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The most stupid thing in this entirely stupid situation was that we were to return to that very same club in less than six hours. To put it mildly, I felt quite uneasy about it, and if I thought a little bit more, I tended to consider it the end of my fucking life. The real problem was that since I had done so many shitty things during the past few days, none of which I remembered properly, I just didn’t know whose toes I had stepped on and where the danger might come from. Regrettably, though, after I had the recklessness to inform Lara about my little chat with the bartender, there was absolutely no way for me to talk her out of our second visit to the place.

For her part, my assistant admitted that instead of being in the restroom while I waited for her, she had had a milk run on the second floor, where she had found “many interesting things” until the stupid janitor “ruined” it. When I asked her to be a little more specific, she just grunted a couple of times and said something too vague and meaningless, which made me think she had actually found nothing substantial—probably only locked doors or empty rooms. Anyway, I had already made the mistake of fueling her imagination enough, so there was no escaping—we were definitely going back to the club.

We spent the rest of the afternoon loitering around the area, visiting coffee shops and fast food restaurants, and during the entire time, I tried to forget that eight o’clock was coming. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to drive this thought out of my head, and my cruel imagination was so zealous in reminding me of it that I eventually overdosed on caffeine and made the situation even worse. I started biting my nails!

Somewhere around seven, dejected like a prisoner going to the gallows, I started the engine of our Ford and slowly drove us to Eternity. I drove relatively well despite my nervousness, and I only scratched the car twice and got our right wheels on the curb once. Lara was pretty much used to my style and didn’t pay any attention to my stunts. On top of it, my hands were so sweaty that I had the feeling I was about to lose my grip on the steering wheel and we would have a more serious accident any minute. Nevertheless, despite all my subconscious efforts to sabotage our mission, I didn’t succeed in breaking the Ford irreparably, and eventually, we arrived at the designated place of my execution.

This time we saw too many cars outside on the street, and it led me to think there was a special occasion in the club. Such a possibility instantly fueled my ongoing fears and encouraged my imagination to produce more. I managed to persuade Lara that we should hang out in the vehicle for a while longer to gather some intel, and while we were just sitting in there and gathering virtually nothing, I kept thinking about how many complicated situations in life could have been avoided if apes had dug their heels in and stayed in the African rainforest at some point back in evolution. In this case, many things wouldn’t have been invented, including sketchy bars in sketchy neighborhoods where dumb blondes with big breasts would get nice dudes like me mixed up in various troubles.

Nevertheless, eventually, I had to step out of the car and follow Lara outside because it became obvious that we were just wasting our time. We slowly walked around the building to the backside, where a concierge met us at the door, and since we hadn’t seen him here the previous time, I stopped in front of him, surprised and confused. He was a tall and lean guy in a black tailcoat and red silk shirt with golden braids. He didn’t say anything and just examined us from head to toe.

My assistant was still wearing my checked pants and yellow shirt, which hung loose and unbelted on her torso, making her look like a clown from Ringling Bros. who had just survived a terrible tornado. Naturally, she had only three buttons of the shirt buttoned up because she had never cared about such stupid and trivial things as decency, and their task to hold her breasts in check was almost mission impossible. To make matters worse, she didn’t have a bra on. Personally, I wore my stylish white shirt—smeared with ketchup to a very reasonable degree—and a pair of dark evening pants, which had no more than a couple of inconspicuous mayonnaise stains. I definitely looked elegant and discerning compared to my sloppy companion.

After watching us thoughtfully for almost a minute, the concierge gave us a brief nod and roughly pushed us toward a side door, which was obviously a staff-only entrance. I didn’t know what he was thinking, but he probably took us for performers—maybe because of our impressive “costumes”. On our part, we didn’t say anything to explain the situation to him, and we walked through the door and up the staircase that we saw behind it. I thought we would step into the main hall shortly after it ended, but as it turned out, we needed nearly half an hour to find our way out of an endless string of dressing rooms in cherry-red corridors, which confusingly poured into one another. By the look on Lara’s face, I could tell they were actually the “interesting things” she had found here a couple of hours ago, and I could see how disappointed she was now to discover the real purpose they served.

