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This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Red Velvet Rope (The Killer Nightlife Series)

CHAPTER ONE: THE KILL

Everything was as it should be that balmy Thursday night in September. Richie was working the rope, his pockets bulging with crumpled bills. The line to get into Social Club stretched around the corner, more than two hundred deep. The desperate waiting plaintively as a finely plucked Adonis flexing his tan sauntered up to the velvet rope with a hopeful model in a skin tight bodysuit on his arm.

Freddie headed back inside to give his incident report to Kevin his addle minded Manager. Incident reports were the hand-written reports on any incident involving security that Freddie had to write and then file with the Manager. It was cumbersome but Freddie completed this task diligently. Certainly because he was a professional, but more so that him paying particular attention to this task ensured that there was never a mention of any untoward behavior or indiscretions of his Crew.

There had been only one real incident – so far – in the Club tonight. A group of four Ivy League frat boys in Armani, muscled up on HGH and coke, had caused a ruckus and Vince had been called to intervene and “cool” them down.

HGH is a liquid muscle building agent called Human Growth Hormone (HGH for short) that is particularly popular among the athletic fraternities. It increases the testosterone level of the inhibitor, increasing their muscle mass and reduces body fat. If you combine this pharmaceutically enhanced physicality with the arrogance of youth, the stimulation of alcohol and the hyper agitation of high quality cocaine, you get a volatile, aggressive, chest thumping, hair trigger caveman in Armani.

Vince found himself faced with four such men. It was to be their misfortune that it was Vince who approached them as they gesticulated wildly at the Circle Bar.

The semi circular bar was known simply as the Circle Bar and it was perched in the corner of the entry foyer to the dance floor. The bartender waved him to her frantically and as he approached she screeched to Vince that one of the group of men who was at the bar glaring at her had thrown his drink at her.

The customer was upset that she had apparently shorted him on a drink in what was commonly known in bar talk as ‘short pouring’. A customer may ask for a mixed drink with a double shot of vodka and the bartender short pours the drink, then charges the customer the price of the double but rings up the price of a single shot drink instead, pocketing the difference.

This practice usually goes unnoticed by the average nightclub customer, distracted from casting a proper discerning eye on their purchase by the good looks and flirty charm of the bartender, and the smoke lights and noise of the Nightclub environment.

The Armani caveman, an agitated, muscle bound football hulk, was himself a former bartender and was not averse to using such tactics to fatten his tip jar when he worked behind the bar so this scam was not unfamiliar to him, but he had vehemently and vociferously objected when she had used this little scam on him. He was adamant that she had short poured the drinks she had served to him and his friends and he was told   when he approached her about the matter   that he and his friends, in no uncertain terms, could go and fuck themselves.

Low on tolerance and high on a volatile cocktail of drugs, steroids and alcohol he had not taken kindly to this treatment and had in response, hurled the contents of the drink in the direction of the offensive bartender. Four girls who were at the bar and who had been, prior to this bit of nastiness, at the center of the attention of the Armani cavemen, scurried away from the bar quickly as the bartender threw a bucket of ice at the caveman and his friends. The four angry men had screamed their outrage to the bartender at losing their drinks, their girls and their buzz and were pointing at her threateningly as if to reach over the bar and tear the bitchy arrogance from her head.

An unfortunate byproduct of a nightclub bartenders position is the arrogance and ego that develops when they realize they are the center of attention when they are behind a bar. When the customers at the bar need a drink they can afford to bestow upon them their immediate attention or choose to casually ignore them. When there are many, many people packed up to the bar clamoring for the bartender’s attention, the big tipping and sexually desirable gain their immediate attention while the rest are relegated to the ‘when I have time’ category. This arrogance often results in the bartender taking considerable social liberties with their customers and in effect treating them poorly, under servicing and overcharging them all the while demanding that they beg for their attention and flatter them with adulation. It was often joked by the other Social Club staff that bartenders had their own B.A.G gage. They believed in their own snotty little way that Bartenders Are God.

The conflict between the juiced up Armani caveman and the preening bar princess was where Vince had now found himself directly in the middle of. Alone.

He knew that the bartender had been caught in one of her dirty little scams but the customer had committed one of the unforgivable sins and laid hands or more exactly laid one ounce of Belvedere vodka – upon a staff member. The Caveman had to go and Vince would brook no discussion. He had to leave the Club.

Had the caveman chosen to talk to a Manager, he might have gotten a free drink and the girl would have been questioned and reprimanded, possibly suspended or even fired, but in this case, that was highly unlikely as she had just serviced the manager with a skillful hand job in the liquor room. Regardless, one of the Club’s most sacrosanct rules had been violated and now Vince must evict the man and he must do it with prejudice.

