“There,” said Joel, tossing his cellular into a pile of clothes, “you got yours?”
“Left it at home.”
Joel beamed and slapped Dante on his shoulder. “Mate! It’s like this were meant to be. C’mon, we’ve gotta get you outta those rags and into something sexy. Ain’t no one gonna look twice at that getup.”
Unlike the chaos of his bedroom, Joel’s wardrobe was a flawless vault of extravagance where rows of colour-coded costumes sat shimmering beneath bright white spotlights. Dante’s head spun as he staggered inside, a dirty blot of weathered clothes before a labyrinth of possibilities.
“You’re a bit bulkier than me, mate,” said Joel, “but we can improvise.”
His collection had multiplied since Dante’s last visit, growing from a handful of frocks and suits to a menagerie of silk, leather, velvet and denim. As Joel disappeared into his collection, Dante studied one of the nearby dresses, its body made from a black, net-like material that would leave little to the imagination. He wondered if Kaori designed it.
Joel emerged a few moments later with a skin-hugging shirt, velvet waistcoat, and a pair of leather trousers with a belt of metal studs. After draining the last of his beer, Dante stripped down to his underwear — he was almost tipsy! — and pulled them on. It was a tight fit, but if it impressed Emily, it was worth it.
“Smile for the camera, mate,” said Joel, flashing his cellular in Dante’s direction. “You’re looking good.” He spun the cellular around and showed Dante the photo he’d captured. “Gotta give the ladies a good idea of the merch, yeah?”
It felt as if Joel had slapped a detox on his neck and drained his blood of alcohol. In all his bluster to impress, he hadn’t noticed just how much attention Joel’s clothes drew to his crotch, how the lines and curves of the various patterns conspired to highlight that one, bulging area. Flushed with embarrassment and fears of what Emily would think of such a perverse display, Dante reached for his mother’s cloak and pulled it around him.
Joel’s eyes almost bulged out of his face. “Mate, you ain’t wearing that fookin’ coat,” he said. “It looks like a bloody dressing gown or something!”
They eventually settled on a compromise when Dante switched the cloak’s colour from pure white to deep black and agreed to let it hang open.
“Just don’t tell anyone it makes you invisible,” said Joel, “or someone’ll have it off your back before you’ve even got chance to do those fancy hand waves you do.”
Joel himself settled for a suit of leather straps so tight it was a miracle his feet didn’t fall off. It did, however, do a rather good job of complimenting the threads of black ink that laced across his body. Pulling on a pair of long black gloves and studded gauntlets, the raven looked ready to clash power chords with anyone who dared stand in his way.
Finally, after another bottle of beer and a prolonged toilet break — Dante never realised his bladder could hold so much! — they were ready for action.
“Trust me,” said Joel, slapping an arm around Dante’s shoulders, “This is gonna be the best bloody night of your life.”
Chapter 19 End
Believe me, I’ve been to some weird clubs. Joel’s getup is really not that extreme. Look forward to more interesting characters next chapter!