THE MISFIRE CLUB
by Tom Mes
(The Misfire Club is an online novel, published exclusively on Project A in weekly instalments)
PART 2 - Is This Reality?
(download in txt format)
The procession of people snorting coke, throwing up, having sex and waiting in line was a normal sight outside the nightclub known as "Reality", the goings-on at which often spilled out into the streets as the night got older. The thumping dance beats coming from inside served as a suitable soundtrack to the activities performed by the young trendy types on its doorstep.
However, there was a strict partition in regulars and hopefuls. The regulars being those puking, snorting and scoring, while the hopefuls stood in line wishing they would be let in so they themselves could puke, snort and score their money away. At the moment though, the hopefuls were standing in a neatly cordoned-off queue under the watchful eyes of Eric, the club's bouncer.
He always felt Eric wasn't a hard enough name for someone in his profession, which was why so few people knew him by it. Deep inside his rough and ready exterior, Eric feared that if anyone ever found out, the derision that would be heaped upon him would rival that heaped upon Reality's two valets.
These two, college boys both, stood on the sidewalk in their red-jacketed uniforms waiting for the limos and sports cars driven by the club's upper-echelon clientele, all the while serving as the laughing stock of staff and patrons alike. Their names were Bobby and Kadeem, neither of which would rank any higher in the esteem stakes than Eric, and they suffered through the derision thinking they were the ones sitting behind the wheels of Italian sports cars on a nightly basis, not the bartenders or the bouncer, even if it was only for the short distance between the club and the parking lot.
Bobby ran up to open the door for the driver of the black BMW that now drove up to the curb. Carter stepped out and handed him the keys. 'Don't touch anything,' he said to the valet.
Bobby gave him a quick nod, got behind the wheel and drove off. Carter stared after his own car for a second, then looked up at the club's entrance and strode up the steps, past the waiting hopefuls and into the club. Eric saw him, but let him pass, giving rise to a clearly audible murmur in the queue. 'Hey! How come he gets to go in?' one of the more brash hopefuls yelled out over the dance beats.
Eric ignored him. The brash guy looked around at his fellow queue victims, his hands raised in indignation, hoping to find some support. Since no one wanted to risk getting thrown out after having lined up for two hours, there was none forthcoming.
Carter stepped into Reality. Reality being so named because of the spectacular real-life video death footage that played on its two huge video walls. People falling out of aeroplanes, being eaten by wild animals, perishing in natural disasters and getting crushed in car wrecks, all of it projected king size for the entertainment of the clubbers. To add to this jovial atmosphere, the management often hired performance artists who served up a variety of bizarre live entertainment, ranging from simple strip acts to extreme self-mutilation.
Carter crossed the dance floor and walked up to one of the many couch-lined niches in the walls. Sitting in this particular niche were Carter's friends and colleagues Didier and The Rev. Didier was a Frenchman with a loathing of his own country. This had prompted him to try and learn to speak English without the slightest hint of an accent and rechristen himself DJ, a suave suit-wearing playboy type who always got the girls, despite having dropped his French accent. Tonight he was accompanied by two of them. His partner in crime The Rev, a nickname he had acquired thanks to his last name, which was Swaggart, was a hitman prototype; sunglasses, black suit, slicked-back hair and an expressionless face.
'Evenin' my dear colleagues,' Carter said, greeting them as he walked up to their table.
'Carter! My pal. Come on, have a seat, grab a girl,' DJ pushed one of the two girls into Carter's arms as the latter sat down beside them. The girl looked a bit upset for a moment, then looked at Carter, smiled and cuddled up to him with glee.
'This really qualifies as national hitman reunion night, now that you're here,' DJ remarked.
Carter looked at him. 'What do you mean?'
'Well, fuckin' everybody's here tonight, look...' DJ pointed out the suspects in rapid procession. First, in another niche, two identical twin brothers, both out of their skulls on wodka and about to be left by the women they were with.
'The Burke brothers...'