What had made the situation even more dangerous was that security who were supposed to be there with Vince were otherwise engaged in extricating a sleeping patron from a bathroom stall. An unfortunate combination of the liquid drug “GHB” (gammahydroxybuterat) combined with alcohol had resulted in the demise of one particular patron who had passed out mid shit in the bathroom cubicle. All available security had been called to the bathroom by the attendant and the security that had responded were engaged in a heated debate on just who should do what and how to do it. How to safely extricate a half naked excrement covered customer from a bathroom stall was hardly in the clubs security manual.

Freddie was escorting the Manager on a cash drop collecting the overflowing twenty and fifty dollar bills from the bartenders over stuffed cash drawers and was thus also, conveniently, unavailable.

Security were instructed never to approach a volatile situation alone, especially where the customers had to be forcibly evicted, however, the situation that Vince now found himself in was one of those situations where the situation was explosive and could get very ugly very quickly and had to be dealt with immediately.

There was only one man available to deal with it right there and then, and that was Vince so it was he alone who confronted four furious men and one screeching bartender.

“What happened?” Vince asked the bartender. She screamed some unintelligible sentence involving the word motherfucker several times and Vince cut her off sharply. She wasn’t helping.

“Calm down and tell me what happened?” he barked at her.

“Just throw these motherfuckers out of here Vince, he threw a fucking glass at me!” she yelled.

The largest of the group was angrily gesticulating at the bartender and yelled “Fuck this cunt, she ripped us off!” while the first Armani caveman breathing heavily, red in the face with anger face off against Vince.

“Fuck you!” she yelled back

“Crystal,” Vince barked again. “Back off I’ve got this.”

“What do you have you fuck, you don’t have shit, you are probably in on this scam with this bitch.” yelled the first Armani caveman.

The other cavemen started to move towards Vince and two of them began to circle Vince.

“Let’s go outside and talk about this Sir,” said Vince. “This will get us nowhere.”

“Fuck that, I want to speak to the Manager.”

“We can do that Sir but we have to go outside, we have to clean up this bar. We can talk outside where it’s quieter.”

“We’re not going anywhere.” said the cavemen intensely, his eyes red and inflamed.

‘Sir, I am asking you to leave now. “Said Vince,  his voice quiet but dangerous. “Let’s go outside and talk about this like gentlemen.”

“Fuck you and fuck that little cunt, we’re not going nowhere.”

Vince stepped to the first caveman with his hand outstretched palms facing the man.

This gesture was the sign that the situation was untenable for Vince and that he had to move fast and hard to defend himself and the scheming bartender. Cameras were everywhere in Social Club particularly by the bars and the exits, points of sale and points of entry were always watched and taped. When the tape was reviewed later it would show Vince surrounded by four angry men who were making hostile and aggressive movements towards Vince and he had held his hands up as if urging the men to stop as he moved slowly towards them.

Crystal the thieving, screeching bartender had seen this before and she stepped back to the corner of the semi circle shaped bar, as far away as she could be from the violent scene she knew was about to unfold. The video tape would show the customer immediately in front of Vince shoving Vince and then the man inexplicably sinking to the floor. A second member of the group looked like he too had fallen backwards as a third man lurched towards Vince trying to tackle him. Vince seemed to hold him in what looked like a headlock as he side kicked the fourth man who was also lunging towards Vince. The forth man fell to the floor too and the third man who was locked in the seemingly innocuous restraining hold sagged and flopped. As Vince released him he too fell to the floor.

It seemed that in less than fifteen seconds the four Armani cavemen were left kissing the nightclub floor. You could then see two more security men running in to view and Vince gesturing for them to collect the unconscious men.

At least that’s what it looked like on the security tape.

Vince was certainly a stern looking man with a grim face but he had a friendly, one of the guy’s personality. He was at times quiet and at other times jovial and personable. He had a hard no nonsense look but he was the first to tell a bad joke or wink at a pretty girl. He was just like any other regular, blue collar guy, except that he had an amazing and ferocious talent for violence. Vince hated to fight. He had been competing in mixed martial arts competitions for money and had won extra money by betting on himself. When the promoters found out they banned him from competition and he was forced to fight in obscure underground cage fights to make ends meet. That was until he was hired by his friend Freddie Mahlow to work as the cooler at the Social Club. It was very rare that Vince would ever be involved in any altercation. He preferred to talk the situation down, getting the customers out the door as quietly and passively as possible. On those few occasions where his formidable skillset of violence were brought to bear the results were always the same. Vince left standing over the unfortunate man who lay prostrate on the floor asking him if he was ok.

