Trashbury made sure the cafe sparkled before necking his first shot of urine. By that time the regulars had sifted through the myriad vats of piss, selecting unique blends, quaffing shots of loved ones, or making deposits of their own.
The most pleasurable extraction was reserved for any lucky depositor to Vat 29. This vat, the one for which people made appointments long in advance, possessed a suction tube to shame all vacuum related devices. The elasticized, rubber tube was attached to the genitalia of any account member wishing to augment his or her existing balance of urine. Whether the member felt the necessity to actually urinate at time of deposit was inconsequential; the device wielded enough power to reach a long arm right up into the bladder, drawing the urine out like a rope, offering pleasure commonly associated with kinky sexual endeavors. In addition to the pleasure it gave, Vat 29 was famous for other reasons. One was its ability to extract the deep tissue fluid known as Epirine.
This was the crème de la crème, the vintage piss. It was the richest in yellow, a deep golden sheen reflecting all that was pure in excretory matter. Some of the specially fermented solutions of Epirine sold for two hundred dollars a shot at The Golden Hole. This was precious fluid rarely accessed and the vat that housed it required two separate keys from different managers just to pour a single shot. Fortunately for Trashbury, the usually infallible security box had faltered on the night in question, allowing the not-so-trustworthy barkeep to access the beauteous potable. He was certain the crime would be passed off as an outside burglary, subsequently covered by the insurers.
Trashbury wasn’t too bright.
He’d initially worked for The Golden Hole as a consultant, helping his childhood friend, Drew, find a suitable neighborhood and venue for such a dicey business venture. While studying biology and physics at Uni, Drew learned the benefits of drinking urine while away on a male bonding retreat.
“It’s going to be a cleansing experience.” Drew told Trashbury while gearing up for the six-day trek into the Sierra Nevada mountains where thirty grown men would get naked and sit around an open fire crying on each other’s shoulders.
Trashbury’s only response was to warn Drew of the tendencies of some of these guys. He thought there must be something more ulterior in a demented new-age cruising capacity. But when Drew returned fresh, feeling healthy and cleansed, Trashbury changed his tune. He listened to Drew’s account of the ceremonial ‘piss-up’ that took place every morning of the trek with curiosity and delight.
“We’d wake up at five every morning to the dewy fog hanging over us between the trees. I’m tellin’ ya’ Francis-” (This was Trashbury’s given name, and no one dared call him by it if they wanted to keep their teeth. Drew was excepted due to the nature and extent of their friendship, but even he was warned not to use it in mixed company. As to the origin of Trashbury’s used moniker no one really knew, but many had heard the tale of him as a tot playing in his backyard all alone and the business of burying his own shit under a rose bush hoping to grow kaleidoscope flowers; an Alice in Wonderland complex many believed carried over into his adult life.)
Drew continued, “We each had one cup that we used all day for everything. We’d piss in it, shit in it, drink out of it, eat out of it; everything for the whole week. Some guys couldn’t handle it at first and would puke at the first taste of urine. I actually liked it!” Drew looked all too excited about the whole thing, and Francis found himself lighting a cigarette to wipe the assumed taste from his palette.
“I could imagine it to be any drink I wanted really. But after a while I enjoyed it for its own natural value. Then we started experimenting with each other’s piss until everyone found the one they liked and could drink everyday.”
“Isn’t that dangerous?” asked Francis.
“It can be, but only if you take it in high doses without supplementing it with fiber. It’s a cyclical thing. You must excrete as often as you take in to keep the body in harmony. So, I came up with this idea,...” And thus was the impetus that led to a local phenomenon. Drew got a loan while Trashbury scouted potential venues for business. He drove all around the San Francisco Bay Area finally settling on a vacant shop in the highly liberal and health conscious city of Berkeley. The joint was an instant success.
People lined the streets during the first month of business to test out the already famous depositing devices known as ‘glove suckers’. These pseudo-appendages hung under each table, looking like a de-pressurized airplane cabin. Customers became so fond of the mechanisms they gave them pet names like ‘Lucy the Battle Bitch’ and ‘Bahama Mama’ (Vat 29). Vat 23 had a smooth and delicate feel to it like a gentle lover and was labeled ‘Barry’, in honor of the ebony icon, Barry White. The depositing of urine was not the only attraction.
There was an ever-increasing consciousness cultivating in Berkeley, an awareness that the intake and circulation of one’s own urine was beneficial in many ways. Even the prudes who deemed the practice vulgar and utterly distasteful began to catch on to the fact that urine stored in hermetically sealed containers, chilled to a perfect intake temperature of fifty-two degrees Fahrenheit and subtly laced with spices such as cardamom and cloves could result in a more than tolerable afternoon nip. Located adjacent to the major California University, The Golden Hole was on everyone’s lips
With the ever-increasing popularity of the bar, Trashbury’s insatiable greed ballooned. When he felt that cold cash pass through his hands in exchange for the minute portions of piss, his dark thoughts galloped to an open field of corruption. But to his annoyance, Drew had already commissioned the high security vats to protect their investment, and there was no time or space to make a break.
