The flashing of the lights inside the dark nightclub was distracting at best. Dirk couldn’t seem to keep his eyes locked on the group of three people he was paid to follow. On top of everything else, one girl with bright blue hair that lit up with every flash of the blacklight seemed to have taken a liking to him. It’s not that she was unattractive, he just had work to do, and in her current state, she was hardly making good decisions. Words had been coming out of her mouth for the last three minutes, but he hadn’t been listening. When one of the three targets looked up from their table and glanced in his direction, his attention snapped to the girl instinctually.
“-listen, I’m not saying that I’m easy, you’re just hot,” she finished.
“Sorry, what?” he asked, risking a glance over her shoulder.
“I think I may be getting my signals crossed, but do you want to make out?” she asked as his eyes met all three of his targets, who were now looking up at him.
“Shit, sorry about this,” Dirk muttered to himself as he grabbed the girl and kissed her. She dropped her drink on the floor as she tried to place it on the high-top next to them and grabbed his hips. He glanced up and saw his targets turn back around and resume their meeting. He pulled his face from the girl’s and steadied her, “Sorry about that.”
“What do you have to be sorry about? I asked if you wanted to-You’re a really good kisser, by the way,” she replied, looking down. “Aw, my drink!”
“I-I’ll get you a new one,” Dirk said, as the people he watched stood and began moving for the door.
“You’re so sweet,” the girl said, “I’m Grace, by the way.”
“Nice to meet you, Grace,” he replied, stepping around her and pushing into the crowd.
“Wait! What’s your-” was all he caught from the girl before the music became too loud and the other conversations too close.
He made it to the end of the raised section of the room just as his targets stepped through the exit. He pushed through the rest of the way until he reached the door, and a large arm descended in front of him.
“Sorry, buddy. I can’t let you leave yet?” the bouncer said, his voice so deep it would have rattled a wine glass across a table.
“It’s an emergency. My girlfriend just got into an accident. I need to get to the-”
The bouncer’s fist connected with the side of Dirk’s face harder than he had expected, and the speed seemed unnatural. His vision blurred for a moment as he spun and fell into a group of four guys that caught him instinctually.
“Whoa, man. Take it easy,” one of them said as they steadied him.
Dirk shook his head and blinked a few times. The bouncer was still standing by the door, his arms tense enough that he could see the sinew running up them from his grapefruit-sized fists. Dirk took a deep breath and stumbled forward slowly.
“Please, I don’t-”
Another swing came in from the other direction. This one Dirk managed to duck, but the knee the followed he tried to block and instead flew two feet in the air back onto a table, which tipped over, covering him in drinks as people scattered out of the way.
“Oh, shit!” one of the guys around the table shouted, “This guy’s trying to fight Ox!”
“I’m not trying to-” Dirk began as two giant hands grabbed his jacket and lifted him from the ground. The man aptly named Ox held him up with his feet dangling. He kicked with everything he had between the guy’s legs, wincing from even the idea of it, and he was released. Dirk had only half-expected the kick to work, so when his feet met the floor, he crumpled as Ox doubled over holding his groin.
Dirk took the opportunity and sprang from the floor, slamming his elbow into Ox’s face and kicking him in the side of the knee. With a howl of pain that sounded more like a wildebeest taking a hit, Ox fell to the left, and Dirk sprinted for the door, pushing through it as he stepped out on the street.
Dirk was met by the ice-cold air, nearly taking the breath from him as he glanced up the empty street. The warehouses surrounding this tiny private club stood dark and silent as the streetlights lit the pavement before them every few dozen feet.
“Fuck,” Dirk muttered.
The street was empty of people, and he couldn’t hear any vehicles nearby. He threw around a few punches in a fit of anger.
I should have been closer to the door. It was a mistake to go deeper inside. He thought.
The door behind him opened, and Ox came through, his face red and contorted in anger.
“I don’t have time for this,” Dirk said, shaking his head as the man swung at him.
Dirk feinted to the right and chopped the giant of a man in the throat. He kicked him in the groin once again, doubling him over, and lifted his knee with everything he could muster, connecting hard with the man’s face. Ox fell backward like a massive tree. Dirk felt the impact as the bouncer connected with the ground and didn’t move.
“Holy fuck, dude! Are you some kind of MMA fighter?” a guy asked from the door.
Dirk shook his head and turned away from the club, heading toward his office. He reached into his pocket, produced his phone, and punched in three words and hit send before breaking the phone in half and dropping it in a trash can.
In fourteen years, Dirk had never lost a target, let alone three of them. He felt his blood boiling, angry at himself for simple, avoidable mistakes that he knew better. He hadn’t seen them pay the bouncer on their way out. He should have assumed. He shook his head as he rounded the corner and flagged down a taxi.
“Where to, buddy?” the driver asked as he got in.
“1285 Main. If you can get me there in less than five minutes, I’ll triple your fare,” Dirk said, looking out the window.
“Hold on, buddy,” the driver said as the car whipped around a corner, accelerating.