Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is the center of the hipster universe, and the members of the Whole Sick Crew are its shining stars. The gang includes Wolfgang, a heavy metal musician and high school guidance counselor who supplies coke to his charges; Rad, a doctor obsessed with obscure new wave songs who has a bad habit of cutting himself when he's stressed; Beth Ann, the neighborhood's queen knitter who's slowly going blind and Harrison, a museum curator moonlighting as a writer of highly prized porn. Collectively, they're the arbiters of taste for every vinyl-loving, Gap-spurning, thrift store regular in town. But lately someone has been laying waste to Brooklyn's über-hipsters, dispatching them in gruesome fashion.
The cops are dragging their heels, but the Whole Sick Crew knows that a serial killer dubbed Doctor Jeep is responsible. They have a plan to stop him--and it's about to go spectacularly awry. Before the week is over, they'll be up to their skinny-jeaned waists in mayhem, manipulation, contract killers, raw sewage, and murderous monkeys. Something is rotten in the state of Billyburg, and the last hipsters standing will discover just how rotten it really is. . .
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6 Sick Hipsters
By Rayo Casablanca
Copyright © 2008 Rayo Casablanca
All right reserved.
Brittany Worley was pulling into the Getty gas station on Union when she noticed the man in the black Jeep.
He was slender and handsome. His face sharp like he was sucking in his cheeks. Brittany guessed early 30s. Maybe older. He was wearing obnoxiously tight jeans, a denim jacket and a black Iron Maiden T-shirt. The T-shirt had a drawing of a leering zombie in a leather duster smoking a cigarette and brandishing a gun and it said, Stranger in a Strange Land.
The man eyed Brittany as she got out of her rented 6 Series.
She found the shirt repulsive. She was sure the guy had that reclining naked chick silhouette on his Jeep's mud flaps. Maybe even a Confederate flag bumper sticker on the rear window and a six-pack of Budweiser in a cheap cooler on the backseat. Iron Maiden? Brittany knew that was the cheese-ball metal band Veniss was into. Ugh. Veniss even had a tat of that zombie's grinning head on her back. She said it was Eddie, Eddie the Head. Repulsive.
Brittany decided to ignore the Iron Maiden guy. This was the first day of her much needed vacation. Two weeks back home. Two weeks relaxing in the city. Attracting the attention of some heavy metal freak wasn't in the cards but she still watched Eddie the Head fill his Jeep, ready and eager to totally dismiss him. But then he turned to face her and she was immediately struck by how attractive he was. There was something really striking about the bone structure of his face. But his T-shirt was killing it. Cute or not, he had terrible taste in music.
She did a quick self-check, scanning her stretched reflection in the tinted windows of the rental. White faux-fox trimmed leather boots. Hot pink cords. White V-neck sleeveless top. Rose sweater tied around her shoulders. Her hair up in a bun and sunglasses on. She looked as good as she felt. Like Jackie O on holiday in Aspen. Or better, Elizabeth Taylor circa the winter of '66. When the gas pump clicked Brittany skipped into the station to grab a Tab, a Red Bull and a pack of menthols.
On her way across the lot she made the mistake of turning around and looking again at Eddie. He was looking at her and flashed a lopsided smile. Brittany was thrown off guard. His toothy grin was really intriguing. Brittany looked past the shirt, past the stretched skin of the grinning death's head, into this guy's eyes and saw something sweet there. And despite her knowing better, she smiled back. Instinct maybe. She turned back and walked into the station. Something wicked in her hoped Eddie would follow.
Brittany grabbed the can of Red Bull first and wandered the tight aisles leisurely, eyeing Eddie as he grabbed a bag of peanuts and stopped to flip through a Weekly World News. The cover featured a photo of a three-limbed infant with a horn in the middle of its forehead with the caption, Unicorn Love Child! A faint shiver of expectation ran up Brittany's spine when she stopped behind Eddie to grab a six-pack of Tab.
"Can't believe how expensive things are these days," he said, eyes still on the newspaper. His voice was calm. Baritone.
