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Book Chapters

Guiltless Chapter 1: The Chemist

Jun , 9

‘Can I see some ID please?’

The two girls handed over their driver’s licenses. The Chemist, part time hitman and drug cook, stared at the plastic cards; pretending to inspect them, even though he already knew they were fakes.

To his right stood Shawn. The six foot, well muscled club owner glared at the queue behind the scantily dressed girls. He wore a tight white shirt with short sleeves and a black necktie; complete with a black scally hat and trousers. His chocolate face was set in a scowl, moustache and sideburns reaching down the sides of his broad face into a goatee. Beneath his wide brimmed nose he usually sported a friendly grin to match his easygoing attitude.  However, he rarely showed these two qualities while working the front door at The Void.

The Chemist knew this because they’d been working together for three months now. He could tell Shawn always wanted to have a conversation; to find out more about him. He played it cool, acting the part of the new guy wanting to focus on his job and nothing else.

The girls, Sharon and Jennifer, ignored him; lost in their conversation. They barely looked up at him when he asked for their licenses. He couldn’t intimidate the customers like the others; the real bouncers.  He had a smaller, slimmer build, topping out at five foot nine, and worked best at the bar, but Shawn insisted on humiliating new recruits by having them try all the jobs.

The queue had started to get restless. Some guy further down the line swore at him; Shawn crossed his muscled arms and leaned against the door frame behind them. The Chemist remained calm, letting a few more seconds slip by.

The dates on the cards listed the girls as nineteen; he knew they couldn’t be a day over fifteen. In DC, on a Friday night at The Void you get the really desperate ones.

Finally, he smiled at the girls and handed back their licenses. ‘Welcome to the Void, ladies’ he said. Sharon, the blonde, snatched both cards and Jennifer gave him an awkward smile in return.

The Chemist waved the spoiled bitches through, knowing they wouldn’t get past the front door.

Shawn held up a hand, barring their way as expected. The girls’ smiles vanished and were replaced by looks of terror as they stared up at the burly bouncer.

‘Cards’ he growled, ignoring the groans from the queue behind the girls.

Sharon dropped her card in Shawn’s large palm and hugged herself in the cool September night.

‘Can we go in already? Maurice is waiting and I’m freezing!’ she said.

Shawn shook his head as her license vanished into his breast-pocket. ‘You should eat more, It’s 70 degrees’ he said. He also took Jennifer’s card and pocketed it. ‘I suggest you go home before I call the police…and they call your parents.’

The Chemist looked up at Shawn then back at the two girls. ‘You heard him’ he said. ‘He’s done it before.’

Sharon glared at them and stomped away awkwardly in her heels. Jennifer looked from the Chemist to Shawn before turning away, her face crestfallen. Shawn waited till both girls rounded the corner before speaking.

‘I know you’re new at this but you’re gonna get us closed down if you pull stunts like that.’

The Chemist raised his hands and stepped back. ‘Whoa! They looked legit man!’ he said.

‘You don’t trust the ID, sometimes you gotta follow your instincts.’

‘Sorry.’

The rush of fear had been real, Shawn was scary when upset. The Chemist turned his attention back to the line of clubbers waiting to get in, as his heart did flips in his chest.

‘No biggie’ said Shawn,  he eyed another card and waved the client through. ‘Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. Maybe you should stick to hauling drinks and mixing it up at the bar.’

The Chemist grinned. ‘That’s why you hired me, man’ he said.

Shawn shrugged. ‘Just tryna run a clean club in DC, don’t want no cops in here bro’ he said in his smooth, deep voice.

The Void was the premier nightclub to be found in Foggy Bottom, Washington DC. It was converted from an old bar to an elite watering hole, complete with an underground dance floor and studio grade foam embedded in its walls. The owner, Shawn ‘Savvy’ Curtis, had reasoned the club was strategically placed within walking distance of the World Bank; International Finance Corporation; the IMF and the White House, among several other prominent institutions. The clientele would be high class and nonviolent, making it suitable even for the President, if he was the sort of course. Around the clock security was tight and bouncers were selective.

Savvy’s second stroke of genius was the price of entry. At The Void; your credit card was your ticket, and only five cards were allowed. The most exclusive cards unknown to most of America.

The Void encouraged, and  rewarded affluence . The Accolades card; least desirable of the five, allowed you two guests. The Chairman granted you four and the Rewards got you eight. Only three patrons owned the Palladium required to boast a 16 person guest list and automatic VIP status. And few club goers had even seen the rarest card of all, with its ego shaking ability to command a 32 name guest list.