“I’m going to India,” Drew said with excitement. “I’ve got to assess some top shelf urine in Punjab.”
These were the words that sent Trashbury’s mind reeling in recalcitrance.
“Really? When?” Casual mask in place.
“I’ll leave this weekend.”
“Well, supposedly they’ve got some stuff taken from newborn babies in an isolated region of the Himalayas. They figure we can get up to $450 per 100 mil, retail.”
“What’s the wholesale value?” Trashbury’s eyes flickered BAR-BAR-BAR.
“They’ll sell at $235 for an order under 5 litres, or $205 for anything above that. It’d be a big purchase but the stuff’s supposed to be unbelievably fine.”
“You think our people are ready for it? I mean should we buy that much and expect to be able to dump it before it bitters?” Despite his faults Trashbury knew his business in all its uncertainty.
“Francis, I’m telling you, and I’ve always said this, you gotta’ take chances sometimes and jump on opportunities before they close in on you. Otherwise, you’re left stumped and broke.”
So, so true my friend. Thought Francis. So true.
“No Regrets, man. You remember that, our old credo. Anyway, if this shit’s as good as they claim I may buy five litres and we’ll sell it at five hundred retail. With those numbers we stand to profit almost fifteen grand. Even if we have to drop the price to four fifty, that’s still an instant ten grand when we clear it. We’ll throw a big launch party to introduce the stuff.”
Francis was impressed with Drew’s savvy business fervor. “Sounds like a go. I just hope it’s as fine as they say. What’s it called anyway?”
“You’re gonna love this,” Drew replied. “SikhCrete.”
A perverted smile wrapped Francis’ face. “I like it.”
It was a busy day in The Hole. Drew had been gone less than a week, and when ‘Bury spoke to him on the phone he sounded more than happy about the new acquisition. The deal was closed for five litres plus a hundred and fifty mils of bonus piss. Drew would stay back and take in the sights for a few more days. ‘Bury was nervous.
He would nick the goods that night, but not without the cunning assistance of his ex-con friend, Mario. Mario had done a nickel for armed robbery at San Quentin where Charles Manson was his housemate. Trashbury would use Mario’s crassness to make the robbery look like an outside job.
“I need the locks tampered with and the glass broken,” he told Mario in no unclear manner. “I’ll be inside waiting for you.”
“Uh huh,” grunted Mario.
“You need to gouge the locks on all of the vats while I trash the place a little.”
“Then I’ll pick the lock, fill the jugs with the Epirine and smash the vats.”
“You can take the money from the register. There should be over a grand in there. Take it all. And then I need you to do one more thing.”
“Yeah?” Mario was no linguist.
“I want you to piss all over the floor so it looks like the urine from the vat was spilled, not stolen. Do whatever you have to. Drink beer all night before you get there, whatever, but piss your brains out, zip up and get the fuck out. I should already be long gone by then to meet my buyers so you’re on your own from there. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Done,” grunted Mario.
Trashbury hung up the phone, his hand trembling profusely. It wasn’t the job that worried him so much, as he knew he could trust Mario to follow instructions. What worried him were his Colombian buyers, clients who’d been passed on to him by a friend in the cocaine trade. ‘Bury didn’t like the caliber nor temperament of guys wrapped up in kilos of coke. In fact, it scared the hell out of him.
The deal would be for ten litres of pure Epirine. It was no small exchange; one which would net Trashbury over 100 large and a ticket to Australia where he’d go legit and open up his own joint. His dubious clients would take their newly acquired urine to the grand mansion of Jorge Luis Semiñario, the biggest name in contraband exportation known to man. This is what made Trashbury’s anus pucker in fear. The idea that a man with more gun power than a small nation was to be his customer sowed fear pellets in every pore of his body.
All the details for the job were in place, so Trashbury tried to relax by throwing back a half-pint of tequila and taking a snooze. He awoke a few hours later a bit groggy, but no worse for the wear, ready to carry out the job.
The Job: In. Vats unlocked, drained, smashed. Out. Like a calibrated pit crew, every movement was calculated and carried out to perfection. No words passed between Trashbury and Mario. It was a job taken seriously, and both men were seasoned professionals. Mario made off with seventeen hundred bucks and one of the glove suckers. After five years in the joint, he was very open to new plights in sexual stimulation.
‘Bury rolled down the freeway at cautious speeds, careful not to topple the containers behind his seat worth a hundred grand in liquid gold. He took deep, steady breaths through gorilla nostrils, exhaling from his mouth. He would make the drop at an abandoned army bunker in the Marin Headlands, a concrete maze burrowed into the jagged crag at the North end of the Golden Gate Bridge. Many of the officers’ quarters-- intricate underground rooms connected by ladders and concrete tunnels--remained soundly intact, and save for the occasional randy couple or group of amateur drinkers, were wholly deserted. It was the perfect place for dealings of this nature.