This was, again, one of these situations.

What had actually happened and was not as apparent on the security tape was that as the Armani caveman had shoved, Vince in a lighting fast reaction had struck the man with directly under the chin and rendered him unconscious as he stood. The second caveman behind the first had received a hard blow to the solar plexus from Vince’s other free hand and also fallen to the floor, conscious but clutching his chest. The third caveman who had moved to Vince’s right side had stepped forward at the same time as the fourth cavemen lunged at Vince. The third caveman received a hard side edge kick to the chest and he too felt like his chest collapsed as he sank to the floor like a heart attack. The fourth man was trapped in Vince’s guillotine chokehold which looked merely restraining but was in fact debilitating, as the man’s thorax and larynx were compressed and his airways shut off by the pressure of Vince’s forearm. Within five seconds he too was unconscious.

The unconscious and semi conscious men were hauled out of the club and escorted out the side door. Two of them were left gasping for breath in the alleyway, the other two were rushed to the hospital, one with a fractured sternum and a broken jaw and the other with a broken collarbone and four broken ribs.

Freddie approached Vince and looked at him sardonically.

“Did you break a sweat this time Vince”? he teased. “Looks like you had to work for your money tonight.”

“I hate doing that,” replied Vince testily. “Where the fuck where you? They probably wouldn’t have tried to be so hard core if you had been there.”

“Ah you see Vince, in my position I am forced to make some tough decisions from time to time and tonight was one of those times. Kevin had asked me to escort him on a drop and while I could have excused myself and attended the guy who was passed out asleep in his own shit in the bathroom I though that protecting Barry’s money was of much more importance.”

He beamed cheekily at Vince and then realized that his friend was quite upset.

‘Seriously man, I didn’t get a call on the radio otherwise you know I would have been there.”

Vince looked at his friend and sighed “I know, I know, I hate when it gets to that point…some people just won’t listen to reason. I don’t get it”. He paused “Are any of them badly hurt?” he asked almost regretfully. 

Freddie laughed. “I’m sure they are Vince, I’m sure they are.”

Vince looked crestfallen. Freddie looked amused. 

He always felt guilty at the rush he got when he fought. He didn’t want to fight, but when he was forced to, he felt alive and as if he could almost fly, not just fight. But the surge of power and violence that exploded in these situations somehow always left him with a heavy, despondent feeling afterwards. The guilt weighing heavier and heavier and he would start thinking about the men he had beaten and he would feel even darker, weighed down by remorse. He always doubted himself and the actions he had taken. Could he have talked them down? Should he have waited for backup? Was he too quick to strike? Was he too confrontational? Was he looking for them to throw the first punch? What could he have done better, what could he have done to avoid the altercation? He put his hand to his head and massaged his forehead. ‘Why did he let the beast out? He thought to himself.  

“One day you aren’t going to stop and then you will be doing twenty to life for manslaughter” he admonished himself.

Freddie saw the onset of Vince’s post fight depression beginning to set in and he cut if off quickly.

“Head to the door Vince,” he said gesturing to the front door. “Its starting to get near the witching hour.”

Vince looked at Freddie. He understood what he was trying to do, and he was quietly grateful to his friend.

“I’m on it.. thanks man” said Vince.

“Yeah you better thank me, I could have sent your ass to the bathroom to wake the sleeping shitter up.”

Vince’s mood brightened considerably at that thought and he headed out to the front door to help Richie at the velvet rope.

The line outside Social Club was already two hundred people deep and it was growing by the minute. Richie acknowledged Vince with a smile and signaled him closer.

“I have to go empty the register it’s already full to the top.” said Richie cryptically.

“Nice.” said Vince. “I’ll cover the point till you get back. Lighten the VIP line first will you?”

Vince stepped up to the velvet rope and checked the ID’s of a group of women in low cut body suits. Richie stepped over to the VIP line as a short darkly tanned portly man in his forties with his stunning six foot blonde wife in a mini skirt at his arm slid a hundred dollar bill quietly into his pocket as they shook hands in transparent greeting.

The couple had been kicked out of the club more times than Richie could remember. She was notorious for seducing men in the club as her husband watched her go down on them in dark corners of the club. Their voyeuristic mischief in itself was not that bad, it was when the beneficiaries of her attention were at the club with their women who had left their men unattended and had gone to the bathroom or on the dance floor. When she approached the men that was when things got ugly. Many an unsuspecting girlfriend had returned from the bathroom to find her boyfriend on the receiving end of a frenetic blowjob from a statuesque blond woman in a dark corner of the Club.

This always led to some type of altercation, which usually resulted in the boyfriend getting hit with purses or heels as the couple scurried off and security rushed over to pull the cursing woman of her unfortunate boyfriend or husband. The couple never actually had to be physically escorted out, they just kind of scurried to the front door, faces flush with sexual excitement as security followed them out.

At the velvet rope, Vince had taken a fake ID from a nubile, blonde, twenty something in a thigh high miniskirt and low cut baby tee. Much to his amusement she was unknowingly jiggling both of her daddy’s cosmetic birthday presents up and down as she herself hopped up and down with indignant outrage, proclaiming in high pitched squeals that the image of the thirty eight year old Indian women in the ID was indeed her.

Richie watched bemusedly and reached for his two way radio as his earpiece squawked.

“Richie!” Dean loudly whispered over the two way. “Bro, we’re out of plastic in the Lounge!” he rasped in a desperate voice. “I am halfway way home and I need you to slide a plastic fantastic under the door…now and I mean now!”

The Crew had a covert way of communicating with each other over the two- way radios and over the years had practically created another language. If the boss was listening in on the two way he might have assumed they needed credit card authorization for a big spending Mark or perhaps the DJ needed some assistance loading his vinyl records in to the deejay booth. The boss had long since given up the idea of trying to understand what they were talking about as they buzzed back and forth on their squawk boxes. They were talented professionals who consistently kept his Club safe and the high rollers rolling in and that was all that mattered to him. Their weird language was of no interest to him.

For the moment, the boss was more concerned with the presence in his office of two very stout men in large polished silk suits who stood either side of a diminutive, yet distinguished gentlemen with thick grey hair and serpentine eyes. Richie shook his head and nodded to Vincent, who had reduced the mini skirt blond to moist eyed begging as her birthday presents continued to bounce imploringly. Vince raised his eyebrow, gave the merest hint of a nod, and Richie winked and stepped away from the door to get a condom for Dean who was stranded with his pants down by his ankles and his fingers in a vagina, in a secreted broom closet of the largest nightclub in Chicago.

The Closet was a forgotten storage room that had been enthusiastically and covertly transformed by Dean into a secret makeshift lounge that was used by the Crew when an amorous club girl needed some extra attention. This was one such time as Dean found himself poised to enter into some very moist attention when he had realized that he did not have the particular piece of plastic that had kept him child free and STD free for several happy years.

Dean was as equally loathe to procreate as he was to commit and as particularly fastidious about personal protection as he was, he was now dangerously close to losing the bare-assed opportunity that was bent over in front of him.

He had been carefully navigating this coy, buxom coed towards a martini  inspired romp for the better part of two weeks. So spontaneously delicate was the opportunity that presented itself now, Dean felt that if there was the slightest change in ambience – say one that required him to hastily leave the Lounge and quickly procure a plastic fantastic himself – then the spell of euphoric and adventurous spontaneity that he had so carefully woven would be broken, and the splendid pair of buttocks proffered in front of him would be hastily extricated, the co ed hurriedly retreating, scurrying out the door aghast as she hoisted her underwear up and aghast in realization of what she was doing and what more she was about to do.  Their passionate dalliance would be cut mortifyingly short before its proper climax.

Simply, for Dean, it was now or never.

This precarious situation meant that Dean was rooted where he stood, immobile but for the thrusting movement of the co ed’s splendid posterior. His urgent plea to Richie over the two way was thankfully answered and his brother in arms sidled discreetly to the outside of the Closet door to ever so surreptitiously slide the plastic article in question under the door.

“Plastic fantastic delivered to the spastic,” chirped Richie over the two way as he walked away chuckling.

Relieved, Dean slowly arched his body backwards, his cream colored pants down by his ankles, miraculously keeping his balance, in an acrobatic performance worthy of the most learned yoga master. He reached back with his free hand to the floor where the plastic wrapper lay, whilst his other hand, with two fingers firmly entrenched in the warm confines of the heaving posterior raised before him, continued its rhythmic in and out motion.

This feat in and of itself would have been worthy of a place in Nightclub folk lore had Dean been able to maintain this karma sutra worthy position just a moment longer. However, the amorous young co ed had begun to increase her journey to pleasure with considerably more earnestness, and as her excitement mounted, she began to escalate her rhythmic movements with greater eagerness and she pushed back even quicker and harder against Dean’s deeply immersed and furiously pumping fingers.

Dean’s pumping contortionist and balancing act, whilst truly commendable, was unfortunately not up to the task of accommodating the fervent and ever forceful bucking of the amorous co ed’s energetic behind and after one particularly forceful buck, his body finally capitulated and he tumbled backwards, legs trapped in his upturned trousers, and he crashed hard against the lounge door which then burst wide open.

