Read Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One Online

Authors: Adam Knight

Tags: #fiction, #adventure, #murder, #action, #fantasy, #sex, #violence, #canada, #urban, #ending, #cowboy, #knight, #outlaw, #dresden, #lightning, #adam, #jim butcher, #overdrive, #lee child, #winnipeg, #reacher, #joe, #winnipeg jets

Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One (3 page)

 

Still, when
you’re well over six feet and hovering at the three hundred pound
mark you tend to get a lot of looks at the best of times. This
example, not being one of them.

 

Course’ it
tends to bother a guy who spends as many hours in the gym as I do
to get stronger and fitter to get looks from skinny dudes who don’t
know how hard it is to change a body that’s built to be big.

 

Fuckers.

 

Abs are for
losers.

 

Yeah, keep
telling yourself that.

 

I finished
cleaning the cut as best I could and attempted to make myself
presentable. I completely failed but “A” for effort. I scrubbed my
thick fingers through sweaty, starting to gray curls and settled
the long sleeve shirt back in place. I nodded politely to the
recent African immigrant working as a bathroom attendant and made
my way back into the cacophony.

 

Let’s get
something cleared up before we go any further. Being a nightclub
bouncer sucks. But when you’re my size and in need of a part-time
gig it’s the kind of job that’s always there for you. Especially if
you’re good at it.

 

Seriously, I’d
suck in a retail job.

 

Being a good
bouncer is more about being a psychological people-reader than a
head thumper, though of course that is bound to happen. Given
enough time and experience you get a read on a crowd and can feel
it’s pulse like a hum of electricity. Determining hotspots and
anticipating danger. Do your job right and you’ll never have to
throw a single punch.

 

Back on the
main floor, Skippy McGee and the Local Flunkies had vacated the
main stage after running out of songs to butcher for one night so I
resumed my usual perch; front and center stage. Lights flashed and
strobed behind me while the crowd ebbed and flowed before me.

 

It was quite a
rush at times. All of that energy and enthusiasm from people
thrashing and gyrating in a big mash of humanity. Sending heat and
that musk of sweat and endorphins up into the air. From a high
vantage it got heady at times. Really made a guy feel alive.

 

Which is why
this perch was mine instead of one of the younger boys.

 

You see,
bouncers get into the game for a wide variety of reasons. But once
you get past the miscellany you can usually boil it down to two
main points.

 

Cash and
pussy.

 

Young guys
fresh outta high school are always looking for a way to capitalize
on all that piss and vinegar still in their systems. Since they
know that they’re no longer football stars or going to be scouted
by the NHL they need an outlet for all that built up testosterone.
No better place to continue to feel like the Big Man on Campus then
by working in nightclubs. Hell, when I was eighteen I started
pitching drunks outta clubs for the same reason.

 

Since I was
gonna end up at the bars anyways, I figured I might as well get
paid to be there.

 

Plus, you got
to meet girls in various states of inebriation and loosened morals.
That girl whose friends ditched her when she was drunk and lost in
the bathroom? I bet she could use a ride home, right boys? Or that
aging hottie in the red dress lounging against the speakers all by
herself? Once the hockey player she’s giving fuck-me-eyes to blows
her off in favour of a younger model she’ll be easy pickings for a
handsome young man willing to bolster her rejected morale.

 

Bouncers do a
lot of bolstering.

 

Just don’t ask
most of them to spell it.

 

But if you stay
in the nightclub game long enough, you learn a lesson that no young
man will believe and few my age will admit to.

 

Chicks won’t
pay your bills. Ever.

 

You also learn
fairly quickly that nightclub owners are more than happy to take
advantage of the seemingly endless horde of dumb young men who are
more interested in getting their dicks wet than their palms
greased. Hello minimum wage to confront drunken hooligans looking
to fight and potentially put you in the hospital.

 

Seriously, it’s
a bad deal.

 

So why continue
to do it?

 

Cash.

 

Not a weekly
check that you have to pay taxes on. Straight up money-in-my-hand
cash. Untraceable and completely spendable.

