Chapter 15: Useless
“What. The. Fuck.”
The current inhabitants of the black lacquered boardroom collectively fidgeted. Their nice suits and slick ties and boat-loads of money couldn’t safeguard them from the wrath of M. Jones.
Only one person remained unfazed by the tone, and she was leaning against the door frame, toying with the edges of a paper bag. At first she had been distracting – all leather and corset. The pants were practically painted on to the miles and miles of legs, ending in wickedly stemmed heels that buckled in several stylish locations. The corset came to a ‘v’ at the front and dipped low enough to leave scant few things to the imagination. Her mahogany hair hung in tempting waves about her face and pale, bare shoulders…
Damnit Giselle. M. Jones cursed her in his head, wishing she was somewhere else – preferably in his penthouse, naked, with him on top.
“Why are you fucks even on my payroll?” M. Jones growled over the table at the six other men who fidgeted and stared with wide eyes.
“There is one guy. One crazy mother fucker harassing my places of business and all I ask is that you take him down. One. Person.” He pounded his hand onto the table, a few pens skittering away from the impact. “Is that too much to fucking ask?”
A man’s throat cleared, and M. Jones turned his baleful gaze to the man sitting immediately to his right.
“Yes, Mr. Horace?” Hissed through clenched teeth.
Mr. Horace, a large, muscular man with a dark ponytail, had always been his right hand man. Whatever Jones needed done, Horace did it; except for this time apparently. The apprehension showed in the downturned ends of his lips.
“Mr. Jones, we’ve all been keeping a lookout, like you said, ever since the Pussycat club, but we haven’t found anything on him. He doesn’t leave fingerprints, and he doesn’t bleed.”
Jones let out a sharp, unforgiving laugh that cut through anything else Horace was about to say. He gestured for Giselle by the door, and with a heave from the door frame she sauntered over to his side, holding out the paper bag she’d been playing with.
“Doesn’t bleed? He doesn’t fucking bleed?” M. Jones upended the bag on the table, glaring around at the rest of the cowering faces. When he did so, a wad of cocktail napkins spilled to the table, each one smeared and stained with drying blood.
“You know who shot the fuck? Do you know who outshines all of you today?” M. Jones leaned back in his chair and grinned, amused at his ‘colleagues.’
He couldn’t help but notice the sidelong glances at Giselle, poised at his shoulder like a harpy. He also couldn’t help but notice the clenching jaw of Horace as her hand gently traced circles on his shoulder.
“His name is Useless, gentlemen, and he made this crazy mother fucker bleed.”
There was silence, and M. Jones pushed his chair out with a squeal of metal on tile. He straightened his suit jacket and gave each one of them another disapproving glare. “Run it. I want to know who has been fucking with my business. And I want to know as soon as fucking possible.”
They all nodded in agreement, and with that unspoken threat hanging in the air, M. Jones quit the board room, leaving terror in his wake.
Useless sat patiently in the lobby. His big hands were folded neatly on his knees, shoulders slightly slouched forward.
His head hurt.
One meaty hand went up to gently prod at the lump the size of a goose egg. His face was a drawn frown thinking about what had happened.
Useless had been told to call the police – so he did. Then, thinking he had a minute before they got there, he went to the bathroom. After all, it had only been one wild-eyed guy. The others could handle that, he didn’t like fighting.
Useless sighed, his great big barrel chest heaving. The fabric of the suit creaked in protest to the action. Hopefully the meeting would be over soon and he could go home.
Until then, Useless found himself thinking more and more about that night. When he had come back out of the bathroom, he had heard gunshots; he had thought maybe the guy had back-up in the crowd. But when Useless ran to help…
He found that all the other bouncers were pretty much already dead except for three.
He didn’t feel very sad about the loss; none of them had ever been very nice to him. All he wanted to do was stand there and look imposing. He could be a bouncer, it was easy. As a bouncer you just stopped fights, and if you had to you pulled people apart or kicked them out.
For Useless, those parts were simple. He was easily stronger then anyone he had ever met – even the bodyguards for Mr. Jones. They were all plastic muscle, built for show, not for function. Useless though, was always teased for being ‘some fat ugly Mexicano.’ Through trial and error, most of them ended up finding out just how strong he was.
But he never hurt any of them, not on purpose. There had been this one bouncer (he is dead now of course,) who got Useless very angry. Angry enough for Useless to mindlessly throw a punch. He had accidentally broken one of the guy’s ribs.
