Thursday, July 06, 2006

Days of Iakaris

I received a call Tuesday morning from Iakaris inviting me to a 4th of July/Belated Obscure Canadian Holiday cookout at his place. I politely declined, explaining that I had another party to attend that afternoon. Not true. When he called, I was sitting in my underwear, bonus whoring two $25 NL tables at Far East Poker. Not surprisingly, I was losing my ass.

No, poor Hacker had nowhere to go at that point but down. I had just seen my safe and secure life disintegrate in the span of a 12-hour encounter with Iak. Yet even the meager crumbs that remained held enough value to make a second bout with Dr. Sybarite seem ill-advised.

"No, problem," Iakaris said, his voice preternaturally calm, a distinct departure from his manic state of a few days before. "I know it's last minute and all. Don't know what I was thinking. Although, I have to admit it was Melinda's idea. A couple of her friends are in for the weekend and she thought it would be nice if you could drop by."

Melinda. The mere mention of her name took my breath away. Melinda. Perfection personified. That needy, child-like voice. That charming high-pitched giggle. That slim, tight body capable of turning The Gap into haute couture. Those sexily vacuous eyes.

"I know you're busy, old man," Iak continued. "I'll pass your regrets on to Melinda. Maybe another time."

"Wait!" I blurted. "Look, um, you know, I could stop by for a few minutes on my way to the other party. Maybe for a quick drink."

"Absolutely," Iak said, roaring his approval. "We won't keep you long. And I know Melinda will be pleased as punch to see you."

Iak. If you only knew. Where the beautiful Melinda is concerned, the pleasure is distinctly mine.

Now if I could only remember why. The soupy of fog of Saturday night had stubbornly refused to lift. But somehow, the image of that raven-haired goddess bore through the confusing miasma, burnishing my brain with desire.

I admit that I remember a few things. The limo ride, illegal substances, a club, another limo ride, more illegal substances. Melinda joining us in the limo. Melinda and I alone in the limo. The frames then dissolved into darkness until the mid-morning sun coaxed me awake on the dew-drenched front lawn of my suburban home.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, I had managed to shower, dress and motor toward my destiny. The directions Iak gave me had me turning down a narrow private road flanked by tall hedgerows. At the end of the lane stood a gatehouse and beyond that a magnificent mansion surrounded by an expanse of lush, perfectly manicured lawn. A large burly man stepped out of the gatehouse and peered suspiciously into my car.

“Can I help you,” he asked, the accent once again markedly Russian.

I gave him my name and he checked the contents of the clipboard in his hand. Frowning, he opened the gate. I pulled my beat-up ’94 Corolla behind a line of vehicles with a value that exceeded the annual GNP of some third-world countries. Leonid, the chauffeur, stood at the front of the line polishing Iak’s limo. I got out and greeted him, extending my hand. He eyed me for a second and continued buffing without comment.

“Should I go around back?” I asked

Leonid again failed to respond. Fuck him. I walked around the house on a lawn that rivaled a fairway at the finest country club. The back of the house proved to be the front, the lawn sloping gently toward the lake. Several dozen peole stood beneath a large canopy. Iak stood stood among a crowd of swells that seemed to be laughing at something he had said.

I approached. It did not seem to be the same Iak. Instead of the poor-white-trashwear from poker night, he wore a finely tailored black silk shirt and trousers, his full head of hair stylishly combed. As the laughter subsided, he turned and noticed me.

“Mark! Glad you could make it. Come here, old man. Let me introduce you.”

A strong sense memory emerged: I've arrived at the seventh-grade dance in a horrifically out-of-date coat and tie my mother insisted I wear and spend the rest of the night unsuccessfully dodging the cruel barbs of my classmates.

In this instance, given the quick but studied glances of the other partygoers, I felt so underdressed that I might as well have been naked. Iak embraced me as if I were a long-lost brother.

“Here, my friends, is a man chiseled smartly from the salt of the earth. A true mensch,” Iak said proudly.

