Jan 2011 07

by Brandon Perkins

In the previous installment of our futuristic fiction series, Please Use Rear Exit, Mikhail, recalled exactly why he’d just broken up with his GF Katya for the second – and final – time. Now ready to move forward in life, and on the #720 Brown BTWN bus route around which his life is centered, he ventures out with the boys for a night on #720’s main terminal tiles – which is dangerous territory given that it’s a smoking space Mikhail used to visit with Katya…

Please Use Rear Exit: Chapter 5 – Avoiding Katya

The boys walked silently through the bar’s heavy plaster doors and Mikhail braced himself for his first encounter with the #720’s main terminal in several months. Turning the corner past Low was always Mikhail’s cue to turn his charms up. The party was around that corner. Each step had the potential for conversation. The light was harsher there. Bars and clubs, big and small, would clamor for his attention from both sides of the corridor. In their flat-screen-sized windows, blinding neon signs advertised anything a man could want, unless he wanted to see inside the club; that part of the screen was tinted. Along the path a slew of freestanding and rotating advertisements, mis-planned garden plots, fake plastic trees, and other such “city betterments” would stand in his way or distract him from whatever goal was at hand at that moment. And the ceiling would loom over everything. It was all familiar to Mikhail, but it was still something that he had to mentally prepare himself for.

[Sioux in Sexy Smoking]
On this night, traffic was starting to pile up. It wasn’t quite chest-to-back, but it wasn’t a walk in Square Park either. It didn’t help that another load of Brown BTWN’ers piled through the transfer station’s turnstiles at a nauseating rate, directly across from Low. A bunch of riled up 20-somethings couldn’t walk fast enough into the #720’s antics. People were already stepping on Mikhail’s shoes. Their anticipation was natural, almost intrinsic, so he didn’t allow himself to get angry. Per tradition, one that centered him a bit, Mikhail thought about the other side of the bus. They were transferring in from the Hollywood Hills and their expensive wines were ringing much louder than their stuffed-quail suppers; it was something to aspire for, even if he had no idea on how.

“We’re in the clear now, right?” Chevy asked, slowly walking in the middle of Mikhail and Jayson. He was obviously (and embarrassingly) about to talk about CGI.

“Stop right there, boss,” Mikhail said. “Before you go where I know you’re going, think about this: think about everything that could be overheard, think about your self respect, man. Carefully, now…what the fuck just happened back there?”

Stuck in traffic, Chevy actually took a moment to think about what Mikhail had asked, then furiously shook his head like he was trying to sober himself up. His pupils might’ve rescinded some of their dilation.

“Sometimes, I just feel like I could marry that girl,” Chevy said. Arms at his side, he had obviously regained a small portion of his cool. Some of the airiness had left his voice. “More than just a whirl,” he said, “I want to twirl her world, tickle her like a woman, make her giggle like a girl.”

It was something of an eclipse to come out of Low’s as that part of the #720 snaked around its most notorious corner. On pace with everyone’s shuffles, the corridor slowly opened up into a cavernous confusion of blinking lights and distractions. Mikhail looked out onto the holographic flames that stood atop plastic poles made to look wooden. Their luminescence reflected harshly over a distance too cold for actual fire and was easily drowned out by rows and rows of florescents hanging 100 feet above his head. The #720’s silver ceiling curved deftly into its own shadows, disappearing into its own corners, laughing from on high at the scurry of people below.

“Please stop talking about her, please? We expect so much more from you. You’re that dude we all look up to because of your game, not despite it. Right now, I don’t even know who you are,” Mikhail said. “Seriously though, can you guys do me a solid?”

“I refuse to blow you,” Chevy said. “I don’t care if you sneeze, I won’t bless you. No atch-choo!”

“How about you just keep an eye out for Katya for me?” Mikhail asked. “And I’ll punch you in the gut every time you act a fool in front of what’s her name. Just watch out for me, aight?”

“Like she’s some thirsty vampire trying to retire?”

“Or the alpha female of a hungry pack of squids, man?”

