Read Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One Online

Authors: Adam Knight

Tags: #fiction, #adventure, #murder, #action, #fantasy, #sex, #violence, #canada, #urban, #ending, #cowboy, #knight, #outlaw, #dresden, #lightning, #adam, #jim butcher, #overdrive, #lee child, #winnipeg, #reacher, #joe, #winnipeg jets

Cowboy Ending - Overdrive: Book One (7 page)

 

My abs tensed
self-consciously after his frank assessment of my fatness but I
kept my poker face up. “I’m good thanks. But I’ll let you
know.”

 

David nodded
knowingly. “Damn straight man. All my boys get special rates.
Guaranteed. I only make cash off scrubs.”

 

Mark gave me a
look and rolled his eyes away from David. He’d told me a story one
time about some of David’s “supplements” and had been less than
impressed with their price or efficacy.

 

Or how they had
affected his unit.

 

I turned away
and continued my sweep.

 

Main floor
looked good. Bartenders and waitresses were getting into position
and doing final liquor preps. Bottle blonde Shelby was preparing
her till and bottle count no matter how hard her excessive cleavage
was trying to get in her way. The VIP Section near the front had
that little velvet rope all set up and Aasif was there talking with
an undersized new bouncer who’s name I didn’t care to remember.
Several provocatively clad young ladies I didn’t recognize were in
the section already, leaning against the champagne bar sipping
frilly drinks and just looking attractive. Aasif nodded to me as I
passed by.

 

One of Aaron’s
cop buddies was in VIP as well, Myron something. Smaller officer.
Lean, wiry and dark. Not skinned, but dark hair and with a very
calculating look in his eyes. Sorta like mine, I assumed. Scanning
the building and everyone in it. Looking for trouble. We locked
eyes for a second then moved on. Neither one of us was trouble.

 

Coat check
girls were good to go and already busy. Big Mike had started
letting groups of people pass through in manageable numbers. Danny
and two others were in position manning the cover charge and metal
detection duties. One guy checking purses while the other passed a
magnetic wand over everyone. Danny himself was checking ID’s and
recording them in the photo scanner on the doorframe.

 

I turned around
and nearly bumped into Aaron as he led some friends down the stairs
from the private floors, a hotter than hot girl on each tiny arm.
Both girls would have stood taller than Aaron even if they hadn’t
been propped up on stiletto heels. The stupid music was so loud and
invasive that I didn’t hear them behind me at all.

 

Aaron was all
snazzed up in a brand new silver suit. One of those ones that
gleamed like polyester but was actually closer to silk. His perfect
teeth gleamed behind his fake, spray on tan as he saw me.

 

“Joe,” he
yelled. That music was really starting to get loud. And grating.
Stupid loud music. “Gonna be a big night!”

 

I nodded
tightly with my small smile and locked my teeth together to hold in
a yawn. One of us was going to have a big night with crowd control,
the other a big night with cash coming into the coffers by the
bucket load.

 

I knew which
guy I was.

 

Aaron gestured
with a cocktail loaded hand to his friends. “You know my business
partners, right?”

 

I didn’t know
for sure they were business partners until just then, but I nodded
again and extended my small smile to the other three off duty
police officers that spent all their free time hanging around the
club.

 

Officer Chris
Parise was a well groomed man whenever he came into the club. The
physical example the Winnipeg Police Department likes to set for
all their officers. Tall but not intimidating. Fit but not muscle
bound. Agile and quick footed, as I’d seen firsthand a time or two.
French-Canadian and bilingual. Well-spoken and not quick to
violence. I’d seen articles in the newspapers where he had acted as
a media spokesperson on occasion, which is a big trusted position
in the Police Force. It meant he was well-liked among the higher
ups as well.

