Yeah, but it’s not as bad as it sounds…I didn’t get tased because I snuck into the creepiest, most abandoned building in Seattle…I got tased because I lost a game of Mancala…
Let’s start from the beginning…
It’s a 3.5 mile ride from hell traversing potholes, angry commuters and roadside shrapnel to bike from Pioneer Square to Georgetown. I get to Joel’s pad just as a 747 comes screaming over us so close I can smell the coffee on the pilots breath…the runway is a mere 2 miles away and at that point in their decent I can almost reach up and slide my fingers along the airplane.
The noise is tremendous.
Then a train comes chugging behind his building, laying on the whistle so hard it puts thumbtacks in your gums.
“geez…nice quiet neighborhood ya got here.”
“Isn’t it great!”
He’s serious too. He loves the planes and trains and the hobo villages and the brick and the way it makes him feel to stand out and smoke cigarettes, one after another as the cacophony reaches a crescendo.
We slink under sodium streetlights that paint the asphalt iodine yellow, into the shadows, peeking over our shoulder. Sometimes a cop is parked there, he points. No cop. We move around the side of the 4 story brick structure that looks like everything else in Georgetown; old, storied, used and done.
Across a pile of debris and into a nook, one more peek to make sure we are not watched and the hatch slides easily open…
Inside the Seattle Brewing and Malting Co. Building it is all diffused light through ancient dust crusted windows and wrought iron and huge spaces where tanks of beer used to be. It is dark. And incredibly creepy.
A central stairway is flanked by two tight coils of spiral stairs that curl up to the top level.
I expect a squatters haven and slip a knife into my fist, more for werewolf raccoons or malevolent pit bulls than men, but even so…
Up the stairs and chalk graffiti glows perfect in the half light. The place is emptied where mammoth mash tanks once bubbled and the spaciousness of the dank air keeps you peering into the dark.
Joel is overjoyed at the creepiness, at the thrill of showing me the secret space. On the roof we look out at the rail lines that are wet tendrils of commerce running North to South.
At his place, under the influence of Adventure and vodka tonics we play a game of mancala with a twist.
I lose, we both get tased from his roommates new personal defense weapon. He loses, we have another drink and forget the whole 950,000 volt idea.
“Come on dude, I did it yesterday (no consolidation there buddy) and it didn’t…it barely hurt.”
The way the taser works is it snaps electricity between two prongs in little bursts of flesh searing pain. Joel proposes one “snap” each, he will go first to put me at ease.
But as his roommate, Blair, pulls the taser from her purse, and as she lays on the trigger bringing the black machine to life with muscle-seizing air-cracking percussion I don’t feel at ease at all.
The taser is loud. It cackles like a live wire, like leather slapping steel, as the brief blue arch blinks in and out of existence.
We are going to take it in the arm. Practice, he tells Blair. She quickly depresses the trigger but not 1 but 3 “snaps” fire off. She tries until she has the precise quick pressure down…he rolls up his sleeve and takes 950,000 volts.
He tries to keep his face immobile and staggers slightly, for my sake, for the prayer that he will get to watch me take the electricity without too much of a fight.
Fine, I tell myself…I will make a good blog anyway!
Bam. Like being punched and pinched and shocked and burned. The muscles spasm that ask me WTF???
Everyone is smiling. I smell the sickly sweet aroma of singed flesh.
I guess I need more practice at mancala