“One, two, three, go!”
The three downed their shots and slammed the empty glasses on the sandy bartop. Anna and Chara had squeezed their way through the crowds to Jak’s bar. It was indeed in the dead center of the beach, as Anna had said, and heaving with drunk partiers.
Jak had welcomed them with a beaming smile, and what he called “Full Moon shots,” which were really just tequila.
The speakers pounded out R&B and hip-hop tunes, while patrons sipped--or mostly spilled--their buckets and grinded up against one another in a drunken attempt at dancing. Chara was already feeling pretty buzzed from the buckets. She and Anna were now working on their second. So, naturally, she asked Jak for another round of shots, slamming a note on the bartop.
Jak pushed the note away. “Your money’s no good here,” he winked, reaching for the tequila and pouring them another round.
Feeling confident and tipsy, Chara winked back. God, he’s cute.
“Let’s dance!” Anna yelled overtop of the music, throwing her hands in the air as Chara was realizing was her trademark move. Anna latched on to her hand and pulled her through the crowds. Men drunkenly leered at them as they forced their way through, and Chara was sure she felt someone grab her ass, but by the time she turned around, it was impossible to know who had done it.
Eventually, they carved out a spot in the heaving dancefloor. Anna, still clutching their second bucket, raised it up to lip level so they could both take a drink. As they did so, a girl fell into Anna and knocked her arm, spilling some of the bucket. “Hey! Watch out!” Anna yelled at her aggressively, rolling her eyes at Chara. Then she leaned towards Chara and put her hand up to her ear. “So, what do you think of Jak?”
“He’s really sweet,” Chara replied.
“Oh come on, he’s hot!”
Chara laughed and nodded, rolling her eyes. “OK, yeah, he’s hot too!”
“And he definitely has a thing for you!”
“Oh come on, you don’t see it? It’s obvious! He can’t take his eyes off of you. I just caught him staring at you again from the bar!”
Chara turned her head to look at Jak, who was making a drink for a group of girls.
“I dunno. Anyways, I’m not looking to get into anything,” Chara insisted.
“Then don’t! Jak likes to have fun. So have some fun with him!” Anna raised her eyebrows and took another sip of the bucket.
Suddenly Chara felt a tug on her purse. She looked down and saw a thin, brown hand inside of it. Startled, she turned quickly and smacked the hand away. Chara looked up to see a tall Thai woman, about the same size as Nancy, widen her heavily made-up eyes in surprise and withdraw her hand from Chara’s purse.
“What the hell are you doing?” Chara yelled.
The woman stepped forward and pushed her nose within inches of Chara’s. “You hit me? You hit a lady?”
“Hit you? You were stealing from my purse!”
“Woah, woah, woah, what’s going on?” Anna jumped in, trying to push her way between them.
“I just caught her with her hand in my purse!” Chara yelled, her heart beating quickly.
The Thai woman reached her arm towards Chara’s chest and clawed her with her long talons across Chara’s naked cleavage. Chara reeled backward, putting her hand to her stinging chest, but quickly recovered, and lunged at the Thai woman. Anna, who was in between, jumped forward after Chara. But she wasn’t quick enough. As she was making her way to Chara’s rescue, four more tall Thai women suddenly popped out from the crowd and descended upon Chara. Anna came up behind two of them and yanked them by the hair with all her might. They stumbled backward and turned on her. The crowd of partiers stood back and watched, while the women growled primally as they scratched and shoved one another.
Jak, who had just noticed the commotion, hopped over the bartop and shoved his way through the throng of patrons to Chara. He pulled all the Thai women off her and shoved them backward forcefully. “Stay back!” he yelled with practiced authority.
Chara looked up and him through blurred vision. She was drunk and bleeding from the eyebrow. And the cheek. And the collar bone, she realized, as she looked down at herself.
The women were yelling at Jak in Thai, using high-pitched whiny voices.
He ignored them and knelt down to look at Chara from eye level. “Are you OK?” he asked softly, putting a hand out and gently placing it on her cheek.
Chara nodded, but felt the world spinning around her. She didn’t understand why she’d been attacked when it was the woman who had been stealing from her. Chara had simply stood up for herself.
The women were still yelling, and Chara could hear Anna telling them off. Finally, Jak whistled for his bouncers, who came and dragged the five women away by the arms.
Chara noticed stars in her vision, and darkness slowly closing in around her eyes. Suddenly, her whole world went black.