 

Any bouncer
worth his salt has a cash deal with the club. Aaron’s known me for
years and is quite generous with his nightly cut to me and a few
others. Plus if you’re good at making things easier for the
bartenders (like catching tip thieves for example) they’re usually
good to you at the end of their night with a cut of their
earnings.

 

Don’t get the
wrong idea. No one gets rich bouncing at clubs in Winnipeg. But a
few hundred dollars in cash every weekend goes a long way to
keeping a guys’ apartment from having bright yellow eviction
notices pinned to the door.

 

Which is why I
spent my weekends breathing in the heady and frankly sour aroma
wafting up from the dance floor.

 

Yummy.

 

It was a
good perch. With most of the lights behind me all the glare was
good for spotting trouble. Like over in the VIP section where off
duty Officers Parise and Miller were surrounded by a group of
people who – given the clear gang tattoos visible on some of their
necks – shouldn’t have even been allowed into the club. Another
negative to young bouncers, they’ll let anyone in if they’re given
enough cash at the door. A quick glance to Mark over at his perch
near the main bar and a quick pantomime to the trouble area sent
him and two others to investigate. At almost the same time I waved
down David and gestured
thattaway
to the front entrance where cold and restless people who’d
been waiting in line all night were trying to force the door. Three
more bodies shored up the breach with little fuss.

 

Overall, a
pretty average Friday night.

 

Eventually the
noise stopped blaring and we began the fun process of escorting
people out the door. Younger bouncers started collecting numbers
from the ladies of lowered expectations, while I started ignoring
simple requests for leniency in departing. “But I know the owner”
means precious little if you aren’t hanging with him in the VIP
section or being led upstairs with his friends at the end of the
night.

 

Mark trotted
over to me and assisted in the passive wall technique for ushering
people out the door. Just stand in the direction they want to go
and refuse to let them pass.

 

“Not a bad
night, eh?” he said while eyeballing the crowd.

 

I grunted
non-committedly and handed him my radio and earpiece. I rubbed a
finger in my ear to clear the ringing that had begun in the
relative silence.

 

Mark shook his
head as he collected the equipment. “Tell me you didn’t break this
one too. Aasif is going to freak on me if it’s shot.”

 

“I can’t hear a
thing with that,” I grumbled while giving a level stare at the
dwindling crowd in front of me. “Tell Aasif whatever you want. But
I can’t use those things. Never work for me.”

 

“Man that’s
messed up.”

 

I shrugged.

 

“How’s the
face?”

 

“How’s it
look?”

 

“No worse than
usual.”

 

“Fuck you.”

 

The passive
wall was soon joined by David and several of the younger boys.
Getting near the front entrance I saw a local radio personality
being led towards the marble staircase for an after party by a
couple of impeccably dressed young ladies I didn’t recognize.
Officers Miller and Parise joined us at the front door and kept an
eye on the crowd we were ushering out. They were good guys I
supposed, friends of Aaron’s who spent a lot of their off duty
hours in the club. Part owners or something was the whispered
rumour amongst the staff. Not that I cared. They always treated me
well and that’s not common between bouncers and cops.

 

“You’re in
tomorrow?” David asked in his deep chested voice. “Gonna be a crazy
night. Penguins are in town to take on the Jets. Some of the
players are expected to show up after the game.”

 

“So long as
they show up to play on the ice, I’ll be happy,” I muttered.

 

“What?”

 

“I’ll be here.
Don’t worry.”

 

“Never said I
was worried,” David continued as we followed the last of the
stragglers to the front steps. The cold air refreshed my tired,
sweat soaked body. “Gonna be a big night. Don’t wanna miss out on
the fun.”

 

“Yay. Fun.” I
muttered.

 

Once all the
patrons were safely (and occasionally not-so-safely) escorted
outside the usual closing rituals began. The younger bouncers
started bragging in wild exaggerated tones about the size of some
chicks’ breasts, or the manner in which they “showed that guy who’s
boss”. Bartenders and waitresses frantically went over their liquor
counts and cash receipts, overages were almost as bad as shortages
at the end of the night. Small groups of young ladies flirted with
a few of the men left in the VIP section near the front, the one
section never ushered out the door. Aaron and the off-duty officers
hovered in that area, laughing amongst themselves and sharing a few
drinks.