 

Officer Don
Mackie stood off to his left, a bit taller and leaner. Of Metis
descent which is always a plus for Police Officers in Winnipeg
given the high aboriginal population. He had the build of an
athlete and probably still played a lot of rec hockey in his spare
time. Maybe a coach, I overheard him talking about his kids one
night. Like on many nights here his eyes seemed unfocused, maybe
even a little sad and clearly lost in his own thoughts. Or maybe
he’d just had too much to drink again. Officer Mackie seemed to get
shitfaced a lot when he was at the club.

 

Behind them
both and un-missable was Officer Gordon Miller. A complete beast of
a man. About as tall as me but with fifty pounds to his benefit,
not all of it fat. Some sort of a Slavic descent I figured but that
was hard to determine for sure. His close cropped hair and beard
belied the expansive landscape of rugged wilderness the rest of his
skin must’ve been covered with. Dark coarse hair practically burst
out the V-neck of his polo shirt and down his tree trunk sized arms
all the way to the knuckles. Where the other three officers in this
group were sleek and clean, Officer Miller was like an older model
Ford truck. Solid, dependable and able to haul anything
anywhere.

 

I was glad they
were on my side.

 

Officer
Parise stuck out his hand with a smile. “
Bonjour
Joe
, comment ca
va
?”

 

My French
sucks
le bag
but every
Canadian knows the first question you’re ever taught in elementary
school. “
Ca va bien
, Officer
Parise,” I replied loudly while shaking his hand. “Will you
gentlemen be staying til’ close tonight?”

 

Parise looked
back at his friends with a laugh. “Absolutely. We are here until
the sun comes up.”

 

Miller let out
an elemental war whoop towards the sky, two beer bottles in each of
his hands. Apparently was attempting a rare quadruple-fister. “We
are gonna get fucking wasted!” He whooped again, making the girls
with Aaron flinch back slightly and then laugh awkwardly.

 

Parise and
Aaron laughed as Mackie motioned to Miller, leading him into the
main bar area. Aaron shared a glance between them with Parise
nodding fractionally.

 

“You in a rush
to get home tonight, Joe?” Aaron asked, looking me right in the
eye.

 

I paused.

 

On the
surface, this seemed like an innocent question. I interpreted the
subtext.
Wanna stay for the after party,
Joe?
Like I said, sounded innocent enough. It had been
a shit few weeks. The kind that felt like months.

 

But there was
something in the way he said it. No, in the way he looked at me
when he said it. Just in a way he and I had never spoken
before.

 

Seriously.

 

Aaron’s never
serious.

 

He’s the
life of the party. The sleaze supreme. The front man for
Cowboy Shotz
.

 

He never does
serious.

 

The pause got
long in the tooth.

 

I coughed,
covering the silence.

 

“Sorry,
something in my …” I coughed some more, hoping the flush in my face
would be confused with choking as opposed to sudden, onset
embarrassment.

 

Parise
stepped up and gave me a few whacks on the back. “You
okay?”

“Yeah,” Coughed
a few more times to really sell it. “Yeah sorry. Should really
start smoking so I can quit.”

 

Nobody
laughed.

 

Can’t win ‘em
all.

 

“So yeah, you
want to stick around after? Join us upstairs for a few drinks? A
few of the other doormen are invited as well. We want to talk some
business. For the club.” Aaron smiled widely and both girls with
him suddenly turned on the sexpot eyes, aiming them in my general
direction.

I returned my
poker face to its full and upright position, hoping the fact that I
suddenly felt myself approaching boner factor five at something
resembling warp speed wasn’t registering in my eyes.

 

“Sure,” I
replied taking a glance up the stairs. “Depending on how the night
goes, I’d be happy to hang around. Check out the penthouse.”

 

Aaron smiled
widely and Parise clapped his hand on my shoulder. Then they turned
into the main room with the girls, leaving me behind.

 

I glanced up
the marble staircase again as people filed in past me from the main
entranceway. Then I shook my head. With my luck Mom would want to
go to early Mass or something, guaranteeing me a very long
Sunday.

 

Still, a
party’s a party. And everyone needs to blow off steam every now and
then.

