Home > The Nightlife: New York (The Nightlife #1)

The Nightlife: New York (The Nightlife #1)
Author: Travis Luedke


Dead on his feet and ready to clock out, Aaron Pilan didn’t immediately react when Charlene groped a good handful of his ass. Burned out from a long, hard shift of waiting tables, Aaron’s delayed reaction wasn’t anything charming or witty as his boss Bemichi would have preferred. Refilling Charlene’s merlot that he’d already refilled one too many times, he deadpanned, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” He realized too late, his question could easily have been misinterpreted as an encouragement to her advances.

He definitely didn’t want to mislead or encourage Charlene. He found her attractive, with that “MILF” allure––Mother I’d Like to Fuck––of older more sophisticated women. But the problem with Charlene came two-fold. She was both a regular customer, and of sufficient age to actually be his mother. And she probably knew enough about sex to thoroughly corrupt his innocence, which, much to his chagrin, remained mostly intact.

The real reason he chose not to fraternize with customers was his ever-present fear of the wrath of Bemichi that could descend upon his shoulders like angels of judgment bearing fiery swords. His boss Antonio Bemichi, who owned the restaurant for two decades, wasn’t one to allow such indiscretions to pass without consequence. Aaron had been warned his first day in training, “Hell hath no fury like an Italian restaurant proprietor scorned.”

Bemichi, like many Italians in New York, took great pride in his fine dining establishment and customer service. After all, the place carried his namesake, Bemichis Restaurant. Like many Italians, Bemichi’s fiery temper flared and screeched in a fountain fireworks display. Fortunately his tirades sputtered out just as quickly.

Aaron considered Bemichi a decent guy, and the job wasn’t bad, the food even better. Aaron enjoyed his work … most of the time. The interior décor of Bemichis resembled a New York Italian version of the Olive Garden with comparable pricing. The kind of place to bring the whole family, slurp down all the fabulous Italian pastas, and then waddle home an hour later, wonderfully sated, without having emptied your wallet.

For Charlene, Bemichis held the added allure of hitting on waiters half her age, secure in the knowledge they would grin and bear it for propriety’s sake. Aaron didn’t complain, he’d gotten used to her hands on his ass. He suspected she patronized the restaurant for the express purpose of fondling him when her liquid courage was sufficiently wetted. She seemed to go after him at around the third refill of merlot. That should be her cutoff point, but then, he wasn’t entirely averse to the occasional grope. Definitely not getting any at home. Besides, she always left a hefty tip––a consolation prize for putting his wares at her fingertips.

The game of grab-ass had grown old months ago. It was no longer surprising. At this late hour Aaron just wanted to finish his shift––like now. He watched the time tick by. The hands on the clock advanced in exaggerated slow motion, mocking him with their lazy movements. Twelve o’clock midnight arrived not a moment too soon. He moved so fast making his escape out the door, that he ignored the first call on his cell phone from his roommate Kyle. When Kyle called back seconds later, he figured he better answer, it must be important.

“Hey Kyle, what’s up? I’m trying to get outta here.”

“Hey guy, I gotta warn you.” Kyle spoke over the top of techno music and laughter in the background. Aaron could almost make out the telltale snort of Delia’s laughter that usually took place at his expense. “Delia’s here with some friends. She just showed up a few minutes ago.”

“Did she say anything about me?” Aaron’s hope flared.

His first serious girlfriend, Delia had turned his simple existence upside down with the infamous words spoken in her usual flippant manner, “I think we should see other people.” This wonderful news was followed by the even more infamous relationship killer, “But we can still be friends!” It had been a very long and humbling week since her mercilessly delivered one-two combo knocked him for a loop.

Kyle paused, his silence implied things better left unsaid. “She’s playing it off like everything’s totally cool. Honestly, she looks happy to be single.”

Aaron blew out the breath he’d been holding in.

Kyle reassured, “Don’t worry about it, there’s plenty of fish in the sea.” Kyle’s casual manner didn’t translate. Aaron had never found it simple to catch either fish or women.

He prepared himself for another pep talk. Kyle had been pushing him for the last week to broaden his horizons and do exactly as Delia suggested––see other people. He’d told Aaron repeatedly he’d be better off with someone else. Kyle didn’t care much for Delia’s manipulations.

“Look, I know you’re stuck on her, but you’re not getting anywhere by chasing her. The best way to handle a girl like Delia is to hook up with her friends. If that doesn’t drive her batshit crazy, then she doesn’t deserve you.” Sage advice from philosopher Kyle.

