyes closed, dancing to the pulsing rhythm of the loud music.
“Are either of you two Sacha Row?” Waters shouted at the dancing women. They ignored him.
“Sacha? Naw… She’s in the back,” said the guy in the middle of the couch.
“You wanna talk to her?” said the guy on the left.
“Sacha! Some guy out here wants to talk to you! Sacha!” yelled the guy on the right. He had quite a pair of lungs on him… he was able to out-shout the music.
“Jeez, Doc, I heard you the first time, who’all is here to see me?” Sacha said as she walked out of an office at the back of the space.
Waters felt his jaw drop and a warm pit form in his stomach when he saw her. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. “Sacha Row?” he managed to choke out.
“That’s me!” she said as she walked directly up to him. On the way, past the ice bucket, she leaned over with incredible grace and pulled out a bottle.
“Ms. Row… I am a lawyer and a forensic accountant here representing the Wintringham Foundation concerning the sizeable grant you received for the sculpture commission. The schedule is vastly past due and,” he said gesturing at the mass of clay, “the product doesn’t seem to be in a deliverable condition.”
“Well, first, call me Sasha, please, and second… well, great art can’t be rushed.”
“Umm… Sasha, we have noticed that you have withdrawn the majority of the funds allocated for bronze casting has been withdrawn… prematurely…”
“I’m not sure if either of us are in a mood to talk business right now… So, here, have a swig,” she said as she handed him the bottle. He realized it wasn’t beer – but some sort of cheap Mescal. In a trance, Waters raised the bottle. The liquid burned like liquid lava and he coughed as he swallowed. Sasha grabbed the bottle from him, stuck the neck into her mouth and tipped her head back. Waters watched as she held it there with the bottle sticking straight up, upside down. He was the worm sink slowly down through the clear alcohol, into the neck of the bottle, until it disappeared between Sasha Row’s lips. There was a gulp and a pulse in her throat… and the worm was gone.
Willard Walters was hopelessly in love. It was no use. He also realized that Sasha knew it too. He took another big, deep burning drink.
“Now, Willard,” Sasha said, “We’ve been using the money for a little ongoing party here… and we don’t see any reason to stop. Don’t you agree?”
Waters nodded. He took another drink. He stared at the hookah on the table. But one thought suddenly pushed into his consciousnesses.
“Sasha, you know that no matter what I do, they’ll send someone else.”
“I know. They’ve sent others before. You are not the first.”
“But what happened with them?”
Sasha Row merely gestured at the three men on the couch.