As we roamed through the terrible labyrinth, we met a lot of people—mostly strippers and second-class singers and dancers. I hadn’t been behind the scenes of a place like this, so to speak, and I was truly impressed. I instantly realized the magic of showbiz—all the glamour, the vanity, the naked flesh, and the willingness to use sex as a tool for advancing up the ladder of success. Since no one knew who we actually were, almost everyone we met cast a horny look at Lara or me, depending on their sexual orientation, as if we were famous producers or critics. At some point, I started to believe we would end up brutally raped here! Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity of pointless wandering around, thank God, we finally solved the corridor puzzle and conquered the last staircase. It led us right into the middle of the main stage, which was quite natural if you think about it, but still, it caught us totally unprepared.

We abruptly stopped there and looked around, flabbergasted and confused at the same time. The entire hall was full of big shots and dandies whose suits, evening dresses, and hairstyles were worth between five hundred and a thousand bucks each. If we added the shoes and handbags to the total, the total would have probably tripled, and if we counted the jewelry and the watches… well, that was going to be a completely different story. I really doubt that even Fort Knox’s contents would have been enough to match the final sum!

Since we were still so nervous and shocked, we stood on the stage long enough for all the talks to quiet down and for the audience to turn toward us in expectation. After we had everyone’s attention, again, we didn’t do anything at all because we were simply unable to move—just like the wax figures in the museum of Madame Tussauds. We only kept watching the people silently, and they kept watching us until everyone in the hall felt awkward, and then the men and women applauded us hesitantly. And again, we didn’t move a finger.

It all went on like this for another two minutes and when, eventually, the clapping of hands gradually died down and everybody started to feel awkward for a second time, we spontaneously bowed. It turned out to be a mistake because our stupid gesture dragged us into a second round of applause. To spare us further embarrassment, I secretly poked my elbow into Lara’s ribs and urged her to get off the stage. She obeyed me, and we quickly approached a vacant table near a fake palm tree, where we sat down. The cheering promptly dissolved into confusion, and then, at last, everything was finally over—we were left alone. Despite our unpleasant experience, I almost felt sorry that it ended so soon. Figuratively speaking, these were our fifteen minutes of fame, and they had just gone!

From that moment on, everything else went quite smoothly, and it was no different from what we would have done if we had entered the club the ordinary way—through its main door. We ordered a dozen shots to wash down the memory of our unsuccessful “performance”, and Lara gulped her share—all the glasses of whiskey—in one go. Her never-ending passion for liquor made me remember our turbulent escape from this place earlier this day, and it brought up in my mind a ton of grim anticipations about the upcoming evening. I shuddered unpleasantly, wondering how to prevent my assistant from drinking.

After quenching her thirst, Lara grinned happily and relaxed back like a Roman patrician who had just finished feasting, and now she was waiting for the orgies to begin. As I watched her, I realized that maybe it was too late for safety measures, and I suddenly felt doomed. This feeling never left me. Soon my nervousness was so intense that I started looking around in every direction, hoping to glimpse Sonya somewhere in the crowd, grab her, and get out of this place while I still could. I acted just like a meerkat at night watching, and I definitely attracted attention with my behavior. Unfortunately, I was well aware that my dream was totally unrealistic, and I couldn’t make myself believe in it even for a moment. After a while, Lara noticed my extreme anxiety and leaned toward me, roaring angrily into my ear, “You’re squirming like a virgin in a gynecologist’s chair. Take it easy, for fuck’s sake! Lean back and relax!”

And when she said that, she unexpectedly punched me in the chest so hard that it made me spit. Unfortunately, I was just trying to have a drink at that moment, and it literally burst out of my mouth, spraying all around us as if the gin factory had just exploded. The result was devastating—I won all the attention I had not yet attracted to me, and I felt so stupid that I forgot to close my mouth afterward. I sat there drooling like a baby for probably two minutes!

At some point, I pulled myself together, but my nervousness remained. To calm down a bit and stop acting weirdly, I decided to scan the tables for familiar faces one by one and analyze where potential threats might come from. It was more than obvious that we attended some special party tonight because I saw almost no ordinary people around—we were among the few exceptions. Between all the big shots and their glamorous ladies, I felt like a snail that had just crawled uninvited right into the middle of their snack table. Eventually, after examining the guests for five minutes, during which time I was terribly afraid that my dandruff-haired friend might catch sight of me and come to suffocate me in a cloud of skin particles, I marked the most suspicious characters in the club.

