Night Out at Wrath’s
The bass pounded
stake deeper and deeper into his ear, and the strobes fired like machine guns
from the stage, filling the fog-filled club air with staccato lightning bolts.
disoriented as fuck
even before he accepted the little blue pill from his friend Dave. Dave was
shouting something about being too rigid, or being too hard on the world – it
was hard to hear the exact words over the THUMP-THUMP’ing of the electronica
music, but Simon figured that he got the gist.
the pill in his
mouth without looking, and chased it down his throat with some concoction
consisting of pineapple juice, maraschino cherry syrup, wine, vodka, and
schnapps. The drink was cloyingly sweet — typical for the kitchen sink
abominations served here — and Simon had to swallow twice to counter his gag
bar, the guy was
staring at him again.
The man in
question had no
business being in a place like Wrath’s. Most of the male clientele could be
comfortably separated into groups: Guys who wore stupid hats. Guys who looked
like Jesus, but with too much eye-liner. Guys with bad facial hair and no
eyebrows. Guys who wore tank tops and dog collars. Guys who looked like Edward
Scissorhands. Guys with fingerless gloves and mesh shirts. Guys who looked like
what would happen if Jesus and Edward Scissorhands had a love child.
was wearing a
shirt and tie. And Goddamned khakis. In fucking Wrath’s.
What the fuck
was he doing
It could have
been the drugs
talking — God knows that Simon was no stranger to chemically enhanced paranoia
— but he was definitely vibing some kind of ill intent coming from across the
bar. When the aged-out College Republican realized that he was found out and
that Simon was staring back at him, the prick quickly looked elsewhere to try
desperately to maintain his blown cover.
this,” Simon muttered to
himself. He left the main bar area and went downstairs to the dance floor,
where he figured he could lose the fucker in the sea of gyrations taking place
below street level.
what King of
the Yuppies wanted with him. His imagination went wild — one minute, he thought
the guy must be some elite hit man sent to kill him for an unknown offense
against a Russian mob czar, and the next, shirt-and-tie guy was just a lonely,
lost fucker looking to get a handjob from one of the rainbow-dreaded denizens
that frequented the club.
grinding on a woman who looked like a middle-aged Deb from Empire Records,
complete with grey shaved head. Her slender arms were raised towards the low
ceiling, baggy cardigan sleeves pooled in navy blue lagoons past her elbows,
her bony wrists bent as if the product of bad taxidermy.
Did the asshole
himself and went
to hide deeper into the crowd. He caught a glimpse of khaki in his periphery.
past a woman in a
sheer skirt and thigh-high leather boots, and an older guy with a handlebar
moustache, wearing a studded denim cutoff — the studs on his back spelled the
word “Daddy.” Shirt-and-Tie seemed like he was right on his heels.
behind the neon
drink sign at the end of the Basement Bar. He could swear he felt breath on the
back of his neck. He double-backed on his path. He looked around and didn’t see
any sign of his pursuer.
ended, and the hunter had disappeared into thin air.
the sudden urge to
piss hit Simon like a wrecking ball to the groin.
forgot about the
suburban ghost of Christmas Future, and Simon made a bee-line for the men’s
room. He unzipped his jeans and stood in front of the urinal.
when the khakis
the fuck do you want
from me?!” shouted Simon, turning to face his nemesis.
you the Simon Roberts,
who lives at 317 Chestnut Street?”
stunned. “... how do
you know where I live?” he asked, frightened.
were involved in a fender
bender with a Mazda last week, and you left the scene. Cameras outside the building
caught you on video...”
been served,” said the
button-down menace, a piece of court documentation dangling from outstretched
fingers as he extended his hand forward.
Simon was being
served, that’s when Dave’s little blue pill kicked in. Blood flowed
involuntarily. Tissues subconsciously stiffened.
the men’s room, engorged
member in hand, Simon had no idea what to say, but “sorry” as he awkwardly
tried to stuff the trouser snake back in its cage.
dropped. He flung the papers and fled, Simon’s continued fumbled apologies
trailing after him out the door.
The next day,
Rob Smith quit
his uncle’s law firm of Smith, Collins, Friedberg, LLC. Months later, he would
tearfully come out to his mother, who always kind of suspected it and told her
son that the family would love him, no matter what.
the process server
lives in Vermont with his husband. They sell beeswax candles and other assorted
tchotchkes from a roadside gift shop. He has mostly moved past the trauma of
that fateful night in the nightclub, when, as he tells it, he was “almost violated
by an over-sexed Goth Satanist with a raging hard-on and fire in his eyes.” When
he tells the story, he emphasizes that
he barely escaped with his life and virginity intact, but that the fear of
being found out for his secret desires led him to have the courage to live a
more authentic life.
As for Simon,
taking the little blue pills offered up by his friend Dave — or at the very least;
Simon now remembers to inspect them before he chases them with the Franken-drinks
they serve at Wrath’s.
Butkowski is a writer of crime fiction and an eater of tacos who lives in
Central New Jersey. His short fiction has appeared in Shotgun
Honey, Out of the Gutter, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama
and Story and Grit magazines. He’s a co-host of the Asbury
Park Noir at the Bar reading series, and has self-published two short story
anthologies through his neo-pulp imprint, Episodes from the Zero Hour!.
He’s also an editor at Rock and a Hard Place magazine, a
multi-genre journal of dark fiction. You can find his work online at http://rexrockwell.wordpress.com, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Jason.Butkowski.Author/.
Sean O’Keefe is an artist and writer living
in Roselle Park, NJ. Sean attended Syracuse University where he earned his BFA
in Illustration. After graduation, Sean moved to New York City where he spent
time working in restaurants and galleries while pursuing various artistic opportunities.
After the birth of his children, Sean and family move to Roselle Park in 2015.
He actively participates in exhibitions and art fairs around New Jersey,
and is continuing to develop his voice as a writer. His work can be found online
at www.justseanart.com and @justseanart on Instagram.