“I’m just not ready to deal with it yet,” Mikhail said. “It’s always such an ordeal with her. If it could just be some normal shit, I don’t think I’d be avoiding her so pointedly.”

“Are we supposed to protect you like some bodyguards? I’m not going to lie like a rat in a can, I’m not trying to body up another man, never mind bite some bitch’s bullet in the line of duty, not even for a hundred grand.”

“I don’t care how many people are on this damn bus, I will run into her tonight, it’s inevitable. You know my luck with shit like this.”

“Remember that time you stole the ceramic goose from outside old man Winters’ apartment?” Jayson smiled. “Drunk as you were, you carried all 30 pounds of that thing for miles, man, miles, bitching about the stains on your new jacket the entire time.”

“All the way from the fuckin’ Square, I carried that son of a bitch. It damn-near broke my arms. And then BAM! There he is coming from some poker game on Compton’s Circle when I’m five minutes from my apartment. I had to bring that fucker all the way back the next day, hung over to all hell.”

“You did not run into dude holding his goose,” Chevy chipped in, “did you?”

“I did.”

“And now you’re walking around with some shit-covered goose of Katya’s?”

“I am, but, I mean, I just broke up with the girl. That’s it.”

And it was true, people ended relationships everyday. Nearly all of them lived to tell another tale…and tag another tail. Mikhail broke up with a girl, that’s it. It was the life of a 20-something in Los Angeles. He really had no guilt to bear, other than the typical heartbreak shit, because he always treated her right. He dumped her the prior week, the second and final time, only because he didn’t have the balls to start all the drama two months before. Breaking up meant a hassle that he wasn’t sure he could handle, so he procrastinated. It was easier to coast in unhindered unhappiness then it was to flip a switch for all those tears and curses and hatred and sobbing declarations of unrequited love. Once he realized that he was making up excuses to avoid sex just so he could go home and masturbate, Mikhail stopped procasturbating. Tired of shitting, he got off the pot.

“Really though, man,” Jayson said, obviously concerned, “what do you need from us?”

“Just don’t let me get bum-rushed or blind-sided,” Mikhail said. “Even a minute head’s up will help me prepare, but, seriously, if you can say that you haven’t seen me, that’ll be for the best.”

“We got you, man.”

Jayson was always reliable that way, as a friend and with his overuse of “man” as a pronoun. Mikhail aspired for Jayson’s unflappable loyalty yet loathed his friend’s vague non-commitment that he occasionally saw in himself. Sludgy in dress and pudgy in stance, Jayson was the polar opposite of Chevy. He was soft-spoken and hard of hearing, while Chevy was loud with uncannily acute ears. Jayson never said a word in the presence of strangers, while Chevy carried conversations. On-one-one, when words surpassed the need for clever witticisms, Jayson was an astute listener armed with genuine advice, while Chevy shot wink-worthy blanks. To the party, Chevy brought fun, Jayson brought a buried reality. They both exercised specific qualities in Mikhail that he was convinced he couldn’t find on his own. Chevy made him a player; Jayson made him a human.

“She does know that you guys broke up, right?” Chevy asked.

He led the path to The Smoke, but Jayson kept looking back at Mikhail. Chevy hit pounds and slapped palms in mid-stride, never stopping to politic to any of the many that he knew by name. Jayson and Mikhail would’ve continued on even if he had. This time, his mission was aligned with theirs, for now. At the very least, his broad shoulders and unconcerned procession opened up easier paths…Chevy had no problem breaking right through dedicated conversations. The inevitable step back that the talking obstacles would take made Mikhail and Jayson’s journey more accessible.

“I may take awhile to make my decision, but once I do it, I do it. She cried all over my jeans-fuckin’ make-up everywhere. It was a mess. She has to know. She has to.”

“Ha!” Chevy blurted out.

“What the fuck’s that all about? Was it a joke Todd told you last weekend?”

“You just know how to dance around confrontation, that’s all. Just enough to leave doors cracked open,” Chevy replied, completely skipping over what he didn’t want to hear. “It’s like you’re trying to do shawty a favor by sparing her feelings. Sometimes you gotta be an asshole, dunny, and I ain’t being funny.”

