Below is an excerpt of BC Kalz’s  short story “Special Effects.”

It is a funny  look back at being young,  new wave,  and free in Chicago during the 1980′s.

The complete story can be found in the debut issue of Mary:

Early on in our life as roommates, Marrie, Steph, Andie, and I  started going to Neo in Lincoln Park on Thursday nights, usually with Jeff, too. We loved its cave-like darkness, close quarters, mobs of hipsters and great music. We danced and drank and smoked for hours under the webs the DJs spun for us.

The nights we went out together started earlier than I would ever go clubbing with my other friends, which was a reminder for me to be on my best behavior:  I usually ended a night out rolling around on the floor in the ladies’ room in a fit of pique, whenever I left my craven lust for booze go unchecked.

The second we walked in the club, Jeff and I would peel off the pack and run to the bar, downing a half dozen assorted shots before I caught myself:

“No, no more drinks! We gotta at least pretend to be normal! I just moved in with them, and you know how scary we are when we get wasted. We have to expose them a little at a time to our dirty little secret, or they’ll run screaming!” I said. “Uh oh, they’re looking at us!” I said through my teeth, as I pushed away the empty shot glasses. “Just a little sherry!”

“Well maybe you have to pretend to be normal, but my ‘secret’ is not so
secret to them. Two more Jager shots, sil vous plait! Listen, I’m Catherine Denuve, and you’re David Bowie. Let’s search for a victim!” Jeff said.  As he dragged me away “Bela Lagosi’s Dead” filled the room.

Stephanie usually ran into friends from her college who would kidnap her off to a dark corner where they sat planted for the night, hovering over one of Neo’s little tables deep in conversation, despite the deafening music.

Marrie, Jeff and I loved to dance, and rarely left the dance floor. We had no
choice, really; we knew if we did we’d have to inch our way back to our prime spot in the middle, and that could take hours. When we were stuck there during songs we didn’t like, we’d gossip and shuffle our feet and share cigarettes. Neo was a hard place to get drunk in, for the hoards of people clamoring for the bartender’s attention, and all the hoards in between, made it too daunting a task to attempt once the night got rolling. Jeff was right to down so many shots when he did; one round at the bar was all you got.

I loved watching the reactions Andie got as she flitted around Neo.   Her long sable curls contrasted beguilingly with her athletic tanned legs and red high tops.    Guys fell over themselves to be by her, and she would spend the night fielding offers of romance, occasionally joining us for a quick dance when things got too hairy.  Jeff and I rarely experienced any homophobia in the Chicago straight bars in  the eighties; in fact, we spent most our evenings in them,  us fey boys always felt safer swishing out to She’s in Parties next to our ‘girlfriends’ .  Although we went to Neo together, we would trickle home separately, surrendering our solidarity to the sea of people, and got up early the next morning to fill each other in on our night’s adventures over strong black tea and cold stuffed pizza.

B.C. Kalz is a native of Appleton, Wisconsin, and has been acting and writing for the past twenty-five years. Growing up, he wanted to be either Cher or Roald Dahl.


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