"Fresh Meat." Nina says as she jumps down from the bar top behind me scaring the crap out of me. My mind was a world away from the club we work in. I jump and spin around to swat her playfully with the glass cloth in my hand.
“Don’t do that.” I scold her. Nina just responds with a huge grin and a shrug.
“Fresh meat.” Nina informs me indicating her head subtly towards the front door of the club where the new bouncer stands wearing a serious attitude and from the looks of him a huge chip on his shoulder.
“So?” I ask coyly. Nina rolls her eyes dramatically.
“Even you can’t tell me you didn’t notice him, he’s a walking God. I mean look at that hunk of man meat, fresh off a Viking ship and here to ravage the local women.” Nina swoons as she looks his way again.
“You’re disturbed.” I affirm pushing past her and away from this awkward conversation. Of course I had noticed the new bouncer. He looked like a brick wall with arms and legs. Nina’s Viking description is a bit off only because of his dark features. His olive skin and black hair make his dark eyes look completely sharp.
I jump back a little at the sight of the new bouncer by the club entrance. His eyes are black as the darkest corners of the club and pierce through your soul like a shark’s eyes when they make contact. Something about his empty gaze unsettles me. He looks right through you like you’re not even there, but at the same time he seems to see everything about you.
“So what do you know about him? What’s he like?” Nina pursues me down the length of the bar as I continue to set up. I shrug at her.
“I know about as much as you do. I had yesterday off as well remember, I just showed up and he was here wearing the security uniform.” I tell her evenly.
“Oh come on Kenna, you totally know more than that. You’ve got the skinny on everything going on in this place.” Nina whines. Normally she’d be right but in this case I didn’t have much. Not even a name.
“Look, Vladik just told me that he hired a new bouncer. I don’t even know his name.” I tell her apologetically. I do feel bad not even knowing the guy’s name. Our club’s manager Vladik seemed nervous when telling me about him, but that didn’t really stand out as unusual. None of the staff here have squeaky clean backgrounds, it’s something we all have in common.
“So you wouldn’t know what he looks for in a woman?” Nina asks sending a wink in the direction of the new bouncer. I just scoff and shake my head at her disapprovingly.
“Nina. I have no desire to assist your quest of slutting your way through this club.” I tell her certainly. She smiles a wicked knowing grin at me.
“All you had to do was call dibs if you wanted him.”
I let out a deep exhale. “I’m not. I just don’t want to be an accessory to your debauchery.”
“Oh. Been reading Jane Austen again have we? Well I’m sorry if my debauchery offends dear lady. But the way I see it is we’re all going to Hell anyway. I for one am not going to get to the end of this life and say gee I wish I didn’t fuck so much.” Nina declares loudly laughing at her own life assessment.
“Don’t say that.” I tell her seriously as my brow furrows at her.
“Truth sucks baby doll. But I mean how bad could it really be compared to this?” Nina jokes gesturing at the club around us. If you’ve never seen a nightclub before all the lights, go out and the distracting strobe lights come on then you need to know that they’re a truly depressing sight. All the strange stains in the booth chairs, the sticky substances that never seem to come off the floor no matter how hard you clean. Not to mention the seven different shades of black paint that just keeps getting slathered over the walls haphazardly to cover any marks.
As we look around the bar I shrug and nod in agreement with Nina as we start to laugh. Then as if our boss new what we were laughing at the lights suddenly go out and are replaced with black light being spliced by different colored strobes. Vladik appears out of his office to stand on the top level of the club. He raises his hands like he’s Caesar addressing the crowd at the Colosseum instead of the half a dozen employees he currently has on the floor.
Nina appears to hear my thoughts as she starts sniggering at my facial expression as I try to suppress a smirk. I lose that battle and start to chuckle quietly enough that Vladik doesn’t notice us.
“Alright everyone, let’s make some money and corrupt some souls.” Vladik announces as he does every night before we open the club doors. I shake my head subtly at his reference of corrupting souls. If only he knew. I think to myself sadly. “Push the cocktails, McKenna has created some real profit turners for us with the new cocktail menu. McKenna, anything to add?” Vladik calls down to us. I just shake my head and smile at him.
“No boss.” I call back. Everyone’s attention turns back to what they were doing before the appearance of the great Vladik on his balcony. I know I’m technically the bar manager, but I know he only gave me the promotion to stop me from leaving. He doesn’t actually want me to contribute to the running of the club, just to deal with everyone’s problems.
I take a deep breath as the bouncer’s open the entry doors and walk out. I know there will be a line already. This is the hottest club in downtown San Francisco. I prepare for battle for another night behind the bar here at Diablo’s Dungeon. Nina takes her position in the cage suspended a foot off the stage where the club D.J is starting to spin. I double check my bar tenders and waitresses are ready and everyone nods at me.
I see the bouncer I know —Justin—come back in and look at me expectantly. I nod at him signaling the allowance of people into the club. The patrons start to pour into the club like excited children as they make their ways to different booths and bar stools around the club. The dancefloor remains empty for now as the fog machine starts to roll out a thin blanket of mystery over the hard wood floor.
