The Game Ch. 07 Pt. 02bySara and Ron©
For those of you who have been waiting for the next part of the story, I have decided to post the first half of Chapter Seven Part 2. My apologies for the delay, but life sometimes intrudes. I hope you enjoy, and please do send me feedback. I love reading it.
Chapter 7 Pt. 2: X
The shadows began getting long around 7:00 pm in Chicago even though sunset was still technically over an hour away. I was standing in my bedroom in a nothing but a towel staring at my closet wondering what did a 30 something woman wear to a 20 something club. Fuck how did I get old?
As I selected and discarded my third outfit Rachel came out of her room and into mine. She apparently had no such dilemma. I turned and almost did not recognize her. She was wearing black fish net stockings that outlined her tanned sensual legs and disappeared under a black skirt that was barely able to function as much more than a belt. She wore a thin white "wife beater" tank top with no bra, but covered that with a silky maroon blouse that also was nearly see through. Her make up was applied thicker than usual giving her usually innocent looking eyes an appearance of worldly experience and hardness.
"Holy shit," I said.
She grinned at me and through her outward appearance I could see the glow of her true self come through. "You like?" she asked.
"Where in God's name did you get that get up? I know your mother didn't buy THAT for you.," I said.
Rachel giggled and said, "No mom would freak. But I went out one night with a friend who took me shopping on the miracle mile. I couldn't afford anything there so we stopped by this store she sometimes goes to and found this. I bought it more to make her happy than really for me, but tonight it seemed appropriate."
"And who is this friend?" I asked not recalling her telling me about a new girlfriend.
"Oh just a girl I met at work." She said. "She is kind of wild and has been trying to get me to go out with her and her friends, but I have always said, 'no'."
"I see." I said wondering if that would continue.
"What are you gonna wear?" she asked me staring over my shoulder at my array of casual and work clothes. Apparently I had somehow phased the 'going out to get laid' section of my wardrobe out over the last couple of years.
Rachel giggled and began pulling clothes out of the closet and discarding them much like I had been doing, but at a much faster rate.
Finally I/we settled on a black skirt that was too short for my usual tastes, but still longer than Rachel's, a red silk shirt, a push up bra, and a pair of red thong underwear. I put on the clothes and was reminded of how I felt in St. Louis some months ago when Michelle had dressed me for a strip club. I recalled that night had also started out with a phone call to call off work. What the fuck was I doing?
When we our outfits were complete, Rachel poured us both a double shot of Absolute Vodka that was in my freezer and the immediate burn in my stomach slowly turned to a relaxed and giddy feeling that only alcohol can provide.
Rachel picked up her camera off the table and checked the film and some settings and said, "Ready?"
"Well I guess I am as ready as I will ever be." I replied truthfully, not sure if I was ready or not.
We hailed a cab and within 15 minutes were on the beach at Lake Michigan witnessing an amazing sunset. Rachel snapped a few shots of the skyline and continuously fiddled with the variety of settings on her camera. I watched her work silently, and her face was hard and intense like I had never seen it. She worked the camera across the skyline, pausing to change lenses every few minutes.
I watched her work with professional intensity. She was clearly passionate about her work and handled her camera with the mastery of long practice. I enjoyed this side of her and respected the skill and ambition with which she plied her trade.
When she finished she looked up and me and smiled. "How about a shot of you?" she asked swinging the camera my direction. Gone was the professional intensity and her eyes sparkled with humor, much like a professional basketball player who was playing a game of horse in his old neighborhood.
I smiled and the camera clicked. "Turn toward the water." she commanded, and I did. "Click" the camera went again and I giggled feeling a little self conscious. I twirled once letting my blond hair whip around my shoulder as the camera clicked on. I was enjoying myself now and struck a variety of poses for Rachel who was also smiling and giggling as she snapped more shots of me.
The camera made a spinning sound and I knew the roll was finished. Rachel waited for the rewinding film to stop and deftly plucked it out of the back of the camera and reloaded with another, quickly and efficiently, like a soldier reloading a weapon.
She snapped the cover closed and said, "Let's go have some fun."