“Do you think she told everyone we broke up?” Aaron feared he already knew the answer.

“You mean that she kicked you to the curb? Yeah dude. That boat has sailed, there ain’t no stopping it. That’s why you gotta make some moves of your own. Offense dude, time for offense. You remember that chica Delia’s always hangin’ with, the sexy one with black hair, Amber?”

“Ahh … yeah, I think so.”

“She’s here right now, so hurry up, her tight little ass is ripe. And hey … um … can you pick up some beer on the way home? You know how it goes. You get a few drinks in em’ and the pants fall right off.”

Only if you’re Kyle. Aaron had never experienced the good fortune of having women’s pants fall off. His limited intimate encounters taught him there was considerable effort and occasional begging involved in the removal of women’s clothing.

“Yeah, I caught some decent tips tonight. How about a twelve pack?” He already knew the answer, but to ask was habitual, an endless game he and Kyle played. Kyle never wanted less beer. Kyle always pushed for more, and he always had a plausible reason.

“Better make it a case. I think we’re in for an all-nighter.”

“Alright, I guess I’ll get a case, just in case we need a case.” The cheesy punch line had ceased being funny months ago. But like most aspects of Aaron’s life, it had become a groove he’d fallen into that he couldn’t get out of. He hung up and headed out the front door of Bemichis into the New York streets to do the same thing he did night after night.

Kyle had called for the beer. The moral support play wasn’t his thing. In fact, Kyle was probably making moves on Amber at that very moment. Aaron didn’t mind. Kyle had a few redeeming qualities worthy of mention. Loyalty, yes, loyalty would be one, that and a never ending supply of optimism. The proverbial glass was always half full with Kyle––half full of beer.

But Aaron didn’t make it home this night. He never made it to the corner drug store for beer. The moment he exited Bemichis, fate conspired to place two opposing and dangerous forces in his path; the timing so impeccably perfect, one could argue divine intervention.

The first party, a vision so remarkable, so drop dead gorgeous, she seemed surreal against the backdrop of grainy darkness and gloom of the concrete-asphalt streets. Aaron’s world blurred out of focus. This sparkling gem of a five-foot blonde-bomb package complete with cliché black cocktail dress and f**k me pumps was the only thing to remain distinct in his vision. As she locked an unblinking gaze on him, nothing else existed in his universe. Nothing mattered beyond this fabulous woman gliding towards him with supreme grace and poise.

As he was drawn to the blonde’s powerful magnetic attraction, the second part of the equation arrived on scene. Aaron watched in fascination as an unmarked police cruiser drew up alongside her. He recognized the undercover cop car by the telltale spotlight next to the driver-side mirror.

The woman hesitated, appearing torn between giving her attention to Aaron or them. She was so far out of his league. Why did she notice him at all?

The men in the car beckoned to her. Her hesitation ended, she turned away to converse with the undercovers. She probably didn’t know they were cops. The one on the passenger side propositioned her, “Hey babe, what’s goin’ on tonight?”

Without missing a beat, she offered, “Monsieur would like to party? Un ménage à trois? We can make a party, oui?” She had an intoxicating French accent.

Both cops hopped out of the car instantly, surrounding her in an unmistakably threatening stance. Aaron advanced on the trio to better hear them. He couldn’t take his eyes off the woman to save his life.

The fat, bulldog cop verbally assaulted her in his Brooklyn accent. “Hey, who you workin’ for? I hope it’s somebody we know. You gotta be paid up with the right people to work this street!”

She frowned. “I don’t work for anyone!”

Aaron was further smitten as he watched her defy them in her cute little French accent. The bulldog grabbed her arm, “You’re under arrest!”

The thin, bald, Barney Fife-looking cop, moved in to grab her other arm. They must think she’s a prostitute. How could they make such a mistake?

* * * *

She studied the two fools, one on each arm. She examined their auras and evaluated her options. Their auras swirled with the colors of arrogance and a sense of entitlement. Like so many others who came before them, these men craved power over her. It was a base instinct to control and possess, as if they had found a new toy to play with. Their selfish desires disgusted her, like a rotten stench surrounding something putrid. She read the nuances of their hatred towards all women stemming from a sense of inadequacy. Their souls held a deeply rooted taint from a lifetime of police corruption fueled by greed.

They were a prime example of what was wrong with the world today, authority figures seeking out the seemingly weak for predatory purposes. Nothing new. She’d been dealing with the sick desires of small-minded men for a very long time. She couldn’t help but shiver with disgust and loathing, an involuntary reaction to something so unpleasant.

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