The Meat Market

Nick Sakaki had finished the last of the clean-up, set up the laptop as instructed by his new employer, and had the innards of the office sealed as tight as a drum against encroaching light.  It had been a long day and something kept tugging at him.  He knew where his new employer would be; he’d suggested a place that he trusted, knew the bartender there Viktor to be a good reliable person.  He considered the place safe.  But what it needed to protect against, he still didn’t know.  Sophie had promised to clue him in now that his statement of work was signed off.

 He should just wait until morning.  He still had to pick up his last bartending check at Jerry’s but then the Ice Lounge was a quick swing out of the way of his parent’s place in the International District.  It was really no trouble to stop by and check, make sure she made her appointment all right.  I mean, he was her new assistant, right?  He’s just being thorough.

 He bounded down the stairs with such purpose that he failed to see Oksana, the eldest daughter of the Russian deli owner until he was literally bumping into her as she stepped out of the shadows.

 “Hello,” she purred.

 “Shit!”  He took in her appearance in a hot instant:  trashy, skimpy outfit, fuck me boots, black stockings showing underneath her too short skirt.  But it was her face that turned up his caution:  she looked strung out, pupils too big, eyes too dark, mouth messily stained with dark red lipstick, hanging open almost unnaturally.  “Sorry, you startled me.”

 “Well, you’re a pretty one.”  She took in a long inhale as she casually put a long arm around him.  With her boots and her natural height, she was a smidge taller than Nick.  There wasn’t any part of her that didn’t send his tramp-ho Klaxons off.  “Where are you going tonight?  And can I come along?”

 “Uh, sorry.  I gotta head to work.  No rest for the barely employed.”  He gently tried to extricate her arm.  She replaced it with her leg, wrapping it around his waist, leaning him back against the wall. 

 She pouted.  “Don’t you want to party with me?”

 “How can I say this nicely…not really.”  He tried to step away from her, without pushing her away.

 She let him step away but just enough to put both arms around him.  “You sure smell nice.  I can hear you blood throbbing.”  She laughed deep in her throat.

 “Yeah?” He said, willing himself to be cool.  Then he forced all the concern out and began to put on the mask of indifference.  “Probably just ’cause I’m late.”  He shrugged, stopped trying to evade her, let himself go limp with her arms around him.

 The effect was immediate.  “Mmm, you’re no fun.”  She stepped away.

 He shrugged again and slowly began to walk around her, toward his sport bike.  He finally hazarded a glance back as he spoke, “Maybe next time.”

 She was gone.  She hadn’t made a sound.

Later, at Jerry’s, a bustling hotel bar full of the pretty sort of people, Nick leaned over the bar.  ”Hey Tobie, Sal was gonna leave my check.”

 Tobie, equally hip and just old enough to serve, waved him around.  “He left it behind the register, man.  Serve yourself, it’s hopping tonight.”

 Nick came around the bar and glanced over the crowd in the darkened lounge.  It was complete with the model types, the cougars, the traveling businessmen, the waitresses that all looked like they were walking a catwalk.  Every man’s possible type was wandering about, plying and cooing for appletinis and ceviche.  Including tall, leggy, trashy, Russian fake blondes.

 He saw her across the room as if the crowd parted just for them to meet eyes.  Hers were darker than before, pools of obsidian peering at him as if expecting him to be jealous as she brushed barely covered breasts against the arm of some 40-something suit with a bulging wallet as he ordered yet another round of overpriced appetizers.

 Something told Nick that pork dumplings weren’t on her mind for curbing her appetite.  She kept her eyes locked on Nick’s and he couldn’t look away as she nuzzled the suit’s ear, then ran the tip of her tongue along the rim of his earlobe, showing teeth that seemed too sharp and large to fit in her mouth.  Nick blinked and turned his back on her, grabbing his check and stuffing it into his pocket, struggling a bit with the fit of his jeans.  He rushed out from around the bar and dared to look back in her direction.  She blew him a kiss and smiled, lips pulling back.

 He hadn’t imagined it.  He felt the cold dread creep through him.  The pieces illogically fit together and he hurried out of the bar.  Ice Lounge was ten minutes from his parent’s place.  If he pushed it, he could be there in fifteen.  Somehow, he just knew Sophie needed a hand.  Though he couldn’t figure out what he thought he’d seen or why he thought he’d be able to do a damn thing if he was even right.

 He sped off anyways, kicking it into a new gear and risking a serious ticket, if only to shake of the willies the blonde had given him.

 

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Published in: on October 17, 2009 at 9:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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