Jim had a hard time keeping his mind on his work. He had hidden his feelings of rage over someone harming his son. What he wanted to do was find the boy and tear him apart, then find his father and tear him apart. There was no way to keep the world from harming his son, but he could rage against it for trying. He felt himself obsessing over the fact that his feelings in no way would come to direct action. He remembered what it was like to be a boy and get into fights. Having his father come to his rescue would only make matters worse. When the chips were down he really didn’t know what to do. He would have to play things by ear and try to keep his temper under control. There was no easier way to rile a man than to attack his son. His mind churned on the day’s events as he went about his work. He was more brusque with the customers than usual. He wasn’t much of a conversationalist in general and tonight found him almost completely non-verbal. Even the regular clicking of the bored cover charge girl’s fingers on the door ledge didn’t bother him. After a time he felt his anger meld into a period of self-loathing so intolerable he cursed out loud.
“Got a problem with something?” The cover charge girl asked.
“No,” Jim said. She sighed and continued her endless finger drumming. Jim felt his stomach knot with inner rage. Rage he turned upon himself. He couldn’t keep his son safe if he wanted too. He didn’t even have what it took to keep the boy’s mother around. His wife left because he was no good. That he didn’t make enough money and couldn’t find a stable job were her main reasons. Jim thought her absence was mostly due to the disparity of the life she thought she should have and the one she actually ended up with. Successful business women ended up with successful men, not men like Jim. Even during their brightest days Jim would be lying if inside he didn’t feel this would happen. He was so very much in love with her. Since their relationship began Jim always had a fear that she would see him for what he really was. A loser. He knew that if the rose colored glasses were removed she would come to her senses and leave him. In the end he was right. Self-fulfilling prophecy. God only knows how deep the scars on his child were because of the absence of his mother. Jim remembered the nights and tears in the early days of her departure. Daniel blamed himself. Jim told the boy it was her choice to leave, that it didn’t have anything to do with him. But how could you know if he believed him? Jim looked at his watch and cursed aloud again. He still had a long night ahead of him. Looking down the club hallway he shook his head. Why did the economy have to go bad? There weren’t any good jobs available. Because he couldn’t land a day job he had to leave his son alone in the house all night long. What if something happened to him? Jim would have to carry that blame too. Some protector. Some provider. Some fucking father. Jim clenched his hands into fists. His inner disquiet boiled over into another curse.
“Do you have fucking Tourettes or something? What’s your fucking problem?” The cover charge girl leaned back as Jim turned his face to her with red vengeance in his eyes.
“I’m just having a bad night. Okay?” Jim said.
“Yeah, it’s okay.” She stayed still as Jim turned back around.
“Oh and you may want to skim a little less out of the till. The owner is getting suspicious,” Jim said.
“What are you talking about? I would never…” She mocked incredulous. Jim cut her off.
“Just don’t okay. Just don’t.”
Later in the evening the crowd in the club was picking up steam. Jim heard the alarm on his radio go off. One of the floor bouncers was at the door in an instant to take his place.
“Where is the problem?” Jim asked.
“Men’s bathroom,” The bouncer replied. “You better hurry.”
Jim worked his way through the club as quickly as possible. He turned sideways and pushed his way through the crowds, finally making it to the bathroom a couple moments later. He met the VIP backdoor bouncer on the way.
“What’s going on?” Jim asked.
“Some girls were taking shit about the long line to get in the bathroom. I told them there’s never a line for the men’s,” The bouncer smirked.
“They went in the men’s bathroom?” Jim sighed.
“Yeah. They’ve been in there awhile so I beeped you.” Jim went in the men’s bathroom. The girls couldn’t have been older than twenty five. They were sitting on the sink ledge, surrounded by six guys. The girls were laughing but you couldn’t mistake the nervous looks in their eyes.
“You can use the bathroom if you show us your tits.” The guys laughed and leaned against each other making a wall. The girls shook their heads and plastered crooked smiles on their faces, masking fear.
“Guys,” Jim said. Their heads turned. “Let the girls out of the bathroom. Come on.”
“Just a second man,” Their faces turned sour. “We’ve got something going on here.”
“Come on ladies.” Jim held out his hand and one of the girls gratefully took it. Jim pulled them through the yielding phalanx and to the other side. One of the guys slapped a girl on the backside as she passed. She yelped in surprise and pain. The guys laughed.
“Do you want to press charges?” Jim asked the girl. The guys laughed louder. The girl shook her head. “Bad things happen to girls in men’s bathrooms,” Jim said. “Don’t do this again.” They left.
Jim turned to the guys. “Is everything okay in here?”
“Are you a fucking faggot or something? You don’t like tits?” They laughed.
“I don’t like club patrons being sexually assaulted in the bathroom. It’s bad press,” Jim said. He stepped close to the guy would first mouthed off to him.
“Okay. Sorry, Okay? Now what?” The guy backed down.
“Now you guys wash your hands go back out to the club and have a good time,” Jim said. He turned to leave. He could hear them laughing as he walked out. He went over to the VIP bouncer. He was intently focused on a couple blonds dancing on the club floor.
“Watching women isn’t a part of your job. You need to keep you head on a swivel at all times,” Jim said.
“Whatever. How did the bathroom thing work out?” The bouncer did not take his eyes off the dance floor.
“Just fine. We got pretty lucky this time.”
“You get too uptight.” The bouncer picked his nose and flicked what he found into a dark corner.
“You’re damn right I do,” Jim said. The other bouncer shook his head.
“What is your problem?”
“I need this job,” Jim took a step closer to the bouncer.
“Sorry man,” The bouncer said. “I don’t see what that has to do with me.” Jim clenched his jaw. His head throbbed at the temples. He snapped. Jim grabbed the other bouncer by the shirt and slammed him up against the wall.
“You tell another dumb girl to go into the guy’s bathroom and I will beat the shit out of you. You will get her beaten, raped and left for dead. Is that something you want?” Jim could felt saliva spew from his words and land on the bouncer’s face. The bouncer winced and tried to push Jim off.
“No man. Shit, let go of me.”
“I need this fucking job.” Jim tightened his grip.
“I get you. I get you.” The bouncer said. Jim shoved him backward against the wall. The bouncer pulled his shirt back into place and looked at Jim with red venom.
“I have more riding on this work than you can ever imagine,” Jim raged. “I don’t need some back door asshole with shit for brains who can’t keep his eyes off the whores on the dance floor fucking this up for me. You keep your eyes moving. You keep the customers safe and do your job.”
“Okay. I fucked up. Sorry. Shit.” The bouncer spat on the floor. Jim shook his head.
“I’m going back to the front.” Jim turned and walked back to his post.