My first subjects were a couple. They were an obese and extraordinarily pale-skinned, blond-haired man and woman sitting at a table in the most distant corner of the hall. When I noticed them, at first, I thought they were staff members because of their choice of clothing. If our “costumes” here were just weird, theirs were simply absurd, and I couldn’t even imagine how they had passed by the concierge at the door dressed like this! They wore Hawaiian shirts and flower-patterned Bermuda shorts and looked exactly like a couple of Icelanders, returning from their unsuccessful vacation in Alaska, where they were robbed of their luggage right after hitting the beach for the first time.

Even more suspicious than their dress code was the fact that they weren’t talking to each other or even moving, and they only sat in their chairs like Easter Island statues, gazing into the ocean in front of them with empty eyes. There were two tall glasses of Martini on their table, as evidenced by the olives on the cocktail spikes, but none of the guys was drinking. The weirdos remained indifferent to their surroundings, and I actually had the obsessive feeling they were gazing at me, which would have been very strange if it were true because I didn’t know them. I, too, stared at them for a while, but since they didn’t react, I moved my attention to my next subjects—a bunch of bodybuilders in the game room who were making too much noise and among whom I was afraid I might find my strong, dandruff-haired friend.

I gave the group a closer look. All the guys were strapping young fellows, and half of them wore tank tops while the other half had Breton shirts on, with which they looked like cartoon characters. Their game, on the other hand, didn’t seem cartoonish at all. They were having fun throwing scary-looking knives at a very small target on one of the walls, and every time someone scored, the group cheered agitatedly, and all the people exchanged money between them while watching the winner pose stupidly and show off his muscles. Given the erratic lighting in the game room, it was really amazing that there were no victims among the participants yet! I watched the knife party for a while, but then I decided to switch to the next batch of subjects, and when I did, I had to look around worriedly for cover. I saw Marilyn and the Asian guy at one of the VIP tables.

Since it was too late for us to move to another table, I promptly slid my butt forward to the edge of the seat, lowering my body and attempting to hide behind the nearby fake palm tree. It was a stupid attempt anyway because the guys had probably already seen our weird performance on stage a while ago. And since I couldn’t do anything else to improve my position here, I just tried to take a better look at the couple.

This time the girl wore a stunning red dress with a tulle jacket, which looked gorgeous on her. She had somewhat sad eyes and remained silent as she listened to the Asian talk, nodding her head indifferently every now and then. Her gloomy expression didn’t correspond to the typical character of a shallow-minded doll with which gangsters usually hang. The entire time, she didn’t smile once.

For his part, her companion kept explaining something to her, and he never looked around. He wore a dark violet tailcoat with a burgundy shirt and black bow tie. His hair was oiled back as usual, and he looked pretty much like a clown in his extravagant outfit. However, his confident manners and aggressive gestures compensated for the lack of style, and it never occurred to me to laugh my ass off about his unconvincing appearance. I was almost sure he owned this place.

I held my attention on them for a couple of minutes, and then the guy took out his checkbook and started writing in it, and Marilyn nodded again and suddenly raised her head and gazed at me. It made me freeze, uncertain of what to do. A few seconds later, she unexpectedly nodded toward the restroom. It was a barely noticeable gesture, and I wasn’t even sure she made it. It left me completely shocked because the club owner definitely had some intimate relations with this chick, the blond-haired thug clearly adored her secretly, and now she wanted to do me? It was a sure recipe for disaster! On the other hand, though, it was also a rare chance to dip my nose into the shady business of these bastards here, and besides, the woman was quite cute, which was a tough argument to beat in a man’s mind.

Naturally, I wouldn’t do such a thing, though. It would have been monumentally stupid to stick my neck out for my dick, and I was just wondering how to respond to the indecent offer when I heard a loud burp by my side. It made me realize I had completely forgotten to keep track of what was happening at our table.

