Theme Parks and Obstacle Courses – A Novel

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33.

On a trip back from the bathroom, Pat had stuck his head outside the front door and the cold wind coming in off the bay licked across his face like the tail of a wet towel.

The queues had stagnated on either side of the door, both members and non-members alike; the ‘Full House’ sign had gone up and the two bouncers he had met when he arrived stood with their arms folded, facing the car-park.

Pat returned to his post beside the bar, which was almost an opportunity for concealment. The place looked to be well over-capacity, but the cops who should be checking were no doubt coming in for free drinks at close. The crowd moved like quicksand does; the dense morass of bodies gently heaved with rips forming in the direction of the bar and the toilets.

Pat looked from one corner of the room to the other, observing the other two bouncers. Both of them stood on crates so they could see over the crowd.

Pat was standing on the ground, which meant his view was partially obscured and he had to rely on the reactions of the others to know whether or not anything was going on. When he noticed that both of them had left their posts, he pushed his way into the crowd.

He found them on the other side of the dance floor. They stood behind Elliot, who was speaking with a tall, muscular man who stood about six inches over him. Elliot’s body language was open and he had his arms spread wide in a gesture that suggested both submission and apology.

Pat guessed the man had been asked to leave by a manager who was nowhere to be found. Behind Elliot stood six other bouncers, all dressed and coiffed identically.

Pat hated work in nightclubs for a variety of reasons, but had been doing it long enough to know how it worked. The security had two handicaps in the present situation, the first being that all the bouncers were clearly identifiable by their appearance and the numbers they wore.

It was uncertain how many friends the ejectee had, which meant that their number and position would remain a mystery until the fight kicked off.

The tall man’s face changed from red to purple. However, Elliott was probably a good choice of person to do the talking. Because he was shorter, it made him less of a threat. For this reason, women made the best talkers of all. The fact there weren’t any working here suggested that the club saw quite a lot of violence.

The second handicap was that the bouncers couldn’t hit first. This put Elliott in the worst position of all. Pat stood on the outside of the group, watching the crowd around the tall man. From there, he could watch them coalesce into a mob.

The tall man’s face was purple with anger above his corded neck. Elliott leaned back and away from him. This was a submissive posture and Pat believed it would most likely bring on the attack. Now, men started coming away from the crowd. Each stood beside a bouncer.

This was a bad sign. These guys were probably from a football team, possibly off-duty cops, and knew how to fight in a group. A small man with a dark, Mediterranean face stood beside Pat and looked up at him with obdurate, glittering dislike.

Pat could taste the metallic tang of hatred at the back of his tongue. He looked away, so as not to have his own aggression triggered by the challenge. He didn’t want to kick off yet. He wanted to be able to see how the rest of the brawl panned out.

Fighting in a nightclub or pub, or in a crowd generally, had its advantages and disadvantages. Invariably, you weren’t dealing with professionals, so they couldn’t strike with the same accuracy and power, but there was the possibility of being stabbed or hit with a bottle or a chair.

There was no referee and no timekeeper and no limit as to how many people you could end up fighting at once. Pat watched his newfound partner out the corner of his eye.

The tall man turned away from Elliot, as if seeking the attention of his friends. He then turned back and launched himself forward in the great, overstated arc of a head-butt.

It was slow enough for even Elliott to get out of the way, who stepped in close and grabbed him in a bear hug. Pat watched the crowd behind them to see who would come forward.

The man beside him grabbed at his t-shirt, trying to pull his head down in order to reach it. Pat closed a hand around the man’s neck and used the grip to hold him still. Seeing the stranger’s desire to hurt him stirred a rage that quickly went supernova; Pat held the man roughly and smashed his right fist into the side of his skull.

The Mediterranean man’s legs buckled as the electrical current travelling through his spinal column shorted. Pat hit him again, as if trying to kill him with the blunt-force trauma of the blow.

The man collapsed and Pat let him fall to the floor, stepping over the inert body to reach the next conscious one. As Pat took off his Kangol beret and crammed it into his back pocket, his hair swung in front his face.

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