This is the fourth entry in the satirical series at https://www.abctales.com/collection/pandemic-tales-bojo-and-co
It had been a long, old Pandemic. There was relief amongst the general ranks that something like normality had finally been reached. As the imperious, grandfather clock in the corner of the drawing room chimed to announce the arrival of 10pm, the shaggy, blonde Etonian powered down his laptop and stood up to fetch his coat. He was due out on the tiles tonight with his old mucker, Michael G.
“The Punter” neon sign flashed intermittently with it casting a pulsing reflection in the rain puddles on the cobbled street. A night club for the rich and famous, it was well known for the discretion of its staff. Two burly men stood at the front doors, a rope cordon stretched out along the pavement. A black cab pulled up just a few feet away from the muscle-bound bouncers, both with square jaws, crew cut haircuts and wearing black dinner jackets, bow ties and trousers. Two passengers alighted and made their brief way to the entrance.
“Can I check your passports, please?” asked one of the doormen in an East European accent, arms no longer hanging down to his waist with one hand placed on top of the other.
The politicians reached for their respective mobile phones and flashed their screens at the gatekeeper.
“Thank you. I can see your proof of vaccination. Welcome to Punters.” “Welcome” sounded like “Velcome” with the faintest whiff of Count Dracula.
Music pulsed from inside with a rhythmic base and drum beat. The shaggy blonde man wore a tieless white shirt and black trousers, looking particularly unremarkable which was the intention. Michael was wearing a blue blazer and sailor’s hat which drew a few glances from other men.
The club was packed with revellers with a deejay set at the front of a square dance floor. Strobe lighting mixed with fluorescent green and yellow spots of light that appeared and disappeared at random intervals. Bodies writhed in unison at the sounds coming from the deck looking down at the crowd. Men stood in small groups, swigging from beer glasses and casting obvious looks as they checked out women dancing (some checked out other men) while young, teenage and twentysomething girls roamed in couples in search of more fun and potential partners to snare.
The two entrants shuffled through the throng with an occasional apology for buffeting someone as they finally made it to the long bar at the back of the large room. Another large, fluorescent sign was lit up on the rear wall obscured by optics. It read “P U N T E R S” with the individual letters attached to and separated on a plastic tethering like a paper chain. There was something slightly camp about the whole set up.
“What are you having, PM?” asked Michael.
“Ah a gin and tonic if you will. The sun is…is…long…looooong over the yardarm….is it not?” The PM bumbled this with a hesitancy between words.
The bartender took the order looking quizzically at the two drinkers who stood out from the crowd. The blonde man grinned at him and winked theatrically. As they took their respective tipples, turned and left the barman shook his head quietly as he continued to serve others waiting.
“Shall we head for the booths?” enquired Michael. His doughy, round face and spectacles made him look like the Michelin Man from the TV adverts of yester year.
They ploughed their way through human traffic, people chatting, folks dancing, men and women generally having a good time. At the back of the room were pillars that signalled private areas where nightclub goers could sit on crescent-shaped settees that bounded small, circular wooden tables big enough to cater for drinks. The two men took the step up to the first enclave that was raised from floor level. Initially, it looked empty but as light swept across and lit the area, a man was revealed hunched over a laptop. His computer was on the seat with its owner sitting side on to it. The table housed a single pint of lager. He looked up at the intruders.
“Is that you, Dom?” the shaggy-haired man asked incredulously.
A balding man stared back, looking like a deer caught in a landrover’s headlights. Light bounced from the top of his head. “Ah, PM..fancy seeing you here. I was just working on my….um…my blog.” The man’s diction was quiet and drawn out, each word carefully considered and with a low sneer.
“Oh...anything of interest then, Dom?” the PM bumbled.
“Nothing that would…um….concern you, PM. Nothing at all.” Dom shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Michael raised his eyebrows and looked questioningly at him. Before he could challenge the short man with the large forehead, a bouncer appeared from behind.
“Are these men hassling you, sir?” Both of the Parliamentarians spun around to see a huge, black man wearing dark glasses and a black suit. He looked like an outcast from the Men in Black movies. Dom rose from his seat, resplendent in his chequered shirt and camel coloured trousers. There was a glow stick peeking out of his back pocket.
“No, no…that’s fine. They were just leaving.” He grinned mischievously.
At that the men sloped off in search of an empty booth. As they passed one particular enclosed area, they could see a man searching for something. He seemed to be checking out security cameras that were stationed on walls squirrelled away into unobtrusive corners. Behind him, seated in the background was a woman who was nervously following his every action. Michael turned to the PM and announced softly “Matt’s here. Do you remember when you called him a hopeless wan-?” Before he could finish, the PM interjected “Let’s get on, Michael. Every man and his dog seems to be in tonight. Maybe it’s better to simply…simply….leave.” The bumbling chancer took his mobile phone out of his pocket and tapped out a text message and pressed the send button. A few seconds later a reply pinged. He screwed his eyes and peered at the screen. Looking up he smiled. “Let’s get out of here.” He ordered.
As the music drove on, a collection of tiny, microscopic rogues roamed from one person to another. For anyone with an electron microscope, the virus would have been visible but to the naked eye, these viral gnats were impossible to spot. They swirled and swooped like a swarm of bees, infecting person after person, thriving on each drawing in of breath. One group spotted the two ministers and swerved to change direction. A forged, digital Covid passport meant that the infected Henry Smith had brought some unwelcome guests with him.
The PM and Michael made their way back to past the cloakroom. They headed towards a door that took them to a corridor and the exit. Behind them an invisible mass followed ready to feast. The men slipped past the burly bouncers who were still vetting new entrants and out into the cold, night air. Headlamps illuminated the street as a silver Mercedes pulled up. The seething body of particles that was in pursuit was just centimetres away now, closing in on its prey. The virus reared up ready to dive down and infiltrate the unsuspecting victims. As the first scouts reached the mouths of the men, a shadowy figure opened a rear door of the luxury car and got out.
“Your lift sirs.” She said in an authoritative tone.
“Ah Priti, good to see you.” The PM squawked.
The columns of virus stopped dead in its tracks and considered this change in situation. The last thing it wanted was to conquer new terrain only to fall victim to the recently established “Nationality and Borders Bill” and find itself repatriated to another land. It swirled in the air for a few seconds pondering before heading off in the general direction of London Town.
Priti stared at the men sternly, her black, swirling cape with high neck collar made her look quite gothic. As she smiled her teeth shone a pearly white colour and you could be forgiven for noting two small fangs on either side of her mouth. Bats circled her head as blood dripped gently to the ground when she spoke in the murky light.
Meanwhile, a male driver was looking fixedly ahead from his seat, wearing his peaked cap and appearing stoically efficient. Doors slammed shut as the cabinet ministers got in. The car’s engine quietly revved in anticipation of pulling away; a camera clicked as Dom appeared in the nightclub doorway and took several pictures with his paparazzi, long-lens camera.
“More material for the blog. Two muppets and a vampire – perfect.” He muttered.
Image free to use via WikiCommons at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wikipedia_space_ibiza(03).jpg
This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents
are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a
fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental