Lab Rat part 32

Posted: February 15, 2011 in Fiction, Test Subject

The ride through town is very quiet. I want to break the silence, but my mouth tends to get me in trouble so I spend a lot of time biting my tongue. Instead, I try to pay careful attention to where we’re going. I have my doubts about whether these guys will be giving me a lift home later. We drive for a while, which is bad news because I have to pee again in pretty short order. I open my mouth to say something, reconsider, and go back to biting my tongue. We’re headed into an area that’s pretty heavy on nightclubs. That kind of thing has never been my scene. For one thing, I’m a pretty bad dancer. For another, I’m usually on the broke side. I never used to be able to afford to cruise this part of town, and now that I probably could, I don’t have much interest.

We pull into a four-story parking garage and come to a stop. The guys in front get out first, and then the guy on my left follows them. The guy on my right indicates that I should follow by giving me a shove that almost sends me into the car next to us. He’s got the gun, so I play nice. For now. I stand and sway a little. Still drunk. Pushy climbs out of the car behind me. I decide that these guys get names like a certain group of dwarves. Pushy, Talky, Tall, and Quiet. Quiet waves his gun, and Talky starts walking. I follow.

It’s a cool night, and the air doesn’t smell too bad. Mostly cigarette smoke when we walk by a bar patio, and a mixture of urine and garbage at the mouth of every alleyway. A dozen or so beats thump through the air, and it sounds like dueling marching bands. People are out laughing and stumbling around. I catch glimpses inside as we walk by. Well dressed people drinking expensive drinks and laughing too loud, like they have to convince themselves that they’re having fun. Sure, there are probably people actually having fun there too, but I decide I’m not missing out as much as I sometimes feared.

People on the sidewalk part for us. Mostly for the big guys. I watch them try to figure out whether I’m a big shot or a dead man walking. Or both. I guess it really depends on what this Big Dog thinks of my antics. I really hope that Big Dog is just how these guys refer to him. I don’t think I could keep a straight face if this guy introduces himself as Big Dog. Even radio DJs don’t do that anymore. We stop in front of a place with a big neon blue sign of a cat, and “Electric Pussycat” written in cursive. My suited entourage looks positively colorful in the light. I snicker, and earn a whack in the back from someone. I bite my tongue again. It was probably Pushy. I want to tell him he’s doing sign language wrong almost as bad as I want to pee.

Talky negotiates our way in past the bouncer. I can’t hear what he says because of the thunderous techno music flowing through the open door, but it looks like they’re waiving my cover tonight. That’s good. I can’t remember if I have any cash on my anyway. As we pass into the club, the smells of the night are replaced with the smell of too much cheap cologne. It’s probably pushing two in the morning, but it still seems dark in here. I see small square platforms ringed with chairs dotting the floor. With a name like “Electric Pussycat,” I suppose it would have to be a strip joint. As my eyes adjust, I start seeing people milling about in the shadows.

Talky leads us between the stages, and I see dancers getting ready to perform at a couple of them. My head swivels as we walk by. I haven’t had female companionship in quite a while. I’m not even a legitimate superhero and I can’t safely keep a girl. I frown, but continue to gawk. Man, I’m classy. Pushy reminds me that I’m not here for the show. Talky stops at a small table with a slight, bald man sitting at it. He’s got on frameless glasses, a long sleeve button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows, and some nice jeans. Talky leans down and says something to the guy. The guy stands up, and grins at me. “Asher Brinks!” He looks me over. “I was expecting more, but I guess my guys didn’t want me to think they were pussies.” He offers his hand. I start to reach for it, and Pushy hits me in the back again. I stumble forward half a step. I shake the bald guy’s hand. “Keegan Parish,” he says, and smiles. Some of his teeth are gold, possibly silver. I can’t tell in the light.

“Nice ta meetcha,” I say. I must have been loud enough, because Keegan’s smile gets bigger.

“Have a seat, man. We have some business to work out.” Talky pulls out a chair for me.

 

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