I promptly turned my head to look at Lara and discovered that here, on our table, was happening the only most probable thing in a situation like this—my “lady” had begun to get plastered again! The woman was a true nightmare when it came to drinking, and the present moment was no exception. I could tell by her drooping eyelids, dry lips, and sulky face how much she was wasted. She had her breasts resting on the tabletop now, and one of her boobs had tipped the plate of peanuts we had ordered with our drinks and spilled its contents. At the same time, her shirt had twisted around her body so severely that her right nipple almost popped out of her neck. I didn’t even bother to bring it to her attention because I knew she wouldn’t care, and I only thought that if I sucked at that nipple, my mouth would probably fill with pure whiskey.

I kept watching my assistant, who was becoming increasingly unhappy about something, and after a minute, I realized something very disagreeable would happen to me very soon. My humble plan of sitting peacefully here and spying on the people around us was obviously ruined now, and we were going to be the stars of the show again. To prove me right, the booze bag by my side didn’t even wait for a minute more, and she agitatedly raised her head and cast an unfocused look at me as if she were seeing me for the first time in her life. Then she sharply jumped onto her feet—of course, she made a total mess of the table while doing so—and croaked hoarsely and inarticulately in my face, “Will you dance with me?”

I looked at her, utterly surprised and unable to answer. Out of neglect or something else, she had actually omitted “will” from the start of her phrase, which pretty much straightened out the question mark at the end of it and turned it into an exclamation. In my mind, I hurriedly curved it back into shape and prepared to explain that I would rather embrace a starving grizzly bear than dance with her, but unfortunately, I prepared for too long, as it turned out. And I just didn’t have the time!

Right in the next second, my assistant sharply grabbed my arm, pulled me harshly toward her, and before I knew it, I was already rolling around the hall amid a passionate tango… or whatever passionate thing she thought she was doing. Basically, she lashed me disorderly to the left and right; she twirled me chaotically; and never waited for me to know what her next move would be. Practically, she took the male part without warning me about it, and she never noticed, even for a brief moment, that there was absolutely no hint of music in the club.

We waddled like this for about five minutes, losing even an imaginary sense of rhythm more and more, and Lara kept leaning on me heavier and heavier until the two of us eventually looked like old bears engaged in a clumsy fight. Very soon, we started receiving the inevitable waggish remarks and impish whistles from the audience—the latter coming from the bodybuilders in the game room, who also sent a few air kisses to my lady—and unfortunately, this sudden attention to her “skills” sucked any remaining concentration out of my dancing party.

I say “unfortunately” here because no matter how unenviable the situation had been for me until that moment, from now on, it became freakishly comical. When Lara noticed the kisses, she bloomed like a freshly opened English rose, which had just sensed the buzzing of some of the fattest bees in the neighborhood, and she sharply let go of me. Instead, she turned around to blow a few kisses back to the jerks in tank tops, totally ignoring my very delicate position as a hot chick bending backward into her unreliable arms with my “sexy” leg sticking right up in the air. By and large, I had barely managed to keep my balance even before that, and with this, I instantly lost any control over myself.

What followed next was actually quite expected, and there was absolutely nothing unnatural about the way I hit the floor with my backbone and nearly brought the entire building down upon me. It was a good thing that I had taken a few classes in martial arts when I was young, and I had lasted long enough, at least, to learn how to fall safely on the ground and not make a suicidal show for everybody else around me.

Without even turning back to take a look at what she had done, Lara quickly ran toward her new buddies—probably to demand an explanation for their behavior—and I, on my part, had nothing left to do but focus on the task of lying down as casually as I could and pretending that I hadn’t experienced the most humiliating thing one could ever experience in a hall full of people after he had recklessly put himself in the center of their attention before that!

I rolled around on the floor for a minute or two like a spoiled child, but I was very well aware that I had to get up in the end. And since I didn’t know how to do it without destroying the last remaining pieces of my dignity, I raised myself to sit up and started digging into my pockets for a forgotten cigarette and a lighter to help me get out of the embarrassing situation. I hadn’t smoked for almost a year, and it was only natural that, eventually, I found nothing. That’s why I remained there for a while longer, and I had to make my peace by only imagining I was smoking. I just hoped the audience’s fantasy would be at least half as devoted to me as mine.