Then in a third niche two Japanese men. One was in his fifties and looked sophisticated in a grey silk suit, the other was an androgynous looking twenty-something guy with bleached blond hair, make-up and a loud suit, flirting with one of the waiters.
'Tezuka and his main Hiro...'
Next, a woman of forty, who looked at least ten years younger and was distractedly fooling around with a muscular twenty-year old who had his hand between her legs while she was sipping champagne.
'And Shana Z. Then at the bar we have Joey Amateau...'
He now pointed at a guy in his mid-twenties, who was standing at the bar trying to chat up a knock-out brunette with silicone breasts.
'...and Gillian McDonnell.' He pointed at the knock-out brunette with silicone breasts being chatted up by a guy in his mid-twenties.
'And then of course, there's The Rev and me. I saw Benny Lee walking around a moment ago, but I guess he went to take a piss.'
Bobby the valet parked Carter's car in the badly-lit underground parking lot that belonged to club Reality. As he took the keys out of the ignition, he noticed the black briefcase lying on the floor of the car on the passenger side. He frowned, then reached down to grab it. But he let go and dropped it within seconds. His face white with fear, he looked at his hands which were covered in blood and gore. In a panic, he rushed out of the BMW and ran back to his colleague.
'A real potpourri of hitmen,' Carter said after DJ's guided tour around hitmanland, 'The cream of the crop. I pity the fool who tries to start trouble tonight.'
'Funny you should mention that. The Rev and I have already made a bet on it. Want in?'
Carter turned back to DJ and The Rev, 'What? On who gets to shoot him?'
The Rev nodded.
'Sure. A hundred on myself,' Carter said with a smile.
DJ looked at him for a second, then at The Rev and started laughing. The Rev smiled.
'You're one smart motherfucker, Cart. Why didn't we think of that?' DJ gave The Rev a slap on the shoulder.
The Rev didn't budge. Then all of a sudden DJ stopped laughing. He stared at the entrance of the nightclub.
'Under normal circumstances, I'd say you'd won it right here and now, but this changes things.'
Carter and The Rev looked at him, puzzled.
'What do you mean?' Carter asked.
DJ pointed his finger at the entrance.
'June May,' he said in a tone of respect and admiration.
The two men looked at the entrance. Carter's adrenalin levels rose as he watched the woman he saw earlier that night in the alley entering the club. He was up on his feet and on his way towards her in a matter of seconds, leaving the girl DJ gave him behind and all upset again.
DJ and The Rev looked at him in surprise.
'Hey, where are you going all of a sudden?' DJ yelled after him. Carter paid no attention to him anymore and was making his way through the crowd to get to June May. DJ shrugged his shoulders and pulled the girl he had given to Carter back towards him.
Bobby had gotten back to Kadeem, who spotted the disgusted look on his colleague's face as he stared at his hands.
'Uh, could you get me a handkerchief or something,' Bobby asked him in a voice that sounded like he was about to throw up.
'Huh, what for?' Kadeem reacted, then noticed the blood on Bobby's hands.
His eyes widened, not from shock, but from joy.
'Fuckin'-A man, that's fuckin' cool. Jeez, that's not your blood is it?'
Bobby shook his head, still in shock.
'What'd you do? Smash some poor fucker's face in?' Kadeem continued as he leaned in closer, relishing in the sight, 'This is so cool. Look, there's a bit of skull, right there.'
As he pointed out this particular detail on Bobby's hand, four identical Benzes drove up behind them. The valets looked up at their new clientele.
'Oh... now what am I gonna do?' Bobby moaned.
Kadeem shrugged his shoulders and ran up to the car in front. He reached for handle on the car door, but at that very same moment the doors on all four cars swung open simultaneously. The door of the car in front slammed straight into Kadeem's groin, which sent him down to the ground in agony. His hands covering his crotch, he moaned and looked up angrily.
'What the fuck did you do that for?' he yelled.
