copyright © Victor Paul Borg 1999
"Hey, Trolly, there's a gust of wind blowing in from the sea. You reckon we got enough sounds," Casper said from the dancefloor.
Trolly popped his head out of the DJ hut, enclosed by tinted windows and with a thatched roof. A faint blue washed over the west sky. "It's just a Mediterranean breeze; it'll die down when it gets darker. But come up here Casper anyway, try the sounds man."
In the DJ hut Trolly munched on a home-made cookie. He had a whole bag full of them.
"Fuck, you causing aggravation with them cookies again." Casper shook his head in a mock scorn, then mouthed a cookie. "Don't leave them here, I want to be on my toes for our debut night."
Placing a record on the deck, Casper nudged to start spinning, and jerked up the volume. The windows of the DJ hut trembled as a series of beats flooded the air. Casper banged his head with the beat, smiling at Trolly, and wriggled back and forth the record, producing a series of scratches.
Trolly started shouting to say something. "Now Gozo hasn't seen anything like this," he said, gesturing with his arms. "So play the tribal sounds, starting out from mellow to hardcore. Don't think about putting on your jungle shit tonight. We'll have to let the people get used to the beats before they can handle over-150-bps jungle." He sipped some water and bit into another cookie. He pulled out two record sleeves stacked at the back of the record box. "Don't flash them around unnecessarily. I got a local screening the people and sending them over. Trips go at a fiver, E's at a tenner."
With that Trolly walked purposely to the toilet, and opened the taps wide. Water flushed down the sink. Plenty of water to nurse the E's. Then he headed towards the door. John's bloke was at the door, standing by the pinned poster Trolly and Casper had made on his sister's computer. In bold white ink: "All you need to know about life, the Guardian Angel will illuminate - in residence, every Friday night at The Blue Moon. Tribal and Jungle sounds. Rock it all night long."
The poster showed a whirlwind of ravers entwined together, their hands in the air. On the side, in smaller ink, the DJ's were listed: Live from the UK - DJ Trolly, DJ Casper, and DJ Helix.
Here in Gozo Trolly was launching his social experiment that will sweep through the world like a hurricane. To bring harmony to the cacophony created by capitalism. Gozo, in its innocence, would embrace the energy and love Trolly would pump into the airwaves.
In England the rave scene had lost its energy and love as yuppies came in to make money. They wrestled control of the clubs and drugs, and pushed politicians into making outdoor venues illegal. Their scam worked. They institutionalised raves, sold expensive drugs, and made big money over entrance fees and expensive water. A bottle of water they bought for 20p wholesale, they charged 3 quid at the clubs.
When Trolly first visited Gozo a summer earlier, he had spotted the island's potential. He wanted to organise beach parties, like the ones in Goa, India. But everywhere he tried the residents pounced on him, complaining about the music blasting into the night. Then he saw the potential in The Blue Moon. It was an open-air club perched uphill from a sandy beach. Playing commercial tunes, local men drinking and courting English and German women, but nothing mad happening. Good location, stunning d้cor, perfect venue all wasted on soulless nights. So Trolly returned this summer, found the owner and proposed rave parties every Friday, when it was normally quiet.
"What you saying. I'll rent you my disco for 300 a night," John had said. He was the owner of the Blue Moon, in his late-forties Trolly reckoned. He leaned on the counter, jingling a stack of keys hooked into his little finger, eyeing Trolly down the bridge of his nose.
"No, John that's not what I mean. I'll organise the nights, do the promo, get my DJ's and do it my style, and you run the rest of the club. All I want is a 50% cut of the entrance fee."
John jingled the keys for a moment. "I'm well known here, and everyone who goes out on a Friday comes to my disco. Where are you going to get the people from?"
"The mainland. Young people there are crazy about my music and it's a getaway for them. They would come to Gozo to party. You get maybe 100 people here every Friday; I can fill this place up in a few weeks. Your club will become a shrine for mainland ravers."
John's eyes slithered down Trolly's face. "OK, you do your party on Friday, on a trial basis. On one condition, Trullu, if less people come than we usually get, I will not give you the 50% from the door."
"Suits me fine, mate. We start this Friday."
Now Trolly stood at the door watching the trickle of ravers pour in. Inside Casper was nursing the tribal sounds, mellowing the crowd. Two hundred people had come in, and it was only midnight. He went down to the DJ hut, watching the people dancing. They were still tight. He nudged Casper. "How many E's have you dished out?" "About fifty," Casper replied.
