Parables of Clippety (12) - The Keys To The City
By Jane Hyphen
There was a moment of silence while Jurgen continued to lean back with his closed eyes, breathing slowly, his chest going up and down but as soon as he opened them, he was changed, different, the cool calmness had gone, it was as if somebody had lit his fuse; in short, Jurgen was wired. ‘I want to go clubbing,’ he shouted, ‘come one ladies, let’s go clubbing!’
‘Really?’ said Marni. ‘Around here, won’t you get mobbed by fans?’
‘No, no, everyone’s used to me here. They don’t even notice me. I’m like the wallpaper in this town these days. Just pull up outside The Red Planet, it’s left down here, then second right, that’s it. Now just a bit farther, look there, just there, where those people are gathered.’ There was a long queue outside, people all dressed up, waiting to get into the club. ‘They know me so well in here, you can just leave the vehicle outside.’
Clare caught Marni’s eye in the rear-view mirror. They frowned at each other, both feeling a little bit unsettled by the behaviour of their charge. ‘It’s double yellows,’ she said, gripping the steering wheel.
‘I told you, it will be fine,’ he said, pulling open the door catch, before the car had even stopped. ‘Follow me inside,’ he said as he launched himself out of the vehicle, slamming the door behind him. Two bouncers stood in front of the doors with their arms crossed and bodies as wide as brick walls, they nodded and immediately parted to let Jurgen pass then closed up tight again as Clare and Marni approached. He turned back and shouted something incomprehensible to them and they smiled reluctantly and let the ladies through.
Music was pumping inside, loud enough to loosen fillings. It felt as if Clare and Marni had suddenly entered another world and neither was sure if they liked it. People turned their heads to stare at Jurgen, fist bumping him as he passed by. A young girl in green hotpants walked over with a tray of shots. He took one in each hand and downed both of them in quick succession then nodded for the ladies to partake by pointing at the remaining shots.
Marni and Clare looked at each other. ‘I’m scared,’ said Marni, ‘things are moving too fast and it’s so bloody loud in here.’ Clare couldn’t hear her and she only shook her head and knocked it back.
They followed Jurgen into an area in front of the smoke machine, thick wispy plumes of fog obscured him from view, they could just make out a reflective strip on the back of his tracksuit. ‘Come on ladies,’ he shouted, ‘let’s go and dance!’
Now Jurgen’s dancing was bold and uninhibited, his limbs moved in great jerks and he pulled crazy faces as if all the stress of the day on the pitch was leaving his body like an exorcism. Clare and Marni stood next to him, making conservative movements in time to the music and looking at each other for some kind of direction and reassurance.
Marni still had a large plaster stuck to her forehead and she kept touching it to make sure it was staying in place, so much so that it had the effect of loosening it so that it floated, surfing the layer of sweat on her forehead. She wanted to speak to Clare, to ask her what she thought about the situation but it was pointless, her voice would only get lost in the music. It seemed only Jurgen’s voice was loud enough to cut through it.
‘We, we should go down into the tunnel,’ he said, waving his arms around and making flashing gestures with his fingers as if he were trying to shake moisture off them. The ladies had to dodge his long, gangly arms so that they didn’t get injured.
Clare shook her head and shrugged. ‘What tunnel?’ she said.
He cocked his head and beckoned them to follow him into an area where the dry ice hung so thick in the air that his legs had disappeared completely, he was just an ethereal head and torso with strong shoulders still moving to the music. It seemed that there were no other people around now. A small sign said ‘VIP’s Only’ and below it was one of those thick ropes, hanging in a swag, fastened at both ends to a chrome pole. Jurgen turned to them and winked as he unclipped it and let it fall to the floor.
He led them along a corridor, the fog had cleared slightly and they could see their surroundings a bit better but it was still dark and either side of them appeared to be a wall carved from stone. They followed Jurgen down a short flight of stairs and then through an unmarked door which he opened by typing in a code which he got wrong twice, accompanied by lots of swearing in German before successfully unlocking it on his third attempt.
It felt as if the temperature had plummeted and the floor which had been beneath their feet was replaced by something hard, uneven like rock. ‘It’s so dark and cold down here,’ said Marni with panic in her voice. ‘I think I want to go back to the club now, Jurgen.’
‘Oh no, the club is for the youngsters. You’ve come this far. There is so much for you to see. I want to show you the hidden depths of Liverpool. You know you’re both very lucky to be here.’
Clare grabbed hold of Marni’s arm to reassure her. ‘How come you know about this place?’ she asked.
‘Because I’ve been adopted by the people here and I have the keys to the city. I can go anywhere, do anything and nobody can stop me.’
‘I think we should be getting back to the hotel Jurgen. It’s been so very kind of you to bring us here and we really appreciate everything you’ve done for us but Marni has suffered a bang on the head today and I don’t really feel safe walking around down here in this place, whatever it is.’
‘Oh you two are such boring middle-aged ladies. I bet your hotel is down by the docks. Am I right?’
‘Yes,’ said Marni, ‘it’s just next to the water.’
‘Well this is the quickest route and I have this very powerful torch on my phone. I will lead you and show you the underworld as we make our way.’
Clare gasped. ‘The…underworld?’
‘Yes,’ Jurgen hissed, half spinning round but not quite enough to look back at them. ‘A city like Liverpool has seen so much life, good and bad, it’s full of spirits. There are so many spirits in Liverpool that they cannot haunt the streets, for they would be bumping into one enough and constantly walking through the living and causing them to shiver.’ There was a pause, before he continued, ‘So they reside down here.’
Jurgen walked ahead and the two ladies held onto each other for dear life. ‘I wish we’d never done this,’ Marni whispered, 'I just want to be a boring middle-aged lady.'
‘I'm sorry, he’s nothing like I expected,’ said Clare, ‘I could have sworn he had horns on his head when he turned to speak to us just now.’
‘His feet sound like hooves Clare. I’m frightened.’
‘Maybe it’s just his shoes, Marni. Don’t worry, we’ll be back at the hotel soon.’
‘I’m sure he was wearing trainers, white and silver trainers, I remember.’
Clare laughed nervously. ‘You know what this is like, don’t you Marni?’
‘What? Actually don’t tell me..’
‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin, that’s German too, isn’t it. The children never get out again, from the cave.’
‘What?’ Shouted Jergun, ‘did somebody say German?’
There was a silent pause, only the echo of Jurgun’s footsteps could be heard, and a faint dripping of water and the sound of Marni hyperventilating. ‘Fuck!’ she said.
‘We were just,’ Clare shouted, weakly, ‘talking about….marzipan.’