Exclusivity and location, combined with the human inclination to show off ensured accompanying guests were well taken care of. Drinks flowed freely and Savvy drowned in profits.

The Bar was open from 6pm, perfect for hotshots looking to unwind after a hard day’s work before moving down to the sound proof dance floor till the early hours. The Void was immensely popular for another reason; even though it was illegal. Under the guise of a night out, bank executives would swap information and trade secrets over a beer. Loud house and dubstep music rendered tapping wires and hidden microphones ineffective.

And then of course there were the women. Exotic Asian beauties who danced on ebony wood poles in a VIP room adorned with furniture from Taipei. They were actually American citizens, but the patrons didn’t know or care. It was all part of the alluring mystique of the club.

‘Check the guest list’ said Shawn as five more people went in. ‘We’ve got some cool customers coming in tonight for the VIP room. A black carder, with five guests.’

‘Nice’ said the Chemist. Shawn Savvy had no way of knowing he already knew all this. He knew who they were; down to their last names. Three months of waiting, planning and working out the kinks. The first step had been to gain employment at The Void; with help from inside. His Client filled in the blanks, orchestrating tonight’s events. Providing both the victim and the patsy.

The kill would be clean, with no clues. It had to be for such a high-profile client and such a public statement. The Chemist shuddered at the risks his Client was willing to take.

‘There are some people you just don’t cross…isn’t that right, Ryan’

‘Yeah. For us’ said Shawn, interrupting his thoughts. ‘They’re all yuppies in the making; with money to burn. Just the kind we like. They say they’re celebrating, what’s a celebration without the bubbly stuff?’

The Chemist gave him a blank look.

Shawn chuckled. ‘Champagne bro. Listen, no one gets by with just one job here. I know you’re great with drinks and shit but you gotta learn the ropes quickly. Those punch packing cocktails of yours can only get you so far. This is business, you gotta be flexible. Have people smarts.’

Shawn glanced at more cards and waved the holders through. The Chemist watched the bouncer as he seemed to struggle with himself before coming to a decision.

Finally Shawn spoke. ‘You’re the best at the bar, no doubt about that. You gotta learn to roll with the big boys so you’ll working the VIP bar with Kareem tonight. Alicia will help you out, our black carder deserves the best.’

The Chemist turned to look at Shawn. ‘You think I’m ready?’

‘Hell, you’ve been here three months already. If you ain’t good enough I might as well fire your ass.’

The Chemist smirked ‘You never wanted me to do door duty tonight. You were gaming me, weren’t you?’

Shawn chuckled. ‘What of it? Go get me Turner before you set the cops all over this place!’

‘Yes boss’ said the Chemist. He backed into the club and squinted as his eyes grew accustomed to the jerking motion of the green laser lights bouncing off the walls.

Turner, the tall, black head of security was getting frisky with two of the pole dancers in the corridor leading to the backrooms. While Savvy was built like a heavyweight boxer Turner reminded the Chemist of an NBA all-star with his very toned and very imposing six foot six frame.

‘Hey Turner. Savvy wants me in VIP with Kareem .You’re working the front door tonight.’

Turner grinned. ‘That’s my boy’ he said. ‘You just do your thing and whip up those cocktails. Fuck Savvy and his rules, a gee like you should be working the bar round the clock instead of hauling crates and checking ID’.

Turner slapped him on the back and the Chemist was sure his ribcage wobbled.

Turner’s grin vanished and he looked different, serious. ‘Don’t mess this up. I put in a word for you, that’s why Savvy even considered it. He’s nice but takes a while to let a good idea through that thick head of his’.

‘Thanks man, I owe you one’ said the Chemist.

Turner skulked towards the entrance. ‘Sorry ladies, I’m needed up front.  I’ll see y’all later’ he yelled back as an afterthought.

The Chemist rolled his eyes at the groans of the disappointed girls and headed back out to the front room. One of the doors allowed staff to make a discreet entrance to the VIP bar. He slipped through it and took his place at the table while Kareem, another bouncer, made his rounds. Their eyes met for the briefest of moments, barely acknowledging each other.

An Asian beauty approached the bar with a tray of empty glasses.

‘You’re late’ she said.

‘Couldn’t be helped, Alicia. I was outside, with Savvy. Who’ve we got?’

‘Maurice Phelps and 10 guests.’

‘Guests 11 and 12 won’t be able to make it’ said the Chemist. ‘Underage, Savvy turned them away.’