We walked up Lake Shore Drive and hailed a cab. It was 8:48 by my watch when we stepped out of the cab 14 blocks north and 8 blocks west in front of "X." It was not a tall building by Chicago standards, and from the outside it looked almost like a warehouse. The last of the sun was fading and the neon "X" that blazed white against the dark bricks above a single door was the only indication that something other than rats inhabited the building.
I drew in a deep breath and had a sudden sense of foreboding. I was not sure why, but Rachel apparently did not feel it. She was out of the cab and on the third step up carrying her camera bag before I could pay the driver and follow. I caught her just before she entered and grabbed her right arm above the elbow.
"Are you sure you want to go in there?" I asked.
She looked at me with wide innocent eyes and then smiled. "Sure why not?"
I shook my head and tried to let go of the heebie jeebies I felt and wondered why I was being so skittish. "No reason. Nevermind." I said not entirely successful in letting go of my feelings, but unable to place a finger on why I felt so anxious.
Rachel looked at me a moment longer and then said, "Let's go."
She opened the door and I followed her in.
The first thing that I noticed was that it was dark. Not black, but dark. My eyes slowly adjusted and I could hear music throbbing away somewhere deeper inside the building. Just inside the vestibule was a large black man in a tuxedo. He was easily six and a half feet tall and must have tipped the scales at well over 300 pounds. He was not fat; he was big. His bald head held piercing black eyes of a predator. A single diamond stud ear ring decorated his right earlobe. He wore a black tuxedo over a white shirt that was so bright in the place that it seemed to glow. His shoulders were broad and his body looked as if it might be carved out of a piece of stone. He did not move when we entered, but I could feel his eyes moving over us appraisingly.
"Good Evening Ladies." He said in perfect English. When he spoke a single gold tooth gleamed in the right side of his mouth. This had both the effect of making him look more sophisticated as well as harder than before if this was possible. I smiled nervously. Rachel did likewise. This was one hard case, and I would feel sorry for the person stupid enough to cross this guy.
"Hi," Rachel said smiling. "Can we come in?" she asked.
The black man smiled slowly at her and said, "The cover is $20.00."
Rachel handed him two twenty dollar bills and he stared at us again questioningly and then shook his head. He stepped aside and unbuckled a velvet rope that hung between two brass poles protecting a staircase leading down into darkness.
"You ladies have a good time." the doorman said as we passed. He was obviously a bouncer and also probably security, but his perfect diction and graceful elegance with which he carried himself only added to my nervousness although I still didn't know why.
Later I would wonder if when we crossed that velvet rope was when the trouble began or if it had been sooner than that even. I would never know, but the consequences would be larger than either I or Rachel would have ever imagined.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"X" was an assault on the senses in every way, and I was once again reminded of my trip to St. Louis with Michelle. The basement we stepped into at the bottom of the stairs was filled with smoke and from the smell of it, not all of it was from cigarettes. The room was expansive, and the warehouse feel was accurate. There was a bar running 50 feet the length of the short side of the room. The room was only half full as it was still very early for the type of crowd this place attracted and I wondered if we would still be here in the short hours of the morning when this place really cranked up.
The only lights were black lights over the bar with a few pin lights on the various bottles. The rest of the room was lit by colored disco lights hanging from the ceiling. The floor was tiered on many levels to break the size of the room into smaller, more eye pleasing spaces that felt more intimate. The bar was on a raised platform that allowed those sitting at it to see over the sea of people. At the other end was a stage although it was currently being used as a dance floor. It was Sunday night after all. Above it were two platforms that stood 10 feet off the ground where two round, human sized, bird cages hung suspended. They were empty now, but I could see scantily clad women dancing in them over the hundreds dancing below in my mind's eye.
The overall effect was to create an underground club so cliché that it could be on a movie set. And what made it even more absurd was the clientele. This was not an underground sub culture rave hangout. It was a bar that offered young professionals a place to pretend they were part of that sub culture. It was an illusion: a fraud.
So of course it was the most popular place in town with the 20 something crowd that had enough money to spend to come here. The irony was that the subculture they were pretending to identify with by coming here could never afford the cover and drink prices. I smiled to myself at the absurdity of it. This place was built on the young professional's fantasy of rebellion. And here I was with Rachel.
