Winner. Young friends struggle to get into a night club in London for Freedom Day
|Winner of Writer's Cramp, 2021-07-20
Word count, exclusive of note: 992
A note to readers: The National Health Service (NHS) contact-tracing app will dial or 'ping' someone who has been exposed to a person testing positive for Covid-19. The recipient of the ping is expected to report for testing and isolate. On 'Freedom Day', Prime Minister Boris Johnson was self-isolated at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence.
"Oh, what a blast this will be," enthused Troy. "Piano Works, here we come!" They were on a pub crawl through Soho and were pleasantly half-pissed by the time they left the last pub for the nearby night club.
"No more masks, no more masks!" sang Rose, "Hug me, boyos!" With social distancing removed, the four friends squeezed into a group hug. Little Sally squealed when she got squished in the middle, and they all laughed.
George thought of the report he had read that morning from a virologist at the University of Leicester. The scientist had said that "nightclubs in particular are potent spreading grounds". He kept that thought to himself.
He did venture one comment to his mates. "Ol' Boris, you know, he's backing down on this, saying it's premature 'cuz we still got all kinds of cases. Did you hear him today? 'We must all exercise prudence and respect for others', he says."
"Well, he's an effing killjoy, ain't he?" Rose sneered. "We've waited so long for this. I'm absolutely ecstatic! Hitting the clubs, that's my life, my soul - I love dancing. And it's like I've been effing dead for over a year." She put her arm through George's and together they joined the queue to get into The Piano Works.
"Bloody hell, look at the length of that queue! We'll never get in!" said Troy. "Let's cut over and see if we can jump the queue." They went around the block and approached the door of The Piano Works from the other direction.
"Hey, there, mate!" Troy addressed a total stranger near the head of the line. "Thanks for holding a place for us!" The foursome tried to merge into the line but were promptly and roughly shoved aside -- with considerable thumping--to calls of "Sod off, blast you!" and "Get lost!" and "No queue jumping!".
"Ow, so much for that idea!" said Rose, rubbing her soundly-thumped shoulder.
Little Sally was crying; she had a bruise forming on her cheek. She pointed to it and gave Troy a dirty look. He cringed and held his hands up in mock surrender.
"Got another problem," George noted. "Did you see the cover charge sign? Fifty quid each. Highway robbery, that. Advance tickets used to be only 20 before bloody covid!" He peered in his wallet. "Well, I've got a hunnert for me an' Rose, but that leaves nothing for drinks. How 'bout you, Troy?"
Troy shrugged. "'Bout the same, I s'pose. Maybe we should have skipped the pubs, but who knew the cover would be so high. Little Sally, have you got any readies?" She just rolled her eyes. "Rose, you got a nicker or two on you?"
Rose gave him a disdainful look. "It's you blokes what are supposed to pay."
"Sexist!" Troy shot back. "Where's women's lib when it comes to cash?:
The four were wandering disconsolately up Whitcomb Street when Little Sally whispered into Troy's ear. "Really?" he said. "Right, then, let's give it a try."
They slipped into Whitcomb Court, and then down the alley behind The Piano Works. There was a lady from the club out having a cigarette. Little Sally went up to her and spoke quietly. When the woman finished her smoke, she gestured them in and led them through the backstage area. As they went past, she called out, "Won't it be nice to have a good boogie again?"
"You bet!" "Great!" "Absolutely!" "Thank you!" they called as they surged in with the crowd in the main hall. "What on earth did you say to her?" Rose asked Little Sally. "You got us in for free, just like that. Effing miracle worker, you are!" Little Sally just smiled and mumbled, "Aunt Katie, family, y'know."
"Well you might have told us and saved us a beating when we tried to jump the effing queue." Little Sally just shrugged. Troy kept a protective arm around Little Sally so she wouldn't disappear into the melee, and Rose kept her arm tucked into George's. Wouldn't do to get separated in this mob.
"Cor, like a bloody sardine can, this is!" said Rose. It was true. Exuberant patrons packed the area around the cordoned-off dance floor, with even more coming in. George felt a momentary pang of discomfort: covid-19 cases from the delta variant were rising sharply, and he was having second thoughts. He shrugged it off. They were young and healthy and deserved a good time. Freedom Day!
On the stage, a host stepped up to a microphone and welcomed the crowd. A broad red ribbon crossed the front of the stage, and the host held up a large pair of scissors. "Not long now! We open at midnight for the first dance of 2021! Count with me -- 10, 9, 8..."
At zero, he cut the ceremonial ribbon, and people spilled onto the dance floor. Confetti canons sprayed the crowd, and lights from a disco ball flashed hypnotically. The live band struck up Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody". The four friends threw themselves into motion with a vengeance, and danced to their hearts' delight, lost in a torrent of gyrating, twisting young bodies.
Two hours later, exhausted and pissed to the gills, they emerged onto Whitcomb street to hail a cab.
"Ah, that was wonderful," gushed Rose. "Bloody marvelous, that was!"
"It was that indeed," agreed Troy. He was supporting Little Sally, who showed a distressing tendency to veer off to her right into the street.
Absently, George turned his phone back on and checked his messages. Oh, shite. I've been pinged by the NHS. That bloody Adam at the next desk at work has tested positive for Covid-19 delta. I'm to self-isolate immediately for ten days.
He looked helplessly at his friends. Soon they would all be in quarantine Along with much of the crowd in the club. Oh, well, at least they had had one wonderful night of freedom!