"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
Minerva, Chapter 4
Matt King ran a hand through his jet black, gel-stiffened hair as he examined himself in the mirror. Although only seventeen, the boy of average height and medium build could always pass himself off as much older. Matt took a step back from the mirror, ran his dazzling blue eyes up and down, and proclaimed, 'The only question now is, which lucky lady is taking this home.'
Matt left the cramped bathroom and worked his way through the crowd back to the bar. He was wearing his East Village camo, and decided that this would best be complemented by a wine cooler. He contemplated a serious night of hogging'there was really no other word to adequately capture his present disposition'and so he would no doubt end up focusing on insecure girls. (I seem to do that a lot. Well, practice makes perfect, Matt thought.) Normally this beverage strategy would leave him open to wiseass comments from the dipshits who'd be hanging around the girl (or girls, if he played his cards right) Matt would end up fucking that night, but he frankly didn't feel like that bullshit right now. He'd take the easy approach and go sit next to a girl all by herself. Matt could easily find some NYU freshman who was considered hot in her hometown but just recently realized that no matter how slutty she dressed, she still couldn't compete in the big leagues. In that context, the chick drink would be a sign of vulnerability for Matt, and prove indispensable in getting her naked. Hell, for this kind of mission, Matt almost wished he could whip up a whitehead or two.
Matt paid with a ten and let the bartender keep the change. Overtipping on the initial drink had become a habit with him lately; of course it was more practical when he was buying mixed drinks, but what was five dollars?
Matt sipped his drink ('which is basically pink water') with his right hand and leaned on the bar with his left forearm. He casually scanned the room from left to right. There were quite a few females in the room he'd gladly pound the shit out of, but, as always, there were plenty of other gents who were also aroused by luscious tits and tight asses. Matt really didn't feel like starting a bidding war tonight. Not only was it an extra pain in the ass, but Matt couldn't stand competing for some chick that wasn't even that hot damnit. What was the point of such a contest? That he'd be able to best some fucking frat boy who thought his football exploits would trump Matt's jokes? No, the only time to bring out the big guns would be when it was fair. Like at that upcoming party in the Hamptons, which his buddy in film school promised they could get into. There would certainly be models there'as in, girls who made a living by having people take their picture, not the fucking homemaker who tries on an apron for a K-Mart circular'and there was a good possibility some celebrities as well. So sure, doing a line of coke and getting all worked up to pick up a former Playmate'especially if she's getting hit on by some jazz musician'now that was something. But to get all competitive and cockblock some punk kids who were just trying to get laid? Why bother?
It really was funny though, the sorting that happens in a bar, Matt thought as he continued his surveillance. You'd occasionally see dorks trying to talk to girls they had no business talking to, but the girls dealt with that quite effectively. Good for the girls, but bad for Matt, since the only girls worth fucking in the bar were currently surrounded by groups of hardasses.
If I could take a pill that made me think fat bald girls were smoking, would that be incredibly stupid or the best decision of my life?
Matt's reflective musings left his mind the moment he saw her. Whoa, he thought. She was a fairly tall, skinny redhead sitting at a table in the corner, wearing tan dress slacks and a blue shirt with ruffled sleeves. Matt hadn't noticed her before since he hadn't seen any of the guys around the pool table try to talk to her. But when she walked over to the jukebox, Matt saw everyone staring at her ass, so he realized they had just been afraid of her. And as she turned and walked back to her table, Matt saw that she wasn't some girl, she was . . . a woman. A lady, in fact.
Matt acted quickly. He knew it was only a matter of time before one of the dipshits fantasizing about her and resolving to 'talk to her after this beer' would realize he could ask her about the song she picked. As Matt walked quickly towards her, his mind raced for suitable introductory remarks. He threw back the wine cooler and left it on a table as he walked by. One of the guys sitting there yelled, 'Hey thanks,' to which his idiot friends laughed.
Why is she coming here? Matt wondered. She sat, looking perfectly content, sipping ostentatiously on her drink, which appeared to be a strawberry dacquiri. What a little hottie! Matt thought with amusement. 'I'm just sitting here being hot, sipping on a straw and pursing my lips just like I would do even if people weren't watching me.' Matt chuckled.
The woman got back up and again walked over to the jukebox. Little shy up top, Matt thought after examining her chest. But an ass to die for!
The woman bent over at the jukebox and kept shifting her weight from one leg to the other, wiggling her behind in the process. As she leaned over, her shirt slid up her back and Matt could see the faintest hint of her red underwear.
Matt stopped dead in his tracks. He was absolutely flabbergasted.
That fucking cocktease! Here she is, looking all sophisticated and elegant, and she's flaunting a fucking thong!?! Are these women INSANE?? Matt looked away for a moment to compose himself. Okay, if that's how it's gonna be, I'm ready.
Matt jogged over to the table and sat down opposite the woman's drink. He got the waitress' attention and motioned that he wanted her to come over. She nodded and gestured with her head to the guy who was fumbling through his wallet trying to pay her.
This exchange allowed Matt to be justifiably occupied as the woman walked toward him. She said nothing and sat down at the table, opposite Matt. Matt smiled and winked at the waitress and then turned his attention to the woman.
