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Without its direct knowledge, P.U.R.E’s 17th chapter is brought to you by the

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CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

(( from boys to dogs to men )) A door behind the bar was opened and Mikhail was pushed through it. He started walking up a flight of stairs followed closely by Armstrong, Horry and then the downtrodden pony-tailed pillar. The steps were black. The walls were black. There were no lights. Once the door closed behind the progressively taller procession, Mikhail had no choice but to step in the name of faith...he couldn’t see a damn thing. Maybe he was being kidnapped, his legs to be broken with a spiked fucking bat. Maybe his eyelids would be cut off and he’d be fed nothing but sleeping pills. Perhaps his kneecaps would be cut off and he’d be forced to kneel in some pitch-black staircase piss. But with Horry’s anal fascination, Mikhail feared most 236


that his asshole would be sewed closed and that they’d keep feeding him and feeding him and feeding him and feeding him. Completely helpless, three against one in unknown territory, it was all he could hope that the stairs would end. Uncertain of the bends and curves that spiraled into the impenetrable darkness that enveloped everything, he was repeatedly pushed in the back at every hesitation, every time he was unsure whether to step up or turn left. And it happened more than once. After what felt like a thousand steps and dozens of inclining 360s, Mikhail saw a light at the end of his tunnel. Just as he stepped on the final stair and caught the quickest glimpse of his destination, Armstrong shoved him with all his might. Mikhail could’ve sworn he felt a third hand on his back, one that could only be Horry’s, as he was thrown with full force flat on his face into a room soaked in light. The vacuously large room was mostly empty, and maybe Mikhail was a little too nervous to notice much detail. Peering through squinted eyes and lying on his stomach on a hard-wood floor, Mikhail only recognized Pastor Tupac Shakur because he was Pastor Tupac Shakur. Even if the punches from the man’s hooligans had knocked Mikhail’s glasses askew, there was no mistaking the 237


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silhouette of LA’s mayoral candidate or his harem of naked girls scampering for their clothes. Shakur was fully dressed in an immaculately tailored suit and the dimes were divvying up their confusing collection of skirts, tanks, bras, thongs, and heels. Seeing the same ladies so sure of their station just a half hour ago scurry full of scare simultaneously settled and spiked Mikhail’s nerves. Especially as their fear was so naked and their breasts were so taut. “Los Angeles is just a gang unto itself,” Tupac said. He sat on one of two leather couches in a living room set-up without a visible TV, only a modest coffee table. In his gray suit with a red tie and not a button out of place, he didn’t even have to wave off the women without them knowing what they had to do...and they did it quickly. “This city was built on gangs. It still runs on gangs. Bouncers, private security, the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, Republicans and Democrats, Internethodists, Webidians, the Anti-Squid 238


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League...those are gangs. You’re probably laying there, ass up and shit, thinking that the Tupac Shakur Association of Being Dastardly Dapper is a gang. Do you think I’m a gang leader? As you’re dry humping the floor, is that what you’re thinking?” “I have no thoughts except getting back to a piece of warm pussy,” Mikhail said. In the foreverness of the 155 seconds it took him to be walked up the stairs, he had already committed himself to being in it to win it. Bravado seemed to have gotten him in this situation—what other reason than Mikhail’s false use of the Pastor’s name could’ve caused his summons?—and it’d have to get him out. It was his only option to hide how scared shitless he truly was. “Your anal-obsessed henchman stole me away before I had the chance to close.” “Did you steal The Good Book, Mikhail? Just talking to you, I feel like you plagiarized a TSABDD card for your wallet that burns with my acronym. Did you do that?” 239


