In the hallway Lime tells me that the speakers used to vibrate way more before they had wave distance limiting programming. I wonder what that was like? You can still hear the low beat of speakers from outside a building even with wave distance limiting. It must have been incredibly loud in the past. Could you hear everything from outside? How could anyone keep their party a secret back then? Lime tells me that regular citizens would report raves just because of the noise. Wouldn't people want parties in their neighborhood? It seems like the kind of thing that rich people would want to be around, to feel cool and close to art and music without having to touch it. I guess things were different back then.
There are 2 bathrooms. 1 is a mess and the other is packed. We stand in line and meet a couple new friends. Jisco and Rei are a couple from East LA who both repair old computers. One of them had an old iMac with a damaged keyboard. Apparently it is hard to find a pair that match because back then they used to make them in different colors and most of them got thrown out after 3 years of use. They met while on a hunt for a replacement cord. Jisco was able to make a new one that looked just like the classic clear design.
"See they used this plastic fiber insulation that looks like platinum through the clear casing and no one has done that for decades but I found Jisco who knew exactly what I was talking about and was thrilled to help," Rei explains.
"Did you sell the complete machine?" Lime asks.
"Yeah but I kind of regret it."
"Don't say that!" Jisco says, grabbing Rei's hand. "You needed the CASH and we can just make a new one, you know." Rei smiles at them but I can tell they aren't completely convinced.
"That one was special. It was our first baby, you know?" Rei looks at me. "I'm sure you 2 have something like that from when you first met, that you regret losing."
I nod. Lime looks at me. "The backpacks," I say.
"I still have mine!" she squeals. "Why did you throw yours out!?"
"I mean it wore out. It wasn't the best backpack. It was really cute though." She probably didn't really use hers. Still, it's touching that she kept hers. "That's really nice that you kept yours this whole time," I add. She smiles and wraps her arm around me. I wonder if she really kept it for sentimental reasons or if she just forgot about it in her closet.
"I should have brought it tonight. It would have absolutely matched the theme!" she gushes. "It was one of those mini backpacks with a clear cutout of a heart in the back so you can see inside."
"Not the most practical thing since we are both runners but still so cute!" I add.
"You are couriers?" Jisco asks.
We both nod.
"Does that pay well? It seems like a hard job. You have to know the city really well."
"We only really pick up and deliver from West LA to Downtown," I explain. "There are the occasional exceptions but all the jobs that come through the Directory keep us in our neighborhoods."
"What if someone needs something delivered on the other side of the city?" they ask.
"I don't know. They get a different runner to do it I guess," I reply.
"Oh so they specify the pickup and dropoff when they place the order? That makes sense. Then they can just assign local couriers?"
"Well, not exactly..." I start, but realize I don't really know how to finish. "To be honest, it's a bit of a mystery to us. But the clients apparently get it."
"I heard that everyone gets communications in human code. Is that true?" Rei asks.
"Yeah I mean we do, but I don't know about clients. I think maybe the requests are just encrypted maybe..." Lime interrupts me to complain about the line to get into the bathroom. And gives me an intense look. Is she suspicious of this couple? How would they sell illegal computers without knowing about delivery services? I guess they probably have their own market on the East Side but suddenly I feel like I shouldn't ask.
Lime starts asking them questions about computers from 2000. Is she quizzing them? She suddenly got really serious. Am I being paranoid? We started talking to them. They haven't asked us about what we are delivering, or if we are on jobs right now. Maybe I shouldn't be nervous. I don't feel nervous. What a strange thing- to be worried about something but not to feel worried. They say that true intuition is not accompanied by fear. If that's true than I should trust this lack of feeling and not trust these 2 ravers. They seem so nice though. Does Lime really still have her backpack? I wonder if she left anything in it from back then. I'd love to see it. I'll look for it the next time I'm in her room.
We get into the bathroom and Lime and I rush into the first available stall. She whispers to me while I'm peeing that she doesn't like talking about work to strangers anymore.