Brittany turned to face him and smiled. "I remember coming to this station as a kid and paying forty cents for a can of Tab," she replied.
Eddie looked up, that something sweet still in his eyes. "I remember when it was just a quarter. So, you trying to keep awake?" he asked pointing to the can of Red Bull Brittany was clutching.
"Yeah, late night last night."
"Happens to the best of us. You from Williamsburg?"
"Nothing wrong with that," Eddie smiled. His teeth all jumbled like a fallen fence but shockingly white. They sparkled in the humming fluorescent lights. "You know of anywhere in Queens to have lunch? I'm headed that way. Something spicy. I'm in the mood for spicy."
"Yeah," Brittany blushed and that embarrassed her. "There's a nice place called Loca. It's spicy. Kind of Caribbean-Italian fusion. I've only been there once but it was good."
"That sounds perfect," Eddie said. Something in Brittany fluttered.
"I can show you on a map where it is." "Do you want to join me?"
Brittany hadn't been out on a date in over six months. And it wasn't for lack of trying. She was a striking woman, voted Most Popular in her senior class at Saint John's. Tall with long golden hair, wide dark eyes and a pug nose. Brittany was a prototypical American girl. A rough mixture of European finery and American mustang sensuality. She was often whistled at by construction workers and that was always a nice gauge. But despite her good looks, she didn't crave the attention. The smiles and roses and whistles were white noise in the background of her demanding life. And that had a lot to do with her being a pop star.
Brittany loved the sound of that. Pop. Star. Awesome.
Adored by prepubescent girls across the globe-the most fawning fans for her brand of bubble gum pop were Russian orphans-she was on her way to superstardom. At least her agent said so. Brittany's debut album, Don't Tell That Girl to Shut Up, sold 150,000 copies its first month. She knew it wasn't on the same playing field as that other Britney but it was damn good. Great for a college dropout from Astoria. The whole thing was a thrill ride and Brittany loved almost every sugar-coated minute of it. But the tabloids annoyed her. If there weren't rumors in the National Enquirer that she was schtupping Brent from The Neon Crusaders in Bucharest or making out with Kool-Loc from the 35 Chambers of Funk, then she didn't exist. If she wasn't being fucked by some star, she wasn't anything. No one wanted to read about how lonely Brittany really was. How bored silly she was with all the slick hangers-on and drunken roadies. Coked out dot com fuckups. Greasy sheiks. Abusive ball players. Brittany tried to just let it roll. She figured that the gossip was just part and parcel of the fame. So long as she didn't get serious, they could never really pin her down. Fact was no one really intrigued Brittany. At least not in years. But there was something different about this Iron Maiden fan. There was something almost too intriguing about him.
Brittany fucking hated his shirt, though. She hoped he was an artist or musician. Maybe he was the cute lead singer of that Williamsburg band blowing up in Sweden. Jerry? Jakus? No, this guy seemed too refined. In fact, the more Brittany looked at Eddie the more refined he seemed. And the less repulsive the shirt got. If a B-lister with a mullet had been wearing it she would have wanted to spit in his face. But the fact that this thin, clean and urbane guy was wearing it added a bit of naughtiness. Her agent was always telling her to throw more of that kind of edginess around.
"So," Eddie broke Brittany from her reverie, "you interested?"
"Sure. By the way, I'm Brittany. Brittany Worley."
"Nice to meet you, Brittany. I'm Andy Stare."
That easy, Brittany thought. I'm on a date. It was frighteningly simple. Yet it was exactly like her sister had told her, "Let them come to you. Enough sucking dick in stretch Hummers for attention." According to Veniss, Brittany just needed a nice man who felt compelled to walk over and invite her to lunch.
"Why don't you follow me down there?" Brittany suggested.
And Andy did.