“She knows. I know. And I definitely know that there’s no need to continue a conversation that’s already concluded. Why are we still talking about this? We’re still walking with a purpose, right?”

“Smoke the cancer stick, bet. With hopes of getting my dick wet.”

And with that lyrical mantra rhyming in their heads, the boys walked the remaining five minutes to The Smoke. At the entrance, a surprisingly large woman blocked two glaring panes of glass that marked the first half of a set of double-doors. The woman stood even taller than Chevy, who made a healthy habit of talking about his above-average stature. She tilted her fingers left and right a few times as they tried to walk by. It was a little melodramatic.

“Let’s see some identification, boys.”

“C’mon, Shirley, what are you doing working on a Friday?” Chevy interrupted. “The man’s keeping you down…and don’t he know that that’s this man’s job?”

Shirley blushed. Jayson and Mikhail saw that Chevy’s mojo had completely returned. If he kept up his flirtations with Shirley, they might be able to skate on the $30 fee.

“What time you get out? Maybe you should come by MySpace and Twitter my Yahoo! until I Google all over your Facebook…my little squeazle.”

Maybe it was because Chevy wore a watch worth her salary on his wrist, but his string of double-entendres worked, non-sensical as they were. Shirley punched Chevy in the arm. Hard. Then she stamped the inside of his right wrist, along with Mikhail’s and Jayson’s. Past Shirley, in between the two doorways-entranced in the entrance’s purgatory-Mikhail ran to the front and put his hand into the chest of Chevy, who was immediately crashed into by Jayson. The three of them comically piled up inside the glass passageway’s claustrophobic clown car interior.

“Squeazle?” Mikhail said, annoyed at Chevy’s very particular use of his pet name for Katya. “She might be here, seriously. Let’s not cause a scene in here, please.”

“Your squeazle doesn’t smoke,” Jayson said, happy to get in on the game.

“Ha! Her desperation reeks like tobacco on a non-smoker,” Chevy said.

“If she’s here, she’s probably over on the left. There’ll be plenty of shawties over on the right.”

“Wasn’t the first time you rodents kissed over here on the left side?”

“Are you really asking to be the first person in my entire life that I have to punch in the face?” Mikhail said, still only a few inches from his two friends. Of course, he’d never waste his first punch on Chevy-that honor was reserved for Robert Horry.

Chevy and Jayson settled down and nonchalantly showed that they understood Mikhail’s predicament. They passed through the second set of doors and were immediately smacked in the face by a cloud of cigarette smoke. It burned their nostrils and put predictable pause on their decision to light one up at all. The room was long and narrow, but with more space to maneuver than the line’s main terminal. As a rule, most smokers held out on their first cigarette as long as they could (as they did for The Restroom). Mikhail quickly sought out a piece of railing on the right side, far in the corner. Directly under a set of flood lights, he felt rather invisible and content with a clear view across most of The Smoke. With his back wedged into the railing’s vertex of a vortex, he was convinced that no one could sneak up behind him. And they certainly couldn’t get through the yards of steel and titanium supports and everything else that separated the #720’s inside from The Internet outside.

Next to them, triplets in varying shades of purple sipped green tea and moaned loudly about the need for breeze. They rapidly fanned themselves with someone’s iPad. Their uniformly straight black hair hardly moved. They talked amongst themselves, lighting cigarettes while their already-lit smokes sat in Lucite ashtrays, quickly forgotten. The ambers of wounded-soldiers-left-unaccounted-for kept burning, even as they brought wooden matches to a chronic assembly line of virgin stogies. They seemed to only recognize the blunder when moving to put the blackened matches in the ashtray. Staring down at the plumes of rising smoke from all those cigarettes still burning, the triplets laughed aggressively. Whether it was simply a plunder of epic FAIL or they just liked to laugh-an inside joke sprung from the same placenta-Mikhail would never know. But it did provide its opportunities, and Mikhail yanked away a barely-smoked cigarette from the triplets’ ashtray.


“We were-”

“-smoking those!”