Out of each of the four cars came three identically attired mobsters. They were all sturdy and tall with short blond hair and they simultaneously pulled out their guns from under their jackets. Kadeem's eyes widened in fear as the mobster standing closest to him looked down at him sternly.
'I'm sorry, just trying to do my job. Please don't shoot me,' Kadeem squealed.
The twelve mobsters advanced towards the club's entrance amidst frightened screams from the hopefuls, for many of whom the risk of death by gunfire was an acceptable one if it got them into Reality.
The mobsters passed Bobby, who had his eyes shut tight and his bloodstained hands up in the air, whilst praying to every God he had ever heard of that the mobsters would just pass him and leave him be. He could deal with someone else's blood on his hands, he could not deal with his own blood on his clothes. The mobster closest to Bobby stopped and looked at his bloodstained hands. He stood there for a moment while sweat started trickling down Bobby's face, then pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to him. Bobby, now almost paralysed with fear, opened his eyes, looked at the handkerchief and, at the mobster's insistance, took it. As Bobby said his thanks to the deities of religions old and new, the mobster followed his colleagues into the club.
Determined not to let her slip away a second time, Carter rushed through the crowd of dancing clubbers, his eyes fixed on the marvelous creature that was June May. A few more steps and he would have reached her, swept her off her feet, taken her home and thrown her on the bed where he intended to make love to her for the next fortnight. Instead, the entrance doors to Reality were kicked open and the twelve mobsters came running in with their guns drawn.
Carter stopped dead in his tracks as he saw them. One of them was pointing in the direction of June. All twelve of them took aim as Carter grabbed his gun, jumped at June and pulled her down to the ground with him, out of harm's way. Bullets flew past their heads, missing their targets, but finding new ones in unsuspecting clubbers. As they dropped to the floor in their trendy outfits full of bloodstains and bullet holes, Carter started firing back at the twelve mobsters, proving by killing three that all those years of practice at the firing range had been wisely spent, despite always having to listen to DJ's incessant wisecracking.
The chaos that ensued was immediate and all-encompassing. Amidst people running for cover, the hitpeople contingent got into action at the instigation of DJ, who yelled: 'They're trying to get Carter!'
Guns aplenty were drawn, the Burke brothers sobered up in the span of an instant and a rain of bullets filled the air, landing in and around most of the remaining mobsters. Carter looked up and saw two of the mobsters jumping to safety behind the bar while a third snuck out the front door. He glanced back and saw every hitperson in the room standing there with guns drawn. He looked back down at June, who shook her head and sat up. At that exact same moment one of the remaining mobsters lifted his gun up from behind the bar and started firing away blindly, hitting absolutely no one. The hitpeople looked at him, doing little more than stand there as they waited for him to finish and run out of bullets.
Joey Amateau, who was still standing at the bar with Gillian, leaned over the bar and looked at the two mobsters with a smile on his face.
'You missed,' he said.
Before the mobsters could react, he had fired a shot into each of their heads. He turned to Gillian, who suddenly seemed a lot more interested. She smiled at him for the first time that night. Carter meanwhile, had gotten back on his feet and ran for the front door.
'One of them ran outside,' he yelled at the others, all of whom followed suit.
The mobster who had snuck out the door had taken a peek inside and seen how a whole slew of people he certainly had not expected to be there laid waste to his colleagues in a matter of seconds. Feeling his heart beat in his throat, he ran down the steps for his car, passing Bobby, who was still trying to clean the blood off his hands with the handkerchief, and Kadeem, who was still rubbing his aching family jewels. Unfortunately for him, Eric the bouncer was also still on the scene and it was his fist that hit the mobster in the face and took him out cold.
The doors opened and Carter came rushing out. As soon as he saw Eric standing over the unconscious mobster, he slowed down and smiled. He made his way down the stairs at a leisurely pace and joined the bouncer in staring down at the mobster. Within seconds, the rest of the hitpeople had joined them. The rest, that was, except for June May.
