Tales Of The ACTION MAN (Fiction???)

by Roger Neville-Neil

From Aural Innovations #11 (July 2000)


  1. Twice As Much Fun... Twice As Much Action... Man
  2. Faster Than A Commuter Train!
  3. Lights Camera, Action Man!
  4. If You Can't Breeze Through - Draw Attention To Yourself
  5. The Simple Art Of Slumming
  6. Shakedown On First Avenue
  7. Great Balls Of Fire

Chapter 5:
The Simple Art Of Slumming

I tucked the flier into my inner jacket pocket. Snapped it shut. Then zipped the jacket up. I wanted to have it handy and I wanted to be able to produce it quickly.

I grabbed the zipper and tugged it downward. Reached into my jacket and found the card. Pulled it out. Looked at the address on it. Smiled and returned it to the inside pocket. Good. I was all set.

Technically the the address was located in an area that I refer to as North Portland. Not a place I would want to be walking home from.

I was carrying a few Tri-Met time tables and knew exactly when I had to catch the last bus back. I had stared at the those numerals on the schedule way too long. Burning the time into the little green screen of my mind. The burned spot proclaimed only one thing-- EXIT.

The sky was crisp and clear. The moon was full and bright. An orbiting street lamp out in space. Tonight it was radiating a chill. Generating a breeze. The pages of my thoughts rustled, attempting to blow away. But failed with every attempt at flight. They were firmly clipped in my mind. Anchored deeply. The wet-wear sloshing in my skull like a hapless moored chinese junk at low tide.

I squinted to read the street signs passing by the bus window. It had become too dark to make much sense out of the fleeting parade of street banners sailing by.

The bus driver telepathically dipped his ladle into my thoughts. Tasted my concern. Digested what I wished to know. He started to announce the major intersections as we approached them. A talent lacking in most public service sectors.

I stepped off the bus at N.E. 23rd and Alberta. It was desolate, dark, and decrepit. What few shops there were were closed. I pulled the collar of my jacket tighter around my neck and looked up at the night sky. The moon looked back. It assigned me with a shadow. This tailed me the rest of my journey as I canvased the neighborhood.

I spotted the bus stop for my return trip on 24th. Very close to where I would be. This was a lucky break. The street is deserted. It looked like this will go off like clockwork. Just the way I like it. Timely. Orderly. All the bases covered.

The porch of the house in question had a small gathering of young people. I walked up the steps and paused. They watched as I approached. Talking amongst themselves. They saw me pause and raised me another. It was a hand of social poker. I bluffed. They called.
"What can we do for you?"
"Is this the place for the King Black Acid party?"
"Yes.... do you have an invitation."
I reached into my coat and fanned out the flier, "Yes."
Mr. speaker raised his eyebrows and smiled, "Hey this guy's all ready and prepared. I like it!"
I smiled back.
"Ah, there's a suggested--"
"Donation of five bucks." I fish in my pocket and peal out a single Lincoln. President's Day was approaching. It sounded fair to me. Might as well free one of the green slaves in my wallet.

A young lady ushered me into the house and handed me back the flier to show the next person. This proved to be a beautiful dame with a red marking pen. She took my card and drew something in red on my right palm. If my palm was being read... I was in luck! It was the symbol of INFINITY. Unless I raised my hand to greet someone. Then I was just a number. Number 8.

She told me how to get to the basement. I nodded and walked off. Where I ended up was not the basement. I was standing in someone's bedroom.

Damn! Okay this would require a bit of non- male strategy. I'll go back and ask directions from the dame that read my palm. Of course I could do the hard-boiled thing and just find it myself, but this would require investigating all the rooms until I found the rope leading down into the basement. A casual observer might mistake this for a secret room search.

After politely asking again for directions I found the basement. A thin, knotted red rope led down. The steps where wooden. The descent was tricky. The rope was tied to the bottom step. This would at least prevent unintended acts of Tarzanism.