Alicia’s hair whipped aggressively as she looked over her shoulder at the table in the farthest corner of the room.  A rotund man in a cravat and sports jacket guffawed at some joke while the suits around him joined in nervous, supplicating laughter.

‘Urgh, he’s disgusting. How can Savvy stand him?’

‘I think Savvy cares more for his wallet than anything else. Give them one more round of champagne then tell them the bar’s open.’

Alicia nodded and walked away. Kareem began to let other people into the room. Customers of lower card status could get into the VIP room, but after a steep fee and long wait. Shawn was already taking reservations for 2013.

The Chemist washed his hands at a cleverly concealed sink below the bar table. He checked his speed-gun and  booze rack. He needed to stay busy to calm his growing  nerves. It was the perfect opportunity to observe the nuances of those who considered themselves bigshots. They rarely came to the bar, instead they plucked drinks from the trays carried about by Asian waitresses who were as skimpily dressed as their pole dancing colleagues. Once in a while an executive would beckon for his waitress to lean over then whisper in her ear. An order of a different variety, and one of his own making.

A group of people came into the VIP section at about 11pm. They were five in number, two guys and three girls. Unlike most other customers they were casually dressed and exuded a more carefree presence with their buoyant laughter. Based on prior knowledge the Chemist knew this was the group he had been waiting for.

But the patsy was missing. That could be a problem, depending on how the rest of the night went.

‘Bartender! Four shots of brandy to start us off, top shelf!’ said the brunette as the group approached the bar.

He barely heard her. His eyes locked on his target for the evening. She was the shortest of the group and yet her friends seemed to hover around her in deference. The two girls flanked her while the guys hovered behind like bodyguards.  Maurice Phelps and his harem stared slack-jawed, trying to get a glimpse of her from their table.

Jazmin Garretts.

She was gorgeous, a mix of Arab and Caucasian.  Tonight she had blood red hair not raven black like in the picture his Client had sent him. A picture he committed to memory before deleting from his phone. Blood red lips contrasting with her pale skin. Barely five feet; small and slender. Petite

And very, very rich. Quite the heiress, though not many people knew that.

He set five glasses on the table and filled them with Courvoisier, his hand trembled as she turned to look at him. He shifted his feet to steady himself, the movement obscured by the bar table.

‘You’re new here’ said Jazmin.  Her voice surprised him. It was deep and husky, like someone who chain-smoked her way through the day.

He pushed the glasses to each of them and leaned forward, never taking his eyes of her. ‘Three months into the job. I guess you don’t come here often. I’m the guy responsible for kicking Turner down to door duty tonight.’

Her friends laughed and downed their shots. Jazmin left her glass untouched.

‘What’s the occasion?’ he said.

The boys exchanged glances while the brunette pouted at his question. ‘It’s kind of a secret but what the hell., you won’t tell’ she said.

The Chemist furrowed his brow. She seemed buzzed already. She either didn’t drink much, or she’d started early before coming to the club. Either way her words stung a bit. He kept his cool, waiting for her to spill the secret she was bursting to share.

‘Howard & Chace are currently in takeover talks with Pacific Guaranty!’ she squealed.

‘Howard & Chace?’ he repeated blankly.

‘They’re a private equity firm’ said the bespectacled boy behind her. ‘You probably walk past them every day on your way here’.

Was he being helpful or being a smartass? There was no way to tell. The Chemist gripped the edge of the sink under the table, then he smiled.

‘Of course, that’s way over my head. Private Equity, takeovers, Pacific Guaranty…I’m more interested in the five hundred ways I can use Grey Goose vodka, that tends to impress the ladies more.’

He felt, rather than saw glasses-boy back off . A barely perceptible movement, but a sure sign nerd-face wouldn’t be a conversational threat for the rest of the night. The curly haired blonde smiled at him. Her eyebrows were a little too high, her smile a little too wide. He ignored her.

‘You guys are kinda young to be involved in stuff like that aren’t you?’ he said.

‘We interned there’ said Jazmin, looking at her phone.

‘Aha’ said the Chemist. He looked down at her brandy. ‘You gonna drink that?’

She pushed the glass towards him. ‘I didn’t ask for this. I need something milder.’

The awkward silence made five seconds seem ten times longer.

The Chemist picked up the glass. ‘Too good to waste. To your health’ he said, ignoring their wide-eyed stares as he drained the glass. Kareem glared at him from across the room. Jazmin peeled her eyes away from her phone and looked at him.

‘So, what’s it gonna be?’ He said to her. She paused, and then-

‘I’ll have a glass of orange juice ‘.

