2 – The Hologram

Images of the printing room and its dazzling technology chased Diogenes as they shot upward through the inverted skyscraper.  Years of clandestine activity were over.  Sated on champagne and squid Diogenes felt the intoxication and fear, the giddy elation which punches in when a crime is contemplated.  Diogenes could sense Grabmaler’s control.  His sang-froid was constitutional.  Rushing up to the party, Diogenes suppressed a shiver, a frosted inner sensation of power which stood solidly in the image of its master before him.

“Now, we relax,” Grabmaler declared as they rejoined the party, “The suspect clients are gone.  Driven home.  The kids are at a dance hosted by Undine.”  He grinned, squared Diogenes’ tie, then ushered him back into the now candlelit living room.

“We’ve added new hostesses too.”  He beamed, “Diogenes, welcome home!”  Grabmaler grasped Diogenes’ hand, then drifted away.

Women in sheer silk served them gin or whiskey in iced decanters. Their bodies appeared supple, even succulent to Diogenes, who had not seen a beautiful woman in years.  The heavy-set, baldheaded gentleman worked the crowd in disguise but then ducked behind several clients in Hawaiian shirts.  Diogenes lifted another drink presented by a sultry Asian girl.  He glimpsed again the bald man who seemed to speak with a Russian accent.  His stout frame was draped in a moo-moo, balancing on high heels.  The Asian girl, who spoke with a British accent, explained politely about a hologram in the next room.

She held Diogenes’ hand guiding him through avid groups of men into a small theater, wholly darkened except for Grabmaler’s chiaroscuro’d face at a control panel, which florescently lit his neck and brow in lavender light.  A transparent rush of synthesized flutes and drums poured from wallspeakers.

Diogenes found himself stepping on others’ shoes, already seated in a packed audience.  Grabmaler spoke into a desk mike — with an echo: “The hologram is ready, gentlemen.  Get comfortable in your seats with drinks fully iced.   My Theater of Imaginings may not boast new technology, but this virtual world is no family theme park either, I assure you.”

Grabmaler turned up the echo on his voice as he spoke, which Diogenes found corny.  But then -- the pornographic hologram began:  A red headed girl flanked by flowers of light strolled from a vanishing point, scattering light-sparkles from her fingertips, then sprawled before their feet.  From a distant horizon, a naked boy caught her, stripping off her blouse, then caressed her as the colors heated and she stood tiptoe for his kiss.  Other faces peeked in — languid women with eager expressions, disrobing and fellating each other.  As the two lovers fell into a field of shimmering grass then blond waterfalls Diogenes could feel the men rustle anxiously beside him.  The girl kissed the boy on his thighs and the women witnesses turned from a silvery or powdery blue into an off-pink.  Organs and guitars burst out as the inevitable foreplay began.  A Japanese businessman lost control and — with beaming face — fell into the hologram trying to grasp the red-headed girl.  He spilled his drink and was wallowing there until at the nod from Grabmaler, a waitress helped him back into his seat.  The hologram blazed on.  From behind insubstantial lovers more couples in miniature landscapes performed sexual acts.  Scenes proliferated — different climes, cities, sexual positions, exotic combinations — exploded as the music rose to a visual climax.  Stars and little worlds flew by and dissolved with Edenlike perfection, filling the theater until fireworks, waterfalls and ecstatic lovers sighed into an accelerated and dizzyingly staccato blur.  Diogenes found himself hypnotically gripping his armchair.  He fumbled into the aisle and forced open the door for air.

The Asian girl accompanied him and wiped his brow with a napkin in the hallway.  He felt mentally invaded somehow, though inordinately amazed.  The girl unclenched his fist:

“Please, let me take some air and find my feet.”  He pleaded, breathing deliberately.

“Are you sure you don’t want my help?”  She asked, nicely.

“Yes, please … I think I loathe virtual reality.”