'Look,' he said, looking sincerely into her eyes, 'I hate music snobs as much as the next person, but seriously, if you ordered up the Eagles, I'll have no choice but to leave the room.'
'If I played the Eagles then I'd be leaving the room with you,' the woman answered immediately. 'But I picked something from the White Album.'
Matt was nonplussed by this response. It was neither an invitation nor a rejection. Damn he hated the chick strategy of uttering factual statements. If a girl started making things up, you could figure her out pretty quickly. But the truth could mean so many different things, you never knew what they were really saying. Fortunately the waitress walked over and provided a smooth exit.
'Two Jacks and cokes, please,' Matt said, looking deeply into the eyes of the waitress, as if she were the only other person in the room. In his present attire, the drink order was the only play that made sense. If he'd been dandied up and in a martini bar, that would have been something else. In any event, if the lady were quick, she might pick up on the grammatical novelty; it had worked once before.
'I detest Coca Cola,' the woman said to him, not the waitress.
'So don't order it,' Matt answered with a slight look of puzzlement. 'The Jack's for me.'
The waitress looked worried. The woman looked up at her and said pleasantly, 'I'll have another dacquiri, dear.'
As the waitress walked away, the woman and Matt looked into each other's eyes. Matt honestly wondered if all he had to do was win a staring contest to take home this fine piece of ass.
'Do you want to hear something funny?' the woman asked, breaking the long silence.
'Sure,' Matt said, beginning to relax. This was actually turning out to be pleasant.
'Any minute now my dates for the night are going to come in that door.' The woman paused to sip on her drink, finishing it. 'I promise you that they are the toughest men you will ever lay eyes upon. The reason I'm even in this bar is that they need to keep a low profile, since one of them killed a mobster in Chicago.'
Matt sat motionless and continued his smug, assured smile. He said nothing as the waitress came with the three drinks. He pulled out his money clip and paid with a hundred. The waitress apologized and went to get change.
'So how do you feel about that?' the woman asked cheerfully after a moment of additional silence.
Now this was quite unheard of, Matt decided. It was an incredibly bold move, but what did it mean? Was she just a fucking psycho? She didn't seem it, but obviously, every guy who goes home with a genuine nutcase doesn't realize he's going to get his dick chopped off in his sleep.
Matt looked up into the air and chuckled. He extended his hand. 'Where are my manners? Matt King, a pleasure to make your acquaintance.'
'Tara McClare, how exhilarating to make yours,' the woman said, shaking two of his fingers. Suddenly she looked over his shoulder and elation broke over her face. 'Jim!' she yelled and waved her arm.
Matt's stomach fell. Oh fuck it, he thought as he slowly turned his head to see who this Jim cat was.
And towards him strode a black guy who looked like a Raiders lineman and a white guy who was built of brick. Okay, so they just might eat me.
'Hello boys, I want you to meet Matt King,' Tara said. Jim and Quinn looked at Matt. Their faces were completely without expression. Even Matt was surprised by what happened next.
'You fellas both know you shouldn't be here,' he said in a mature and confident voice, his eyes slowly moving back and forth between theirs. He completely ignored Tara. 'Now I happen to like this place, so if you walk out right now, I'll wait a minute before I make any calls.'
Quinn was alarmed. He kept track of King's hands while he surveyed the bar. No one else seemed to be with him, but then again, he hardly expected the Caruzzis to be sloppy a second time.
Jim saw Quinn stiffen and instinctively took a step closer to King. He wanted to smother him if King went for his pockets. Quinn noticed Jim's step and worried that Jim had noticed something.
Tara was smirking and couldn't stop a slight giggle from escaping her lips. Matt thought it was slight enough that the two men wouldn't have recognized it.
'Did I not make myself clear?' Matt demanded. He stared at Quinn. 'You are going to take your nigger bodyguard and leave.' Matt pointed to the door.
Quinn was barely looking at King. For the life of him he couldn't spot anyone in the bar, but nonetheless he decided that a straight shot for the door would be his best bet. Except for the pool table, there was really no cover to speak of, and there probably wouldn't be a window in the bathroom.
Now this really made no sense to Matt. He could have understood them leaving or, more likely, them kicking the everliving shit out of him. But they were just standing there, staring at the floor!
Matt reached across the table and grabbed Tara's slender glass. He had practiced with beer bottles and thought ('yep') that he could break it on the side of his head (being careful to snap his wrist back immediately after striking). He literally snarled at the men as he brandished the jagged half of the glass.
Tara couldn't help it. She burst into laughter.
After a few moments, the men still had made no move, and continued to stare off into the distance. Matt shrugged, put the glass down, and used his two small napkins to sop up some of the spilled dacquiri. He looked back up at the men.
'Okay you got me. Whaddya drinkin?'
It dawned on Quinn that the boy had been trying to pick up Tara. He felt quite foolish. Jim looked at him and they both started laughing.
'We've got an extra Jack and coke if either of you would like that,' Tara offered helpfully as she slid over to the chair by the wall, leaving hers open for Quinn.