Rake

Rake by Scott Phillips Read Free Book Online

Book: Rake by Scott Phillips Read Free Book Online
Authors: Scott Phillips
of thirty-five or so dance with a burly twenty-year-old with blond dreadlocks and no sense of rhythm whatsoever. She looked determined to put him in his place either on the dance floor or elsewhere, and I made a mental note: If they separated, and if Annick didn’t show, I was going to make a play for her.
    A girl danced for the crowd in rags in a bamboo cage suspended above the dance floor, her hot pants torn in just the right way to show a tantalizing glimpse of bush and her T-shirt rippedso that most of her right breast was visible. She was, I suppose, intended to represent a female POW, perhaps one who had disguised herself as a man in order to get into the air force and fly bombing missions over Hanoi.
    Nursing my beer and looking around I wondered how you got a bank to loan you the money for such a venture. Maybe I could invent some similarly off-putting idea for a drinking and dancing establishment and reinvent myself as an entrepreneur, adding “well-known impresario of the Parisian nightlife” to my CV. A serial killer–themed nightclub, maybe, with Eddie Gein–inspired human-skin masks lining the walls. Bartenders dressed as John Wayne Gacy in full clown makeup. Portraits on the walls of BTK and Ted Bundy and Richard Ramirez. (Why were all the serial killers who came to my mind American? I’m well aware that Europe and specifically France have produced any number of homicidal monsters. Maybe the theme needed to be that specific in order to interest investors.)
    I had that funny, prickly feeling again that I was being watched, which of course I was, surreptitiously or openly by two thirds of the people in the club. But again this was different, that sensation of being spied on with hostile intent, and though it was almost certainly nonsense, I was nonetheless on my guard.
    I finished my beer and headed for the bathroom, finding it empty. I urinated with the overwhelming yet indistinct thumping of the bass passing through the door, a reasonably good likeness of R. Lee Ermey painted on the opposite wall and visible in the mirror. Ermey reminded me a good deal of my own drill sergeant in the dawning days of my military career, and I wondered what had become of cranky old Sergeant McMillan. Probably making the retirees run drills down in Florida. I should track him down, maybe pay a visit; he was the one who taught me my first choke hold. Seeing my enthusiasm and sensing a kindred soul, he took me under his wing and instructed me in the way ofthe warrior. Unarmed, I was capable of killing an attacker in any of a dozen ways, a knowledge that leads paradoxically to a state of great calm via a lack of fear.
    As I zipped up, the door opened and the young man with the blond dreadlocks entered, an expression of undiluted anger on his face, and called me a fucking sack of shit.
    He pulled back his fist in an attempt to sucker punch me, but he was pitiably slow and I got in a good shot to his solar plexus. He dropped back against the wall, right into a painting of Tom Berenger dying in Platoon , and I planted my heel down hard on his metatarsals. The first blow had taken his breath away, so he didn’t scream, but as he slid down to the tile flooring he certainly fucking wanted to. In my jacket pocket was a telescoping steel tactical baton my friend Byron, a cop and former advisor to the show on police matters, had given me as a gift before I left, but its use didn’t seem necessary now.
    “Here’s the thing about dreads,” I said. “They look great if you’re black, but if you’re a pasty blond white kid they make you look like a douchebag and a poser.”
    •       •       •
    When I got back to the bar I was told Mathieu was waiting in the private salon. This was located behind a door guarded by another Polynesian, this one even bigger than Sammy, who opened up and waved me inside. Waiting for me in the luxuriously appointed room were Mathieu and the brunette my assailant had been dancing with, whom

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