'Who the hell were these guys?' DJ asked.
With a look of surprise on his face, Carter looked at him.
'You don't know 'em either?' he asked his friend.
'Never seen any of 'em before. Why the hell were they after you?'
'They weren't after me,' Carter said, 'they were after...'
They turned around. It was June herself who had finished Carter's sentence for him. She walked up with a gun in her hand and pushed her colleagues aside to get to the unconscious mobster.
'Okay, then what the hell did they want from you, baby?' DJ added in his usual audacious manner.
June fired three shots into the body of the last mobster. The valets, who had been watching the whole scene with increased amazement, recoiled in disgust. Even DJ registered some shock at witnessing June perform such a cold-blooded execution.
'Oh, how sad. Now we'll never known,' she added and blew the smoke from her gun and into DJ's face.
DJ blinked. June smiled and ran her finger across his cheek, before making her way past the hitpeople and down the steps. Before she could get away, Carter grabbed her arm and pulled her close to him. June's look turned to anger and they stared each other in the face for a few seconds.
'You never said thank you,' Carter said in a calm voice.
June's expression changed to a friendly smile, right before she punched him in the face and walked away. Carter stumbled back, trying to keep his balance, then regained himself and touched his aching jaw. DJ laughed uproariously, not in the least to hide his own wounded pride.
'Ha! Look at him. First shot at, then dumped. It's not your night is it?' He gave Carter a friendly slap on the shoulder.
Carter looked up but saw that June had disappeared into the night. He spat a drop of blood from his mouth and, while still staring out into the nighttime streets, calmly said: 'Hey DJ.'
'What?' DJ answered, on his guard.
'I heard your two girls in there just left with each other 'cause they got bored with you.'
'Oh, ha ha ha. You're so funny. You really crack me up,' DJ replied with heavy doses of sarcasm.
Carter turned to face him, 'No, it's true. They went to my place to warm up the bed.'
DJ's look turned to anger for just a second. He caught The Rev who showed a thin smile.
'What?' he yelled at his partner.
The Rev looked away, but couldn't get the smile off his face. Around them, the flock of hitmen and hitwomen started to disperse, most of them heading back into the club. Eric grabbed the last mobster's jacket and dragged him back up the steps and into the club. DJ looked at his colleagues going back inside and focused his attention on Shana. He ran his hand through his hair.
'Yeah. Well, time for a fresh catch.'
And with a smile he followed Shana into the club. The Rev looked at him, gave Carter a nod and headed in after his partner. Joey and Gillian, who were the only ones not to go back in, came walking up to Carter and the three of them stared at the four Benzes left by the mobsters, who had never even bothered to close the doors.
'You know, it's a real shame they had to leave those beautiful automobiles behind like that,' Joey remarked.
'It's a tragedy,' Carter replied.
Joey shook his head, 'Just dreadful.'
With a smile on his face, he led Gillian to the car in front, helped her into her seat, closed the door and walked over to the driver's side. He gave Carter one last wink, then got in, started the car and drove off.
'Valet!' Carter yelled as he watched the Benz drive off. Bobby, who had resumed wiping the blood off his hands, looked up in shock as he heard Carter call him. He walked up to him timidly. Carter opened his mouth to speak, then noticed the blood on the valet's hands.
'You tried to open the briefcase didn't you?'
'I thought I told you not to touch anything?' Carter paused a second for effect. He noticed that it worked as Bobby was quickly turning pale.
'Have you still got the keys?'
His hands trembling, Bobby reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to Carter's car. Carter grabbed them out of his hand and cocked his gun. Bobby started sweating. Carter threw the keys up at Kadeem, who caught them.
'It's the black BMW. And hurry up, please.'
With that, Kadeem rushed off for the parking lot.
'Now he's getting your tip,' he said to Bobby as he smiled, uncocked his gun and put it back in the holster.
Copyright 2001 Thomas Mes
(Next week: part 3 - The horrible truth about Carter)