Theme Parks and Obstacle Courses – A Novel

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31.

“Hello, mate,” said Pat, “I’m from New Breed Security. They’ve sent me down to work tonight?” Cro-mag #1 returned the handshake but didn’t have much to say. Both doormen wore black slacks and tight Bonds t-shirts that hugged every bloated distention of their body-builder physiques. Their arms hung away from their torsos, as if they were holding cantaloupes in their armpits.  

“Go inside and Elliott’ll tell you,” said #1 with a twitch of his prognathous jaw. Cro-mag #2 gave Pat a derisive up-and-down; beneath his coat was a sheer lump of mass, unsculpted and therefore unfit for display.

“Where can I leave the car?” Pat asked.

“Here, in the car park,” said #2, blinking. Pat held in the laugh.

“Few problems with that. One, I don’t want it keyed or stolen, and two, it’s my friends’ car. Can I park it somewhere in front of the door so you can see it?”

“Yeah, sure,” said #1. “What about… there?” He pointed to a spot immediately in front of him, pretty much were the Valiant currently idled.

“Great,” said Pat. He got back in, reversed the car back and drove it forward so it sat at the very front of the car park, opposite to the door.

Inside, the club was a fully-upholstered nightmare. It had lots of wood-grain and neon; red leather benches and stools, and even a mechanical bull to one side of the dance floor. The perfectly square shape of the room lent the connotations of a cattle yard, complete with a bar built out of raw timber.

The cinderblock walls were painted dark blue so when the lights were off, the walls would simply recede into the dark. Pat headed to the office out the back where he found a large square man with a square head jammed into the divot between his shoulders. The man hauled himself out of the office chair and waddled towards him.

“Hi, I’m here from New Breed security?” said Pat, uncertainly.

“Yeahhihowyagoin!” asked the man in a voice that sounded like it was squeezed out of the world’s most high-pitched whoopee-cushion. “Elliott’s my name,” said Elliott. “You done this before?”

“Many times.”

“Thank fuckin’ Christ,” he said, turning and waddling back to the desk. Elliott’s arms were bent at close-to a forty-five degree angle and when he reached out towards the desk, the arms seemed to have a fifteen-degree range of movement at the elbow.

“Most week-ends, we seem to draw the shortest straw with your company. Last time, they sent us a pair of hundred-pound Indians. They sat out in the car park most of the night, watching the cars. It’s alright when they send us Islanders. Don’t talk much, but at least they can fight.”

Elliott tried to reach back over his shoulder, but the sheer mass of his biceps meant he could barely even touch the top of his head.

“Is there a bit of fighting here?”

“Fuckin’ oath.” Elliott backed up against the spine of the open door and started to scratch his back against it, like a rhinoceros at a palm tree. “Mate, can you do me a favour?”

“What?” asked Pat.

“Can you scratch my back for me?” Pat winced at this, but complied. He stood behind Elliott and asked, “Where, exactly?”

“About ten inches below my neck, to the right.” Pat hesitantly lifted a hand and began to scratch, trying not to think about Elliott’s dead skin lodged under his nails.

“Oh yeah, that’s it,” said Elliott in a breathy tone which made Pat’s skin crawl. As he scratched, he looked at Elliott’s neck and shoulders where they emerged from his spray-on t-shirt. Pat tried not to focus on the stray bristles and knolls of angry red flesh that blossomed into pimples with venom-yellow heads.

Pat signed the register and Elliott led him out of the office to stand at the back of the club.

“It’s pretty much one room, except for the mezzanine balcony around here.” Elliott indicated a floor that jutted out from the wall over the bar with a staircase that ran up to it at either side. “That’s the VIP lounge. That opens around 12 and we close it up at 4.”

“What time do you close the club?”

“Five. That’s when the license finishes. We tend to stay open a little past that sometimes. Some of the local coppers like to come in and have a drink when they knock off. Them and certain regulars.” Elliott went silent and Pat assumed he had received the full extent of his brief. They stood awkwardly.

“What do you do, Pat?”

“Not much. Bounce in a bar in the city. That and work in the backpackers.”

“Oh.” Elliott stood beside him, planted his feet and folded his arms.

“What about you? You a pro bodybuilder?”

“Pastry chef.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I learned my trade in a three-Michelin star restaurant in London.”

“How’d you get in and out of the kitchen? The delivery chute?”

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