Joining the Club
by Phil Sawyer
The dingy space under a well-used building.
Darkness gathers around the pools of light
created by neon strips. Suffocating. Deadening.
I don't know
any of the others. But I recognise a couple. That
man there; he works in the hardware store at the
end of the street. The fellow in the black coat -
I'm sure he drives a taxi uptown somewhere. We're
looking at each other, but avoiding eye contact
at the same time.
steps out of the shadows. He is younger than most
of us. Blond. Square jawed. He addresses the
to Flan Club. The first rule of Flan Club is: you
do not talk about Flan Club. The second rule of
Flan Club is: you DO NOT talk about Flan Club!
Third rule of Flan Club: if someone yells "stop!",
goes limp, or taps out, you get to have their
flan. Fourth rule: only two guys to a flan. Fifth
rule: one flan at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: the
flans are double-baked. No pre-mix, no shop-bought
flan cases, no squirty cream. Seventh rule: flans
will go on as long as they have to. And the
eighth and final rule: if this is your first time
at Flan Club, you have to eat flan."
excuse me?" It's the hardware guy.
the first two rules essentially the same?"
You are not special. You are not a beautiful or
unique snowflake. You're the same decaying
organic matter as everything else. And, like all
the others, you're going to end up quite partial
Now it's the
taxi driver's turn to speak. "Is quiche
your pardon?" Blond guy's voice is almost
inaudible under the hum of the city.
just that I quite like to have a savoury option.
My doctor says..."
Blond guy erupts. He walks over to a table, laden
with a selection of custard-based delights.
tonight we will have the finest flan mankind has
seen. From a basic Spanish flan to this
delightful chocolate variety from the Mexican
He turns to
regard the group. His eyes narrow once more.
"It has cinnamon."
One by one we
step up, an unheard signal driving us forwards.
As a newbie I am expected to be in the first wave.
I take it all in. "I don't know where to
start," I mutter to myself.
hears me. He tilts his head as he speaks. "A
guy who came to Flan Club for the first time, he
was carved out of wood at the beginning. After a
few weeks his ass was a wad of cookie dough. Try
the English Custard. I made it myself." His
eyes shine now. "Whole milk makes all the
difference. Don't let anyone try to fob you off
I eat. The
creamy egg and milk texture coats my willing
tongue. The crust is light, yet hearty. And then,
something happens. I let go. Lost in oblivion.
Dark and silent and complete. I find freedom,
amongst the flan. I run. I run until my muscles
burn and my veins pump battery acid. Then I run
everything else in your life is like the volume
has been turned down.