Party in Perdition – Part 1
January 18, 2011 in Wordsmoker Short Fiction
Leila allowed the voices and music from the club to fade into the background as she had done every Friday night for so many years. The air vibrated with the heavy bass beats that shook the reinforced walls of Perdition while she paced like a caged animal in the parking lot, waiting for Michael to arrive.
Where is he? She wondered to herself for the hundredth time in an hour. He should have been here by now. Bobby had come outside between bands to grab a second pack of blueberry cloves from the car and had stopped by Leila on his way back inside.
“Come on in, sweetie,” he said to her gently, his slight southern accent more noticeable now that he’d had a few drinks. “You know a watched pot never boils.”
“That may be,” she had replied, “but I’d much rather the water just get hot every once in a while.” Bobby had nodded in understanding and went back inside. She had only half-heartedly agreed to come out to Perdition tonight anyway. It was more of a favor to Ben, who had convinced her of the need for his band to have groupies, even if it was, as he had put it, her boring ass. She had laughed at the fact that he could call her boring with a straight face and agreed to show up.
So far, however, she’d only made it as far as the bar before she had turned around and walked back outside to wait for Michael. Leila looked down at her watch and saw it was now almost 1 a.m. Despite the late hour, the air still hung heavy and humid around her, making her skin feel damp and clammy. Bobby walked back outside and gently rested his hand on her shoulder.
“He’s not coming, Lei. Why don’t you come inside and get warm?” He felt the tension drain out of her shoulders as she looked down at the ground. “You know Ben is about to take the stage. I bet he’ll play your song for you if you ask him.”
“No.” She turned to face him. “I won’t need Ben to play me any special songs. I’m fine.” She took Bobby’s arm as he led her back into the club. The inside of the club was drastically cooler than the air outside but thick with smoke from various sources. Leila coughed lightly as the first cloud of smoke hit her lungs.
“Think they fogged the place up enough tonight?” she joked to Bobby.
“Nah,” Bobby replied. “We should buy Chris two more smoke machines as a gift for this place. “ Leila laughed at the thought of more smoke machines as she pushed a stray strand of raven hair back behind her ear.
“Yes, more smoke machines is exactly what Chris needs,” she heard behind her.
“Chris, dear, you shouldn’t listen in on your customer’s conversations. You’ll ruin all our fun by spoiling the surprise.” She smiled as she turned and gave him a hug.
“Lei, there are very few things left that you could do that would possibly surprise me,” Chris said, with a laugh.
“I don’t doubt that, Chris,” Leila agreed. “However, it would be nice to be able to surprise you sometimes.”
Chris laughed and walked towards Bobby and Leila. Of all his regular patrons, she was one of the few who he genuinely enjoyed visiting with.
“Where is Michael this evening? I thought you two were attached at the hip these days.”
Leila shrugged and looked past him to the front door. “I don’t know. I was just waiting for him but Bobby here came out and informed me that my groupie status was about to be in jeopardy if I didn’t come in and see Ben play. “
“I still don’t know why I even let that troublemaker into my club, but if you are his groupie, I guess I can’t kick him out.”
Leila lightly slapped his shoulder and grinned at him. “Chris, you are insane. You know Ben loves to play for your captive audience.”
Chris affected a hurt look before grinning back at her. “Just think of Perdition as the new ‘Hotel California.’”
The pounding beats of KMFDM faded off into nothingness as Leila grabbed Chris with her free hand. “Come on,” she said, pulling him along beside her as she began walking towards the stage area. “You need to watch some of what you keep paying for. “
“I pay too much. Ben drinks more than he plays.”
Leila took a measured look at Chris. “I do hope you are kidding with me. I know he’s been having issues with Sasha lately, but I didn’t think it had driven him to the point of alcoholism.”
Chris stopped Leila and walked her back out to the entrance of the club. “Sweetie,” he said gently. “He tapped two kegs just getting through soundcheck.”
Leila looked down, her hair forming a dark shield for her face. Ben was her friend but she couldn’t just sit back and watch him kill himself with alcohol, especially over someone like Sasha. Leila had never liked the girl but had always kept her opinions to herself out of respect for her friendship with Ben.