He introduced me to some of the beautiful people, their names obscured by my harried attempts to form an exit strategy. A waiter appeared with a tray of bubbling champagne flutes. Iak grabbed a glass for me.

“I made sure I had plenty of Cristal on hand today, given how much you like it,” Iak said laughing.

Cristal? I’ve read enough of the Post’s Page 6 to know that the hip-hop scene drinks this stuff like water, but at $400 a bottle, there's no way it had ever passed my lips. Or had it? Each passing second sent me spinning faster down the vortex of Iak’s rabbit hole. He continued his story, allowing me to stand quietly, sip champagne and collec my thoughts. The story completed, he turned and quietly suggested that I find Melinda inside the house.

“She’s probably in the conservatory,” Iak said, his voice amiable, his expression inscrutable. “She’s very much looking forward to seeing you.”

I nodded numbly and walked toward the house. In the mystery my life had become, the character of Melinda represented a beguiling enigma. Why her? Why me? What the hell happened that night?

I entered through a door that brought me into a kitchen the size of my home. A half-dozen chefs in pristine whites and tocques stood before various burners and cutting boards. Waiters bustled to and fro. I continued through a swinging door that led to the dining room. A table the length of a small runway had been set for several dozen diners. An even longer Oriental rug ran beneath it. How could Iak afford this? Who is this Gatsby? But more importantly, where is my Daisy?

I entered a long hallway, the walls lined with oils and tapestries. A door at the end of the hall leaked weak daylight. I rapped my knuckles against the heavy oak surface.

“Who is it?”

“Melinda? It’s Mark.”

The door swung open and she stood before me. My memory had indeed failed me. Melinda was far more beautiful than any image my brain could have held. She wore tight pink capris and a pink sweater that clung lusciously to her small breasts. Before I could speak, she reached up and kissed me hard on the mouth.

“Nice to see you, Hacker,” she said, taking my hand and leading me inside the room. Ceiling-high bookshelves lined two walls. An impressive array of servers, console lights blinking, lined another.

She pressed against me, her voice a whisper. “What do you think?” she asked.

My mind raced. I felt the words forming and knew they should never be uttered. Not here. Not now. Melinda had rendered me helpless and out of control. “I think I love you, Melinda.”

She took a step back and giggled. “Not me, silly. What do you think of our little set-up here.”

Oh, God. She’s talking about the computers. There can be no recovery from this asinine moment in Hacker History. The only appropriate response seemed to be firing a bullet into my encephaletic brain. Instead, I said, “They’re ... okay. What are they for?”

“They’re running bots,” she said. “Hundreds of lovely profit-pulling poker bots. And pretty soon a special pay site starring me! Melinda!!”

It all became clear. Iak’s large lifestyle. The presence of Melinda. Global warming. Iak commanded an army of freakin’ bots.

Melinda slid next to me again and smiled. “You love me?”

I nodded dumbly. “I like girls, too, you know.”

I told her I did not object. That's when her body melted against mine, signalling my arrival in heaven. “Maybe I love you, too, Hacker.”

Love, lust and all of their wingmates swooped down in a carnal nosedive. Tumescent glory emerged.

Not good. The hard-on, you see, was not mine. It belonged to Melinda.

“Surprise,” she said smiling, her mouth seeking mine.

I stepped back. “What is going on here?”

“Oh, darling. What’s the matter? Don't let a little plumbing stand between us. I love you. You love me. I'm all yours. Forever. But please, please, please, Mark, just remember one thing. It's so very important. In the end, I’ll always belong to Iak.”

I turned and raced through the door and out of the hellish House of Iak. I found my car and headed home. Once safely inside, I took off my pants, uncorked a Bud and fired up two $25 tables on Far East Poker.

My life might be changed forever, but the work is never done.


Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

I may not be poker champ, friends, but in all honesty I have to admit: Gatsby, c'est moi.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin) said...

okay, admittedly I don't know Iak all that well, but while I can believe everything else in the story, him being responsible for global warming seems a bit far fetched.

1:24 PM  

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