Brittany drove slowly. Allowed time for lights to change and traffic to move, without losing sight of the black Jeep in her rearview mirror. A few times she waved back at him. He waved in response. She smiled when he did, a giddy feeling rising and falling like a tide in her stomach. She turned up the radio and bobbed her head along with something that she recognized from a club in Austin. Brittany was a casual music listener, anything so long as it was up-tempo. Mostly country. And whenever she came across one of her songs she'd pump it up and sing along. That always felt a bit strange but she figured there's no fun in making music if you don't listen to it. She lit a cigarette, rolled the mentholated smoke around her mouth, and bobbed her head in time with a twangy song about broken hearts and methamphetamines. Not her kind of lyrics but the chorus was catchy. Brittany didn't have the patience to sing about the world's problems. She left that to the rappers and the cowboys.
Loca's had opened only a month ago but it was early and Brittany was able to find parking easily. She waited, pursing her lips in the rearview and retouching her lip gloss, while Andy parked. They walked into Loca's together. Silently. After they were seated and drinks ordered, they fell into casual but stilted conversation.
"So," Andy said, "tell me what you do."
Brittany told him her rambling story about growing up in Queens. Her time in San Diego with her cousins. Her interest in singing. The thirty second appearance in a Kriss Kross video that got her noticed. Modeling. Signing with her agent. Recording her first single. She told him about the highs and lows of stardom. The limbless Russian orphans. The heart-breaking African kids without cell phones. Travel. Adventure. Drugs. Sex. Loneliness. Most of all she talked about her loneliness. She didn't mention the stretch limo blowjobs.
"To be honest," Andy said, "I haven't heard of you. Sorry."
Brittany admitted she was disappointed. But it also put her mind at ease. She didn't have to impress this guy. "You into metal?" Brittany asked, eyes on Andy's shirt.
"Sure," Andy smiled. "It works."
"Now that you know a bit about me, what do you do?" Brittany asked.
"I'm an artist," Andy replied.
"That's awesome. What kind of stuff?"
"Painting mainly, low brow artwork. Are you familiar with any?"
"No, I don't think so."
"I've been compared to Neckface and David Ellis."
Brittany laughed, "I don't know them."
"Honestly, I don't know if you'd like it."
The waiter came and Brittany ordered the jerk ravioli. Andy had the sausage and bananas.
"You pretty successful with the art thing?"
"I sell a few paintings here and there. I've had some shows in Europe, Australia. I'm actually headed to a gallery opening in Fairfax tomorrow."
"What do your paintings actually look like? You said low brow but that doesn't really mean much to me," Brittany shrugged.
"Like graffiti really. I did a fair amount of bombing as a kid and people just noticed my work. They liked it. I went to the School of Visual Arts here in New York and now I do stuff on canvas. Skulls, cyclopses, skeletons riding tigers fighting minotaurs, you know. I've actually got a kind of trademarked image of a skeleton in a Viking hat. I'm not a huge Iron Maiden fan but I like the Eddie image and people say it reminds them of my work."
Brittany actually relaxed hearing that. "But you like metal ..."
"Some. I dig some of the thrash metal bands, you know, stuff like Exodus, late-Suicidal Tendencies and Heathen. I don't suppose you listen to metal?"
"No. Not really," Brittany said shaking her head.
They ate and talked more about art. Brittany had taken an art history class at the College of New Jersey before dropping out. She told Andy that she really liked realism. Photo-realism even better. Andy smiled and said that realism was played out. That art brut-raw art, the art of insane, folk art-was the truest art.
"Why? I mean, those people aren't even artists. It's like junk." "That's the whole point. The art scene is so inundated with quote-unquote artists, people who study their whole lives to become big names and don't really do anything original. The whole outsider movement is about bringing that back to the scene-that sense of wonder and originality."
"But it doesn't sound very pretty."
"Well, not all art is pretty."
Andy switched gears, "So, you have any siblings? I've got a brother. He's lazy and ugly. I love him nonetheless."
Brittany was glad to move into more comfortable conversational territory. "Yeah, a sister. She's a filmmaker. But her stuff is really kinda out there. Stuff that ... Actually you'd probably like her stuff. It's too arty for me, not at all entertaining."
