Gary stopped the car in front of LaSin. The building lost a lot of it’s mojo during the daylight hours. Without the red silk rope adorned with bouncers and partiers left the place looking sad and old like the factory it used to be. Pigs and pearls came to mind to Dan.
“I’m assuming he’ll be here,” Gary said as he opened his door.
Dan got out of the car. “Yeah, he should be. He wants to make sure the inside is ready for tonight. They have live bands on Mondays, so he has them pull out the stage and do sound checks all day. Jorge doesn’t like leaving anything to chance.”
“Sometimes I think you have too much connection with the guy,” Gary observed. “You need to realize if you dance with the devil you’re going to give him his due.”
“He and I have a lot in common.” Dan rubbed his shoulder. It had been bothering him all morning and the aspirin he had taken wasn’t really touching the pain.
The front door was open and the sound of microphone feedback pierced the daylight. Gary noticed Dan favoring his arm. “Are you okay?” Gary asked
“I’m fine. Loud noises don’t bother me much,” Dan replied.
“No man, your shoulder. Did you ever go to the hospital?” asked Gary
Dan shrugged, then winced. “Nah, it’s just sore. A couple of days and I’ll be as good as new.”
Inside the club was down right cavernous without the partiers. The stage now took up the left hand side of the dance floor. The roadies were still setting up the amplifiers and lights that would make most touring rock bands jealous. This is the one place where the local bands could play and feel like they were the rock start they dreamed of being.
Gary didn’t let it go. “You know you’ve probably got rabies. Next you’re going to give it to me.”
Dan looked around the floor and didn’t see Jorge. He did notice that Jorge’s door was cracked open. “He’s here. Come on.” Dan descended the stairs down to the dance floor with Gary in tow.
“Are you even listening to me?” asked Gary.
“Nope,” Dan answered simply. “And that would mean I would have to bite you. There’s not a chance in hell that’s happening.”
One of the roadies saw the two of them and moved to intercept. Dan recognized him as the bouncer from Friday night. “Got you pulling double duty? I thought bouncers all had day jobs.”
The bouncer relaxed a bit. “This is my day job. Besides, my band is playing tonight, Pynk Tye.”
“Really?” Dan asked. “What do you play?”
“I’m bass guitar and lead vocals,” The bouncer said. “Think blues with a double dose of funk.”
Gary moved slightly between the Dan and the bouncer. “That’s really nice and all, but we have like police work to do.”
Dan shrugged. “I’ve got to apologize for him. He doesn’t get music.”
The bouncer smiled. “No problem man. I just ask if you’re going to shut the place down again you do it after our gig.”
“I’ll try man, but no promises.” Dan grabbed the bouncer’s hand and gave him a slap on the back. The bouncer winced. “You okay?”
“Yeah, just a sore spot. Nothing much really. Anyhow, I’ve got to run.” The bouncer moved away quicker than he had come over, and that bothered Dan a bit.
“So I don’t appreciate music now?” asked Gary.
Dan stared at the bouncer and now that he paid attention to him Dan noticed that the bouncer was moving pretty stiffly. Almost like he had been in a pretty tough fight, but nothing much seemed visible. As a matter of fact, that was how Dan felt. Dan mentally shrugged. They were both tough guys and had to keep up that image, no matter what the pain. Then again the bouncer’s band was named Pynk Tye? Really?
Gary waved his hand in front of Dan’s face. “Hello there. Anyone home?”
“Sorry about that. I was just thinking.”
“There’s a first time for everything.”
Dan didn’t honor the comment with a response. Instead he made a beeline for the stairway leading to Jorge’s office. Gary almost had to run to catch up. They fell into lockstep as they exited the stairway and walked along the crosswalk. Just before Dan reached for the door it swung in and Jorge emerged, dressed in a stained white shirt and chinos. He stood before them, reeking of the tequila that was missing from the almost empty bottle in his hand.
“My favorite asshole friend and his asshole friend.” Jorge swayed perilously on the crosswalk. He attempted to point at Gary. “Does that make you twice the asshole, twice the friend, or both?”
That got to Gary, but Dan gave him the drop it look. He turned his attention back to Jorge. “I enjoy a drink as much as the next guy, but four fifths of tequila before ten?”
“Soon you’ll be joining me my friend. Soon.” Jorge stumbled against the railing of the crosswalk again.”
“Let’s go back in your office before something bad happens.”
“What can go worse?” asked Jorge. Jorge dropped his bottle down to the bar below, shattering it, sending shards out wide. Jorge leaned precariously over the railing. “Clean that up! We’ve got customers tonight,” he yelled to the people working on the stage.
Dan grabbed Jorge and helped him stand back up. “Now that’s the Jorge I’m used to. Let’s go have a chat.”
Gary moved into the office and held the door open. Dan guided Jorge to his throne behind the table. Dan noticed that the bandage on Jorge was gone, but the wound still looked bad, a piece of his forearm missing. Dan’s hand drifted to his shoulder, doubt and fear creeping in.
Jorge reached into a drawer and pulled out another bottle of tequila. “Would you boys care to join me?”
Gary took the bottle from Jorge. “Man, you need help.”