The basement was a bachelor pad version of a night club. A classic stand-up arcade game stood near the base of the stairs. A stage at the far side. Several sofas on either side of the room. A bar section at the back with a small table and a lush green palm plant off to the side it. Oh yes, and a pool table.

I spoke to Scotty, KBA's drummer, and showed him some of the red photos I took last week. We discussed the problems of red lighting.

Spying the sofa, I walked over and sat down. Instantly I was swallowed up by its softness and listed to one side. A broom handle was next to my left hand. The broom had apparently decided to lean against the sofa for a rest.

Daniel Riddle (Mr. KBA) spotted me, "Hey Action Man! have you been sweeping?" My eyes glanced at the broom. "No, I just flew in!"
Daniel's smile grew larger. "You just flew in on this broom?"
"Yeah." I mulled this over. Nice wisecrack. Automatic. Witty. Totally spontaneous. Maybe I've been living in too many Raymond Chandler stories lately. I need to get out more often. Mingle and be less fictional.

It would be an interesting evening. There was a keg. Many snacks. A mixture of people ranging all ages. Young and middle. A young dark haired dame caught my eye. She was dressed in black. Black pants and a black tube top. That isn't what caught my eye. She didn't need to worry about exposing herself. As far as her tube top goes-- she was packin' pancakes. But I'll give her the benefit of the doubt... maybe she was smuggling a side order of scrambled eggs as well. I didn't care. They weren't on the menu. It was the twin SLR cameras slung around her waist that caught my eye. Yeah, Lens envy! This was a dame that was ready for action. I planned to keep an eye on Miss tube top and check out her style.

The fist band on stage was called "VISIT". A young band, under 21, playing music with a Pink Floyd type sound. Watching them gave me a chance to observe the lights. There was a bank of lights on the floor in front of the stage that could be changed from red, green, and blue. At the back of the stage was an area of small milky lights behind a gauze veil. It was a nice contrast but the ceiling was low. Daniel would have to be sure not to jump up and down. He would have no clearance at all.

The lights did have a draw back. If you put more than one colour on at the same time in the front bank-- you tripped the breaker switch for the lights. Then the band would be playing in the dark. This only works for the end of a song. Nothing else. Nobody's idea of a tunnel of love includes a rock band and a large audience to cheer you on. The glory days of Rome are all now just history. No more arenas filled with lions-- just people that dressed like them.

Miss tube top was standing and shooting photos of the first band-- point blank. Her lens looked long. Very long.Telephoto. Probably doing close in shots and cropping. But what speed film? What type of film? Colour? Black and white? I was thinking in Black and white. After all, this was only a basement.

A middle aged bloke in a beard spotted me and got up from the sofa. Walked over to the area I was sitting and struck up a conversation. I thought he looked familiar. Then again all aging hippies look alike. His beard was full and wild. His hair was tucked up under a squarish cloth cap. It reminded me of Africa.

I asked if he had a digital camera. He said no, but he wished that he had one. Scratch one suspect from the list. He wasn't the guy I spotted at the KBA's last show. I was wondering how he fit in.
"My daughter brought me."
I gave him a quizzical look. Now there's a new twist on an old theme. My eyebrows telegraphed interest.
"She's over there. At the pool table."

My eyes swivelled across the room switching to cinemascope. She was at the side of the pool table, cue in hand-- eyeing the balls. She was a doll. Looking like she was from the Lake district. The VERONICA LAKE district. Thick, wavy ripples of brilliant blonde hair cascaded from her head. They spilled down around her sleek neck and soft shoulders creating angelic eddy currents of renaissance beauty. She'd look right at home with a knight's lance potting the eight ball up a dragon's side nostril. She didn't need saving. She could do it all herself. A real FEMME FATALE!