"Good. It should kick in soon." Trolly dropped an E to melt into the crowd and stir them up. He swept his gaze across the faces. John had come in, standing in a corner observing, jingling his keys, his mouth twitching underneath his bushy moustache. Mark was negotiating with a couple of women in a corner. Then he left them and made a beeline for the DJ hut.
"Can I have four pills?"
"You working the crowd well and good," Trolly said. "You done an E yourself."
Mark shook his head.
Trolly shoved a pill into Mark's mouth, which he swallowed. "Got to join in mate work and play go hand in hand. How are the locals taking it?"
"They're grumbling about the music, but they're happy with the extra influx of women."
"They're doing my head in," Casper said. "Coming up here asking me to change the sounds. Dunnit understand when I tell them 'NO FUCKING REQUESTS.'"
"Hey, be fucking polite," Trolly said. "We want them on our side, they'll come round when they feel the energy. But they're used to burning out with booze, it'll take some time."
At that moment John walked up.
Trolly patted him on the back. "Going fine, John, in it?" John nodded, not a flash of emotion in his face. He leaned to the door and observed the ravers on the dance-floor. Trolly mouthed a cookie and handed one to John. "I made them," Trolly said. "I get the munchies out here all night."
"Good," John said, biting into the cookie.
Trolly filled John's hands with cookies, who took them and left. Casper made a face; they broke into a giggle.
A shiver fluttered up Trolly's chest. His legs felt light, his voice strummed, and waves of energy rippled from his chest, up his shoulders, down his arms and legs. A tingling sensation crawled through his skin. His hands trembled. The warm air caressed his face and he breathed in gusts. The music started filling his head. "You ready to give it to them, roll the sounds like."
Trolly grabbed the mike. "All right Gozo-" His voice boomed into the night. People looked up from the dance floor. "The Guardian angel is here, let her fill the night, let her fill your minds and lift you to the skies. Let's rock together like you've never done before. YEAH. Live the night, live the music. We have DJ Casper on the tunes. All together now, let's give him a shout. Now, SCREAM, SCREAM. Yeah. Here we go now. Feel the telepathy, the connection. Hug each other-"
Jingling his keys, John pushed his way from bar to bar. He opened the tills and pocketed the wad of notes in each. In the cellar, he put the notes on the table, to count them and lock them up.
He could hear the dancers pounding overhead. Trullu seemed to be controlling their minds. They followed every word he said on the microphone, screaming and dancing like mad Indians in a Western film.
With the back of his hand John mopped the sweat on his forehead. He looked into a mirror at his flushed face. His eyes were bloodied. His body swayed. When he sat down, his mind started to drift.
He imagined himself in his boat, lying down with a bottle of wine, the sun silvery on the water, nothing between him and the horizon. Lolita towered over him, a wicked smile on her face. She took off her bra, and her large breasts jumped out. She wriggled her shoulders; her breasts jiggled. Her nipples were erect now. He laughed softly as she lowered herself on him-
John shook himself up, gasping slightly as something in his pants started to stiffen. He thought about Lolita serving men at the bar. Only men queued to her side of the bar, all of them watching her breasts brushing the counter. John had employed her because of her breasts; you could fall down a cliff thinking about them.
John started counting the money but lost count halfway through. His mind skittered, thinking about Lolita and Trullu. He had thought Trullu's night would be a teenage joke. With his cobra-skin patterned pants, orange T-shirt, shaved head, and glittering stars stuck to his cheeks and forehead, Trullu looked like someone out of a mental hospital. But there were over 500 people up there never had John done that well on a Friday. He started counting again, losing count again and again. He banged on the table, cursing. He couldn't count, but was aware of a strange thing: the wad of notes was slimmer than the usual Fridays'.
He shifted to the safe, wheeling the combination. It wouldn't budge; he was wheeling in the wrong numbers. He cursed loudly. No one else knew the combination; he hadn't trusted his brother or daughter who helped at the disco.
He lifted his beer to the light. Someone might have drugged him. Someone behind the bar might have drugged him to nick the money. The pounding and screams overhead raked at his stomach. All of them were having a good time at his expense.
John hid the money in a pillow cover. He wavered outside, towards the bar, shoving through the kids jumping up and down. Their red faces and wide eyes sailed past him in a blur. His brother Fred stopped him.
"John we've made less money than usual from the bars," Fred said.
"That, I noticed."
