if [tribe] =
The scene was a distorted ant’s eye view of a disgusting, trash-filled alleyway. The proportions of everything were distorted. Bridge and the rest of the observers appeared to be no larger than a few inches high. Towering over the whole scene was an unconscious figure, sitting with one outstretched leg; his back leaned up against one side of the alleyway. His arms hung limply at his sides, an air-hypo Bridge recognized as the delivery device for most of the really good designer street drugs hanging from the figure’s limp right hand. Bridge stood next to the giant’s crotch. The man’s attire was threadbare; a worn jacket filled with holes, news faxes providing a bed sheet for this figure on the nod. The bum’s left eye, larger than any of the viewers, twitched unconsciously. Dirt and slime stained the man’s face, his hands, and every bit of his clothing. A scraggly beard so large Bridge could see the fleas working their way in and out of the tree trunk sized hairs plastered the bum’s face.
“That’s both disgusting and amazing.”
“Isn’t it, though?” Stonewall whispered.
“How the fuck did a starving artist afford such an expensive hologram setup? He’s got to be running at least ten large for the equipment alone.”
Stonewall’s irritation was written across his scowling face. “It’s always about the paper with you, ain’t it?” Bridge shrugged.
“You could have asked me, I know a guy who could have gotten it for him cheap.”
“The equipment wasn’t an issue,” Stonewall replied. Bridge knew what that meant. This kind of gear sometimes found its way “off the truck,” as it were.
“The power consumption’s got to be off the charts, though.”
“Why you think the show’s only half-an-hour? Any more than that and the utility cops shows up.”
“I could have had Mu hook up a Glowbug.”
“We won’t be here long enough for it to matter, and we sure as fuck ain’t paying rent on the space. I’m not even sure who owns the joint.”
Bridge continued his criticism. “Mu could have really spruced this thing up, though. I mean, I’m looking at a scabby bum covered in shit, and he could have gone with the full sensory experience. Smells so strong you can taste them, feeling the heat, everything. I mean, the gear he’s got is good, but well… magic.” Bridge secretly liked showing off his pet wizard, though he’d never admit it.
“It’s fine, Bridge. I think it makes the point quite succinctly.” Stonewall changed the subject quickly. “So where’s Aristotle? He’d appreciate this.”
Bridge shrugged sadly. “Don’t know. He was supposed to be here at eight sharpish, but I’m going to guess he’ll show up late and drunk again, if at all.”
“Still not taking the grandmother thing well?” Bridge shook his head and Stonewall nodded knowingly. His conspiratorial whisper laid it all out there. “You gotta give him time on this one, Bridge. Not only did your wizard buddies cause her death, you shacked up with them, turned them into a religion even. You’re lucky he hasn’t killed you himself.”
“Balfour still isn’t sure those people are all dead,” Bridge dissembled. Seeing Stonewall’s scowl, he conceded the point. “But you’re right. The fact he even still talks to me is a miracle. Couldn’t your boys at least have hooked us up with some of those little cocktail weenies?”
“Feeding the viewer would be a bit hypocritical in a piece decrying the starvation of the underclass by the corporate oligarchy. Now go mingle.” Stonewall walked away from Bridge and began speaking to a very attractive blonde woman.
“Mingle? Fuck, I hate people. What am I doing here?”
Bitching like a woman, apparently, said the disembodied voice in his head.