Jorge tried to grab the bottle, but Gary kept it out of reach. “Double the asshole,” he said bitterly. He then reached into the drawer and removed another bottle.
Dan sat down across from Jorge and looked him in the eye. “What ever trouble you think you’re in we can help. Don’t do this man.”
Jorge’s laugh had a bitter hollow tone that was almost more gut wrenching then if he had broken down to cry. “You really believe that?” With shaking hands he opened the bottle.
Dan nodded. “I do. Come on man, help us. It’s that guy that bit me the other night, right?”
Jorge looked Dan deep in his eyes, the bottle forgotten for the moment. “Have you started having the dreams?”
Gary groaned. “He’s lost it Dan. We should bring him in and dry him out.”
Dan didn’t respond, dumbfounded and stumbling to put two thoughts together. Jorge saw it immediately. “You did. He’s going to take you apart as he sucks you dry. I tried to stop you, to save you.”
Jorge went back into his desk and took out a revolver.
Gary immediately pulled his firearm. “Gun down and on the floor!”
Dan held up his hands, trying to calm down the situation. “Gary ease up.”
Dan yelled, “Gary! Stop!”
Jorge looked down the barrel. “If I had shot you I could have saved you. You were always my favorite asshole.”
Gary moved closer. “Drop the weapon!”
Dan quickly snatched the gun away from Jorge. Jorge looked at him with such sad eyes. “Should have shot you.” With that he put his head on the desk and fell asleep.
Gary took out his cuffs but now it was Dan’s turn to get mad. “Put those things away! He wasn’t going to shoot.”
“How the hell did you know?” Gary asked.
“It’s a stupid prop gun. He kept it up here as backup for stupid thugs.” Dan put the tequila bottles back in the drawer and ruffled Jorge’s hair, still thinking about the comment about the dreams.
Gary opened the chamber of Jorge’s gun and ejected a bullet. “Looks like another great piece of detective work Sherlock effing Holmes. That wasn’t a prop. We’re bringing him.”
Dan slammed his fist on the desk. “No, we’re not. He didn’t mean it.”
“He pulled a gun on two officers,” Gary answered with quiet anger. “What didn’t he mean?”
Dan ran his hands threw his hair. “Look, cut him some slack! He got bit too. See?” Dan pulled up Jorge’s arm and showed Gary the bite.
“And what the hell is that supposed to mean?” asked Gary.
Dan shrugged heavily. “Look, I don’t know. I’ve got to think.”
Dan tried walking out of the room but Gary grabbed him. “There’s some weird shit going on here. I’m your partner and I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, but if you don’t start explaining soon.” He left the rest of the sentence unsaid, but it hung heavy in the air.
Dan looked at Gary’s hand and Gary let go. Dan murmured, “He knew about the dreams.” and then walked out of the office.
Gary followed. “What dreams?” Dan ignored the question and continued, a man on a mission, and his mission was to get out of there. Gary fell into silent stride beside him, wanting to ask more, but waiting, hoping Dan would let more come forth.
Halfway across the floor Dan found his attention drawn to the bodyguard working on the stage and the slow shaking of the bodyguard’s head made Dan stumble. Gary caught him, but it barely slowed Dan on his march out.
Dan felt if the room was closing in on him. Claustrophobia was never one of his foils, and to feel it in such a cavernous place would have made him laugh if he wasn’t experiencing it himself. The goal was sunshine, a cleansing daylight that would banish the panic away. Up the stairs he climbed, up out of the murk and dark and wave after wave of despair and helplessness he was feeling.
Emerging out onto the street helped relieve the pressure of the emotions he was feeling, but only some. The waves still threatened to pull him under, but he felt his emotional legs growing stronger against the ragged surf. He looked around taking everything in to root him even further in the moment. He ended his circuit looking at a very concerned Gary.
“You okay there?” Gary asked. “You’re starting to make me nervous.”
Dan closed his eyes and counted to ten silently.
Dan opened his eyes, the panic storm over leaving him a bit weak in the knees, but otherwise still standing. “I’m okay now. It’s just I’ve been having dreams about the guy who bit me. Then hearing Jorge talk about the dreams.” Talking about it under the sun made the experience sound silly, even to his own ears.
Gary kept quiet for a moment before answering. “I can see where that might freak you out, but you do realize that it’s all a coincidence.”
Dan headed for the car. “Yeah, but what if it’s not?”
Gary unlocked the car and they both got in. “Hey, maybe it’s a form of PTSD. I heard that nightmares are part of that.”
Dan didn’t look fully convinced. “From one bite? I’ve been shot, stabbed, and used as a human punch dummy more times than I could count. You would think that was more stressful.”
“Maybe,” Gary said, “but I’m not an expert.” Gary then grinned a foolish me grin.
Dan started to get a bit pissed off. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Gary shook off his smile. “Sorry, just a wise ass comment I had to swallow.”
“If you do that you’ll choke and I’m not giving you the Heimlich. What was it?” Dan asked.
Gary glanced at Dan. “Just thinking you could answer the biting thing with trying to contact Evander Holyfield.”
Dan groaned. “That’s about the most pitiful thing I’ve ever heard.”
“I hope not,” Gary retorted.
Gary smirked. “We get to talk to Luigi next.”