"Yeah I get the feeling maybe they weren't... well not a feeling, more like a lack of feeling..." I start but see she is rummaging in her bag. "What are you looking for?" I ask.
"Just like to check to make sure I didn't forget what I have on me, you know. Just in case."
"You got anything exciting in there?" I ask, leaning over the bag.
Probably not as much as you. I haven't worked in a while," she says, shooing me off the toilet.
"Why haven't you been working?" I ask. She is trying to hold her pants up at the bottom to keep them from touching the wet bathroom floor while squatting down.
"I just haven't really felt like going out I guess." She pulls the bottoms up over her knees.
"I wish my knees looked like yours," I say.
"They are so big and boney!" She laughs.
"Mine are like hidden inside the rest of my legs!" I say, pulling my green skirt back up.
"But your legs are so much stronger, it's like they are using the knees better. Mine are just like extra bone with nothing to hold onto them." She pokes at her thighs violently.
"Well The Public approves of them!" I say, trying to gently rub away the imagined welts that her poking left behind. She laughs and pushes away my hands.
"Let's get out of here now before that couple sees us leave," she whispers.
I've never seen her so nervous about strangers before. Usually she is talking to everyone at parties like this about running, what illegal goods she saw that week, telling stories about how dangerous a job it can be and all that. And isn't this drug supposed to make you more trusting of others? Did something happen recently? Is that why she hasn't worked in a while? She still had that CASH to buy the drugs with. I suppose that could have been from 2 weeks ago but that's the shelf life of CASH before it autoclears, but is 2 weeks "a while?"
We decide to snuggle in the blue room and return to the merch table again before dancing. We see the kids from New York and I introduce them to Lime. They seem very drunk and happy and invite us to some party that they heard about.
I am worried that the night is flying by faster than I realize. Each second feels heavy but also fleeting. I can't help but feel like time is ticking closer and closer to the party getting busted. I tell Lime that maybe we should go soon. She whines that talking about the party getting busted will surely make it happen. I think that means that she is ready to go but I'm wrong. She keeps seeing people she knows. She introduces me to each of them, even though I know most of them from ages ago. I keep saying, "Yeah, hi we are actually on our way out." It takes two hours to move her to the door and we are talking to a straight couple in head to toe denim outfits outside when the police arrive. I grab Lime's arm and duck down the road away from the building.
She asks me if I want to take another dose for the skate home and I agree to. The pill tastes a little less pleasant this time but the air feels amazing and we glide through the empty streets. She shouts to me that she is cold and we stop and I try to give her Mix's hoodie but she takes the rib cage t-shirt instead. It miraculously looks chic hanging off her wide shoulders, down past her hips to those giant white pants.
The lights of the buildings are beautiful. Even the advertisements are glowing with warm energy.
"We are the children of the night!" Lime sings at the top of her lungs. "And fight for the future of our nation! Let's come together and unite! Nothing's gonna stop us now!"
I remember this song. She used to make me listen to it all the time back when we took the subway for her pickups way back before I started running too.
"Let the fire burn inside! Nobody can stop this generation! Cause we are the children of the night! They'll never ever put you down!" I sing with her.
"Sugar!" Lime yells to me from the other side of the street. Her sweating face is illuminated by the billboard lights. "They really thought they could change things!" I skate over to her. "But maybe it just wasn't time yet! Maybe they were just... Like they saw the future you know... everything was changing back then! They went from isolation to internet in just a few years! Suddenly people could communicate across this massive ya know... geography! ...that separated them... and they knew that it would mean they could finally you know..."
A green neon sign reflects in her eyes. She is searching for the words.
"Have a new way to live, you know? Without wealth and oppression and ignorance. Just people helping each other. Learning how to love unconditionally and trust you know. Without the Earth between them, then they could destroy like... all the systems that abuse people and them tell them they can't live without that old Earth."