Chapter 25: Hitting the Club
Lenora watched the big man go, the shock still on her face.
Mr. Jones. That meant that the shadowy figure the back booth was M. Jones. The owner of all these clubs.
The one who made profit off of other people’s loss.
She felt her stomach roil for a second, and she clutched at her cola, taking a nice long sip before pushing it away. Breathing deeply she focused on the rim of the glass.
He has to be here, he has to.
Lenora straightened up on the stool and peered out over the crowd, trying to catch a glimpse of the mysterious M. Jones. She saw the back of the big guy’s head, and then nothing but the dark recesses of the booth. She saw the glint of silver on a hand, and assumed it must belong to M. Jones.
Lenora clung to her bag and hopped from the stool. The crowd stood like a churning sea before her and she was terrified of drowning. One deep breath steadied her nerves and she dove in. She was small, so she could weave around people relatively easily – she’d had a month to practice in the other places, after all.
She had made a circuit of the others – there were six places, four of which she had the nerve to go to. The remaining two were ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ and she didn’t dare go in a place like that. That would be something she was not ready to face again.
Lenora shivered, pressing past the hot bodies surrounding her. The air was really thick in Club: Fed Up, and she felt her heart pounding in her ears.
He was going to be here, he had to be! This is the first time I’ve seen M. Jones in the club, he must come tonight! Lenora frantically hoped that it was true.
A little less then half way to the booth the song changed and hoots and hollers arose in the crowd, more people crowding into the small space to dance. Lenora felt her throat constricting, and she clawed at the front of her bag as her exit was sealed by people.
They were too close.
The thought hit her as it usually did – abruptly and like a smack in the face. She felt her breaths coming quicker and she turned to try and escape back to the bar, her impulse to flee stronger then her curiosity about M. Jones.
The way back to the bar closed up like blood filling an open wound. The imagery made her gasp, and her eyes went wide. She felt the fear welling up in her chest like so many times before, and she tried to stifle it – but now there were elbows bumping her, hips brushing her hips, hot breath on her hair…
As her world began to spin someone took her arm, and she felt herself being pulled out of the sea and onto the shore, a blast of cool air like cold water on her face. She gasped in the street, yanking her hand free from the grip that held it. The motion threw her off balance, and she stumbled to the nearest support – a lamp-post.
Lenora rested her forehead against it and took a few deep breaths. Somewhere during the recovery, she noticed out of the corner of her eye that whoever had taken her outside was still standing there – and they hadn’t tried anything funny, at least not yet.
Lenora let one hand drop to her bag and she slid it into the pocket, grabbing hold of the Mace as a ‘just-in-case’.
“Thank you. It must have been the heat in there.” Lenora chuckled sheepishly, and turned her head to look at her impromptu savior.
But X wasn’t looking at her anymore.
Her breath caught in her throat as she realized who it was, and she immediately released the Mace.
“You were going to fall. It seemed like the thing to do at the time.” He shrugged, hands deep in his coat pockets as he studied the crowd by the door.
Lenora could see the calculations in his eyes – or was that just her own imaginings? Did she really think he planned any of this? It certainly hadn’t seemed so the last time.
Lenora watched him. She wasn’t sure what else to say. For some reason, though, she felt like he was waiting for her to speak, so she patched together a sentence in the form of a question.
“What are you… doing here?”
X-XIII let out a barking laugh. After a moment, he shrugged. Then he tilted his head and nodded as he did so, face screwed up in thought. “Oh hey I don’t know. I was thinking of a massacre.”
Despite her better judgment and the mild horror she felt at the comment, she found herself giggling at his antics. His smile was so… boyish. In a way it was funny to hear such wild statements coming from such a seemingly innocent face.
It was also very sad.
Lenora slowly pulled her head away from the lamp post and pressed her hands firmly against it to pull its chill to her. She still felt warm, her face probably flushed and overheated.
X looked at her with a quirked eyebrow. “Yeah I think violence is funny too.” The cock-eyed grin appeared on his face, and she saw his blue eyes flicker like a candle’s flame. “The bloodier, the better, right?”
Lenora swallowed to clear the dryness from her throat and shook her head slowly. “I don’t… really like violence.”
X scowled at her and shook his head. “Whatever. You laughed. That means you think it’s funny.”
Lenora was about to object when X started walking towards the club. “Wait!” she called out. Several people looked at her but she ignored them. X hesitated but didn’t turn towards her.
“What…” She hesitated, lowering her voice, and turning her eyes away from him. “What are you going to do?”
She heard X-XIII’s laughter over the din of the outside crowd. He said something and disappeared into the club.
Lenora turned slowly to regard the crowd, none of which seemed to hear or care about what the stranger in the black coat had said. With wide eyes, she looked for any sign that one of these people might call the police or alert a bouncer – but none of them seemed to be any the wiser.
Lenora pressed her back against the lamp post, the only physical thing around that seemed real to her in this moment. Swallowing her fear, she let herself slide down to sit on the sidewalk, watching the entrance of the club.
She pulled her purse into her lap and hugged it close as she replayed X’s words over and over in her mind.
“I’m going to kill as many people as it takes to get what I want – then I’m going to walk out the front door.”
If it was anything like the last time, Lenora was determined to be here waiting for him. She may have told David that they were square – but Lenora didn’t really feel that. She felt in her heart that she owed him so much more, and she was steadfast in her belief that whatever she did would never be enough. That would not, however, stop her from trying.