"Most people are drinking water - the mainland misers. At 10c a glass how much money can we make?"
"They haven't detected that the alcohol is mixed with water, have they?" John said.
"Aw, no. Not even alcoholics can detect diluted booze."
The sun was baking the ground when Trolly yawned awake. The night had been a bomb. John had grumbled that the people were not drinking, but overall, the door included, he had made more money than usual. And that was the bottom line. The Guardian Angel nights were on all summer. Historians could start writing down Trolly's social revolution, first cooked in a small Mediterranean island. TROLLY UNSHACKLES HUMANITY FROM FEAR.
He checked his watch and hurried down to Xlendi, to meet Katya. He had met Katya, John's daughter, the previous night. He had spotted her standing near the dance floor, taking in the scene. She looked sexy in her medium-high heels and an off-white dress that had a slit from the thigh downwards. The slit revealed a tanned, smooth skin. Unlike her dad she had a button nose. Trolly fell in love with the way she flicked her long hair. She was 16, pure and innocent.
When he caught her eye and smiled, she smiled back coyly. Trolly headed over.
"Why are you not dancing, come on, let's dance together." Trolly grabbed her arm but she resisted.
"No," she said laughing. "I don't know to dance like you."
"All right, I'll teach you how to dance. Come to the DJ hut."
They had danced for a long time, all the time giggling. Trolly recounted the story of raves in Europe, and the drugs and DJ's and the police. She had listened to every word.
Now Trolly looked for her in Xlendi, to go swimming together. Failing to spot her, he sat down for a drink. His mood slumped. Maybe he had imagined her to be into him under the love-spell of the E. Then she came.
"I came running," she said, gasping for breath.
They started walking along the promenade, to go swimming beyond the tower, at a cove that faced the afternoon sun. Trolly loved the place because it was usually deserted. They would be there with no one else between them, sucking the energy from the sun, and transferring it into each other.
"You overslept?" he asked her.
"No. I wanted to write in my diary."
"Yeah, what did you write?"
"About last night. I had many things to write?"
"Like what?" Trolly said. "I mean how did you write about last night?"
"I write about what you said to me, about the raves-"
"And about us dancing together; and about you."
"What did you write about me?"
She laughed nervously, looking away towards the sea. "That you were very good. Very elegant. You made me happy."
"You brightened my night too, honest," Trolly said. They stopped and faced each other. "Can I give you a kiss?"
She laughed nervously.
Trolly planted a kiss on her cheek. Then their lips brushed and they kissed properly, Trolly's tongue probing her mouth. She squirmed slightly in his grip. Her right hand that rested on his shoulder was trembling.
"You're so pure, I could fall in love with you," Trolly said when they plucked away from each other. "You're so fucking beautiful, honest."
Spreading out their towels on the rocky coast, Trolly lay back. Katya undressed and slipped into the water. Leaning on his elbow Trolly watched her wading away from shore with gentle strokes, the water rippling behind her. Then he started skinning a joint. He was still skinning up when she came ashore.
"What is that?"
"Smoke," Trolley shrugged. "It's a joint. It's nothing, milder than wine, but politicians say it's harmful because they don't want people to have fun."
"Where did you get it from?"
"It's easy to get drugs; a lot of people do drugs."
"I never smoked."
"There is a first time," Trolly said. "Come on. You know I wouldn't give you anything that is bad for you."
At first Katya choked on the smoke, then relaxed and took a couple of proper drags. Afterwards they lay down, the sun on their skin, the waves lapping the shore, and holding hands. "Oh Trolly, this is so good. I feel light as feather, and floating." She stood up and laughed, a breezy and drawn-out laugh, airy as the wind.
For the first time Trolly did not press for sex. He imagined it would be passionate; but imagining it was enough for now. He wanted to enjoy the ride rather than rush there. He would let things roll at her pace. After all, for him, as for her, this was a new beginning.
Suddenly Katya sat up. He followed her eyes to a yacht passing by. The outline of a figure was visible on the deck. "That's my father's boat," Katya said. Springing to her feet, she ran behind the rocky boulders.
Trolly tugged behind her. "Easy, Katya. We're not doing anything wrong."
"No, you don't know my father. We are here alone, and we have drugs." She cupped her open mouth with her hand as if stifling a scream. "He will kill you."
Word had spread about the parties in the island every Friday. The people present for the first night talked about the cheap entrance fee, cheap drugs and cheap water. And the police were conspicuously absent. The raves were hassle-free but still the entertainment value high. It was worth the ferry trip to the island for a weekend.
