Our Flash Fiction challenge this week at Terrible Minds was to procure a randomly generated sentence and use it as the first or last sentence of the story. I got “The owner dines next to the observer”. So… this is what I created from that. Enjoy.
Observing the Subject
“The owner dines next to the observer.”
The strip club reeked of the owner’s greasy meal.
“Observer orders another beer,” Mike whispered into his tape recorder. He was also feeding into a microphone under his shirt. “Observer slaps ass of waitress before hollering at subject to show more tit.”
“What’s her reaction?” Bill’s voice replied from Mike’s earpiece.
“Subject ignored the observer.”
The joint stank of cigarette smoke, too. Mike couldn’t pinpoint the source, but it smelled like the menthols smoked by the subject’s boyfriend. Boyfriend was a term he used loosely. Pimp might be closer to the mark, for after stripping, the subject took on a second shift as an ‘escort’.
The observer was one of the best attorneys on the continent working for an infamous politician (a politician known to hire the subject on occasion for more than just her pretty looks).
The tip they’d been given was anonymous but clear. Where had it come from? They still had no idea, but had to follow it.
“Observer holds out a hundred. Calls the subject ‘Princess’.”
“Did she react?” Bill asked.
“No, just continued to dance.”
“Do you think she knows we’re watching her?”
“She hasn’t made eye contact with him since his arrival,” Mike said. “Must be deliberate because he’s sitting front row, center.”
“What about the boyfriend? You see him?”
“Negative. But I can smell him.”
The music ended and the subject collected the rest of the cash from the floor that had not made it into her thong.
“Take off your top next time, sweet thing!” the observer shouted.
Despite having heard him, she avoided eye contact and exited stage right. The observer stood from his chair. “Hold my table, good man,” he said to the owner. “Gotta go break the seal.”
The bathrooms happened to be in the same area as the dressing room, so when the observer headed that way, the owner didn’t look twice.
“Everything about the observer screams lowlife,” Mike muttered.
Bill snorted in reply. “He’s still a huge public figure. If the observer wins the sex scandal case for our politician, no doubt he’ll be the next President.”
“Well,” Mike replied, standing from his stool, “sounds like someone’s determined to make sure that doesn’t happen. I’m following the observer.”
He crossed the strip club. From the washrooms, he could see down the hallway that led to the dressing room.
“Get out of here, you fucking slime-ball.” It was the subject’s voice, projected from the dressing room.
“Come on,” the observer begged, “you come highly recommended by our mutual client.”
“That so?” the subject replied. Her demeanor completely changed. “Why don’t we go out back and I can give you a little taste of what you could have?”
The fact that the subject was luring the observer out of the building on company time—and not escorting time—was a red flag, but Mike could not risk exposing himself just yet, in case nothing did happen and he was required to continue following them. Ducking back out of the hallway, he waited for them to exit the dressing room and leave through the back door.
As it slammed shut, Mike pushed it open again, just half an inch, enough to watch shadows on the ground and know that his subjects were thirty feet away and approaching the observer’s car.
“We don’t tolerate the likes of pigs in here,” a man’s voice growled just then.
Mike wheeled around, dropped the door shut, and came face to face with the boyfriend. “Pig?”
The boyfriend, at least three inches taller than Mike with fifty pounds more muscle, crossed his arms. “Been watching you speak into your little recorder.”
The menthol reeked.
“Nah, just interested in your girl, is all,” Mike said. “I’m a head hunter, looking for someone to work for me, but I pay more than this asshole does. I like to note their moves, the way they react. I only take professionals.”
The boyfriend suddenly rammed his forearm into Mike’s neck, pinning him against the door. “You stink like a cop.”
Mike shook his head and pulled a business card from his pocket. It was fake, of course, but it read The Happy Johnson, Owner – George Fallswallow.
The boyfriend took the card and flicked it over his shoulder. “You need me to put a bullet through your head to understand you’re not wanted here?”
Mike grudgingly held up both hands. “Fine. Going.”
His urgency to see what was going on outside was growing.
“Don’t sweat it,” Bill suddenly said in his ear, “subject’s doing exactly what she promised. I’ve got eyes on them.”
The boyfriend removed his arm from Mike’s neck and backed away. “Leave.”
“Uh, wait, hold on,” Bill said then. “Mike, I think I see—subject has a firearm. She’s going to do it now! Get out there—I can’t make it before you!”
“Are you fucking deaf?” the boyfriend shouted in Mike’s other ear. “I said—”
Mike socked him in the face and pushed through the door into the parking lot. As he ran towards the black Lincoln, he could see the striper/escort waving around a gun. He grabbed his own firearm from his belt, but knew the subject would not hear any order to freeze.
Bill’s car skidded to a stop beside Mike as he reached the Lincoln, but before he was able to grab the door handle, a shot rang out, echoing amongst the trees surrounding the strip club.
Mike ripped open the door, knowing it was too late, but instead of finding a bloodied attorney, he discovered a dead stripper, collapsed against the opposite door.
“Looks like that tip I gave didn’t really pay off,” the observer said, sighing. “Even when your life is in danger, if you want a job done, you’ve got to do it yourself. Take that into consideration when you try to throw me into prison. And trust that I’ll be representing myself.”
© Lindsay Mawson 2012