Master and Margarita Vs. Discothequeby Max Barashenkov / Images by Adam Kent Wiest / 02.11.2011
When the two entered the building on Harrington Street, the air inside was thick with the scent of barely matured rape. The first, he was unfashionably dressed in a badly cut 30s suit, a bowler hat that did nothing to hide his flaming mane and he nursed a single, long fang that permanently curled his lower lip into a snarl. The second was a large black cat. On its hind legs it walked waist-high next to the man, complained incessantly about everything, answered to the name of Behemoth and chain-smoked ancient Russian cigarettes, the filters of which it tore off and flicked at the passersby. Their very look screamed of impudence and mischief.
“Where are we, Azazello?” the cat asked as the duo strode nonchalantly past the big men guarding the doors, yet they were not the only ones to do so. Pretty things, far too young for the numbers printed on their obviously fake IDs (“Shoddy work,” sniffed the feline) danced and flirted their way into the dimly lit hall with the ease of water nymphs.
“Cape Town, South Africa,” offered back Azazello.
“Aah, Africa, that explains the primal ambiance,” whistled Behemoth as they surveyed the interior, “And why, pray tell me, did you drag me here?”
“Our Master desires new entertainment. The ball is tomorrow and…” but the feline wasn’t listening, pushing and elbowing its way to the drink. There it caused a ruckus when the barman refused to accept the gold coins Behemoth was shoving at him. The cat raged, shouting “do you know who I am” until Azazello came and smoothed things over, then bitched about the over-priced vodka. A rotund music critic at the counter, recognizing familiar habits, raised a glass at the strange couple in greeting. Behemoth responded with an irritated hiss and knocked back its third shot.
“Do we know that fat man?” it turned to Azazello.
“I doubt anyone in this time and place knows us, my dear friend,” answered his companion, “I have not visited these parts since the British slaughtered the Zulus.”
“Not much has changed, clearly,” mumbled the feline into its fifth vodka, eyes turning manically, drinking in the scenes of youthful chaos and good-natured violence, “Did the children dress as sluts then too? Did a parade of ass also mount the redoubts of the red-coats?”
“You are too crass, old fellow,” remarked Azazello, but a crooked, predatory grin played across his lips as he looked upon two nymphs, no older than seventeen wearing matching sailor outfits more appropriate for portside hookers than respectable young women.
“To hell with you, old fart, I’m merely appropriating their own discourse,” shot back Behemoth and raised its paw, pointing to a gaggle of girls in criminally short denim shorts from whom the following echoed: “You skaaaank! Your lips are showing!”
Azazello contemplated such self-disrespect, shrugged and ordered another line of shots, paying with crumpled notes that disappeared the moment they were deposited into the till. A tall blonde, awkwardly stilt-walking on a pair of luscious legs framed by ridiculous heels, stumbled to the bar, gave the duo a once over, noting the numerous shots, and pulled out her sweetest smile: “And what are you two supposed to be?”
“Servants of Satan,” barked back Behemoth, drowned its laugh with yet more vodka, vanished the girl with a snap of its claws and threw to Azazello, “I’m bored of this circus, my barbed cock is not impressed. Can we leave these children to their decadence and get on with it?”
His broad shouldered companion, spying a pretty girl vomiting in plain sight, the remnants of her dinner smeared across the floor by oblivious feet, couldn’t help but agree. Azazello cocked his ear, listening to the music blaring from the dancehall.
“Just now, my impatient friend, those that we came here for are yet to start. What say you of this accompaniment?” he said.
“Rubbish. Opium for the masses. Talentless losers humping an already empty trend,” Behemoth did not even raise its head, “Who is this?”
Azazello consulted some mental list, displayed a puzzled expression and answered, “VGA or Richard The Third, I really can’t tell the difference. And I don’t think these youth can, or care to either.”
“Sounds to eye-fuck to,” concluded the feline, “Whatever happened to music?”
The question hung, unanswered, amid the grinding electro drops. Just as the usual jovial mood of the companions began to ebb, the music changed, this time noticeably. A trio had mounted the stage, the aspiring sluts and would-be pimps flooded forward and Azazello gave Behemoth the sign that their time had come. They cleared a small patch of crowd and prepared to watch.
“P.H.Fat they are called,” shouted Azazello over the deafening bass, “Master wants them to play tomorrow night. He sees it fitting that this aural madness accompanies Mephisto’s annual ball.”
But Behemoth, his monstrous thirst sated somewhat, was lost in dance. The musicians folded the feline and the audience like origami – coaxing out angular movement. Azazello could not deny their skill or their overwhelming appeal, he could see himself surrendering too to the peculiar combination of rhyme and beat. Music worthy of the Devil indeed, flashed somewhere under the top hat and he whooped and bared his teeth in approval. The performance was marred by an over-weight and dirty man who barged on stage and proceeded to spew the grating: “Spring motherfucker spring!” Azazello looked into his soul, saw the expected lack of talent, confirmed to himself that the fat man’s woman closed her eyes and thought of money as he fucked her, and spared his life.
“It’s almost a shame to pull these fellows to the Masters ball!” screeched Behemoth, his demeanor softened by the drink, “They will never play to mortal men again!”
“Au contraire, my friend,” Azazello howled back, “Our Master sees much further than you and is in fact saving them from certain creative death. Judge for yourself, you drunk fur-ball: they have been performing the same songs for the last three years and their new material barely comes near their old. They seem to have plateaued and show sign of bowing to the pressure of their audiences. Did you not see the utter furor that the wobbly track, “Disco Biscuit” it is called I believe, caused? By far the best response and, note, no words! The Master fears this trend will continue, rendering what was once unique stale.”
Behemoth stopped cold at this unexpected burst of criticism, scratched behind his ear, burped and said, “ruin the moment, why don’t you. Fine, to the ball we go.”
And with a snap of the claws, the duo and the band vanished, never to be seen in this neck of the woods again.
*All images © Adam Kent Wiest.