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“No, sir,” Mikhail tried. “My wallet is empty.” “Where’d your dick go Mikhail? Where’d your money disappear? I had such high hopes for you. I found some time to check the status updates on your Facebook page.” “My dick hasn’t gone anywhere yet, but if it hasn’t found something wet by the end of the night, I swear to The Internet, it’ll rip through the back of Horry’s scull...no homo, sir.” “Young man, that might be the funniest thing I’ve heard all night,” Pastor Shakur said, motioning Mikhail to stand up. “You know that he could kill you the second I asked, right? He wouldn’t think twice and I wouldn’t blink once as they cleared the cache of your blood and bones from my 240


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floor. Your history wouldn’t exist, like The Internet erased every page you ever visited. Big Shot Bob could do that.” “That motherfucker was such a dirty player in the league, I can’t imagine the filth he’s picked up since,” Mikhail said, still laying flat but finding a way to nod in Horry’s direction. He was standing in the corner with the rest of his trio. “Not that the TSABDD teaches filth. It’s just that your rules are a little more relaxed. Truthfully, I’m more scared of getting LA’s first case of AIDS in 75 years from the blood on his knuckles than a quick beat-down death.” Horry started to launch forward at Mikhail, but Pastor Shakur cut him off with a simple stare. Armstrong and the Pillar held Horry back just for the looks of things. “BJ, Bob, whoever you are you tall motherfucker, go ahead and get out of here. Mikhail and I are cool.” “I’m Ivan,” the Pillar said, meekly walking back down the stairs behind Armstrong and a sulking Horry, ducking his head when he needn’t, “been a member for 44 months.” Once they started going down the stairs and Mikhail was sure that he wouldn’t be kicked in the back, he spun around on his ass and tried to find a position that posited him as a reverential yet strong man. He leaned back on his left hand and used his right to rub his face. Just because he 241


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heard the shuffle of feet descending down the stairs didn’t mean he was in the clear. Tupac could still kill him and erase all traces of his existence without ever leaving that leather couch. But Mikhail had made him laugh enough to send the rapper-turned-political-figure’s muscle away and that had to mean something in the unknown attic of Something. “How do you know what you do about The Good Book? I’m not Ivan, motherfucker, so don’t try and bullshit me,” Shakur said. “I wrote all that scripture and you sure as hell didn’t pay to read it. So what, you eavesdropped?” Mikhail nodded. “Take a real seat, Mikhail. You are a man, right? You show flashes of it, but I’m still not sure. You’re not a dog trying to be a man, are you? No matter how many tails you chase or the number of bitches you mount, you gotta be bigger than a dog. Be a man. We men. Dogs die for the right to fuck. Men fuck for the right to live.” “...” “Every funeral you go, it was a bitch that was horny the night before. It’s always about bitches. Dogs bend to the power of a bitch in heat...that’s what makes them violent,” Pastor Shakur then paused. He peered down at Mikhail with a fury of wrinkles on his forehead. “Seriously 242


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though, get the fuck up and sit on this couch. It hurts my neck to look down on the world. I’ve been shot too many damn times.� Mikhail tentatively stood up and did his best to shake the cautiousness from his move to the second couch in the spacious room. The soft leather couches were set up perpendicularly and Mikhail made sure to sit somewhere between out-of-reach and close-enough-to-not-give-afuck. He thought about putting his foot up on the wooden and glass coffee table but decided against it. Instead, he crossed his legs, mustering all the comfort he could in what was normally such a natural motion. 243


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“Most motherfuckers who use my name in vain don’t make it up here, they just get their ass kicked and then get tossed. I can’t tell if you’re lucky or not. Do you know? I don’t fucking know. I was wracking my brain when I heard you head up the stairs, even as I was getting dome. You were clunking up and I had three pigeons clucking down. Do you know why you’re here and those fine-ass women aren’t? Cause they want to be here way more than you do.” “I wasn’t trying to inconvenience you, trust me. I have no reason here. I want to be down there, maximizing whatever hand I got dealt so I don’t have to play it against my own dick. And things were looking a whole lot warmer than the microwaved lotion I normally use.” “Facebook says that you’re recently single, is that right or did you lie on your profile too?” “I’m sure you saw her profile too...can I get a drink before we get into Katya?”

