1 – The Trap
The rain had finally let up. Duke was able to see out of his windshield much better now. His wipers were old and the rubber had become hard sometime ago. When he was locked up in county jail, he left his car parked on the side of his friend’s house and the last year of sun and drought had really done a number on it. He thought it was fitting that on the day after he got out of jail, it would be pouring rain, not because it was southern California and it needed it, but because he had just found out his girlfriend, who he thought was waiting for him the whole time he was in the clink, was in fact not.
He lived in west county and she lived in south county, so going to see her had taken some time and now that he knew it was over, he needed a drink. He pulled off I-5 on Grand Avenue and crossed the railroad tracks. He didn’t know where he was but the neighborhood looked like a shit hole, so he was pretty confident that he could find cheap drinks and, hopefully, at least one cheap slut to knock the rust off with. Before he hit the next light, he saw it. If he had blinked, he would have missed it. A small, hole-in-the-wall bar, on the right side of the street. There weren’t any lights anywhere around it. All he saw was a small sign lit up that read THE TRAP.
“Sounds about right,” he said.
He pulled around the back and saw there were quite a few cars, which meant there was a good chance that inside, there would be plenty of people for him to get lost amidst. Once he parked the car, he got out of it and stepped right into a nice, big pothole full of water, soaking his shoe and sock. The leg of his jeans half-way up to his knees, were now a darker blue. He knew his jeans would get stiff and heavy where they were wet. He sighed. He couldn’t get in there fast enough.
He walked around to the front after he couldn’t find the back door. He dropped his cigarette, which he had just lit in the parking lot, into the ashtray by the door and was met there by a man with blond hair and a ridiculous flavor-saver beard on his chin.
“ID?” the bouncer said.
“Yeah,” Duke answered. He pulled his wallet out of his back pocket, flashed the guy his driver’s license, and was let in the door.
The bar was small and dark. What made Duke more upset than anything was that it was full of smoke and he had just put out a full cigarette. What made that anger go away was seeing that all the bartenders were hot, beautiful women who were clothed in only their bras and panties. There was a platform behind the bar that they stood on that made their crotches eye level with patrons on the barstools. Off to the side, he saw women giving men lap dances. In the back, he saw a sign that read DUNGEON with an arrow pointing down, which he assumed was aimed at a stairway that took you into the basement.
“This could work,” he said. He was full of optimism.
He sat at the bar and looked directly into the crotch of a beautiful brunette and said, “Scotch, please.”
The woman kept her legs straight and bent all the way over, resting her elbows on the bar. “Could you repeat that, handsome?” she smiled.
“Scotch. Please,” Duke said, he smiled.
She didn’t move right away. She stared into his eyes. Duke felt something strange in his gut. Her eyes were the bluest blue he had ever seen, but he thought it may have been the reflection of the blue neon sign behind him. He didn’t care. He didn’t know how to describe that feeling, but he liked it.
“Sure thing,” she said. “I’ve never seen you in here before.” She grabbed a glass off the backbar. “Rocks?”
“Yes,” he answered. “And that’s because this is my first time.”
She smiled. “I love hearing a man say that.” She poured him the scotch and set it down in front of him. “I’m gonna start a tab for you. I’m pretty sure you are going to be spending a lot of time here.” She winked.
He chuckled and took a sip of the scotch that turned into him gulping down the whole thing. “Then keep them coming. I got a lot of drinking to catch up on.”
“All right then,” she said. “You just tell Amanda all about it.”
“You’re Amanda I hope?” he asked.
“Sure as shit,” she answered. “And you are?”
“Duke,” he said.
She laughed. “Really?”
“Yeah,” he said. He tried to convey a look of offense, but in all honesty, he had been putting up with that kind of crap from people his whole life.
“Sounds so…cowboy,” she said. “I like it.”
“Good, that makes two of us,” he said.
“Well, Duke, it’s a pleasure to meet you.” She stretched out her hand to shake his.
He reached up and took her hand. It was the softest thing he had ever held. “The pleasure is all mine.”
“So, Duke,” she said, “why are you catching up on drinking? Off the wagon? Fresh out of jail? Just had a break-up?”
“I’d rather not get into it,” he said.
“But, you and me are real good friends now,” she smiled.
“Let’s say, two out of three,” he said.
“That’s fair. Mystery is always good for intriguing the ladies,” she said. “I need to go in the back and get another bottle of scotch, if you are gonna hang out with me tonight.”