The second Friday, ravers queued outside the Blue Moon. John slipped in and gathered the bartenders. He had stacked on water. "Tonight, the water is 50c a glass," John instructed the bartenders.
Then he watched the people coming in. All of them wore weird clothes. Bright clothes like neon lights, and stretched clothes. The men looked like puffs, many of them with their faces painted. The women wore clothes that bared more than they covered. As they waited behind the queue they wriggled to the beat. They couldn't wait to get in.
His daughter had not arrived yet. She had hung with Trullu all week. The kids in the disco idolised him; Trullu had more influence on them than he, John, ever did. Even Lolita liked him. John worried about his daughter idolising him too. In a way that was a good because he would learn about Trullu from his daughter. To encourage her to speak freely about Trullu, revealing what she knows in her bragging, John spoke highly about Trullu when she was around. But John suspected that Katya was revealing less than she knew, so he kept an eye on her as well.
Leaning on the counter at the side of the bar, John watched the people dancing. They were kids really, with money to spare, dancing mindlessly to mindless music. He spotted Inspector Reno heading to the bar. He waved him: "Here, Reno."
John called Lolita. "Double vodka with orange for Reno."
Reno said: "I heard your disco is getting popular."
John nodded without saying anything.
Reno sipped from his drink, lit a cigarette, and for a while looked around. Then he said: "John, you see all these kids here, they're on drugs. I came here because we got some reports of the kids who come from the mainland doing drugs on the beaches, staying up all night and waking the neighbours with their shouting."
John rubbed his face.
"The problem is that many local kids now want to copy the kids from the mainland. So their parents are getting jittery. We go a long way back, you and me. If one of the kids get hurt I won't be able to cover you up any longer."
"Oh, let's be reasonable. These kids here are harmless. No fights ever break out in here or outside even."
"There are a lot of drugs in here."
John grabbed a bottle of vodka from a shelf. "This is for you Reno. You like vodka."
Reno slipped the bottle under his arm and turned to go. "If you need anything you know where to find me."
John was fuming. The damn locals have to get on his back. They're pure jealous. They always find a way to stab him when he's making money. If Reno hadn't played for time when John first opened, the disco would be closed. The neighbours never stopped complaining about the music, saying they couldn't sleep with the noise. Now John pumped a lot of money in the community, sponsoring sports activities and a youth club, and that had shut up the neighbours for the time being.
John spotted his daughter walking past and called her. He looked her up and down, her pink skirt and tight T-shirt. "Katya, that's the clothes people wear to play tennis."
"Everyone is wearing them, look dad."
"I don't want to see you wearing those clothes again," John said. "We're a respectable family."
"You asked me to learn from Trolly."
"Listen, Katya. Don't be influenced by these kids here. They are losers. They waste their money on drugs in the weekend to escape. They don't have a future." John noticed a sneer forming on Katya's lips; the first sign of rebellion.
"You're such a hypocrite," she said angrily. "You sell these people alcohol and they have to pay to get in here and then you call them losers."
"Don't talk to me like that." John fought to control his voice. "I am talking about drugs, not alcohol."
"I know - alcohol ruins more lives than all the drugs put together."
"Who is feeding you these lies?" John said. "We'll deal with this at home."
Shaking his head and muttering, John went to the door where the music was not so loud to hurt his head. Trullu's music gave him a headache. Back inside he slipped through the hordes of kids. He couldn't see his daughter anywhere and went round the back of the DJ deck. He craned his neck to look through the half open door. There she was, entwined in Trullu's arms, his hands pressing her buttocks, their mouths locked together.
John ducked away, melting in the shade. A few kids frolicked ahead of him, their hands draped all over each other. He had never felt so helpless in his life. He needed Trullu to work for him, but Trullu was eroding his control. He controlled the kids, the nights at his disco, and now his daughter. John needed to claw on to something to take back the reins.
An idea sprang to his mind. He found his brother, and told him he quickly needed to go home.
In ten minutes he arrived home. He tiptoed in to prevent waking up his wife and having to explain. Upstairs he slipped into Katya's room and opened her desk drawers. Finally he found it, at the back underneath a sheath of papers. Katya's diary. It went back to 3 years ago. He thumbed to the present day.