<<---- http://www.pleaseus


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Mikhail asked. He wanted to ask Tupac about Jada, just to defer his past and find the common ground of a woman gone wild...but then remembered that he really wasn’t in any sort of position to push it. “I get that, it’s not like my shit ain’t graffitied all over The Internet. And I definitely don’t want to be asked about it in every interview. There’s a few bottles in and near that mini-fridge over there and a few glasses, get us both one.” Still fighting the urge to run, to sprint downstairs and past Horry and them (who were surely waiting for him down by the bar), it felt dumb to stay, but even stupider to try and escape. Acting casual was the only move that Mikhail had. He stood up and stumbled in the direction that Tupac was pointing. His face was numb but he could feel it start to swell. Every hit landed on his right side and he was still trying to figure out whether such a succession of coin flips was lucky or not. Refusing to fumble with an ice tray, he poured himself a Blue Label neat and assumed from numerous raps and the contents of the mini-fridge that a straight Hennessey was apt for Pastor ‘Pac. “Can I ask you a question?” “As long as it ain’t about Sister Jada.” “Of course not, give me some credit,” Mikhail said,

serearexit.net/bonus

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returning to his seat and handing Tupac his glass of Hennessey. “But why are you running for mayor? It’s bad enough being a celebrity, but a politician? It’s not like you can yell at The Internet and get it to stop talking about you, especially when it’s the people’s every-other-year turn to give a fuck. I mean, you already got everything a man could want. I’ve never even had two girls at the same time, you just had three and didn’t even unbutton your jacket.” “I want answers, Mikhail. Answers you can’t get in the private sector. Not in my industry anyway. There are more members of this association than 75% of the churches on the #7 and They still won’t give me a station. They barely let me on the god damn bus. I’ve seen The Internet but still don’t know what the fuck it is. Have you seen It, Mikhail?” “No.” “Of course not. And that’s another answer I need. Why not? Why haven’t you been allowed to see what keeps you here trapped on these buses? And why aren’t you trying harder to see it? They beat it into us that there is no other option, that They’re the noblest of nobles just for maintaining the routes and the lines and the BTWNs so we can work all day for just enough to get by and maybe get a little drunk. Fuck a noble. I’m not noble, I’m just a man.” 246


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“I just said that exact bit about not being noble not even two hours ago,” Mikhail said. “But what you’re saying seems like something we could really rally behind. Maybe we’re just not ready for the answers? Some of us, sure, but most of us aren’t.” “You don’t want to know. Anyone with any thirst for knowledge immediately gets a job with the government. The Internet checks your Google searches, Mikhail; The Internet know early on whether or not you give a fuck and that’s when It starts to care,” Shakur said. He wore his worries like a spring in a vice, but there was still something very relaxing about the tone in his voice. Genuine pain seeped out between breaths, regret alternated with resolution, always ready to explode into an oratory of revolution. Or maybe violence. All of those internal interactions and possibilities, as if he was just waiting for the wind to change so he could unleash the energy stored 247


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in a vice. It made any words he said feel important, especially when he was saying things of such importance. As much as it put Mikhail at ease, it also made him nervous. He didn’t want to release the coil’s potential energy. “I shouldn’t even be telling you this shit, I’m fucking up all my rules and shit...but if you’re dumb enough to use my name to get into my club, then you definitely ain’t one of them. If I say that shit outloud—to the general public—I’ll never make it to election day. They won’t let me. Five shots couldn’t drop me, I took it and smiled...I’m still the thug they love to hate. But here I am talking campaign strategy with some d-bag sneaking his way into my spot.” “I didn’t sneak in here to be cool,” Mikhail said, “I only lied because I had nowhere else to go.” 248