‘You’ve got it. Cash or card?’

Jazmin didn’t answer. Instead she reached into her purse and pulled out a black American Express card, imprinted with the side profile of a centurion. The Black Card.

He’d expected to see it, but still he stared. He took the card and swiped it, opening her tab for the evening.

‘Thank you, Miss Garrets.’

He watched her as she turned away. A part of him wondered if he didn’t have more to gain from dating her than killing her.

Alicia came around again. ‘Compliments of Mr. Phelps’ she said with a forced sweetness.  Across the room, Maurice raised his champagne flute and grinned at Jazmin.

Mandy glanced at Jazmin, the socialite shrugged.

Blondie had a habit of biting her lip whenever she thought he wasn’t looking. Useful later? Maybe.

That was when he noticed the Chinese guy approaching the interns, making his way through the seated executives.

At last, Ryan Chow.

The Patsy.

Chow leaned in and kissed Jazmin. She glanced over her shoulder at him. In the pulsating light of the club the Killer couldn’t be sure but he thought Jocelyn was slightly frosty. She beckoned to a table and the Chemist found himself the focus of four questioning stares.

‘I don’t think we’ve swapped names’ he said. ‘I’m Lemar, your bartender for the evening.’

Blondie grinned. ‘I’m Mandy’ she said. ‘These are Sarah, Mike, Paul’ she added, gesturing at her friends. He nodded at them as he recalled the information his client had shared. Michael was the smartass in glasses. Paul was the dark-haired dude with a thing for Sarah.

He turned to Mandy.

‘I’ve got a treat for you, a mint Julep.’

‘Sounds good to me’ Mandy said as a grin crept up her face.

‘Watch this.’

He grabbed a jar of sugar and sprinkled some in the bottom of the glass.

‘I need about an inch or so’ he explained.

‘That’s a lot of sugar.’

‘It’s a small glass’ he said as he grabbed the speed gun and squirted some water into a clean glass. He felt their eyes on him as tipped a little into the sugar, just dampening it.

‘A hammer and a clean towel. Old school, don’t tell Savvy.’

He worked quickly, crushing the ice in seconds with a series of sharp raps with the mallet.

‘Still dry’

He filled the glass to the  brim with crushed ice and slipped two mint leaves in.

‘Now I have a glass of crushed ice, with no space for much else.’

‘Our oldest Bourbon whiskey’

He poured and watched as the liquid slithered through the chips of ice to soak up the sugar. It filled the bottom, then the sides, all the way to the brim.

‘And a little nutmeg.’

The glass frosted immediately, as expected.

‘Here you go.’ He slid the julep towards her as he glanced at Jazmin and Ryan. They talked, heads low over the table, they seemed to be having an argument, just as the Client had promised.

It went on for another five minutes. Then, just as he was handing a martini to Michael, it ended. Jazmin crossed her arms and turned away. Ryan shook his head  and  got to his feet.

The Chemist nodded in their direction. ‘Looks like Miss Garretts could use some company. He said.’ Mandy glanced over her shoulder.

‘I’ll be right back.’ She muttered and tapped Paul on the shoulder. All four friends walked over to Jazmin, ignoring Ryan as he approached the bar.

Ryan dumped himself unceremoniously on Mandy’s stool. The Chemist looked across the room at Kareem. The bouncer nodded.

‘Rough night, argument with the girlfriend?’ said the Chemist.

‘She’s not my girlfriend anymore. We broke up’

‘Dang, man she’s such a catch though! Tell you what, I’ve got something to ease the pain.’

He poured another helping of Courvoisier and passed it to Ryan, hand over glass. Unprofessional, but an inconspicuous way to slip him something nasty.

Burundanga, the Devil’s Breath. A South American cocktail of scopalamine and other deliriants. Odourless, tasteless, barely a enough to fit under a fingernail.

And already dissolving into the unsuspecting patsy’s brandy.

Potent shit.

Ryan swirled the glass absently and downed it in one go.

‘Like a boss!’ said the Chemist.

Ryan grinned.  Then his mouth went slack and eyes unfocused.

The Chemist leaned forward. ‘What’s that man? You want another one?’

Ryan didn’t answer. He looked confused, impressionable. The Chemist leaned close enough to smell the brandy in his breath.

‘Blink twice’ whispered the Chemist.  Ryan complied.

The drug sedated the pathways which regulated freewill and memory creation. Victims had been known to help abductors ransack their own homes or withdraw large amounts of money from ATMs in the dreaded Millionaire’s Walk.

