Chapter 5 – The Offer
Barry was panting and sweating through his shirt, trying to decide if he was having a good time or not. The beat of the music only seemed to be quickening, the crush of the bodies around him growing thicker with each moment. It had probably only been a few minutes ago when Samuel had been pulled away from him, but it felt like hours in the throng. Someone pushed up against him, looked down at him, placed two hands on the sides of his face, and kissed him, only to be whisked away by the current of bodies, and replaced by someone else. Why the fuck had he turned down Samuel’s offer of coke a moment before? Why had he thought this would be a good idea? He hadn’t been on a dance floor like this since his mid 20’s, not long after graduating from college, before the pace of work had decimated all nightlife for him aside from the occasional breeder dinner party with Dennis.
He knew from experience that the only way through was surrender. Just give in, forget everything else for a bit and just let the music and the vibe hold him. Each time he tried though, he lost it and just felt out of place and embarrassed. The crowd was well mixed, but he was still older than most of the guys there. He was out of shape, his knees were hurting. Somehow he was sure that Dennis was watching him, scoffing, thinking about what a fool he was being, and that was enough to make him push for the edge of the floor, stumble out of the mass and stand by a table, trying to not look as panicked as he looked around for his shirt and jacket, tugging them on before anyone could look and really see how out of shape he was.
The air was still too thick, the smell of sweat and everything else in the room overwhelming him. He pushed away, looking around for Dennis and an exit. He stumbled out a side door, and found himself in a small patio area where guys were smoking and chatting, or kissing and fucking off in the darker corners of the fenced area. At least the air was cooler, despite the smell of cigars that Barry had never really enjoyed.
“Having a good time?” a voice said.
Barry looked over, and sawt the dealer from before, who had sold Samuel the cocaine, smoking a cigarette. “It was Hugh, right?” Barry asked.
The man nodded. “Looks like you bit off a bit more than you were expecting. Need a bump?”
It sounded appealing, but despite wishing for it out on the floor, he no longer thought it would do much for him, and he shook his head. “I just haven’t been in a club in a while. I’m not quite the twink I like to think of myself as, you know?”
Hugh laughed, “Yeah, it’s a wild scene in there, but good for business. Hell, the whole district has really taken off in the last year. Crazy to think how many places were going under just a couple years ago, but everything is really getting revived. Some solid private investment, I’ve heard, but I don’t know that much about it, really. Here, can I get you another drink at least?”
“Just a water, thanks.”
“Suit yourself,” Hugh said, went over to the smaller bar out on the patio, and returned with a bottle of water that Barry guzzled down. “So, you two don’t seem like the usual types who come around here. That other guy, he your husband?”
Barry nodded. “Yeah, we don’t have much time for a nightlife. I was just trying to pin down when I’d last been in a place like this, and I think…it’s been most of a decade?”
“Work keeps you busy, huh?”
“Yeah. Dennis is a surgeon–joint replacements mostly. I work with CelTech, in their sales department.”
“Sounds dreary to me.”
It was a bit, but Barry didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of being right. Certainly after his time on the floor, he was almost looking forward to the simplicity and safety offered by his office come Monday.
“Have you ever considered giving it all up? Finding something a little closer to your passions?”
“You have some valuable assets, Barry. They could be worth a lot of money to the right folks, and you could get yourself a life more in line with what you want–what you really want.”
Barry just stared at him. Was he really thinking about networking through a drug dealer, that he’d just met a few minutes ago?
“Look, I’m just a connector. I connect people to things that they want. A lot of guys here, they want drugs, but I like to think that I can offer many things to many people.”
“And what do you charge for such a service?”
“Oh, I don’t get paid by you. I do receive a commission from the client if I bring them someone who goes through the process successfully, but I guarantee you, you’d get more out of it than me.”
Barry was saved from having to find out more, by Dennis pushing his way through the door and out onto the patio, dragging Kyle out with him. “There you are Barry, come on, it’s time to go.”
Barry looked from Dennis to Kyle and back, confused. “Uh, yeah, sure. Why…Kyle?”
“Hi Mr. Gershom.”
“You’re…oh, I see,” he said, looking back at Dennis. “What happened?”
“This young man got in here, underaged, and I suggested that he let us take him home, or else I’ll tell his father where he’s been sneaking off to.”
“Dennis let go, you have a deathgrip on him.”
Dennis looked over at Kyle, and let go of his wrist, a bit embarrassed. “Don’t go anywhere.”
“I’m fucking not, and you’re not my fucking parents anyway.”
Dennis held back an exasperated sigh, glad he’d never had to suffer through children at least. “Let’s just go home, alright?”
Barry nodded, and followed Dennis away, but not before Hugh pressed a business card into his hand. “If you need a contact, you know. There’s better lives out there, if you want them.”
He nodded, and left. Finding their way out of Depot was more difficult than getting in. Barry got the distinct impression, somehow, that the building didn’t want them to go, not yet. It was a silly sensation, but the pull and the flow of bodies, the positioning of walls, all of it made him feel a bit claustrophobic. In the end, they found their way out of the unmarked door and back onto the sidewalk. It was less busy, the city already beginning to turn in for the evening, but the guys who were still out were a little less friendly than Barry preferred. “Come on, let’s go find the car,” Dennis said, and led the way. Barry followed behind him, and Kyle lagged a bit further back, but wasn’t trying to ditch them. Barry wondered what he might say, to help. Looking at the young man’s face, it was a look he recognized–he was unhappy, and he wanted freedom, or something more free than what he had. He thought about telling Dennis they should let him go back, that he should have a chance to be young, and have fun, and feel like himself for a moment at least, but he didn’t. Dennis was right–he was too young to be out here, especially in a place like that. He felt like a snitch all the same, and while Dennis was happy in the role, Barry had always chafed under it, and he resented Dennis for putting him there. At least he’d had a little fun. He sent a text to Samuel explaining their sudden exit and thanking him for the evening, found their car, bundled in and headed home, to the suburbs.
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