Originally published in Podioracket Presents – Glimpses
“I was working at this stim joint, a place called Ultra-Sissons. It’s not where I’m working now — I wasn’t a bartender then, just a busser. Cleaning up the used cartridges, tidying chairs, occasionally tossing out the odd rowdy. Anyway, I wasn’t important or anything, it was just an entry level job. Nothing special.
“This doesn’t even have to do with me, though. It was one of the regulars. Guy who called himself Johnny Burling. I don’t know if that was his real name or what, but that didn’t matter much. We never cared about that kind of thing too much at Ultra. Johnny was a regular — in most every night. He wasn’t one of the troublemakers; you know the kind I mean: those folks who shoot cartridges all night until they can’t even piss straight, and you have to slip them a sobriety™ round at closing time just to get them out the door. Every stim place I’ve seen has those kind of regulars. I guess they pay the bills.
“But that’s not Johnny. He was strictly a Red Zinger man — it was always the same for him. Two Red Zingers over the course of a few hours, and by the time he was starting his second he was off in his own little world. He told me once that he was creating a cooperative narrative, if you can believe it. He’d come in, take his hits of focus™ and creativity™ and zone out. He’d spend the next three hours busy working away in his onboard system – eyes all unfocussed but zipping back and forth, like he’s dreaming or something, you know? I guess he got a lot of work done that way.
“He was plenty friendly, though, before the stims really got into him. Liked to talk to the other chatty cathies in the joint, and talked to me plenty, too. Bussing was a pretty boring job, and to tell the truth most of the other regulars were no fun, so talking to Johnny was often as good as it got. He was a funny guy.
“Anyway, the point is that I liked him. He was nice — harmless, you know? Never did anything mean to anyone. He just didn’t deserve what happened.”
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