I nodded approval, "I've seen her at a few of the shows." Usually right down front. Sometimes cheering Sarah on.
"She's under age."
My eyes rolled back and forth in their sockets. Oh-Dear, time for a fast snow job. "Ah, I think at some of the all age shows!"
Mr. Wild beard laughed. "She almost 21. She's just started training at a Restaurant/pub."

Good. I didn't say anything that would curtail her music appreciation activities. I excused myself and got up to prepare to take photos of King Black Acid.

King Black Acid started playing and I discovered how slow my camera sounded as I shot a few photos. I wanted to get this roll finished and switch to a faster speed film. I noticed Miss tube top to my left. I noticed her style change. Now she was going into a low crouch like I was doing to take my photos.

During a lull between songs. As a new song was starting up quiet and slow. I heard voices talking over the P.A. Something I had heard before. I concentrated and recognized the voices as Dorothy and the Scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz". How Ironic, I had made a wisecrack earlier to Daniel about flying in on a broom. Classic! This continued to haunt me throughout the set. In the back of my mind was this nagging feeling that King Black Acid was singing something very much related to Dorothy's problems. Finding yourself in a strange place. Feeling alone and wondering how you're going to get back home. These thoughts kept resurfacing the more I paused between shots. Bubbling. Churning. Refusing to go away.

I got to the second roll and felt the film was responding better but the shots were tight. Not a lot you could do. The lights had been red mostly at first. Till I asked one of the guys near the light controls to switch to the green lights. I'd had it with red. I'd seen enough of it to think I'd been relocated to Mars. Besides, Miss tube top had taken a lot of her shots during the red lights. I might as well give myself an edge and improved my shots with better lighting.

While taking a few more photos I suddenly felt something. Something very close. Something alive. Then I heard it. A faint sound whisper in my left ear-- CLICK!

Miss tube top had joined me in my crouch. We were side by side taking the same shots. From the same position. From the same pose. very close together-- on the floor. Any closer and we'd be sharing the same tube top. But it was way too late for breakfast. And like I said before-- she wasn't on the menu!

KBA took a break. I checked my watch. There was still some time left before I would need to go. No way would I stay for the full set. I wasn't going to risk taking the "BIG WALK" home.

I went upstairs to join the queue for the loo. It was a line governed by two young ladies. I say governed as they were in no hurry to go into the loo. Instead they enjoyed organizing who could use it next.

Another guy had wandered into this queue when I had made the gentlemanly offer to let them go first. He was well groomed and casual corporate in a relaxed dressed sort of way.

The loo twins declined my offer saying that they are very quick and go into the loo together... to help each other. After all, they were civilized!

Mr. Gentleman rolled his eyes, hemmed and hawed and shot me a very amusing look. He didn't know what to say. He was gobsmacked.

The two young ladies enjoyed catching him off guard and kept talking with him playfully. It was rather entertaining to listen to their banter with him. I think they like messing with people's heads. (pun not intended). It was two to one and they clearly had the upper hand.

The short, young blonde was particularly well endowed. She was armed with a sharp, clever tongue. She was on the mark and had much more than just an ace up her sleeve. But that isn't where I was looking. She shot me a few mischievous smiles. She had a full house and she knew it. The sparkle in her eyes was pure neon. A beacon in the dark hall along the shores of the loo. A siren leading sailors to their doom.

Later, I mentioned to Daniel that I was taking off and he told me if I miss the bus to come back. He lives in the area and I could stay there. Then I could help carry their equipment out. I laughed. "I think I better not miss the bus so I can avoid that!" Daniel just smiled. It was that friendly wide cheshire cat smile.

As I walked out of the house I heard the chirping of the Loo twins. The blonde spun her head around to see who else was walking the same street she was. I was going the opposite way... so silence soon blanketed me in the chill of night.

The trip home was routine. No one was on the street. It was a quiet night. I just wondered what kind of photographs I had taken this time around.

CLICK HERE to continue to Chapter Six: Shakedown On First Avenue

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