I start mixing and flaring drinks as I light one of the drinks on fire and send it down the bar to the customer. The crowd gathered around the bar all ‘ooh and ahh’ at the spectacle and I smile a wicked smile at them. Like taking candy from a baby. My playful mind cheers as I get an order for seven more fireballs straight off the bat. I wink at the other bar tenders as I start lighting up the drinks along the bar.
The customers all cheer and holler as I take a swig of the whisky and breathe the flame from my lips to light all their drinks at the same time. Now the show really begins. I’m the only fire breather allowed to work in the bar on any given night—for safety reasons. We couldn’t have two of us shooting fire everywhere. It’s a huge crowd pleaser and I feel like a magician using misdirection.
While the customers are busy watching the fire show they don’t notice exactly how much alcohol isn’t in their drinks. We’re not crooks by any means but I have managed to triple the bar profits since I began to work here. The fire cocktails which are our club’s specialty draw big crowds and big money. We use the cheapest alcohol in those drinks because the fire burns it quickly.
So the customer doesn’t get as drunk either with half the alcohol content of their drinks burned off before they put it to their lips. I like it that people don’t get too drunk. Then they make less fools of themselves and I have less trouble to deal with. Not that I regularly have to deal with trouble, our security guys are the best at what they do.
I see people start to make their way to the floor as the bar tenders and I keep smashing out drinks for the customers at the bar and the waitresses working tables and booths around the club. After half an hour our club reaches capacity and I signal the new bouncer to cut entrance by slicing my finger across my throat. He simply nods in response. I’m glad he’s been taught to watch for my signals and what they mean.
Obviously in a nightclub as loud as this we can’t be screaming at each other all night. I was the one to implement the signals between the staff. So from anywhere in the club you can signal if you need help or to be replaced for a break. It works really well. In the bar we still yell at each other and tease and joke as part of the show. The signals are really good for Nina. When she’s trapped in a cage all night she can signal if she needs water or to go for a break.
We used to have earpieces but they were ridiculous looking and you couldn’t hear anything anyway over the base in the music. Also try serving customers at the bar as they list half a dozen different drinks and having a staff member asking your ear if they can go for a cigarette. I laugh as one of my bar tender’s Luka comes sliding along the bar floor towards me. He winks then plants a kiss on my cheek, as his hand reaches behind me to steal my bottle opener.
The customers laugh as I pretend to be mad at him as he flees back towards the other end of the bar to the beer taps. I keep mixing drinks until it’s time for the show. I signal the bar tenders to let them know I’m out for a bit. They all nod as I make contact with the D.J on the stage. Mitch smiles a toothy grin at me as he kicks the box out from underneath the turntable.
I drop to my knees behind the D.J booth to collect my weapons for the next part of my battle. The strobe lights stop as the walls begin to come alive with reddish orange lights shooting up through fan operated silk flames. The rest of the lights die as the music begins and the regulars in the crowd go wild with excitement. In the dark I make my way to the center of the stage wearing nothing but my skin tight leather cat suit.
My arms drop to my sides and my head stays down as the same flaming lights around the walls of the club start up on the stage behind me. I look up slowly and smile at the crowd below as I let out a breath of fire lighting the edge of the stage on fire. Mostly for effect but also to discourage people from climbing on the stage during the performance. The beat of the music intensifies as I start to sway my hips.
I drop my poi’s out to either side of me as I light them in the flames of the stage. I start to swing them and the crowd cheers and crows. Some even howl like wolves. I keep my concentration as I twirl and dance with the flaming poi’s circling my body in rhythmic directions like possessed balls of flame. I see Mitch cheering out the corner of my eye and smile at him. Nina’s cage is currently empty which is good considering the floor beneath it is currently on fire.
The song changes and I start to move the flaming pois to the new rhythm, faster and even more hypnotic. Justin is watching attentively in case I set myself on fire. I smirk at the thought of me burning. I’ve always been able to control fire around me, it was something I started as a child. I use to fear flames so severely that I was determined to conquer that fear. Now I’m the fire thrower at Diablos’ dungeon, as the papers call me.
It was just a hobby until my boss found out and decided it would make a great show for the club. Especially with the club’s main theme. I smile as the flames on the stage die down completely and the smoke machine fills the dance floor in a thick haze. The flames on the wall dim down as I start to wind down the performance. I bring one of the pois to a stop and extinguish it in the sand box at my feet.
I continue to whirl the other in front of me in a tight fast circle until it appears to form a solid ring of fire in the dark. Then I blow out a huge breath releasing the flammable fluid from my mouth and throwing a flame over the top of the crowd on the dance floor. I drop the poi instantly into the sand and duck away behind the D.J. booth under the cover of darkness.
A creepy voice comes over the sound system telling everyone that they’re now prisoners of El Diablo. The crowd goes wild as the music starts to pump again. I high five Mitch before discreetly heading back to the bar wearing my bar uniform. A few recognize my face, but more don’t. I find that fire is a great tool of misdirection, not many will notice the face behind the flaming poi.