“I’m gonna,” he said.
“Good,” she said. “I’ll just be a minute.”
She walked away and Duke really liked the view. So much so that he didn’t even notice the filthy man that smelled like piss who came up next to him.
“Hey!” the man said. “What the fuck is wrong with you? I’m talking to you!”
Confused, Duke turned his head. “Sorry buddy, didn’t hear you.”
“Give me a cigarette, man, I’m broke,” the man said. “But it better not be a menthol, I’d rather starve.”
“Sorry, that’s all I got,” Duke answered.
“Pansy,” the man said.
“Excuse me?” Duke was a little pissed off and still had the jail mentality of constantly defending his honor.
Before the situation could escalate, the bouncer came out of nowhere and grabbed the guy. “I thought I told you not to bother anyone.”
“I just wanted a smoke, man,” he said.
“Come on,” the bouncer said. “On the couch.”
The bouncer dragged the guy and tossed him on a red leather couch. He pointed to a couple of girls, one blonde and one ginger. “He’s yours,” the bouncer said.
The two, mostly naked, girls slithered over to the guy and started running their hands up and down his soiled clothing. The redhead kissed his neck and face while the blonde straddled him and began to grind her pelvis on him.
Duke was completely lost. The bouncer broke his line of sight to the spectacle.
“That guy won’t be bothering you anymore,” the bouncer said.
“He wasn’t really bothering me,” Duke said. He was still lost in thought. Then he asked, “Are the lap dances free?”
The bouncer looked just as confused as Duke did. Then it was as if a light turned on in the bouncer’s head. “Oh! Yeah, tonight only.”
“Holy shit,” Duke said. “My lucky day.”
“Let me see who I can settle you down with,” the bouncer said. He looked around the room, then was stopped by Amanda.
“He’s with me TJ. Beat it,” she said. Amanda had just put the new bottle of scotch on the bar. She gave Duke a look that read, DON’T.
TJ reached over the bar and grabbed her hand. “Honey, I thought I was with you.”
“Gross, douchebag,” she said. “Not a chance.”
TJ got the hint and walked back out the door. Duke, on the other hand, was very intrigued by what he just saw.
“So, the girls give free lap dances?” he asked Amanda.
“Don’t worry about that stuff, sugar,” she said. “Let’s just keep you in scotch.”
“It’s just crazy,” he said. “That guy is fucking dirty as shit and smells like piss. Those chicks are all over him! He’s broke too. At least that’s what he told me.”
Amanda looked concerned. “I really wish you would ignore the things you see here. You’re kinda cute. I would like to keep you around awhile.”
Even though Duke was two scotches in and now working on his third, he began to think that maybe reading between the lines would help him. He’d had to do that a lot, back when he was locked up in county jail due to the fact that the different cars or gangs had to be careful about what they said to keep their plans secret from the deputies. There were a couple of conclusions he could have drawn from the last comment that Amanda made. One, she meant she liked him spending money with her. He hadn’t paid for anything or even tipped her yet, so money wasn’t something that Amanda even seemed worried about. Two, if he kept giving Amanda attention, there was a very good possibility that he would be waking up at her place in the morning. He was attracted to her and he felt some pretty strong signals and the chemistry seemed to be there. This could very well be what was going on, but because of the violent place he had just spent the last year, he thought there might be something a little more sinister going on. That brought him to three: something very bad was about to happen to the urine soaked, homeless guy on the red leather couch and the less Duke knew about it, the better.
Duke decided that he would face Amanda and continue to flirt, but sit in a way that he could see the reflection of the homeless man and the two women grinding on him in the mirror behind the bar. He locked eyes with Amanda and said, “You are very cute. You have my undivided attention and I will ignore anything you want.” He smiled and finished drink three.
“You catch on quick.” She brushed her hair behind her ear and poured him another drink. “You housebroken too?”
“I have been known to mark new places, but with positive reinforcement, I can be very surprising,” he said. “You’ll have to take me back to your place to see though. I do require a lot of attention, I guess.”
“As long as you don’t hump legs, we might have a deal going,” she said.
Duke wondered how far he should take this dog analogy with their flirting. He thought one more couldn’t hurt. “As long as you have other things for me to hump, your legs should make it through the night unscathed.” That was the scotch talking. He felt like an idiot as soon as it came out of his mouth.
