To start at the beginning go here.
The trio of thugs made their way away from the main stage until they became lit by an amber light emanating from a wide, rectangular opening flanked by what appeared to be prison bars. Through the open cell was a wider room painted a hellish red with tables and seats upholstered in an identical color. I watched the trio cross over that border and the disappear to the left.
I stood at the border of the darkness of the club’s main hall and the yellow light coming from its inner cells and felt a faint hesitation, only brought on by the familiarity of being behind bars. The bars, I realized, weren’t a part of a prison, but were components of some industrial gate. Above it, stenciled onto the concrete was the word, ‘Abattoir’. Strangely, this made me feel better. I stepped in.
While there was a faint modal remnant from the dance floor, it was quiet enough this far away to hear something besides the decapitated beat the Swede was spinning. The red space of the abattoir was divided into pens, four or five rotating off central hubs, separated by more barred pen walls that offered little privacy. That didn’t stop a number of the pens’ occupants from engaging in some very aggressive necking, but most everyone appeared to keep their clothes on. A few black turtlenecks unobtrusively floated around, quiet and still enough that they could have been silhouettes that had been cut out of the red walls. Waitresses, cousins to Red Cross bartender, floated by, wearing the same simple black, but carrying burnished silver plates and wearing short skirts.
I floated between the red islands of pens, taking a bottle of water from a waitress and paying for it with an impressive tip that got her to point me in the right direction when I described the voyous. I headed that way. I didn’t travel far before the sounds of a young man drunkenly yelling could be heard over the lingering bass of the music. That’s a sound that would have normally primed me to eighty-six someone out of the casino, but in the abattoir of the Factory I suspected it was leading me to the right space.
With the black pea coat and black pants, I probably resembled one of the Factory security, so I was able to get close before anyone paid attention to me. In one of the pens Balaclava and Fatty were sitting on either side of the Corsican, who was more animated than the last time I saw him, trying to stand himself up off the couch his friends had propped him up on. Ever few seconds he’d try to stand only to be pulled down by the other two, which didn’t take much. He was obviously very drunk. Each attempt to get up was an inebriated rocking of his body, trying to hurl himself up and out of the sofa’s red embrace, only to be caught by his arms and gently lowered back into it.
Through all this, the Corsican barely managed to keep his eyes off the floor, only lifting them to try to get a cigarette into his mouth or yell some slurred reply to the friends trying to calm him. It was mostly just a garbled mess (“je l’AIME!”), and I sighed thinking how impossible it was going to be to get anything out of him in this state. A young lady, her butt barely covered by an emerald green dress, was perched on the end of the couch, smoking a cigarette in a manner as disappointed as I felt.
I sighed like a bellows, which brought me to the attention of the Algerian, standing on the other side of the pen’s gate, staring in at his friends. I saw his figure rotate towards me out of my peripheral vision, and could feel his body go rigid as he recognized me. While he was still trying to figure out what to do I took my attention from his friends and gave it to him.
Even in the dim yellow light this was the best chance I had gotten to really see him without the adrenaline and threat of violence. He was taller than I remembered, a good inch above me, but half as wide – I expected him to pass between the bars in a retreat to his friends. There was a small diamond scar on his right cheek and one of his front teeth was chipped. Watching confusion and alarm blend on his face, mixing into an impulse to warn his friends, I felt a kind of sadistic joy that turned into a pointless but wide smile.
Whatever momentary shock the Algerian felt he pushed passed it quickly, anger and pride supplanting his surprise. I thought about giving him a quick knock-down but then thought better of it – he had at least two functional pals and they were probably still sore about what had happened at the cafe. No good reason to give them an excuse to make for a rematch. So I just smiled at him as he called to one of them by the name, “Max.”
Balaclava, kneeling in front of the Corsican and trying to get his wandering gaze to look him in the eye, rotated on his heels. His expression was one of irritation, bothered by the interruption, until he saw me, the shadow by the pen’s gate, standing tall and wide by the exit. Less hesitation in this one, he stood up and took two steps towards me, let loose a short string of curses and spitting on the floor. He motioned with his arm like it was some kind of goose neck, gesturing me away. I just stood there with the same leering smile and choked up on the metal rod of the umbrella in my hands.