Saints and Sin in Indianapolis (Part 2)
I part ways with new friends, learn about fractal elves, and meet a xenophobic goth. Then the magic of the night vanishes immediately 🙃
Lost? Start here:
After a couple of drinks we head back to 16-Bit on rented electric scooters, and I opt not to question whether or not driving one of these things after copious amounts of bourbon could get me arrested.
My British iPhone won’t register the app properly, so Julie rents a scooter for me and rides behind Andy on one he pays for with his iPhone. At one point he yells “watch this!” and jumps a kerb that must be about a foot high.
The scooter wobbles and they almost wipe out before Andy pulls it straight. The pair of them laugh maniacally, blissfully unaware of how close they both just came to serious head injuries.
We pull in at 16-Bit and lock up the scooters.
Photo via WRTV
Like something out of Monty Python, they still won’t let us in. Even though I’m now armed with my passport, it becomes apparent Raj doesn’t have his ID with him…even though they’d already admitted him the first time we tried to get in.
We bail and decide to try somewhere else.
Outside a liquor store Raj, a final year med student, sparks up a joint of what he proudly tells us is medicinal grade marijuana and starts passing it around the group. I’m pretty confident that marijuana, medicinal or otherwise, isn’t legal in Indiana but there’s no-one else in sight. Anyway, “I didn’t inhale.”
It isn’t long before talk turns to a DMT pen he has at his place, which seems to impress the group. In amongst the talk of “fractal elves”, who often appear to people when under the influence of DMT, he explains that it’s impossible to buy DMT in this city and you have to be gifted it.
I don’t understand exactly what that means – it’s been years since I tried to maintain any functional knowledge of drug culture – but, mercifully, I don’t need to; like an hourglass, the joint burns down to its embers and we pile into the back of an Uber someone ordered.
We’re talking about where to go next when I say I’d thought about checking out a club called Blu, which was for some reason categorised as a restaurant on TripAdvisor. The suggestion is met with scrunched up faces from my tour guides, and it’s mutually agreed by them that only pricks and posers go to Blu.
I describe my music tastes – which veer closer and closer towards EDM based on the amount of alcohol I’ve consumed – and we ultimately settle on The Patron Saint. It just so happens to be located two doors down from the club I’d originally brought up, which feels like kind of a slap in the face. Sorry, Blu.
Photo via The Patron Saint’s Facebook
Owned by a pair of former house music artists, it’s officially labelled as “LGBT-friendly” but has the feel of gay bar. Channelling the spirit of New Orleans through the trinkets and beads scattered all over the place, the bar is (very) compact and is more like being at a house party than a club.
Except, that is, for the upcycled church pulplit from behind which the DJ spins under a red neon sign that reads NO REQUESTS.
Andy hands me a tequila slush – “on me, bro,” he yells over the pulsing techno – and I immediately head for the tiny dance-floor to shake it. (Badly.) Within a couple of minutes, someone comments that I must not be American “because all American guys do on the dance-floor at clubs is try to grind with girls.”
A few songs, and a few drinks, later we retreat to some concrete stairs outside that act as an impromptu smoking area. Someone hands me a cigarette, which I hang on to like a crutch, and the conversation turns to my writing.
I tell the group I’ve been writing poetry recently – more on that another time – and, even though I’m reluctant to share, Julie insists on hearing some of it.
Pulling up a Google Doc, I notice for the first time that her exposed thighs are covered with what I can only assume are tiny self-harm scars. I read a little of my terrible poetry and, like when I suggested Blu, she sort of scrunches up her face.
“It’s really good,” she says, “but you rely too much on rhyme schemes. It’s full of ‘yes!’ moments, but I can tell from how you read it that none of them are where you think they are. Do you know what I mean?”
I tell her I do but, honestly, I have no clue. A metaphor for my life as a writer.
Enough time passes back inside that Andy, Raj and Julie are starting to yawn. I don’t think to check my phone to see what time it is because, honestly, it’s the sort of hour when time has ceased to hold any meaning for me.
We exchange Instagram accounts, knowing there’s little chance we’ll ever actually speak again, and Andy tucks a cigarette behind my ear before my new friends disappear into the night.
I’m outside, fumbling with said cigarette, when an alt girl dressed all in black gets in my face. To the embarrassment of her friends, she starts talking about how “foreigners like me” aren’t welcome in America anymore. When I reply that I’m just on vacation, she resumes her tirade like she hasn’t even heard me.
I’m not sure if she has a black MAGA hat tucked away somewhere, but she’s definitely not what springs to mind when I picture a xenophobic Trump supporter. I tell her I don’t have the time or inclination to get into an argument.
I head across the street to Tiki Bob’s – where better than a tiki bar to mull the notion of authenticity over a strong drink? – but it’s closed for the night due to a family emergency.
I try Taps and Dolls instead, just across the street, where someone starts rambling unintelligibly to me as I make my way up the stairs. I pay ten bucks for a single Jack and Pepsi, but something about the vibe of the place feels all wrong.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, the magic of the night has disappeared.
Well, that’s just the way it goes sometimes, I think to myself. Maybe I should have taken the guy on the stairs as an omen. Or the xenophobic goth girl. But that’s the thing: you never you know you’ve stayed too late until you do it.
Quick aside: The timing of its release doesn’t line up at all, but I’m convinced I heard this song in The Patron Saint that night. If nothing else, it captures the vibe of (the good part of) the evening and takes me straight back there when I listen to it.
I finish up my drink and head back to my hotel, where the night porter tells me that all the elevators are currently experiencing technical difficulties. If I haven’t mentioned, I’m staying on the 13th floor. Unlucky for some, I guess.
I traipse up flight after flight of stairs, dripping with sweat by the time I make it to my room, and fall into bed. I sleep the sleep of the dead.
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