The inhale of tobacco was glorious to Mikhail’s insides, even as it most-likely killed him, bit by bit. They said it rarely did and he had never known anyone to die from cigarettes, but there was something darkening about it. He could feel its path get pulled across his core inch by inch, with more totality than the secondhand variety of the clouded room. There was something warming about the individuality of his dragon breath, even in a room full of people feeling just as unique. The thickness of posturing was heavier than the entirety of the room’s exhalations.

“Oh, shut your yappers,” Jayson awkwardly said, a beat too many after the interaction. “You couldn’t smoke all the ones still burning if you used all nine of your holes. Besides, you look like you can fuckin’ afford-”

“-to give my good friend a lesson in graciousness,” Chevy stepped in, probably a little too late for even him to recover any chance with the triplets. “He’s an asshole. Have a good night.”

Until Jayson got drunk, he was incredibly rude to potential female accompaniment. And forget about the instances where the ratio of boys and girls was even. Jayson refused to take one for the team if it’d put him in the precarious position of being the third man alone with the third woman.

He grabbed two cigarettes, dramatically sucking down one, while placing the other behind his ear. Chevy grabbed one from his own pack and jerked Jayson away before he could say anything else. The girls shuffled away too.

“That cock is constipated and it’s making you cantankerous,” Chevy said.

“Yeah, you gotta get laid…or at least get some kind of a release.”

“Man, you guys have been busting my balls since we met up,” Jayson said, this time with more sadness than madness in his voice. Then Mikhail’s ringer went off. With no idea how it was turned on, he was visibly startled while rushing to silence his phone. Jayson started laughing. “At least my girlfriend leaves me alone for a night. Lulz.”

“But he’s got a better chance of fucking his squeazle, than you have of emptying your weasel or parting the two legs of an easel. But shit, you’re right, Mikhail definitely still has a squeazle.”

“Wow. Just wow. So lazy you’re rhyming the same word twice now? I keep ignoring her, she has to get the point eventually.”

“Well, there’s your problem,” said a man in the calmest of demeanors. He’d been eavesdropping but Mikhail wasn’t too offended, being guilty of the same faux-pas, leaning against the same railing…many, many times. Space was tight and voices carried. “Women of a certain accord need to be broken up with at least twice. Once = spurned, twice = earned. It’s all elementary math, but it helps in deciphering the ladies of the night and the ladies you want your parents to meet. Only one of those types deserve our troubles, and it’s not the one catching a facial in the men’s room.”

He wore a red polo from Polo tucked into a leather-belted pair of pleated khakis. His hubris gave him away, even if his kinda familiar baby-face didn’t exactly fit the typical mold. This man was a member of the TSABDD. Mikhail waited for him to reach into his pocket and pull out a card.

“I’m Armstrong. Been a member for 19 months and had sex with 132 women in the span. If you want to make that girl…what’s her name again?”

“Katya,” Mikhail said, not having said her name in his presence until then.

“If you want Katya to stop calling, hit me up. We’re spreading the science of subtext in a text. Seriously, one text message and it’d be over and painless. It’s all in the math, brother. DM me, I’m @PUREarmstrong.”

Armstrong walked off and Mikhail rapidly took the last two drags of his cigarette, already wanting one more. He reached into the triplets’ ashtray and then struck a match from the pack they had left behind.

“Once = spurned, twice = earned? WTF does that mean? That’s some jibberish ish, right there,” Chevy said. “I leave math in my office on the #111, and I’ve never had a problem getting laid.”

“Whatever, I gotta take a leak,” Mikhail said, thumbing the card as he placed it in his back pocket, right next to the violently blinking red light on his cell phone. He wasn’t done with his second cigarette, but was willing to do anything that’d leave this conversation about Katya behind. Stamping out his Camel half-smoked, he led the procession towards The Smoke’s exit.

Please Use Rear Exit is an online novel, you can read about it on author Brandon Perkins’ SG Contributor page and find additional chapters and related media at


  1. […] the previous installment of our futuristic fiction series, Please Use Rear Exit, Mikhail, who’s recently x-ed his GF, […]