Of course, as it usually happens in such awkward moments, one rarely has the chance to get away with it and avoid total disgrace. While I was still sitting on the floor in the middle of my “smoking” act, the DJ—probably inspired by us—suddenly decided that the time for dancing had finally come, and his music boomed loudly in the hall. Only a few seconds later, a wild crowd of people flocked onto the stage and started shaking to the rhythm of Rock’n’Roll, whereupon I was literally booted out of the area along with my imaginary and still not finished cigarette.

Profoundly humiliated and depressed, I stood up and took a few steps away to recover my shattered self-respect. I did it just in time to notice the unpleasant Asian guy staring at me fixedly. He really gave me the creeps. He didn’t look like a man who had seen another man’s dignity publicly destroyed, but rather like someone who had seen the ghost of Count Dracula riding the horse of the Headless Horseman throughout the Devonshire countryside in a quest for the Hound of the Baskervilles!

Highly annoyed at his staring but also annoyed by the fact that obviously everybody in this city knew my life in very intimate details, I stared back at him, trying to look as mean as possible, which probably didn’t mean shit because the light in the hall was quite dim. Anyway, the Asian wasn’t impressed at all, and he just raised his right hand to snap his fingers at someone. At first, I thought he wanted to send his blond “beauty” to come and congratulate me for my cold-blooded handling of the embarrassing situation, but I was actually wrong. The gesture was intended for some other thug, and its meaning was probably to strangle me for bringing disgrace to the club’s stage.

I glanced at the guy coming my way, and the sight of him made my flesh creep. With my terrible luck, it was only natural that this specimen was taller than Kilimanjaro, and compared to him, the dandruff-haired nymph looked like the adorable fairy of peace and harmony. While the thug elbowed his way through the crowd toward me, I briefly tried to consider my options, and it wasn’t even surprising that I found none. Obviously, the only thing I could do here was to hang on to all the glorious moments I have had in my life so far and to brace myself for its tragic and untimely end.

Luckily, the situation didn’t go down the way I thought it would, though. For once, my luck worked just fine, and long before the thug came within reach, the music unexpectedly stopped—disappointing all the dancers—and the lights started pulsating intensely, which actually messed with the guy’s intentions. In the next second, loud drumming and cymbal ringing reverberated throughout the hall, indicating that it was time for the show to kick off now. The thug shook his head disappointedly and gave up the task, turning around to go back to his boss. When I saw him leave, I sighed with relief and looked around for Lara.

She was still in the game room and clearly didn’t even remember she had come here with me. I saw her swimming in a sea of muscles while trying to get nearer to the place where the knife-throwing action was happening, but fortunately, she didn’t have much success. The men around her were so huge that she probably had a better chance of breaking through the Grand Canyon rocks than walking through them. Moreover, she was soaked all the way to the tips of her big breasts, and she barely kept her balance. I actually wanted to go grab her and get out of there, but I knew I didn’t have the slightest chance. Once she slid down the liquor slide, there was simply nothing in the world to make her stop or go back.

Dejected and desperate, I turned around and headed to our table instead, and on my way, I picked up an abandoned pack of cigarettes and a lighter from one of the other tables. I just didn’t want to become a laughing stock again at a moment when I needed to appear cool. When I sat in my chair, I looked through the pile of empty glasses for something Lara had missed wiping clean, and when I found half an ounce of liquor in one of them, I took it to my lips. The way the club owner stared at me was highly disturbing, and it didn’t bode well. It only solidified my suspicion that I was neck-deep in shit without even realizing the full extent of it.

Right then, the show finally started. A couple of guys dragged a huge cake onto the stage, breaking my dismal train of thought and making me wonder what they were actually doing. After that, the drumming stopped, the music resumed, and a bunch of topless girls in bikinis marched around the cake twice and then lined up on both sides with party plates in their hands, which puzzled me even more and made me crane my neck to see what was going on. Unfortunately, none of them was Sonya, and it meant I would have to stay here at least for a couple of hours more.

©2022 S.T. Fargo


Damn you, Detective!—Chapter 8 | a Crime Story by S.T. Fargo

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