 

Among other
things.

 

I wandered past
the not yet packed dance floor, waved briefly to the DJ spinning in
the high tech booth just off to the left of the stage where
tonight’s band was warming up for their first set. All the power to
the stage and lighting grid flowed through that spot, at least
that’s where all the heavy duty cables and lights seemed to start
from. Forty thousand watt system all flowing underneath that guys’
feet. Buddy looked like he could barely get his head out of a bong
but there he stood, working away on his turntable and laptop.

 

I stepped up
onto the stage and ignored the cracking sensation in my knee. My
surgeon’s voice echoed in my head rambling on and on about rehab
exercises, proper stretching and maintenance. I tuned out the
memory the way I tuned him out in person. My knee still bent the
way it was supposed to and I could still squat like a linebacker in
the gym.

 

Pain is
manageable. One of life’s truest lessons.

 

Turning out to
face the bar I went over my mental checklist one last time as the
rush of the people filling into the club began to buoy my energy
levels. All of my points had been covered and everyone was in
place. People were starting to file in steadily in small groups.
The hockey game would be ending soon so the real party was about to
get started.

 

We were ready
for anything.

 

So of course,
anything had to bring friends.

 

Chapter 6

 

It ended
up being a
really
big
night.

 

By some miracle
the Jets survived a two goal deficit against one of the most potent
offences in the entire NHL and come back to win in overtime. While
it was only a regular season game it was a big win with only a week
left to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And since Winnipeg is
perpetually a bubble-team in a huge hockey market this was a really
big deal. The entire city was up and ready to party after this.

 

So naturally,
people were rowdy.

 

Three big
fights broken up before eleven thirty was something of a record. So
far no one on staff had been injured beyond a bruise or two so we
were ahead on our own personal score sheet. Though in my mind even
one fight is too much in an evening.

 

It could’ve
been a lot worse. Thankfully Aaron had us enforce a strict dress
code policy (no sports jerseys, ripped jeans, hooded sweaters, or
sneakers) which made it easier to keep the truly rowdy folk outside
to hoot, holler and generally be hooligans.

 

As a result,
two of the incidents weren’t actually in the club. They were out at
the Main Street entrance. Big Mike called for backup to rebuff some
fresh from the arena rowdies who were trying to jump the line and
create a scene and we were happy to oblige.

 

Word of advice
to future sports fans wanting to start trouble in clubs? If you’re
still wearing your team’s jersey when you arrive, be prepared to
have it yanked over your head and get pummeled Dave Schultz
style.

 

The aftermath
of fights suck. The adrenaline spike is both heady and terrifyingly
addictive. I like to think of myself as moderately sedate when it
comes to the bouncing gig, but I’m as human as the next guy. Once
the blood starts pumping in your ears and your sense of reality
goes into that high speed, gooseflesh inducing state it is a real
rush.

 

But like any
high the crash is brutal.

 

I leaned
against a pillar near the main bar with my arms crossed to hide the
shaking in my hands. Taking deep and steady breaths to calm the
hammering of my heart. The last scrap hadn’t even been all that bad
in comparison to other nights but for some reason my pulse was
racing like I’d run the hundred yard dash. There was a cold tingle
rolling down my spine from a spot just at the back of my neck all
the way into my toes.

 

Weird, but
exhilarating.

 

I was so damned
tired.

 

The band was in
my usual spot up on the stage going through a variety of loud cover
tunes much to the delight of the jumping and writhing mass of
humanity before them. Bass and treble at top volume hammered
throughout the club, echoed by the pulse in my chest and making it
hard to calm down. The electricity in the air felt tangible. Almost
like I could taste it.

 

Shelby caught
my eye in between customers and motioned for a drink. I nodded
shortly, relief filling my eyes. She smiled briefly and put one of
her barbacks to the task. Said barback tossed me a bottle of water
direct from the cooler which I immediately cracked open and
drained.

 

Better.

 

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