Now I understood the big black guy out front. The elegant dress and polite manners were all there for the rich yuppies along with the fantasy of a big black dude there to keep the peace. He was window dressing for the customers and security for what the customers would consider scumbags (or people who had mistaken this club for the true underground).
This was beyond ironic. The club had a bouncer to keep out people who were really a part of the sub culture that the yuppie elite were trying to pretend they were. It was a joke that no one around me seemed to get.
I wondered how many of these 'hardcore partiers' would wake up tomorrow and put on a suit or dress and go to an office only to worry about the weekly report that was due or the email they got from their boss last Friday demanding that their productivity increase.
Were these people here just to escape reality and to pretend they were free from their lives if only for a little while? I suspected they were. I glanced around and took in the people around me. They certainly didn't dress like the office crowd. Rachel and I had dressed conservatively compared to some of the women. The men were mostly dressed in black and some wore dark makeup under their eyes, but there was something else too.
I looked again to confirm my suspicions and was pleased to see I was right. No one had any obvious tattoos. I saw a few butterflies on ankles or hearts on hips, but nothing overt that could not be covered up. Very few eyebrow or lip piercing either. These were most definitely wannabes.
At the realization, I smiled outwardly.
"What?" Rachel asked seeing me smile.
"Nothing hun. Let's go party." I said feeling much better about this place. This was about as authentic as a cocktail party on Michigan Avenue, but what the hell it might be fun.
I followed Rachel to the bar and after she flashed her ID at the guy behind the bar who didn't look of age himself. Then we were doing another shot of vodka followed by a screwdriver served in plastic glasses. I knew I wouldn't last long at this rate of alcohol consumption, but fuck it I wouldn't mind leaving a little early anyway.
Rachel and I took up a spot across from the bar near the ledge that overlooked the dance floor. I noticed Rachel's eyes scanning the crowd a little more than casually. 'So we aren't here to pick up boys, but to meet one boy in particular', I thought and suddenly I understood. Rachel hoped someone she was interested in would show up here tonight. That's why she wanted to go out on a Sunday. That's why she blushed so fiercely when I teased her about needing to get laid. I smiled inwardly again. This club really was enlightening if nothing else.
About ½ an hour later we were still standing by the bar on our second round of drinks. The crowd was picking up a little, but it was still relatively early. I leaned into Rachel to ask her something when a voice behind us said, "Rachel?."
We both turned and saw a young man of perhaps 25 standing there. Rachel smiled awkwardly and waved. The man came toward us dressed in a black leather jacket over a white t-shirt. He had black jeans and stood about 6 feet tall. He had dark short hair and penetrating brown eyes. His body was lean and muscular, but not overly so. He probably weighed about 180 pounds. He held a cigarette in his right hand clumsily, and my impression was that it was more for show than anything else.
'So this is what this trip is all about.' I thought and could definitely understand Rachel's attraction. I hypothesized that this was a work friend.
"Hi!" Rachel said a little more than casually as if she had been waiting for him to show up.
"What's going on? What are you doing here?" Mr. tall dark and handsome asked as he approached us.
"Oh nothing. Just hanging out." Rachel said feigning indifference.
I watched the transparent exchange between the two with the amused eyes of someone 15 years Rachel's senior and I was forced once again to remember that she was only a 18 year old kid. Jesus this was what passed for flirting.
Rachel and 'the boy' as I came to think of him, exchanged pleasantries and I overheard enough to realize that he was indeed a work acquaintance of Rachel's. After a few more seconds of waiting to be introduced I cleared my throat next to Rachel who seemingly had forgotten I existed.
"Oh my God, I'm sorry." She stammered. "This is my friend Sara."
I noticed that I had been relegated to friend instead of aunt with a bit of irritation, but I hid it well. "Nice to meet you." I said.
"And this is Chad Peterson, a friend of mine from work.," she continued saying his name with a bit of awe in her voice.