Amanda squared down in front of him, spreading her legs. He saw the impression of everything that the skimpy panties she had on were trying to hide. Then she said, “Good, I like my humping between the legs.”
Duke almost choked on drink four but held back.
“I need more ice,” she said. “I’ll be right back.” She stood up and walked off.
Once she was out of sight, he felt safe to cough. He had almost spit scotch all over Amanda’s crotch. He was hoping to make her wet, but not like that. He was proud of himself for not making an ass of himself and felt kind of bad ass for pretty much securing his rebound lay.
He looked across the bar at the mirror and noticed that the homeless guy was gone. The girls were also nowhere to be found. He spun around on his bar stool to get another look and discovered TJ about an inch from his face.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” TJ asked.
“Spinning around quickly on a bar stool,” he said. “Is there a bar policy about not spinning that I should know about?”
“I mean with Amanda,” TJ said. “She isn’t available. That’s why she’s on the other side of the bar.”
“I’m pretty sure Amanda can do what Amanda wants,” he said. “Or, who she wants for that matter.”
TJ grabbed Duke by the shirt like he was going to hit him. “She is mine, man. You better watch your fucking step.”
“I didn’t know douchebag was a term of endearment around here,” Duke said. “And, I really think you should let go of my shirt.” Duke really didn’t want to get into a fight and get thrown out of the bar. Especially when he had a chance of going home with someone like Amanda. He hadn’t been with anyone since before he got locked up. He was ready.
TJ, on the other hand, didn’t give a shit and punched Duke across the jaw. His hit spun Duke around and laid him out, face down across the bar. Duke hadn’t had his bell rung like that in a long while. He opened his eyes wide and shook off the punch. He was hoping TJ was still standing where he was. He stealthily grabbed the scotch bottle and came back around quickly with the bottle in his outstretched arm. It made contact with the side of TJ’s head, exploding on impact. Glass and scotch came down like rain. TJ fell back onto the floor. Duke rushed him just as the women in the bar ran over to break it up.
Duke cocked his arm back and grabbed TJ by the collar with his other hand. He was about to let him have it, when he noticed something very different about TJ. He was hoping it was just the mixture of alcohol in his system and the women screaming at both men, but he was pretty sure he was seeing everything right. TJ’s eyes were different than they’d been a moment ago. They were more animalistic. That was nothing though compared to the enormous fangs that seemed to grow in TJ’s mouth before Duke’s very eyes.
The one thing that was important to Duke was not looking like a pussy, so no matter how horrified he was of what he just saw, he had to finish the job, so he slammed his fist into TJ’s nose. TJ’s head flew back from the blow, but he was still a threat, so Duke repeated the swing a couple more times and TJ finally fell back onto the floor.
Amanda ran up to Duke. “Why did you do that?” She looked very worried.
“He hit me,” Duke said.
The music in the bar stopped. Everyone turned to the back of the bar. The loud sound of footsteps slowly coming in the room started to echo through the silence.
“Oh shit,” Amanda said.
Duke was the last one to turn around to see who it was. The man was dressed in black, with black leather boots that had silver pointed toes. He was older, and looked Mediterranean. He had a salt and pepper stubbly beard that matched his long hair, which was pulled back. He was with the most beautiful blonde Duke had ever seen. She was so amazing that she made Amanda look like a six, which Duke would’ve thought was impossible minutes before.
As the man in black got closer, the sound of footsteps was mixed with breaking glass and light splashes from the scotch. The man in black didn’t stop walking until he was within reach of Duke. He looked down at TJ, unconscious on the floor, and Duke heaving with heavy breaths. “What the fuck happened in here?” he said.
No one said anything at first.
Amanda tried to explain, “TJ started some shit and…”
Duke looked at Amanda and saw blood on her hands. He quickly looked at himself to see if he was bleeding but the only other blood he saw was on the side of TJ’s head, and Amanda wasn’t anywhere near TJ.
“Did you do this?” The man in black said to Duke.
Duke didn’t know what else to say. “Yeah.”
“Come with me.” The man in black said and put his arm around Duke’s shoulder. The man wasn’t happy. The man wasn’t laughing.
Duke didn’t know what was going to happen, but was hoping he could at least talk his way out of this without getting the cops involved. He really wanted to make sure that Amanda didn’t get into any trouble and he definitely wanted to get another look at the blonde. He was also hoping that the man in black wouldn’t shoot him once they walked through the bar and into the back.