 

I ignored them
all. I pulled out a stool off to the side and sat down to wait.

 

Mark sauntered
over twenty minutes later, leaning against the wall next to me.
“So,” he muttered so only I could hear. “What do you think?”

 

I shrugged
slightly and inclined my chin to the main bar. A number of the
younger bouncers were talking loudly and pestering the bartenders
for free drinks while they were trying to finish their counts.

 

“Which one of
them was on the VIP Door?”

 

Mark pulled a
notebook out of his back pocket and examined it. “The blond kid.
Danny.”

 

“He’s gotta
go.”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“That
crew of
Native Posse
thugs I
pointed out to you never got in the main entrance. Cameras and
metal detectors woulda stopped them.”

 

“Shit.” Mark
shook his head. “Nothing actually happened man. We can tell Aasif,
have him warn the kid.”

 

I shrugged.
“Aaron doesn’t want trouble in here. Gangs are trouble. The kid
went into business for himself and it coulda got someone shot.” I
looked Mark hard in the eye. “You getting paid enough to get
shot?”

 

“Fuck no.”

 

“Then the kid’s
gotta go.”

 

Mark was silent
for a bit, the noises of the club shutting down for the night
slowly petering out. One of the gentlemen in VIP in a fancy suit
was being led up the staircase by two young ladies with big smiles
and sensual promises on their lips. Aaron trotted behind the
champagne bar and grabbed a bottle before following them up.

 

“How’s your
mom?” Mark asked.

 

“Same.”

 

“Sucks.”

 

“Yup.”

 

“Anything I can
do?”

 

“Nope.”

“Sucks.”

 

I yawned
hugely, my jaws creaking.

 

Eventually
Aasif came down from the bar office with a packed envelope in one
hand and motioned us over to the VIP section. In no particular
hurry I heaved my tired ass off the stool and let Mark, David, Big
Mike and a few others get in line before me.

Ten minutes
later I was out the door, cash in my pocket and hustling home.

 

Chapter 2

 

“We need to
talk about your attitude in the workplace, Joseph.”

 

I sighed and
sat down in the uncomfortable chair proffered to me in the sterile
meeting room. Troy shut the door behind him and took a seat across
the table from me, placing a folder in between us.

 

Silence.

 

Uncomfortable
silence.

 

I stifled a
yawn.

 

Troy shuffled
in his seat nervously. All of twenty-seven years old and a soft
hundred and fifty-ish pounds of corporate kiss-ass middle-manager.
Troy was the low man on the supervisor totem pole. First guy to be
sent by the big boss to have “educational meetings with problem
staff.”

 

Shape up or
ship out kinda educational meetings.

 

I almost felt
bad for him.

 

Troy cleared
his throat and adjusted his wire-rimmed glasses as he opened the
folder in front of him. “Tardiness on weekend shifts. General
disheveled appearance and demeanor. Disrespectful attitude
displayed to other staff members.” Troy leaned back in his chair
and looked me in the eyes. “Tell me, Joseph. Does this sound like
appropriate behavior in the workplace to you?”

 

My teeth ground
together audibly as I stifled another yawn. Six A.M. comes way too
early on Saturday mornings after the bar shifts. As it was my alarm
clock failed me again and I stumbled into the office twenty minutes
late. Three hours sleep and a twenty hour day ahead of me.

 

Welcome to my
life.

 

“It doesn’t
sound like appropriate behavior to me, Joseph.” Troy said,
shuffling the papers on my desk and no longer looking me in the
eye. “I have here a number of different memos from several managers
and staff members who have brought up issues regarding you.
Everything from clerical errors that cost the company money,
repeated equipment malfunctions and reports of intimidation.” He
paused dramatically, spreading these reports on the table in front
of me like a deck of cards. Pick a memo, any memo. “Why do you
think these reports keep coming up, Joseph?”
“My mother calls me, Joseph,” I muttered.

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