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A man dressed in black shifted his weight in the far booth with the girls. Feather hung on him like a white dishcloth and her breasts touched his shirt. She patted his arm when he laughed. The man chewed on a twizzle stick and a baseball hat hung low over his forehead. Cindy saw the corner of his eye when he smiled at Feather.
“They seem full of energy,” Cindy said.
Bill looked behind him. “The night always brings out the happy.” He turned around and eyed Cindy.
“Who’s the guy?” she asked. Cindy thought the stranger seemed out of place.
“Money can make you happy. Dreams can make you happy,” Bill said. “And we have enough of both to make you almost giddy.” He patted Cindy’s hand.
“You could use some happy, right?” Bill aimed to sign up the girl before the party started again.
He smiled a wide grin. Cindy looked behind him to the far corner of the bar. Wallace followed her gaze.
“Likely a guy who figures he might go home with Feather,” Wallace said. Bill twisted his head. “Why don’t you all go home now,” he shouted.
The laughter stopped and Feather fidgeted. The stranger leaned forward and Feather let go his arm.
“Go on. Go home,” Bill said.
The dancers slid across the booth and rolled out onto the floor. Feather leaned down to the seated stranger, stuck out her tongue, and touched his lips. She twirled around pulling her G-string into her crack. She and the other girl marched off to the back stage.
Only Cindy saw the dancers leave. Wallace looked down at this hands and Bill continued to grin. Cindy saw the stranger slide further back into the dark. He spit out the straw. She followed the eye until it blinked into the dark.
Bill waited for Cindy to answer and Wallace looked tired. Cindy smiled and reached for Bill’s leather book. “Can you give me Mr. Loudin’s number now?”
She anticipated Bill would open the book and flip to the number. Instead, he dropped his hand down fast covering the book.
“I think you already know how to reach Todd,” Dupree said. He sat taller in his seat. Wallace leaned away from him. “I think he sent you down here to test me.”
She felt the blood leave her face and her bottom lip trembled. “Honestly, I don’t know Mr. Loudin,” Cindy stuttered. “I just want to know more about my dad.”
Bill leaned in to the girl. “If Todd thinks I will fall for this trick,” he paused. “He’s got another thing coming.”
The smile on his face faded into a snarl. Cindy flinched back into her seat. Bill’s teeth moved toward her and she froze. The menacing grin grew closer but she did not feel fear from them. Behind the teeth, the stranger moved closer holding a big, black gun.
A red flash spilled aquarium water over Bill’s head. The black gun flashed two more times. A second bullet smashed the glass and the entire aquarium spilled out over Bill and Wallace.
The detective pulled up a 38-special from his holster. Bill jumped away from the booth and slipped in the water as a light exploded and fell next to him. Sparks jumped off the floor and Bill convulsed.
Wallace pumped two shots behind him and the stranger jumped over the bar. Charlie stood motionless with a glass in one hand and a dirty rag in the other. A flash of white shattered the mirror behind him. Charlie jumped over the bar and pulled his leg onto the stage. Cindy could hear him crying in pain.
“Get up off the floor and stand on the seat,” Wallace shouted. “Those sparks will kill you.” Cindy scrambled up onto the seat. She pushed her dress down and pulled her legs in.
“Grab the cash and let’s get out of here,” the stranger shouted.
The stranger stood at the front of the bar with Feather and the other dancer behind him. Feather reached over the bar for a bag of money. The other dancer reached into the till and took out the bills.
Wallace pointed his gun at the stranger. The man pointed his gun back. “You don’t want a fight,” the stranger said.
The stranger ran down the stage with the dancers following him. He turned toward Wallace as he reached Bill’s body on the floor. Sparks continued to leap out of the water.
Wallace hunched down between his seat and the roof of the booth. His arm reached out far away from his body as the small space doubled him over. He lacked the advantage to accurately hit the man.
“I swear I will shoot you,” Wallace said.
The stranger pointed the gun at Cindy. She stood bent in the seat, cringed, and waited for the gun to fire. Wallace looked at Cindy and back at the stranger. The stranger continued to look at Cindy. Wallace looked back at the girl.
“Like my daughter,” he whispered.
Wallace let go of his aim, let the gun spin to the table, and dropped it. The gun rested next to the leather book.
The stranger and the two dancers sprinted out the door onto Fremont Street.
Charlie let out a scream. Cindy grabbed for the book but missed it. Wallace jumped onto the stage and ran to the back of the bar with the book and the gun in his hand.
Cindy aimed a leg at the floor as a spark jumped up. She slammed back into the booth.
She looked around the club. Wallace reached for the bartender. Cindy rolled over the table to the other seat and pulled herself up. She crawled the line of booths until she reached Wallace and Charlie.
“He needs an ambulance,” Wallace said.
Charlie lay wedged between the seat and the stripper pole. Blood pooled around a hole in his left leg. Wallace reached over the bar and returned with a towel. He placed it on the bloody mess and Charlie winced.
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© 2018, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.