Ruth Keonie was too old for this sort of thing. Forty-two and well beyond her college partying days, Ruth stood shivering in line for the nightclub called The Church. It was busy tonight, despite the cold, with the entry line creeping halfway around the block. The swell of the crowd was all noise and very little movement. Girlish squeals and loud conversations mixed with the dull thrum of the music and the sound of cars whizzing down the street.
Nervous, she wasn’t sure the bouncer would give her the okay. She was much older than some of these club girls and despite spending $300 on her outfit and doing up her hair as sexily as possible, she knew most women here had youth, ponytails and libidinous appetite on their side. The kind of thing dickish bouncers approved of.
But she was determined to get in there, one way or another. She’d followed her sister’s ‘killer’, Matthew, for months now, getting to know his hang-outs and a few of his contacts and allies. This was her only means of cornering him and, if she was lucky, getting a better idea of what had made her sister so ill. If she had to charge her way past the bouncer or bribe him with $100, it didn’t matter. Laying eyes on Matthew was the most important thing right now.
But she was fortunate. As she and a group of three girls inched to the front of the line, a drunken club rat was arguing with being thrown out by one of the other bouncers. The door man was moderately distracted, his focus spread between the group of girls Ruth stood near and the belligerent jack-ass threatening to call the cops. Ruth got a pass and, after flashing her ID, slid into The Church like an unseen ghost.
Once inside, past coat check and cigarette machines, Ruth’s senses were blasted by the rich thump of the beat and the lightshow streaking from the DJ’s table. She slowly made her way, through drunken barflies and beefcake men, towards the bar… figuring a drink in hand would help her blend in and maybe make her feel less nervous. For five minutes she waved her arm, trying to snare the bartender’s attention. Once she had it, she barked out an order for Bloody Mary and after paying 7 bucks for what was mostly vodka, an old stick of celery and a little bit of mix, sidled back into the crowd.
Looking up, she noticed the balcony ‘pews’ of the club and the stairs from the main dance floor leading up to them. That had to be where the big spenders were. And if anyone bespoke flash and money, it was Matthew. She slipped through the bouncing mass to the bottom of the stairs leading up.
“Look… I’m just waiting for my girl, all right. I have fucking tickets” said a bald, slightly chubby gentlemen in his late 40s arguing with a bouncer.
“I certainly hope you do, sir” the bouncer sternly reminded him, his arms folded. “This section is for VIPs only. If you have a way in, I suggest you find your date and go to it. Hovering around this area is likely to get you asked to fuck off. Sir.”
The bouncer was a tall, extremely cut black man with a tattoo on his shaved head and a small scar on his chin. Ruth knew a golden opportunity when she saw one. Carefully, she sidled up to the 40 year old, delicately grabbed the gentleman’s arm and coyly whispered into his ear, “Need an escort?”
He looked up, more than a little surprised. And immediately smiled. “I do” he said. “I’m supposed to be waiting for someone. But she’s late, as always. Her loss, right?” He patted her hand on his arm. “Let’s get to know each other” he told her predatorily, reaching into his breast pocket and dealing out two tickets to the bouncer. “As I said… I was invited” he smugly announced and the pair of them paused as the bouncer unhooked the velvet rope, allowing them up the stairs.
He was a paunchy, sweaty little man. Ruth knew at first glance that the sooner she ditched him, the better off she’d be. But for now, it was best to tolerate his company and see how far it would get her. He complimented her dress and while he admitted she was older than most of the girls here (thanks), he much preferred older woman in bed. Because they knew what they were doing.
No damn wonder his date was so tardy.
Cresting the stairs, Ruth immediately noticed the difference in the balcony area. The bar stools and couches weren’t worn and haggard, like the thrift shop pickups that decked the first floor. And the people that mingled around here, laughing and sipping at their glasses, clearly weren’t the kind to wait in line outside. This was a pool of moneyed professionals and powerful interests, all having a good time on someone else’s dime.
It didn’t take her long to find Matthew among the throng, chatting up some brunette in a slinky dress. He lead the girl away from the crowd and Ruth, anxious to dump her escort, followed suit.