He read it all. About Katya getting off with Trullu, their hideout in Xlendi beyond the tower where they made love yesterday for the first time. About the drugs in the DJ room, about Trullu and his daughter smoking hash and taking LSD on the beach. And about the lies Trullu had sugar-fed his daughter, about the scourge of capitalism and alcohol and business parasites. Now he understood why his daughter had spoken to him like that.
John consumed every word with growing confidence. Now he had the English vermin cornered. He would show him who is boss. He left the diary where he found it. It contained enough proof to trap Trullu like a rat.
Late on Saturday morning Trolly stirred awake. He stared out of his window at the hazy mirages of heat on the rocks. Last night it was buzzing. Over 1,400 ravers had swarmed to the club.
As he was making coffee a knock rapped the front door.
"Hey," he greeted John, standing at the door with a man behind him. "You're up early for business."
"You awake." John walked past Trolly and into the kitchen. The man followed.
"You want some coffee?" Trolly said. John's friend stood near the door, his arms crossed and staring beyond them through the window. He had puffed lips and a large forehead.
"We have a problem." John leaned on the table, facing Trolly, emotionless as usual.
"We have a big problem. I cover you arse with the police so that you get on with your drug dealing, then I find out you fucked my daughter and gave her free drugs, and you make more money on Friday nights than I make all week." John's face was still emotionless, and that scared Trolly, because it could only mean that he could squash him as coldly as he would squash a lizard. "You understand."
"Look, John, I don't know what you're on about."
John slammed his fist on the table. "I don't have the time to waste. Instead I will talk straight business," he said. "One, don't get anywhere close to my daughter, never. Two, I am withdrawing the 50% commission you get from every ticket I sell at the door. Three, you work for me all summer."
Trolly had to stifle a chuckle at the irony of John's words. John needed him but was trying to blackmail him. This gave him room to manoeuvre. "If you think you're going to come here and order me around, fuck off out of here and I'll do my parties elsewhere."
"Ha, ha, ha," John laughed theatrically. "You think you are going to smarten me. You are a kid." His face hardened, but Trolly sensed that John was bluffing. "You see Pawlu here"- he nodded to his friend - "he knows how to deal with people who get too smart. If you run he'll catch you very fast. If you buy a ferry ticket to leave the island, I will learn about it in 5 minutes. I have people everywhere. You think we're laid-back here, eh?"
When John and his friend left Trolly's spirits deflated. He wondered how John found out about his deals. He wondered if he would see Katya again; and wondered if John had grounded her.
He grabbed the bag of cookies and went for a swim. Things would get better. John was a load of empty threats as long as Trolly attracted the crowds to the Blue Moon. As for Katya, he could still arrange to see her away from John.
Returning from the beach, as he inserted the key in the door, three men approached him.
"I am Police Inspector Reno," one of them said, showing his badge. "Come with us."
"Wait," Trolly said, taking a step back. "Tell me what this is about first."
"Of course." The Inspector flashed a toothed grin. "We have a kid in hospital, on ecstasy the doctors said. He said that you supplied the drug."
The Inspector snatched Trolly's bag. Trolly was thinking: all he had on him was a handful of weed, and the cookies. Nothing at the apartment. Thank God they had ran out stash last night. Casper had taken the ferry to the mainland earlier that morning, to get more supplies. Plenty of time to warn him.
"Here," the Inspector said triumphantly, digging out the bag of weed.
The police escorted Trolly to their car. "I'll send some men to search your place later," the Inspector said when they arrived to the police station. He herded Trolly through a courtyard, down a corridor and around another. It was cold in the stone building. At the end of a dim corridor the Inspector put Trolly into a cell. It smelled of dampness. "You want something to drink."
"I'll send someone with it." The Inspector lifted the cookie bag. "You want these?"
Trolly shook his head: "Throw them away."
The Inspector locked the door and walked away. Trolly lay on the sheetless bed, staring up at the ceiling. The smell of the rotting mattress irritated his nose. Quacking voices and the ringing of telephones drifted through the hollow corridors. The noises faded into the background when he got used to their monotony.
He stood up to study the graffiti carved into the limestone walls. They were depressing messages and statements, like 'Born to Kill.' With his key, he started carving his own message DISCO COOKIES.
Sometime later his ears caught whiffs of laughter. The laughter grew louder and more pronounced, followed by rambling voices, cracking and hurrying. He caught the Inspector's voice - "These cookies are too good to throw away. Want the last one?"
More hollow laughter.
copyright © Victor Paul Borg 1999
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