He wasn’t a Mexicano.
His mother had always told him he was ‘Samoan,’ but Useless had never known what that meant. Being as his knowledge on the topic was so sparse, Useless never corrected anyone – but he did punch them. It made them stop harassing him and calling him names.
But Useless also did it because his mother would never have lied to him. To Useless, calling him something that he wasn’t was like calling his mother a liar, and Useless couldn’t accept that.
The door to the boardroom opened, and Mr. Jones stormed past. Useless got hastily to his feet, hands clasped in front of him, trying to look smaller.
“Mr. Jones?” Useless attempted – but a moment too late. He must not have heard him. Mr. Jones kept walking, obviously angry.
Useless started to follow, moving one great foot in front of the other to begin his momentum, when a small hand touched the crook of his elbow.
Useless looked down at the woman who had followed Mr. Jones out of the boardroom. He recognized her from other such board meetings – Useless didn’t really like her, but Mr. Jones did. He tried to reason that since Mr. Jones liked her, she couldn’t be that bad, but Useless never liked her smile.
“Hey, Useless.” She purred, batting her eyelashes at him.
“Why don’t you go home? The Boss-man is tired and I’m going to exhaust him.” She winked, an evil smile curling her pretty lips into a venomous thing.
Useless’ smile faded. “But I have to –“
Giselle, the boss’s favorite mercenary, rolled her eyes at him and turned from him with a flourish of glinting leather. “Beat it Useless. At the moment, that is exactly what you are.”
Useless’s shoulders slumped sadly, and he nodded, regardless of if she could see him or not. He was only going to ask if Mr. Jones had any more clubs he could be a bouncer at – he liked being a bouncer.
But he didn’t want to be in the way.
Maybe Useless could call his office tomorrow?
Sighing heavily, Useless pulled his wind-breaker off of the back of the chair. It was bright blue without being light, and shimmered with the plastic material. He pulled it on and zipped it up. The finishing touch was a pom-pom topped black beanie that he pulled onto his head.
One of the guys from Crank used to say that he looked like some retarded blueberry. But he was dead now too.
By the time Useless made his way outside, Mr. Jones’ car was already gone, and the streets were nearly deserted. It was almost six AM already, and Useless was very tired. It had been a crazy day, and he was still wrapping his head around all of it, so instead of hailing one of the few sleepy cabs that passed by, he decided to walk home.
Who was that guy? Useless shivered under his windbreaker when he remembered how Johnnie B had been burned. It had all happened so fast, and when Useless had been told to call the police he had been sitting there stunned with his mouth hanging open.
He didn’t want to remember what the dance floor had looked like when he came out of the bathroom. There had been so many bodies strewn about, like discarded dolls on the floor.
Half of them or more had just been normal people. Some of them he remembered watching as they laughed and danced.
Useless let his fingers play with the few crumpled Credit Notes in his pockets.
He knew this was his job, and they paid him really good for just standing there and looking tough, but recently, he thought they weren’t the nice employers he had been hired by.
The crazy guy had a knife when Useless came out of the bathroom. Those dancers were all shot.
Useless hadn’t wanted to hear it, and he hadn’t said anything about it, but when the police took a statement after he’d woken up, he had overheard board member Erikson’s account of the event, claiming that the crazed man had just started shooting, and then he had gone mad with a knife.
Useless kicked a discarded SuperSoda can into the gutter and watched it roll down the street.
Erikson hadn’t even been there.
Useless wondered if any of the other people had seen what had happened? Did the police take their testimonies? The police hadn’t asked for his.
Then again, who would take someone named ‘Useless’ seriously?
Three blocks later, Useless used his key on the front door of a shabby, second-rate apartment complex. He trudged up three flights of stairs, and used his second key on the door to 3B.
Home was a two room living space. One room was bedroom and living room and kitchen and closet, and the other room was bathroom and laundry room. Useless was very good with money, and the first chance he had he bought himself a washer and dryer unit that he hooked up right next to the shower stall. Before that, it had been a pretty big bathroom.
Then again, with his size, Useless considered anything that he could fit into as ‘pretty big.’
He diligently locked the door behind him and hung his coat up on a hook there.
It took him maybe twenty minutes to get ready for bed. Before he changed into his sleep pants, he pulled a small folded paper from his pocket. When he settled under his thick blankets, he placed the folded paper on his tiny nightstand.
“Goodnight, Mom.” Useless murmured, staring at the face in the folded photograph until he was fast asleep.