Photo by Antoine J. on Unsplash


Genre / Subject / Character

Romance / Misdirection / Bouncer

Alex, a jaded man on the long side of thirty, wonders what he’s doing with his life after getting punched in the eye by a patron of the nightclub where he bounces.

Sure, a bouncer sees people having a good time. He also sees what people say – and do – when alcohol and drugs lower their inhibitions. It’s not pretty. As he mediates the breakup of this fight just outside the nightclub among the spoiled, hipster patrons showing just what dicks they can be, he is reminded of how he came to be working there.

He flashes back to a conversation with his childhood friend, Parker, who was opening this nightclub and “desperately” needed his friend to be in charge of security. Their friendship had waxed and waned over the years, but Alex found it hard to say no to Parker’s enthusiasm.

So he had fallen into an occupation where he had unexpectedly excelled – talking down drunk people bent on violence. Most bouncers relied on intimidation. Instead, Alex would assess the situation and come up with a witty retort to take the patrons by surprise, diffusing potentially explosive situations. Parker had told Alex this skill made him the perfect candidate to run security at the new club. What his friend really meant, of course, was that Alex would be working the door on most nights.

As Alex ponders (for the millionth time) why he’d said yes to that proposition, he walks the line of hopeful patrons waiting outside the bar, and overhears bits of their conversations. He hears people say that Jenna, Parker’s wife, had been acting strange lately. She’d been seen with a man in a hoodie at a coffee shop one morning last week, and with the same man behind the club just yesterday.

As the patrons continue to gossip, Alex puts these clues together and realizes, with dawning horror, that he is in trouble. He races through the front door and fights his way through the crowd towards the bar. He is desperate, as if someone’s life were at stake – which he believes it is.

He flashes back to the morning after his first dalliance with his secret lover. They talk of how surprising their coupling is, of how no one would have expected this of Alex, of whether or not they would do it again. It was a brief moment of optimism in Alex’s otherwise sour outlook.

In the nightclub he runs into Caleb, a flamboyant bartender, who tells Alex that they have to talk, that Caleb has heard some things and is worried about Alex. Alex says that he knows what Caleb has heard, and it’s nothing to worry about. Where is Parker, Alex asks? Caleb last saw Parker in the cellar, changing out a couple of taps. Alex swears and winds through the crowd towards the back of the building and the rickety stairwell to the cellar.

He flashes to another tryst, in this very cellar. He remembers being surprised by a kiss on the neck and a hand caressing his ass, which then settled on the small of his back. Alex had felt like that hand, in that spot, had said something meaningful to him. It hadn’t said, “I own you”, like a hand on his shoulder might have said. Instead, it said, “This is where I belong, where I feel comfortable. We belong together” At the time Alex had thought that belonging was a feeling he could get used to.

Back in the present, he finds himself alone in the narrow cellar, and decides to head up to the club office instead. He has to get to Parker before Parker sees Jenna. Maybe there’s still a chance, he thinks with that unfamiliar optimism.

Working his way across the dance floor to the circular stairs leading to the balcony, Alex thinks of another night with his lover, when the crowds had gone home and the lights of the club had been dimmed for the day. They sw each other across the darkened dance floor, and slowly walked towards each other. Alex even did a couple of lame dance moves, which were repeated – more successfully – by his shadowed counterpart. As they closed and began to slow dance, Alex hummed a mournful tune his father used to play on his fiddle. He hummed the full song three times before they parted, not speaking a word, and drifted away from each other. Their hands were the last to touch, like some goddamn Lifetime movie. Shit, he’d thought, a smile on his face as he walked to the train station. Who knew that BS like that could really happen?

Alex passes Bryce, the Executive Level bouncer, who nods and unhooks the stantion for him. He reaches the top of the stairs and swivels to view the opposite balcony. He sees laughing people surrounding a tiny round table, and the office door behind them. The door is closing, but he doesn’t see by whom.

Shit. Fuck. Balls.

The crowd on the balcony uses the extra space afforded by this luxury level to tell big stories with grand gestures, punctuated by spilled drinks and barks of laughter. Alex finds himself dodging fists again, though careless ones this time. He passes at least two waitresses cleaning up broken glass, one of whom calls something after him. “…looking for you, Alex!” He waves a hand in acknowledgement and continues the obstacle course.

“Are these just random quickies for you, or are you willing to fight for this?” They’d dressed hastily after nearly being discovered in the cellar and had gone downtown for lunch. Alex had picked a seedy diner one of his former more troubling encounters had frequented. There had been some stalkerish behavior, but Alex believed there had never been any real threat behind it.

They hadn’t even ordered yet when that question was hissed at him. Alex had still been trying to adjust his shirt under his jacket and hadn’t heard the question. His blank look had been infuriating, apparently, as his beloved had grunted in disgust and left the table.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

He nears the group in front of the office and waits for other partyers to pass. He glances at the floor below, to see if trouble is following or if he beat it this time. As the lights strobe, the dancing bodies seem caught in random arrangements of parts, their arms and heads thrown akimbo. He looks to the end of the lower bar. Jenna is there. She throws her head back and laughs at something the waitress says, seeing Alex standing on the balcony. She looks shocked and points up at him.


As he turns and reaches for the door handle, his chest connects with an elbow, and someone’s drink gets spilled. “Hey! Watch it!” the unseen patron chirps. Oh, great, his eye must be swelling shut from the punch he’d received outside. He hadn’t even seen anyone there. “Sorry,” he mumbles as he opens the office door.

Parker stands behind his desk with his mouth agape, a look of shock on his face. Alex enters and lets the door close behind him. When the noise of the club dies out, he strides forward.

“She knows!”

Outside the diner, Alex caught up with Parker after Parker had walked away from the table. “I am IN this, babe!” he’d said after he caught Parker’s arm and pulled him gently around. “I wouldn’t fuck my oldest friend just for jollies.”

Parker’s pinched face softened, and he’d leaned back against the diner window. After a moment he said softly, “Then we have to figure out some way to tell Jenna so she’ll understand.” Alex just nodded and dropped his hand from Parker’s arm. They walked back to the club, not talking, but occasionally touching hands.

Back in the office, Parker’s brows knit briefly in confusion before he looks to Alex’s blind side with horror.

Alex feels a hand on his shoulder just before his chest explodes in pain. He looks down and sees a fist against his shirt, both now being covered in blood. He sees the end of a knife handle poking out from it, a class ring on the middle finger of the hand holding it. HIS class ring.

“Doesn’t he still come here?” Parker had said warily, as Alex had opened the diner door for him. “Nah,” Alex said. “He just picks up a quick bite before his shift at the bar.” They enter quickly and seat themselves. “Besides, since I threatened to call the cops after he broke into my place Caleb’s been sweet as pie.”

Alex looks back to his lover’s face. Parker seems crestfallen, tears beginning to fall from saddened eyes. Alex turns his head to his blind side to see Caleb there, one hand on Alex’s shoulder, the other holding the knife buried in Alex’s chest. There is no sadness in Caleb’s face, only grim determination.

I know, too.”

Copyright 2020 by Melani Weber.