The end of the world was coming and I found myself inside Dante’s Inferno, wondering what the hell I was doing here. If the Mayan’s were right, and this was humanities last night on earth before we disappeared forever, then surely, I asked myself, I could have found something better to do than stand inside the main hallway of a nightclub that was themed around the nine circles of hell, while two guys close to twice my age that I didn’t know looked me up and down like they couldn’t understand what I was doing here on this freezing night.
“So you’re the help for the night,” one of the men said, a big, tough looking guy who looked to be in his sixties. He spoke in a gruff Liverpool accent and he was wearing a black suit and dickey-bow that quite frankly, looked like it belonged in a museum. Somehow, the guy pulled it off, if only because his steely-eyed stare suggested he would rip your head off if you dared to comment on his ancient attire. He began to laugh as he looked over at the guy who was standing by the front entrance to the club, busy letting people through the door.
“Doesn’t look like much, does he Terry?” the other man said. He was bald, in his fifties. I found myself wondering what was wrong with his ears as I stared over at him. They looked like a child had fashioned them out of Plasticine, so misshapen were they.
“Not really, Geoff,” said Terry before suddenly making a lunge at me, his huge hand flying towards my head. Instinctively I threw my arms up to cover my head and Terry burst out laughing, as did Geoff over at the door.
“Someone’s a bit on edge there, Terry,” Geoff said laughing.
“Just a bit, Geoff!”
“You’s are funny,” I said shaking my head, feeling like an idiot.
“Ah, we’re only messing,” said Terry, slapping me on the shoulder, managing to off-balance me. I never want this man to hit me for real, I thought.
“I’m Neal,” I said. “I’m supposed to start tonight.”
“Good to meet you, Neal,” said Terry, suddenly appearing warmer than before. “I’m Terry, this is Geoff. I’m head doorman in this hell hole,” he said. “Geoff over there pretends he’s head doorman as well, but we both know he’s just my bitch, isn’t that right, Geoff?”
“Fuck you, O’Neill,” said Geoff as he got ready to greet a load of people heading towards the club entrance. “Look out. These guys are all over the fucking place. End of the world, Terry. Fucking guys can’t put enough away. Remind me to whack that turd of a manager before we leave, getting us in here tonight of all nights. The greedy cunt should’ve closed the place and lay up with that bimbo girlfriend of his. But no, he decides there’s money to be made tonight.”
“Fuck it, Geoff,” said Terry, walking over towards him to see what kind of crowd was coming. “You’d only be home writing another book that no one wants to read.” Terry laughed.
“Yeah, fuck you O’Neill. Haven’t you a bit part in a movie somewhere. I heard Schwarzenegger is making a new Conan film. Maybe you could be his fluffer.”
“They only use fluffers in porno movies, Geoff,” Terry said as he put his arms out to stop some drunk from falling through the door. “Hold on there, son.”
“I know, but he just likes you sucking his cock anyway,” Geoff said, before turning his attention to two guys who were stood in front of him, severely inebriated. “Don’t think so, lads. Not tonight.”
“Ah, come on, Thompson, you cunt. Let us in.”
“No lads, look at the fucking state on you’s. I know the end of the world is nigh, but fuck me…”
“What?” one of the drunks said.
“What’s he on?” the other said. “Fuck it, we don’t care…just let us fucking in. There’s a couple of girls inside waiting on us.”
“Who’s that then, your mum’s?” said Geoff and Terry burst out laughing.
“Yeah, you’re a funny cunt, Thompson,” one of the drunks said, no humour in his face or voice whatsoever. He had turned nasty inside. I could see it.
“Take a joke,” Terry said to them. “And come back in an hour when you’re more sober.”
“You think we’re fucking thick or something,” one of the drunks said. “We’ll never get in!”
“You said it, lad,” said Terry.
A moment of silence descended. No one said anything. Here we go, I thought.
One of the drunks took a swing at Geoff. It wasn’t a good swing. Geoff leaned back and countered with a right cross to the guy’s jaw that sent the guy to the ground, dropping him faster than a lead balloon. The guy lay unconscious on the wet tarmac.
The other drunk looked at Terry, considering whether to have a go. “I don’t think so, lad. That would be a big mistake on your part.”
The outraged drunk stood his ground. You could see him building himself up to have a go at Terry. I felt sorry for him. I’d only met Terry a few moments ago but I instinctively knew what was coming next. The drunk took a step closer and then he was on the ground unconscious with his mate. Or at least that’s how it seemed. In reality, Terry, this man in his sixties, had roundhouse kicked the guy in the jaw. It happened so fast I barely seen it. I stood there astounded.
Terry turned around to face me. “Are you just going to stand there all night or you going to go to work?”
“Eh, yeah, sorry,” I said, still in shock over that amazing knock-out of Terry’s. I’d never seen anything like it.
“Go inside and ask Dennis where he wants you.”
“Okay,” I said and I turned and began to walk out of the main hallway, towards the inside of the club and the ear-bashing music.
“Oh, and Neal?”
I looked back.
“Welcome to hell,” Terry said with a smile.
I turned and walked into the club.
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