"Amazing, both of you are talented, huh? She sounds interesting. Would I have seen anything she's done?"
"Nah. She made a few independent short films. Nothing big."
"What's her name?"
"Her name is Vanessa but she goes by the name Veniss. With two esses."
"Like Veniss Underground?"
"Yeah, like that book. She's always talking how it influenced the look of her films. I didn't read it. Whatever."
Andy blushed, looked down at his hands, "You know, this is going to seem really funny but I'm actually a big fan of your sister's movies. I've seen all of her shorts and particularly loved her first one, Technician's Role in Quality Control. That was sweet and the feature she did ... What was that called?"
"Bronchospasm a Go Go."
"Yeah, that was amazing. Total DIY filmmaking. She used, like, toy cameras or something. It was surreal and brilliant."
Brittany was chewing her ravioli and didn't look up from the plate. She was annoyed. She didn't like talking about her sister. She wanted to get it across to Andy that she was the one he was talking to and about, not her sis. But at the same time she couldn't fault his interest. Veniss always had been the fascinating creature in the family. Where Brittany wore sun dresses, floral patterned hats and pink sandals, Veniss would turn up in tight, hip hugging kid's jeans. Her pale gaunt legs painfully squeezed into the denim like sausage. A white wifebeater. Chunky black shades. Buffalo skull bandana. Always the attention getter.
Brittany toured Thailand and Veniss would be passed out in a hotel room in Monaco, and there would be no guess about who would get all the press. It wasn't the sibling trying to raise the spirits of the underprivileged. The one smiling with toothless Third World children.
Brittany was the talk of the teen tabloids. Veniss was the talk of the town. Everyone in New York knew her or knew about her. Everyone who mattered in New York and L.A. loved her. Veniss was a cult superstar. She went on frequent binges. Caught spinning around town like Courtney Love but with a fresher face and less elastic thighs. Her arms were usually adorned in permanent marker graffiti. She had her fans write things like "Fuck me, Please!" and "Bitch Goddess" on her forearms. And her boobs were frequently hanging out. Veniss would strut and purr like a punk kitten for all the hipsters that followed her. In the alt press she was seen as some sort of film vixen. A rough-and-tumble artiste both sexy and vulgar. Burping at screenings. Farting at awards ceremonies. Veniss was rock 'n' roll. But Brittany didn't hate her for it. If anything it just made her feel dirty.
"My sister's always been the experimental one. She's even a sex symbol for some really fucked up people."
Andy shook his head, "I don't think of your sister as a sex symbol or anything. Not really my type."
Andy's eyes flashed.
There was indeed something sweet there.
"So, what's the fame like? Dueling famous siblings and all," he asked.
"Sometimes it's fun. Sometimes it's just annoying. My fame's entirely different than Veniss'. She's in a whole other world. We've never really been on the same wavelength."
Andy reached across the table and put his hand on Brittany's. She got a tingling sensation at his touch. A rush of blood to a quiet limb. She knew she should make some sort of reciprocal move. Brittany said, "Do you want to meet her?"
Andy's eyes got wide, "Really?"
"Yeah, she's in town. Just hanging out at my apartment in Long Island City. I bought it to be near my parents but most of my time is in Miami or L.A. Veniss likes to hang there. She usually watches TV and paints her nails and does chick shit that she can't do in public. She saves the farting and puking for public. I don't think she'd mind if we came by, but you should probably not tell her you're a big fan."
"Just a little fan?" Andy said coyly.
"Yeah, a little fan."
It was a quick drive to her place. While Brittany was embarrassed by the sparseness of her apartment, she was very happy she'd cleaned that morning. She had worked hard to make sure the apartment was both neat and playful. The flowering cactus on the kitchen table. The collection of glass koalas on the fireplace. The poster of juggling clowns in the guest bathroom. It was suburban kitsch. Maybe even a bit Veniss without all the drugs and sex and smell.
Excerpted from 6 Sick Hipsters by Rayo Casablanca Copyright © 2008 by Rayo Casablanca. Excerpted by permission.
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