Although familiar with the site, ‘Bury’s palms still sweated like cheese on a summer day. He worried about his clients. They’d be undoubtedly wielding weapons and dirty scowls. His plan was to make the quick drop, collect the cash then race to the airport to make the red-eye to L.A. where he’d hole up in a cheap hotel before catching the morning Sydney flight. No regrets. He thought. That’s right, Drew. No regrets.
Making his ascent on the snaking road, ‘Bury calmed his nerves with a flask of tequila he rested in his crotch. Rashly he cranked the rear-view mirror to grab a look at himself. His eyes were wide with his hair greasily mussed about his creased forehead.
“Quick drop. No problems,” he chanted out loud, sucking a cigarette lifeless in his yellowed fingers. Turning the final corner leading to the top of the cliff, ‘Bury’s headlights fanned out three of Semiñario’s thugs propped against a black limousine. They looked like a police lineup from a lost ‘Miami Vice’ episode. All wore colorful shirts loosely buttoned, with white or khaki pants and leather sandals. Trashbury managed a chuckle that was quickly thwarted by the sighting of the automatic weaponry each man flashed. If he was nervy before it was only in preparation for this moment when breathing became a drudgery and holding a cigarette was nearly impossible.
They walked up a dirt trail to one of the skeletal remains of an officer’s quarters to make the exchange. A notable quiescence prevailed from the swish-swash of the golden potable as ‘Bury carefully juggled the bottles of Epirine. It wasn’t until they were safely inside the quarters that one of the Colombians spoke.
“Is this all of it?”
“Yeah. Ten litres.” Trashbury’s throat was a sieve through which his voice cracked. His arms quavered uncontrollably as he placed the bottles on the ground in front his buyers.
The first Colombian to speak turned to one of his colleagues, speaking sternly in Spanish. A response from his apparent subordinate was not taken favourably. They seemed to be in disagreement on something. Pointing to the bottles, the one who spoke first said to Trashbury, “Our jefe wants us to taste it to make sure it’s autentico, but my men will not drink it, neither will I.”
Real pros. Thought ‘Bury. Thug number one held the sub-machine gun at waist level pointed at Trashbury’s gut.
“So, Señor Trash, you taste it and tell me if it’s right or I kill you now.”
Slowly, so as not to startle the triggerman, he reached down, picked up one of the bottles and took a meager sip. The men critically eyeballed his reaction which was calm and savouring. ‘Bury was shit scared. Satisfied with the sample result, the man who spoke first reached down the back of his wrinkly chinos, producing a fat envelope he handed to Trashbury. It was all there. The drop was complete, and ‘Bury just wanted to get the hell out of there to try and figure out what went wrong. Sure, he had put on a convincing face while tasting the urine, but Semiñarios thugs were too dense to realize it was all an act. The urine had been changed. It was not Epirine at all, and ‘Bury had no idea why.
His winged Cadillac careened down the serpentine path at daunting speeds. He had to get to the airport before Semiñario’s men got wise and tasted the urine themselves. But would they even know the difference? They didn’t seem to share their jefe’s appreciation for fine urine. Was Semñario sitting in the back of that blacked-out limo or would he be waiting to receive his delivery in Columbia? Trashbury had too many questions that he couldn’t answer and wasn’t going to stick around to enquire.
What he needed to know was how the low-grade urine got into the Epirine tank. There was only one man who had the means to change it. But, why? And when? He had to know. With one hand grappling the wheel, ‘Bury pulled out his mobile phone, punching out Drew’s mobile number with his thumb. Sweat fell in heavy droplets onto the number pad as he pushed the ‘call’ button.
Drew answered in one ring. His voice was stoic.
“Francis, I’m very disappointed in you. Why’d you do it? I thought we were friends?” A long pause ensued. Barring his heavy wheezing, Francis was speechless.
Drew broke the gap. “C’mon Francis, don’t you want to explain yourself?” Another pause. “OK, then. Just listen. I’m here at the shop with two detectives and six cops. I’ve given them your name--they’ll be calling you Francis--your address, social security and driver’s license numbers. I don’t know what you intend on doing with that Epirine, but I suggest you taste it first. You’ll find you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Drew sighed. “Good luck to you, brother. You’re gonna’ need it.”
“YOU FU--” Francis’ outburst fell on a disconnected signal. He threw the phone at the windshield, muttering obscenities through grinding teeth. Then through the heavy fog of the bay he noticed two long beams of light in his rear-view mirror, closing in on him like white-hot lava.
They were on to him. It was all over for Trashbury, and he knew it. He began laughing--laughing a vibro-maniacal cackle with his head tilted back and his hands holding his scalp. His body buckled and jolted as the tears came spraying out his clenched lids. This is it. He thought. This is my death. His car swerved onto the dusty cliff edge, the steering wheel completely unmanned. Stomping on the gas pedal he whispered calmly, “No regrets, man. No regrets.”