“I’ll make sure he gets home safely tonight. If you’ll keep his keys in the safe until morning, I can get Alex to snag them while the band is breaking down after the club closes. If he keeps going the way he did during soundcheck, chances are he won’t remember tonight anyway.”
Leila looked up, careful to wipe the tears from her face before she pushed the hair back behind her ears, losing her one form of protection from public emotion.
Chris and Leila walked together onto the club’s dance floor. Bobby casually leaned against the bar watching Ben sway in place as he tried to remember the words to the song he was singing. Out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of Chris and Leila and raised a hand for Chris. Nodding an acknowledgement to Bobby, Chris took Leila’s arm and started to guide her through the crowd towards the bar.
“How does he look to you?” Leila asked as soon as she was within his hearing.
“Like he’s going to puke on everyone that is at the front of the stage the next time he opens his mouth.”
Leila grimaced and looked towards the stage and Ben. She could see that what Bobby had just said was true, that Ben might very well revisit all his drinks from earlier in the night. Leila silently hoped it was just how he looked and that he wasn’t actually going to vomit. She liked her Jetta to smell like the leather seats, not vomit and alcohol.
“How far into the set are they?”
“Only a few songs. Ben was running behind and Alex covered for him until he could find his way to the stage,” Shea answered from behind Leila. She had wandered down to where Bobby, Chris and Leila were standing, having no other customers at the bar besides them. Shea sighed and glared at the stage. “That boy needs to lay off the booze before he does something stupid or worse.”
The combined laughter of Chris, Bobby and Leila to Shea’s remark made a strange counter to the scream that was the intro to Ben’s next song. “How long ago did you cut him off without his knowledge, Shea?” Chris asked, knowing how devious his bartender could be when she decided that someone had had enough for the night.
“His last two have been Diet Cokes. He’s so trashed he didn’t even notice that they weren’t rum and Cokes, just accused me of watering down the rum. Like I would do something so vile to the Captain,” Shea laughed. “No matter how many diets he drinks he’s still not going to be in any shape to drive home. I’d be willing to bet my tips tonight that he started that party before he even came.”
Leila’s eyes swept back towards Ben as Chris put a hand on her shoulder. “Shea, Leila is going to give Ben a ride home tonight. She’s going to get Alex to help take his keys and we’ll lock them in the safe with the till. She’s just waiting for the band to take a break.”
Shea looked thoughtfully towards the stage and Alex. She knew her boyfriend would do anything to keep his best friend and lead singer out of the morgue. “I am taking some water up in another song or two for the ones who aren’t trying to secure a spot on a liver transplant list. I can relay the message to Alex when I hand him the water.”
“That would be great Shea, thank you,” Leila responded without taking her eyes off Ben. I can’t keep doing this she thought to herself. I am going to go crazy between dealing with my drama and having to put up with Ben’s.
Shea noticed the blank, absent look on Leila’s face and recognized it for what it was. She gave a meaningful look at Chris, raised an eyebrow and nodded in the direction of Leila and then the bar stash behind her. Chris returned the look with a nod and leaned over so only Shea could hear what he was saying. “One won’t hurt and it’ll be out of her system before she goes to leave anyway.”
Shea closed her eyes and took a deep breath as she turned to her bottles. Almost absently she picked up the liquors that made up Leila’s favorite drink. Just from the look that Chris had given her, Shea knew that a shot was going to be out of the question. Shea turned back to where Leila was standing and placed the Purple Haze next to her hand and gently touched her shoulder.
“Some nights, hon, you need a little help to forget that some people exist.”
Leila grabbed the glass and slammed the whole drink as if it had been a single shot. Shea winced, thinking of all the good liquor that had just gone untasted.
“Yeah, Shea, but sometimes they refuse to leave your head no matter what you do.”
“In that case, sweetie, you have two choices.” Shea slammed a shot of whiskey and looked Leila squarely in the eye. “You can either ignore them and fight the feelings until they finally leave or you can go fuck them silly until you grow bored with it.”
“Yeah,” Leila smiled sarcastically. “Either way, someone gets fucked ’til the end.”
Stay tuned for Party in Perdition – Part 2, coming soon!