Ryan was, essentially, a zombie.

‘Slap Jazmin. Fuck her up real good. No one breaks up with you, no matter how rich she is.’

Ryan stumbled off his seat and shuffled away from the bar. The Chemist watched him in apprehension as he approached Jazmin and her friends.

Asking Ryan to slap Jazmin was a gamble, but it was important to make a scene. All Kareem had to do was get him out of the club and give him the next suggestion. Jazmin and her friends stopped in mid conversation and looked up at Ryan in confusion.

The hand swung in a furious arc. The Chemist whistled as Jazmin toppled of her chair and fell to the ground. She looked up at Ryan  in disbelief.

The Chemist stepped around the bar and made his way towards them as people turned around, frozen in shock. He saw Kareem making his way towards them from the corner of his eye.

Blank faced, Ryan grabbed her by the throat and pulled her to her feet. She gurgled. Ryan slapped her again and she flew into a side table. The slap resounded in the club just as the DJ stopped the music. Finally Mike and Paul snapped out of their stupor and rushed towards the pair as Ryan reached for her neck again-

‘What the fuck is your problem?!’ yelled Paul as they pulled him back and restrained him.

Maurice Phelps rushed up to them and punched Ryan in the face. Ryan’s head snapped backwards and his knees buckled under him. He went down hard, slipping away from Mike’s grip and crashing into a table. He didn’t get up.

‘Only tough when you’re hitting a woman aren’t you?! You piece of shit!’ screamed Maurice.

Kareem pulled Ryan to his feet and walked him out. A wet patch visible on his white t-shirt; the spot the girl had spilled her drink.

‘Get Savvy in here’ growled Maurice.

‘He’s gone. It’s fine’ said Kareem simply. He pulled Ryan towards the exit. Guests stepped away from them, as though afraid to get too close to Ryan. The Chemist turned his attention to Jazmin, who was being cleaned up by her friends. Alicia hovered nearby, her features laced with indecision.

‘You alright?’ asked the Chemist as Mike helped Jazmin into a chair.

She didn’t reply as she looked at her reflection in a mirror Mandy had whipped out. Her rich red hair hid most of her face but the Chemist thought he caught a glimpse of blotched skin as Jazmin tilted the mirror to get a better look.

‘Come on, I’ll get you to a hospital-‘

‘No Paul, it’s fine. I’ve got someone coming to pick me up.’

‘Who?’

‘Why don’t you mind your fucking business!’ screeched Jazmin.

That’s right. Stick to the script Jazmin.’ Thought the Chemist. Maybe he imagined it, but had her voice cracked due to pain or fear?

Time to go

And the Chemist went back to tending the bar. The beautiful blonde’s words passed in one ear and came out the other as his mind mulled over what had just happened. He offered her a flat apology and signaled to Alicia who came over.

‘Wow, too much excitement for one evening. Cover for me while I take a shit’ he said to Alicia.

She stared at him, her face scrunched in revulsion. ‘You’ve got a filthy mouth to go along with that mind of yours.’

The Chemist smirked and stepped away from the bar table. ‘You got a problem, take it up with Savvy.’

He waved at Kareem and slipped back through the staff entrance to the backrooms.

He left the VIP room ducked into the corridor leading to the backrooms. He made a show of going to the bathroom; the n  headed down a flight of stairs into the store room.

Even savvy businessmen require a bit of good fortune. When Shawn had purchased the building in Foggy Bottom he’d unwittingly paid considerably less than its true value. That only became apparent while clearing out the basement. Behind piles of boxed junk he’d discovered a wine cellar in very good condition. Had he done his research he’d have known this cellar was most probably a smuggling hub from the prohibition era. With alcohol banned in early 20th Century America a thriving black market had developed which lead to underhanded innovations to keep the suppliers a step ahead of the police.

And that meant discreet ways of transporting contraband goods in and out. Shawn  had  ignored the innocuous looking service chute at the far end of the cellar as he congratulated himself on avoiding refurbishment costs. More unscrupulous eyes noted it’s intricately designed pulley system and the fact it lead up to a ground level grate in the back alley. Made for transporting illegal booze of course, and now certain other items frowned on by law enforcement.

It could transport a very lean, very flexible and very desperate man in a pinch. Absolutely essential if you wanted to commit the perfect crime.

A crime which required the gun rested on the chute, a five-chamber Taurus revolver. It’s silvery body appeared to gleam in anticipation of the job at hand.