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“What happens if I actually start speaking the truth, rather than just writing rhymes or telling boys how to become men? It’s always been my belief that the government is just a gang unto itself, with the good and the bad. Just like the gangbangers on Compton’s Circle have the good and the bad—just like the government does. They got stress and character flaws that comes from their lifestyles. I can be the best politician the people have ever seen, but what does that really mean?” “I don’t know, man,” Mikhail said. “Building a line for schools? Internet classes don’t really seem to be working. Maybe raising minimum wage?” “The politicians who attempt that don’t last because not everyone is supposed to have money. If everyone had money, us rich guys wouldn’t be as rich. Even if I was to hand out money and educations through the political process, I can’t tell nobody who’s hungry how to eat. Not unless I force feed him. It ain’t up to me to tell a starving brother how to get some food. Even if I lead him by his hand to the #780 and put money in his pocket, pat him on the ass as he walks down the cracker aisle at Food 4 Less, I can’t make sure he’s going to eat. If the brother gets jumped for the money as he’s waiting in the checkout line, it’d be my fault. 249


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But you, Mikhail, I’m willing to help you out. I’m gonna give you a little mission and if you succeed, we’ll let you into the TSABDD.” “I don’t really have the money for a membership, sir, no disrespect,” Mikhail said softly. All that monologue had worn his mojo thin. “I just have to make due with what I got, you’re the last person I want to owe money, not that I probably couldn’t use—” “You want it to be one thing, but it’s the other, Mikhail. You haven’t even gotten to what happens if you don’t succeed... or even what the mission is all about.” “Yeah...okay...sure. What happens if I fail?” “See, you still have it backwards and you’re really making me doubt my hunch. You’re focused on failing before you even hear the mission. Earlier this week, you tweeted about being in it to win it, was that another lie? “It wasn’t...and yeah, I am in it to win it. What else do I have?” “Good. Because you have to get yourself into a threesome tonight,” the Pastor said, with all undue seriousness and gravity. The request was ridiculous, but the spring was angrily blinking and Mikhail knew that its uncoil would lead to his death. 250


Pastor Tupac Amaru Shakur didn’t have to say much to mean everything in the entire Internet. “Either that, or fall in love. Simple tasks if you have the tools. And truthfully, I just have to see if I’m right. And if I am, well, you get free membership for life.” “And what happens if I don’t? Are there rules here? Are you going to be sending Horry at me at every turn?” “’Cause why? You’d knock him out if I did? I’d like to see you try and climb that motherfuckin’ mountain...shit, Mikhail, you’re one hell of a firecracker. But no, that’s not what I’m interested in. Don’t get me wrong, I’d pay to see Mikhail vs. Horry—and I don’t pay for shit these days—but it’s not the itch I’m scratching. Just simultaneously find your 251


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way into two different woman or the heart of one...and come back tonight. We’re throwing LCR dice till the wee hours. It’s a game of chance...just like yours.” “Wait, I gotta fuck two chicks before I leave tonight?” “No, no, no...only if you really want to surprise me and get it all done on this bus. Shit, that might just make you a Lieutenant right out the gate,” Shakur laughed. “Just give me an update before you leave and get it done before you go to sleep.” “You really gonna kill me if I don’t do this? Or are you just acting all hard?” “Every fire cracker goes pop at some point, and I’m the motherfucker who’s lighting the match. Don’t be a dud...for your own damn good.” Mikhail hadn’t noticed the room’s lone flatscreen until he got up to leave, it had been behind him the whole time. It wasn’t The Internet, but it was an array of Internet jpegs in HD. One still image at a time, they looked like paintings, framed by the strong black box of the flatscreen’s panneling. Mikhail only retained three quick bursts before leaving—two girls dancing on a grave, a man holding a squid, and a fire cracker. He didn’t know what it meant, but felt like it was something he was supposed to decode. Instead, he walked towards the door and into the spiral staircase. 252


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Use phone to access PleaseUseRearExit.net for Chapter 18.

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Ch. 17 : From Boys to Dogs to Men