Mortified, the owner of the amorous behind screamed and tried to turn around to cover up her modesty but merely succeeded in tripping over Deans splayed trouser legs and she too fell heavily, thumping against Dean as he struggled to stand up. Dean fell back again, with his pants around his ankles and the screaming girl atop him, and he landed even harder against the doorway which groaned dangerously and vociferously creaked its objection.

The Lounge, it must be admitted, wasn’t even supposed to exist. It was actually an abandoned storage closet to far away from the service areas of the Club to be convenient and too small to hold any major supplies so in time the closet was simply, forgotten.

Dean had excitedly discovered the abandoned closet a year earlier when he was looking for a discreet place within the club to take advantage of another amorous young red headed Nightclubber who was duly impressed with Dean’s ability to procure expensive bottles of Vodka at will for her and her bachelorette friends. So impressed was she that she had parlayed her awe for the dubious honor of being the first girl to ever christen the Lounge.

Over the next week, Dean had re furbished the broom closet into a mini lounge resplendent with a stolen love seat and side table, refrigerated mini bar, drapes, candles and a framed poster of the movie ‘Scarface’. It became the secret room for the Crew to entertain their female guests in private. In the compartment of the side table, lay boxes of the infamous ‘plastic fantastic’s Sadly, Dean had neglected to replenish the supply for the better part of two weeks and the compartment now lay completely empty much to Dean’s chagrin.

It had been a busy two weeks for the Crew.

In his zealousness to refurbish the Closet into the Lounge, Dean had built a makeshift mini bar adjoined to the wall of the Closet with complete disregard for the actual engineering requirements of his endeavor. The laws of gravity required particular attention to detail and those details were unfortunately lost on Dean. The closet was really just a frame of wooden two by fours with four dry walls and a coat of paint. It was meant to store brooms and dustpans and was not built to have anything adjoined to it, much less a stocked bar with liquor and a refrigerator, and it groaned constantly beneath the uninvited weight. The fact that the wall had stood for the better part of a year with close to 500lbs of unplanned weight attached to it was itself a small miracle.

Tonight, unfortunately for Dean, was the night that such miracles were destined to end.

Deans final ignominious tumble against the door, attached to the overloaded wall frame, was the final indignity for the hastily built labor of lust, and the entire wall came crashing down. With nothing left to support the adjacent walls, they too crumpled forward and Deans entire lounge room collapsed, screeching and bellowing all the way down to its noisy, dusty death.

Dean scrambled to his feet and looked around him in disbelief. The amorous behind had run off terrified, her skirt still hiked up to her hips, and Dean struggled even more frantically to regain control of his trousers.

The frame of the closet also served as the back wall for one of the private VIP booths that were reserved for the big spending Nightclub “Marks”. When the frame came down, the back of the VIP Booth also ripped off and the occupants inside were exposed.

As Dean scrambled unsuccessfully to pull his pants up, he looked up to see a man in a blue silk suit slumped forward on the table of the now exposed VIP booth. To see a man slumped forward on a table in a Nightclub is not too uncommon a sight, strong liquor and exuberant over indulgence in various pharmaceuticals often rendering men in such positions.

What was not too common a sight was the dark figure looming over the unconscious man.

Dressed in a crisp, perfectly pressed black suit with black shirt and black tie, and wearing dark aviator sunglasses, the man held a gun to the back of the head of the blue suited man slumped over the table. He fired. It was so loud in the Club that you could barely hear the pop of the gun. The flash of the gun shot perversely, blended in to the pulsing flash of the strobe lights that fired in every direction across the room. The blue suit’s head exploded into a hundred soggy pieces and splattered wet against the man in blacks perfectly pressed suit. The Man in Black slowly removed his blood splattered sunglasses and his cold unblinking grey eyes hardened as he looked at the figure twitching in death throes before him. He replaced his sunglasses and he fired once again. Blood, gristle and bone flew everywhere.

The body stopped twitching.

Dean stared in disbelief and then looked down at the front of his own suit. His cream colored Versace suit was now quite crimson. He stood there frozen stupid in wide eyed horror with his pants wrapped around his ankles, covered in dead blood and smatterings of brain sinew staring dumbly at the shattered watermelon remains of what was just seconds ago a human head, transfixed by the obscene, gaping wet hole that seeped puce colored liquid and bubbled bright, dark blood.

After what seemed like an eternity he managed to tear his eyes from the grisly corpse and as he looked up, a chill ran up the back of his neck.

The man in the black suit was now staring at him with those cold, unblinking grey eyes.

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