Before you embark into the depths of darkness where avocado toast goes to rot, you’re required to put on the MILLENNIAL UNDERGROUND SPOTIFY PLAYLIST.
The photos from Keke’s account were posted in front of one of those dumb Instagram popups that are like Catnip for Influencers and the wannabe-crowd.
I’m not even trying to be judgmental or anything. If you like taking the same photo everybody else is taking in a ball pit filled with sprinkles… well, that says a lot about you as a person. And you go can fuck right off my timeline, okay?
Trigger told me to calm down with that kind of language as we sped over to La Brea, but I was fired up. Maybe from this wild goose chase, maybe from the sinking feeling that Keke hadn’t just texted us the wrong address for the show.
That somebody had actually been after her. Had taken her.
“I’m just saying, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions,” Trigger said, sliding through the LA streets. “She just posted a photo on Instagram.”
“You don’t think kidnappers can type?” I shot back.
“If you really think that’s what happened, let’s go to the police and call it a night,” Trigger said.
I stared at him as he drove, the streetlights passing light and shadow across his angular face.
“What the fuck are you scared of, Trigger? This isn’t you.”
Trigger shifted, uneasy. “I’m in a bit of trouble, Misty. Money trouble.”
“What, the mob after you or something?” I laughed.
“Weren’t you just at John Stamos’ party in the hills last night? Can’t you ask him for money, or at the very least, steal something? I bet his handsoap is worth more that what I make in a shift.”
Trigger started talking. And I’ll be honest. I blacked out a little, from how angry I was at him. I made him repeat his story, again. And again. And his words still bounced off me like a force field of oh-no-you-didn’t.
Trigger was at one of those LA clubs where people sweat champagne and cocaine and it’s like a sauna of sin on the dancefloor. The walls drip with lust just like the ice slicks necks and palms. People wear their wealth, peacocking in a gigantic dark room and trying to guess each other’s worth.
Now, this particular club was known for its exclusivity, celebrity clientele, and date rape drug problem. (The horror stories in the Yelp reviews were enough of a reason to stay away, yet somehow the starfuckery types still came back in droves.)
Trigger sailed through the line with his backup dancer pals. They knew enough starlets and had danced in enough rappers’ music videos to become regulars here, and the bouncers nodded in acceptance as the boys rolled in.
It was a high Trigger loved. Grinning at the dolled up women and fuckboi-wannabes as he passed them all in line. They’d be outside for hours: he just walked right past.
People like Trigger come to Los Angeles because it gives something their hometown would never cough up: status. The glittering stars on Hollywood Boulevard flirt with your ego.
Join us. Join us and you’ll be loved forever. Immortalized on a grimy street next to dead homeless and druggies who maybe one day tried to be just like you. Join us.
And here, Trigger had a status he flaunted. He’d flirt with the bartenders to get free drinks to flirt with the women. His fluidity made him the instant king of the party, star of the show. He was safe and edgy, androgynous and romantic, feminine in his movements and masculine in his desires.
Trigger loved the club, and the promoters hated him. The women at their tables absconded to Trigger’s; he was like a star, and they were his satellites. He broke business just like he broke hearts.
He was at the bar closing out to go home with a reality show starlet — a failed Bachelor contestant, I think — and was closing out at the bar when the bartender handed him his check.
Trigger laughed. “This can’t be right.”
“You brought in those three tables, right?” The bartender pointed at the champagne lounge.
“Dude, it’s me,” Trigger said. But the bartender didn’t smile.
Suddenly, Trigger realized what happened. One of the promoters had dined and dashed — and probably paid off the bartender to stick him with the tab.
“This is a mistake — ” Trigger started, just as several burly bodyguards headed toward him.
Things didn’t look good — and Trigger had spent enough time around the club to know that this territory? It was beyond LAPD jurisdiction. Here, you settle your scores with fists. Or, if it’s an upscale enough club, hired hitmen.
Without thinking, Trigger ran.
He’s been running since — and knows that at any time, they could come and collect. Who are they? He isn’t sure. It’s the underground: pick a group. Anyone will enforce the dollar if they get a cut.
“How could you be so stupid?” I yelled at Trigger in the car. My anger at him was coming from a place of love. I had yet to find the place in Los Angeles that put me on a pedestal: when that time came, I would probably be just as stupid as he was. Acceptance makes us do dumb things. That didn’t change my anger toward him, though.
Trigger’s eyes kept flicking to the rearview as I told him off.
“Trigger, what is it?”
“That sedan has been behind us since Silverlake.”
I checked the mirrors. “It looks like every black car on the road. Are you high?”
“No. I swear,” Trigger said. I believed him. For now. If he was hiding this bombshell from me, what else was he hiding?
“It’s probably just an Uber. They’re always lost as all hell,” I said.
Trigger took a sharp left, swerving down a dark road. He pulled into an alley, and turned off the lights. Dousing us in darkness.
Behind us, we heard a screech of tires.
The same black sedan came speeding down the street.
Someone was following us.
Eaten Alive by the Millennial Underground is a multimedia fiction series written daily by writer Amy Suto for National Novel Writing Month. Check out the rest of her blog here for more about her nocturnal excursions and writerly pursuits. Read the full Millennial Underground series as it’s coming out in the month of November at: AmySuto.com/underground, and be sure to subscribe via email so you don’t get #cancelled.