The smell of armpits is everywhere.
Under that, there’s the smell of piss and vomit. Cigarette smoke. People’s breath. Traces of liquor. The dish soap the girls on stage are wrestling around in.
My clothes are wet and reek of the beer that some cumshot spilled on me a few minutes ago. The drink in my hand is half-empty and I haven’t taken a single sip. It’s all just spilling out on my fingers and rolling down my arm with every shoulder that slams into me.
I hate clubs.
I hate club music. I hate the people who come to clubs. I hate the smell of clubs. I hate the flashing fucking lights and the goddamn lasers in clubs.
I squint toward the DJ booth, at Jackson, with his shades on even though it’s dark as fuck in here, his clothes glowing under the black light, one hand raised over his head, pumping to the beat of the music. I want to hate him for dragging me here, but I can’t.
So I hate everyone and everything here instead.
By the time I find Zane and Alexander, my drink is nearly empty and there still isn’t a drop of alcohol in my system. Fifteen fucking dollars to give my hand a sticky whiskey-and-cola coating.
“Goddamn,” Alex shouts over the music, “You lookin’ salty as fuck, bro.”
“It’s the club, motherfucker!” Zane smacks me hard on the back, rattling the ice cube in my almost empty glass. “Ya ain’t got shit to be sour about!”
The floor is sticky under my feet. And, somewhere in this fucking madhouse, over the music and screaming, I can hear someone throwing up. Heaving, violently, like he’s hurking up all his fucking organs.
Everyone here is just trying to be louder than everyone else. Even the asshole who can’t hold his liquor.
“What happened to yer drink, Frank?” Alex yells in my face. His breath smells like sour beer and there’s some orange Cheeto dust in the corner of his mouth that’s been there for God only knows how long.
Part of me wants to smash the glass in his face.
I look back to the DJ booth–at Jackson, still glowing and pumping his fist to the music–then at the door, where Zane’s stepbrother Chazz is stopping people to check IDs. When meatheaded Chazz Fisher isn’t turning away hopeful teens with phony IDs, he’s standing guard, leaning on the wall with his arms crossed, waiting. Waiting for someone to shout too loudly. Waiting for someone to spill a drink on someone more violent than me. Waiting for a punch to be thrown, just so he can throw some of his own.
Zane and Alex are watching the stage. More specifically, they’re watching the blonde and the brunette “bikini babes,” as they’ve been so lovingly referring to them as, slipping around in a blow-up kiddie pool full of soapy water. That’s the appeal of this place, I think. There’s not much else it could be, honestly.
And maybe I should be sad about that. Maybe I should be upset that this many dudes are clamoring to squeeze into this tiny, stinking shithole, bumping and shouting and stepping in vomit–just to watch these two girls fake wrestle. These two girls–probably not even old enough to buy drinks at the bar. Barely eighteen, at the oldest.
Skeazy is the first word that comes to mind. The next one is subhuman, then filth. For some reason, the last word to come to mind before I turn and start shoving my way back to the bar is livestock.
Back at the bar, I order another drink and try to take a few deep breathes to calm myself down, but the stink in here only makes things worse. By the time the bartender hands me my drink, I’m fighting the urge to strangle everyone I can get my hands on.
I look back over my shoulder, trying to find Zane and Alexander in the crowd, but it’s useless. Deciding my drink will be safer if I stay put, I get comfortable and take my first sip of legal alcohol. And it’s absolutely terrible. There’s too much whiskey. Not enough Coke. It burns my throat and nose and I’m just so ready to throw the damn thing on the ground and leave this shitstorm.
And then the strobes stop blinking. The music dies. The whole club is pitch black for a second before a spotlight hits me. I wince and cover my eyes, squinting up at the DJ booth. Jackson is grinning like an idiot, pointing straight at me.
“This next one,” his voice booms through the speakers, “goes out to my lil bro! He’s turning twenty-one today and this is gonna be his best birthday ever, courtesy of the best big bro ever! Now let’s hear it for the birthday boy!”
The music booms back to life and the club erupts. And I lean forward on the bar, cradling my throbbing head. I hate this place. I hate these people. These lights. This noise. The smell. The taste lingering in my mouth. I hate it all. And I want to hate him too.
But I can’t.