Ongbak, Arsenal, Sparks, and I were standing outside a club in Beijing waiting to get inside. After paying the cashier we we’re stamped and patted down by security before given access to the main attraction. A 50 yuan open bar.
Arsenal: What do you want to drink?
I scanned the menu carefully, taking care to pick the manliest and alcoholiest drink available.
Me: I’ll have…
I paused for dramatic effect and added coolness.
Me: a pina colada
After grabbing my drink I scanned the club. The first floor of the club had a pretty simple layout, the entrance to the room led to a seating area and the bar. Near the bar area the room narrowed again then opened into a raised area and a hallway leading to the bathroom and the basement level of the club. In the basement of the club there was another bar and a dance floor with a live DJ.
The club also featured many unique attractions such as: full-length movies playing on the TVs at the bar , people breaking glasses every 5 minutes, employees dragging out belligerent customers, employees carrying out unconscious customers, and drunk people passed out on stairs.
I lost track of the group while watching King Kong get shot by planes on top of the empire state building. I managed to find them once I stepped outside the club, in the time I hadn’t seen them they had met some new people and were locked in a conversation. I got closer to see what was going on.
Ongbak: I just checked the 7-11 and didn’t see him.
Sparks: Where did he go?
Unknown #1: Is he at a different 7-11?
Ongbak: I don’t know, Bassline was pretty drunk so he might not even know where he is.
Unknown #2: Well let’s just search around here for now and see if we can find him.
Bassline was Ongbak’s friend who studied at a university near the club we were at. The only clue we had was a phone call from a drunken Bassline saying “I’m inside 7-11”. Our club decided to split up to search the vicinity of the club. After an unsuccessful search our group reconvened to strategize, during this time Ongbak and Sparks went to check the 7-11 one last time.
While looking around the store Ongbak noticed something odd, there were two employees standing in front of the door leading to the backroom of the 7-11. A thought sprung into his mind and he approached the employees.
Ongbak: Are you guys keeping someone back there?
Bassline was ‘inside’ of the 7-11.
Ongbak: Go get Arsenal.
I returned a few minutes later with Arsenal in tow. At this point there were 6 people in front of the door leading to the backroom: Ongbak, Sparks, two employees, and two of the unknowns. The conversation had gotten severely heated in the time I had been gone.
Employee: (We’re not letting him go until you pay us 500 yuan.)
Ongbak: (Can you just let me speak to him first?)
Employee: (No one is going back there until we get 500 yuan.)
The employee prodded Ongbak in the chest several times to emphasize his point.
Ongbak: Don’t fucking touch me!
Ongbak was shaking from anger while he said this. I immediately stepped in to restrain him while Arsenal worked on calming him down. We relocated Ongbak to the front of the store and left Sparks there to watch him while we continued negotiations. And by ‘we’ I mean Arsenal.
Arsenal: It’s not a good idea to keep him back there, it’s going to be more trouble than it’s worth.
Employee: You can’t threaten me.
Arsenal: I’m not threatening you, I’m warning you. He has a lot of friends in high places, the longer you keep him here the worse it’s going to get.
As if on cue, the door to the backroom burst open and out came a drunken Bassline. He ran full speed towards the entrance of the store, knocking over a stepladder in the process. I watched the scene unfold with my mouth agape.
Arsenal (to me): Pretend we’re not involved, just act like you’re shopping.
After perusing the items in the 7-11 for a nominal amount of time we left the store to catch up with Bassline and the rest of the group. Once we tracked down the group, we heard the full details of Bassline’s capture and escape.
Bassline, who was self-admittedly very drunk, had gone into 7-11 to purchase some water. Bassline entered the store, took out a bottle of water from the refrigerated section, drank it, and left. In his rush to get water he had forgotten to pay. A few minutes later the super-sleuths from the store found Bassline at a food cart in front of the store eating some meat sticks.
Employees: Can you come with us back to the store?
Bassline eyed his food longingly but complied with their request. Upon entering the store he was immediately grabbed by 3 employees and told that he had to pay them 500 yuan to reimburse them for the water he stole. One of the employees stood there holding a broomstick and a ladle in a threatening manner. Bassline, having only 120 yuan on him offered to pay them 100 yuan. The employees refused and threw him into the backroom until he found a way to get them 500 yuan. As a note, bottles of water in China usually cost 2 or 3 yuan.
This is when we received a call from Bassline and began our search for him. While the events described above were occurring the two unknowns had been slowly making their way into the backroom by a combination of force and pleading. After finally getting one of the employees to relent and let them talk to Bassline they pushed open the door and told Bassline to run for it. At which point Bassline burst out from the backroom, jumped two fences and then hid in some bushes to shake off his pursuers.
I didn’t really have the heart to tell him the employees didn’t even try to follow him.