Chapter One: First Encounters

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Benjamin Collins

The smell of rain was fresh in the cool night air as I wondered where exactly my best mate was dragging me. It was my third year wedding anniversary and, though my wife wasn't home to celebrate it with me, I'd rather be sitting comfortably there than waiting for whatever it was he had planned.

We walked silently down the concrete sidewalk filled with ecstatic people ranging in different races and ages. The shops around us were brightly lit and the keepers just as lively as the people moseying .

Ron never once looked at me, though he held a slight smile the entire journey. In his car, he was more than willing to discuss the latest sports game or the new loafers he just purchased a few days ago for a bargain but now that we were walking to our destination he was silent.

"Are you going to tell me where we're going?" I glanced around myself and realized I had no idea where I was.

The fact we were three cities away from my home was the main reason but the lively shops began to disperse and became rundown brick buildings covered in gang graffiti and moss. We clearly we not in the best part of town anymore and I tugged at my blazer insecurely. The street lights, while luminous a few blocks back, were dimmed and flickered a bit. There were people, but hardly the animated bunch we just witnessed. These people were grungy and shifty, staring at us curiously, as we walked by. I tried my best not to make eye contact.

"Seriously, Ron," I whispered fiercely as we turned onto a secluded alleyway. Again the buildings never changed from their dark exterior but now there was the slight hum of vigorous music filling the air. It was muted so I wasn't exactly sure where it was coming from. "Where the hell are you taking me?"

Finally, we reached two bulky men, dressed entirely in black, blocking a rather large metal door. Their massive arms told anyone who looked at their way they meant business and not to screw with them over. One was purposely bald while the other was nearly there. Both stood, staring blankly at nothing in particular but accessing everything around them, arms crossed over their massive chests.

Ron stopped before we reached the two men entirely and turned to face me, sly grin spreading across his features. He was a short man, possibly a foot shorter than my five nine, and, unlike the two massive men, his ear length brown hair wasn't thinning. I noticed he wore the loafers he described to me in the car, which gave him a bit more height but not much.

"This," he began, motioning towards the two large men, "is the surprise."

I stared at him curiously. "And what exactly is this?"

He turned from me, nodded to the two men pointedly who nodded back and opened the door revealing flashing lights. Music poured out from the open door and Ron turned back to me.

"This, my friend, is the night you live a little."

He entered the door leaving me standing with my hands in my blazer and the two men staring at me as if I were daft. Finally, after a moment of contemplation, I followed him in.

I wasn't sure if I regretted stepping through the door or not as I realized where he'd taken me. Half-naked women danced on small stages while some walked about, serving men alcoholic beverages in skimpy outfits. The lighting was dim in some areas where women sat in the laps of men, grinding their delicate bodies against them. Bills protruded out most of their undergarments, which were gleaming from the flashing lights. Some were golden while others we silver but each very different and sexy in their own way. I hardened a bit at the thought of what lied under those sequenced garments.

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