I shook hands with Chad who eyed me up and down in a way I didn't much care for. "Nice to meet you Sara." he said smiling at me with a grin that was as fake as costume jewelry. I wondered if the way he was looking at me was how a mouse might feel staring into a snake's eyes a minute before it was lunch.
I returned his smile with an empty one of my own.
Rachel continued by saying, "Chad works in the department across the hall from mine. He is in print." I had no idea what it meant to be in print, but nodded as if she had just told me he was Jesus Christ's personal assistant.
Chad turned back to Rachel. "So you decided to run with the wolves and try out 'X' huh?" he asked.
I rolled my eyes but thankfully neither saw me. Was this fucking guy for real? 'Run with the wolves'? What the fuck did that mean and who did he think he was Tarzan?
Rachel smiled demurely and I was stunned to see her actually falling for this line of bullshit. How could she be so naïve? Her perception skills need a tune up if she couldn't see through this wind bag.
Chad continued, "Yeah I like to come here once a month or so. It keeps me in touch with what it's like to be real you know? I mean come on those drones in the office would freak in a place like this. But it's cool, you know. These people can relate down here, but you can't fuck with them. That's for sure. They'd eat those fuckers in the towers we work in for breakfast."
'What a jack ass', I thought, but Rachel only nodded.
"Well thanks for telling me about this place, I thought I would come down and check it out."
"No problem babe.," Chad said, "Just hang with me and you'll be fine." And then he bent down toward her conspiratorially as if to impart some great secret, but he said it loud enough for me to hear. "I know people here. Important people who like make the world spin.," he grinned and added, "Sometimes we help each other out. I might not be in my job long if things go well."
I tried not to laugh. I really did, but the corners of my mouth turned up slightly. He must have noticed because the line of bullshit stopped immediately and Chad glared at me as if daring me to challenge his words.
"I need a drink." he announced. "Rachel if you want, we can hang out in a bit. I have to go see some people."
I noticed he did not offer to bring us or at least Rachel a drink. 'Rude and full of shit', I thought.
"Okay sure." Rachel replied not noticing the edge in his voice.
He turned and walked away toward the bar.
I turned away from him not trusting myself not to burst out in laughter at any moment. So this is the big crush. Chad the pissant. Chad from down the hall who is in 'print'. Chad who knows 'people'. In other words Chad the Dickhead bullshit artist who thinks he's a big fish or on his way to becoming one anyway.
What the fuck was Rachel thinking? This guy was 90% bullshit and 10% con man. But he was attractive. There was no denying that. In fact he was a little more than attractive, he was hot. Rachel was not the first 18 year old to let a line of bullshit and a pretty face talk her into doing some pretty fucked up shit.
I remembered my first crush like that. I was 18 and I was so in love with this 23 year old that was 'oh so mature' (or at least he was in my head). My relationship consisted of him fucking me in his car twice a week because he lived in his parent's basement and had no job. I also remember it ended when he asked me if I wanted to go on a camping trip with him and his friends only to find out that I was supposed to be the sexual entertainment for the weekend. I remember kicking him in the balls when he wanted me to suck his cock in front of his friends and then making him drive me two hours home.
What a winner. Just like Chad.
Rachel turned to me and squeezed my upper arm, "So what do you think? Isn't he hot?" she asked genuinely grinning.
I smiled and tried not to let my own feelings show through too much. "Very." I replied. "So are you two going out?"
"Well no, but at least he knows I'm alive. He is the one who told me about this place and how it's where all the Chicago underground hangs out. He's really connected with the social scene and he knows all sorts of people." She said this last part in a whisper implying the sorts of people he knows might be dangerous.
I understood a lot more now. Rachel had probably fantasized about Chicago for years and knew there was a seedy side to the city that she had only come in contact with through newspapers and television. The thought of exploring Chicago's 'dark side' was exciting to her.
Then out of the blue, here comes Chad, a handsome guy from the city who claims to be 'connected'. She was not the first young woman to be seduced by a scuz-ball like Chad, but all in all he probably was harmless. He was just some prick who had convinced himself he was important and liked to play at being connected. He probably watched 'Goodfellows' twice a week. The reality of the Chicago crime scene, at least the organized part, was not really as dramatic as the movies and the news made it out to be.