Gated 1c

--truncated today. Computer still down, and I get to go tony company's sleep-away camp. Enjoy--

The Berkeley canals started around San Pablo, and ran down to the Bay. When the water levels started rising in the '30s the city knew it was better to swim than sink. They bulldozed the streets and dredged them to a navigable depth. Then they used the landfill to berm neighborhoods and shopping districts until they could re-engineer them along the lines of Venice. While other cities were panicking the brains in the university looked for ways to re-engineer for the coming generations. With the heat rising steadily outside over the years, it became a fashion to build below the rising sea level. The 4th street mall had promenades running through aquariums filled with tropical fish. A multi-colored reef zoo for sea creatures from around the world. Especially those creatures at risk to ocean acidification. Shoppers wandered hall of LED-lit tech, stared at by fish even brighter than the twinkling lights urging customers to buy. Club Mudbug, by contrast, sat beneath an old house on 7th street, jacked up decades ago. Unlike the crystalline tropical depths represented at the mall, the natural bay waters had always been a study in murk. The bay, even before it had been flooded with silt in the ancient gold-mining times, had been shallow mud flats filled with microscopic critters to feed clams, ducks, geese, and innumerable other filter feeders. The club used the muddy water to filter red, green, and blue lasers into the place. Light shows for the caribi-zydeco music they were known for. The place was a few hours away from full-swing when Daoud came down the steps into the cool interior looking for Rae. The place was low rent, with glass-framed pictures of Bob Marley and Clifton Chenier over the bar. The music was on a low throb, with the steel pan drums interlaced with the bass accordion. "Slide Me out Gently," Daoud recognized, Jay Rockfoot's hit from last summer. A loose knot of people sat over to one side, with purpose. They were chatting in ones and twos, but separate on sight from the students scattered about swirling paragraphs together over their workpads. Daoud ordered himself a Dixie Voodoo, thankful alcohol was still cheaper than food. He sidled over towards, the knot, taking a seat near two girls about his age. A thin girl with light-brown hair was twirling a coaster on the thickly varnished table, smiling knowingly at a more heavily-built blonde girl. They both had an air of athleticism in the way they moved. "A lot of the time it's just fun," the thin girl was telling her companion. "You know how in soccer we don't worry about the bruising, it's that rush of the perfect kick. Same thing here. It's just another way to let your body take you on a ride. You get a little banged up from time to time, but--" "I just--you know on a team, you get a chance to work together, build up trust. But just showing up at someone's door to-- What if you get someone you don't like?" Daoud tried to be surreptitious listening to the two girls. He considered this training for the court: watching body language, trying to hear what was meant, not just what was said. The thinner gal was trying to sell her friend on something she was reluctant to do. The thinner gal continued."What if someone's in the stands you don't like. You don't think about it, you just go with it. If you have to act a little, that's no big deal." "It's not like I'm a prude, Shelby," the bigger blonde insisted. "God knows it sounds better in the long run. But I was just raised differently." "College is the time to try new things, Mar. Better now than having to go down on some Captain over and over again because he took a fancy to you," Shelby, the thin one, replied. "Take a look at the guys around here," she continued. "I usually get decent lookers, people who look after themselves. Not freeloaders like the guy sitting next to us trying to listen in." If there was ever a time to use his trick of silently smiling, it was now. Daoud turned towards the girls and lit up his face. He'd put it together. The thin girl, Shelby, was a hireling, and was trying to talk her friend, Mar, into signing on, too. He knew thy were around campus, but he'd never met one before. And there was no way in hell he could hire one, but he could meet one. "Stop grinning, dilhole," Shelby growled. In response Daoud twirled his chair around towards their table so that the back faced the girls. He straddled the chair between them. "So what are the true costs of the war in the Pacific?" he asked Shelby.

© Tony Jonick 2013