The Chemist looked down at his watch. A minute gone already. He squeezed  into the chute and worked the pulley.  For a month he’d practiced every morning at the close of shift while Kareem kept watch. He could get up a chute in a minute and down in ten seconds. He was tough enough to fight of the beginnings of claustrophobia as he worked his way up. Slow enough to avoid working up a sweat, yet quick enough to satisfy the feeling of urgency the ‘job’ demanded. His only company was his steady breathing and the faint vibrations from the padded dancefloor adjacent to the cellar.

He breathed an involuntary sigh of relief as he  reached the grate at the top. It required a light but firm push to dislodge and he slithered out into the alley behind the club. The night air had dropped by several degrees. Perhaps those underage girls had been on to something. The Chemist squinted and looked up the alley as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. Ryan stood about four steps ahead of him. In his right hand was a cellphone, noticeable only by the soft glow of its screen in the dark alley.

The Chemist slipped on latex gloves as he walked up to Ryan. He took the phone. It was unregistered and would surely be disposed of if things went according to plan.

I’m here’ he wrote. He sent the text.

Jazmin replied within seconds.

Where are you?

Alley out back. Don’t want to be seen’ replied the Chemist.

Ok, you were right. I’m sorry.’

Come on out and show me.’

Ok.

Call me when you get to the alley, follow the ring tone

He waited in the dark for about a minute before the phone buzzed in his hand. ‘You Dropped a Bomb on Me’ played softly as the Chemist watched the alley entrance. His heart thumped so hard it hurt.

Jazmin’s petite form came round  the corner. She hugged herself as she walked towards him, he was sure she hadn’t seen Ryan nor himself. For a moment he saw her as she was; a wounded animal. Broken in mind and body as she sought forgiveness. A sliver of light illuminated her face for an instant and he caught the irrational mix of sorrow, hope and elation as she hobbled towards him.

‘Our song, you remembered-’

The words died in her throat as the Chemist stepped away from Ryan, revealing himself. He pointed the gun at her chest and fired. Jazmin jerked and gagged. He fired twice more and lunged forward as she fell to her knees and collapsed on her side. He crouched beside her and examined his work.

Three holes in the chest, already filling with blood.  Jazmin’s gaze flickered about in panic, her face contorted with pain as she gasped for air. Her eyes locked on his as he reached with his left hand and pulled her phone out of her slackened grip. Recognition and confusion shone through them, along with an unspoken question:

‘Why?’

He looked at her phone screen as he straightened up and stepped away. Feeling the seconds flying by he breezed through her contact list and settled on a name.

Mandy.

He popped her a quick text. ‘Tab’s on me. Everything’s fine. Will make it up soonest

That would be enough to buy Ryan a couple of hours. Her friends would be piss drunk and pissed off. He wiped the phone and placed it where it had fallen. Then, straightening up, he turned to face the still docile Ryan.

‘Here you go Ryan, pocket these. Go home and sleep.’

Ryan walked to the alley entrance and vanished from sight. Only then did the Chemist feel the tension lift from his shoulders.

There was no time to congratulate himself. Off came the latex gloves, carefully pulled inside out and shoved in his pocket. And then replaced by a fresh pair. He squeezed through the chute feet first and repositioned the grate, before sliding down into the storeroom. The new latex gloves also came off and joined the old ones. He’d burn them later.

He checked his watch as he approached the staff entrance to the VIP bar. Nine minutes, not a personal best but still pretty damn good.

A grumpy Alicia was waiting for him.

‘What?’ he said, furrowing his face in an attempt to look nonplussed. ‘You missing me already?’ he asked as he washed his hands.

Alicia rolled her eyes and picked up her service tray. She walked away without saying a word.

‘Where did you goooo?’ moaned a familiar voice.

The Chemist smirked as he turned to face Mandy. She was leaning across the counter and smiling suggestively. He swore her seat had been empty a moment ago. Had she been keeping an eye out for him all this time?

Paul and Sarah who were making out at a table. Mike was draped over a chair, barely conscious as he grinned stupidly at the pole dancer vigorously earning her pay for the night.

‘Shouldn’t you be having fun?’ asked the Chemist as he nodded in their direction.

‘The bar’s the most fun place here. Jazmin’s bitched off but will make it up to us later’ said Mandy. Her words were slurred now, soon she’d be incoherent and talking gibberish. It was going to be a long night. She was kind of cute though, and practically throwing herself at him.  Why not make the best of it?

‘I see. How about another mint julep?’ he asked as he flashed what he hoped was an inviting grin.

 

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