Authors: HJ Harley
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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© 2014 by H.J. Harley. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions.
Edited By Salome Jones
Cover design by Sommer Stein of Perfect Pear Creative
Interior formatting by Kassi Cooper of Kassi’s Kandids Formatting
You deserve all the awards for putting up with me. Thank you for being the best father to our daughter and working so hard to take care of us. My other half, my better half…I LOVE YOU!
I HEARD THE MUFFLED
thumping and the uncoordinated scuffle before I stood up and saw the two men going blow for blow.
I knew this night was going too well.
I hopped over the bar just as one of them tackled the other. In a tangle of arms and legs, they knocked into me and sent the bottle of 151 in my hand crashing to the concrete floor.
“Get them both out of here, Mike!” I pushed my way through the crowd, making a path to the entrance. I shoved the heavy wooden door open, and a rush of crisp March air hit me in the face. I held the door open for Mike and Carlos, and as they tossed the two drunken brawlers out, the clamor from inside escaped to the street.
“You know how much money I spent in here tonight, you bitch?” one of the drunken men slurred at me. He oozed pretentious asshole, wearing his skinny jeans and a tight black shirt. It was hard to take a grown ass man seriously when his jeans were tighter than mine.
“Thanks for your patronage.” I saluted him and smiled sweetly.
People clapped and whistled at the excitement as I walked over to the “smoking section,” which in the grand state of New York is fifty feet away from the establishment’s entrance. Down at the curb there were several small groups chatting over their smokes. I walked past them. Standing alone, I lit a cigarette.
“You know, it’s nights like these I wish I wasn’t a bartender in New York City,” said a matter-of-fact voice from behind me.
“You know, it’s nights like these I wish I didn’t
a bar in New York City.” I looked at my best friend Rachel with a ‘trump-that-shit’ smile on my face.
She considered what I’d said for a second and forfeited. “Holler.”
Rachel and I had known each other for thirteen years. We met through a friend at a Backstreet Boys record release party when I was eighteen. We shared a mutual love of cute boys and catchy tunes. Ever since then she’d been through it all with me and we picked up this
habit somewhere along our adventures—our own silly way of saying ‘you win’, ‘it’s okay’ or ‘shut your pie hole’.
“Thanks for coming in, Rach. I thought for sure the last girl would’ve worked out.” I shifted around to face her. “Oh, and the useless sack inside decided to let me know tonight’s her last night. It interferes with her studies.” I shrugged. I knew she wasn’t in school. She was just lazy. Besides there was no love lost there. She didn’t really fit in at all.
“You’re just lucky I love you, bitch.” Rachel bumped my shoulder with hers. “Besides you’ll make it up to me when I need two weeks off again.” She waved the smoke away from her face and pretended to cough. “That is such a disgusting habit.”
“Hollerrrr.” I flicked my ashes and raised my eyebrows at her.
“Damn right.” She grinned.
I looked around when two men standing a few feet to the side of us let out a burst of laughter. This was the norm for most drunks at one-fifteen in the morning, but these two didn’t have that inebriated laugh. Rachel and I exchanged looks.
“What the hell’s that about?” She squinted at them.
Just then a group of woo-hoo party girls—you know, the chicks that end each of their sentences with the phrase “woo-hoo”—walked past us, and finally I was in on the joke. I smacked Rachel’s arm to get her attention.
She jumped. “Ow! What the eff, Jordie?” She followed my stare to one of the four woo-ees walking as if she was queen shit down East 13th Street.
Still gazing starry-eyed at the two men, woo-ee number three had failed to realize the back of her skirt was hiked up and stuck in her Spanx. Rachel and I burst out laughing along with the two guys.
“It’s almost one-thirty. I’d better go back in there—last call soon.” I turned to Rachel, tossing my cigarette into the sewer grate. We start bringing it down a few notches around one-thirty and turn the lights on around two. Any bar open after that is either a huge warehouse club or a little hole in the wall that serves as the after party. Besides, I wasn’t paying an extra fifteen grand for an after-hours liquor license. “Thank the Lord!” she sang, dipping herself back like a preacher would.
As we wound through the smokers back to the bar, we heard a commotion coming from the street behind us. I glanced over my shoulder. The drunk in the skinny jeans was staggering back towards me.
“Jesus H. Christ, this asshole again?” I put my hand on Rachel’s arm. “Rach, get Mike, please. I’ve had it with this clown.”
I didn’t know how, because he was so friggin’ drunk, but Skinny Jeans man made it to where I was standing. He towered over all five feet three of me, cockeyed, reeking of booze.
His friend tugged at his arm. “Let’s go, dude. We can pick up some Burger King and find us some bitches. Let it go.”
He brushed off his friend and stood in front of me, thumbs shoved in the teeny tiny pockets of his jeans as he swayed slightly. He slurred something at me that I worked out to be, “Let me back in, you fucking bitch!” Luckily I speak fluent drunken asshole.
“Not tonight, bub. Go sleep it off.” I started to turn away. A second later, I felt like I’d been smacked in the face with a brick. Next thing I knew I was on my ass mid-sidewalk with the contents of my hoodie pocket scattered all around me. Stunned, I sat there for a second gathering my thoughts.
What in the fuck just happened? Did this guy just punch me?
My lip throbbed. I reached up and put my fingers to my mouth. When I brought them down I saw red, literally and figuratively.
“I’m bleeding, you asshole!” I jumped to my feet and lunged towards Skinny Jeans in one swift motion. “Oh, you’re dead!” I screamed, swinging my fists as a stream of obscenities that would make a truck driver blush spilled out of my mouth. For some reason, my arms didn’t quite reach him. It took a second for me to realize someone was holding me back.
“Easy, easy.” The voice sounded stern, but there was a hint of humor in it. With his arms still wrapped around my waist from behind, Mister Amused dragged me farther away from the assault and battery charge I was headed for.
Almost simultaneously, Mike came storming out the door, Rachel right behind him. “Are you okay, Jordie?” Mike’s deep voice cut through the crowd noise.
“I’m fine!” I thrashed, trying to get closer to dickhead in tights that hit me. I was pissed as hell.
“What does this bitch think she’s going to do? Hit me?” He crossed his arms and tried to look like he wasn’t about to fall over. “Come on, bitch. Take your shot.”
It was bad timing on his part.
Broad, bald, and stocky, Mike barreled up to him just in time to reply. “Who you calling bitch?” Mike dropped him with a single shot to the jaw. “Yeah, that’s what I thought. Bitch.”
Skinny Jean’s friend stared blankly at Mike, who was now breathing heavily, his brown eyes almost red with rage. The friend started to say something but decided against it, I guessed, because he collected his crumpled friend from the sidewalk, thanked us for not calling the police, and apologized as he dragged the dead weight of his barely conscious friend down the street.
“What? What?” I swatted at the hands still holding me. “Let me go now.”
“I will once you calm down.” Whoever was holding onto me was a stranger. I didn’t recognize his voice.
While I tried to rein in my fury, I pried myself loose from his firm grip. “Thanks,” I muttered, looking up and seeing his face for the first time.
He already had his flannel in his hand, offering it to me for my bleeding lip.
I spread my hands and looked down at the front of my hoodie. “No, thanks. Mine’s already ruined.” I slipped my arms out of it, pulled it over my head, and pressed it against my mouth.
He stared at me, bemused.
“What?” I felt a bit self-conscious under his stare.
“Huh? Oh, nothing.” He slipped his flannel back on. “I’m just in awe. I’ve never witnessed a female take a hit like that, let alone get up for round two.”