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Chuck, manager of the Cove, finds himself entangled with a girl he doesn't even like...
From the Desk of Minus Three:

Yeah yeah yeah, it’s been awhile. What can I say? I don’t have 40 hours a week to write anymore and putting up one chapter of an ongoing story every single day is time consuming. My apologies to those that feel “abandoned”…but what can I say that you don’t already know deep inside? I don’t work for you. Until I see someone from this site’s signature on a paycheque I’m not going to let it wreck my sleep patterns.

I promised a while ago something else ongoing about a little group of characters I cooked up. It centers around the Cove. Readers of Pyre might remember it as a slightly divey little place where Michael would sit and drink himself stupid 23 years after the events in Vice, and they might remember a bartender named Chuck. Here’s the story of how he came to own the Cove long before Michael ever took up drinking. I can’t promise to post parts every day because I’m busy getting paid as a writer (‘selling out’ in the nomenclature of some who feel jilted). What I can promise is that this is free and it will be ongoing, just not on a daily basis like before. It'll have lots of sex as it progresses, lots of violence, and be just as involved as anything esle I write...albeit more infrequent.


{cove} - 1

Kasandra with a K was a crazy bitch. We all knew it, even I knew it eventually, and yet none of seemed in too much of a hurry to run her off like the tramp she was. Maybe it’s just one of those things. Maybe it’s one of those situations we sometimes find ourselves in where we’re addicted to the things we hate. The more I think about it the more I realize that must be it because I fucking hated that bitch after a time.

The first day I met Kasandra she was drunk and sliding lower on her stool with every new round set in front of her by some guy confusing the drunken abandonment of monogamy with actual adoration. There was a certain grime appeal to her disheveled style; she didn’t need a wash, but almost. I’ve never been a fan of chest tattoos and she had one, some kind of artsy script saying something I couldn’t read because to look at it was to let your gaze stray just above her cleavage; which is to say you ended up looking at the cleavage. I’ve never been a fan of bangs hanging in a girl’s eyes but she had those too, black and inky and low and covering one of her big brown eyes; to look at her bangs was to look in her eyes and that was a dangerous trap. They were deep like dangerous water, dark like all the things she wanted you think she was thinking about. The short skirt and fishnet stockings were their own special trap too, daring you not to look at her legs under them; thin like poles, a bruise on the side of her left knee leaving you wondering if she walked into the coffee table in a stupor or if maybe that was a thumb print. You looked at her and thought of sex, the kind of rough and passionless sex you have at 4am when you’re drunk enough to forget to put on a rubber. She was like an ad for bad decisions, the poster child for euthanasia.

So what can I say? I sat beside her and ordered a pint and motioned for the guy working the wood to get her another of whatever she was having. A gin and tonic, some special gin that probably tasted the same as the house gin but came in a fancy bottle so it was more expensive. I didn’t get it, I didn’t care, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing but I watched myself do it.

“The music in this place sucks ass, doesn’t it?” she asked me in that practiced tone of nonchalance and dismay. You know the tone I mean.

“You think? I don’t mind it,” I replied. Her tits weren’t big but they were pushed together just right and peaked out just enough to draw the eyes. She saw me looking and smiled like a predator.

“This rinsed out indie rock bullshit makes me want slit my wrists,” she said like a snake. “They were playing some real rock a while ago. You should have been here then.”

“Oh? And why’s that?” I asked her. She just shrugged and I went on, raising my voice to be heard over the chaos of Friday bar chatter. “So what’s your name?”

“Kasandra with a K,” she said, choosing to lean in instead of speaking up. She smelled of cigarettes and desperation and one too many. She didn’t lean back.

“I’m Charles. You can call me Chuck. What do you do, Kasandra with a K?”

“Do? Whatever the fuck I want.” She half said it half chuckled it, like it was some joke she told all the time but that I didn’t get.

“I’ve never seen you here before,” I said to her. “I have a good memory for faces.”

“That’s probably because I’ve never been here before.” Her arm was on the back of my stool now and I did what we all do in that type of spot; I wondered how drunk she was and how drunk she would need to be to leave with me. “What’s it to you anyways?”

“I work here is all,” I went on. “I manage the place for my friend.”

“Oh, good for you.” It was a challenge, a bold statement that dared me to make her give a shit. Practiced nonchalance. Practiced dismay. Practiced…whatever. I laughed. “What’s so funny, Chuck?”

I didn’t want to fuck up an easy lay so I turned my ambivalence for her type into a wry grin of feigned synergy. You know what I’m talking about, that thing you do when you think you’re being so sly and you make an effort to be just like the person wearing the panties you want to get into. “Nothing, never mind. What brought you to the Cove tonight?”

“Clutch. It was playing when I walked past. Now it’s this bullshit sweater wearing college rock and I was going to leave before you sat down.”

I motioned to Sammy behind the bar and leaned to his ear and told him to switch up the tunes and to put Kasandra with a K’s drinks on the promo tab. He leaned back a few inches and looked at me with an odd look on his face, the crooked mouthed grin and raised eyebrow that everyone knows means ‘Seriously? Why?’ I just nodded and he shrugged and then we were listening to real rock music and Kasandra with a K was drinking for free.

“Wow, you’ve got some pull around here,” she said, all sardonic and dismissive and sarcastic.

“I’m going for a smoke,” I said to her, standing from the stool but leaving my jacket on the hook under the edge of the bar.

“It’s fucking cold out man, take your jacket.”

“I’m not going outside,” I told her. “I’m going to my office upstairs. You in?”

“Sure, whatever,” she slid off the seat and put her square healed hooker boots on the floor.

Down the bar, around the end, up the stairs, down the hall, through the door. My office wasn’t much, but it was the only part of the place that felt like it was mine. Rory was all over the rest of the joint. In here it was just me. Me and Kasandra now. I sat at the cluttered desk that was pushed against the wall and put my feet up on it, lighting a smoke. Kasandra leaned against the door and reached in her little black purse and took out a small brass pipe.

“Can I smoke this in here?” she asked, already putting it to her lips and the lighter to the bowl, not waiting for an answer.

“Kick the door shut first,” I said. She was already drawing the smoke into her lungs as she turned on her heal and used her other boot to kick the door shut and lean against it. She let out a cloud of smoke that most would liken to a dragon but made me think of demons. It had a rich heady aroma. The kind of pot that a serious pot head would smoke, not the dirt weed some college kid would pack in a bong and think it was good. She held the pipe towards me with an inquisitive look in her eyes and I took it and had a puff, letting the smoke out with a cough.

“Lightweight,” she mumbled, smiling.

“That’s some heavy gear,” I said, waving off her second offer as she held more in her lungs. She opened her mouth and let some of the thick smoke out, drawing back up into her nose before blowing it all into my face.

“Yeah,” she said, hitting the bottom of the howl with her lighter over the ashtray before putting it in her purse. “I don’t like to fuck around.”

“I can see that,” I said. I shook my head internally at myself. ‘I can see that’? What kind of bullshit was I saying? Kasandra was putting a piece of gum in her mouth and I was kicking my own ass for sounding like an idiot.

“So what’s your deal Chuck?” she asked, putting a Colt in her mouth and lighting it. “You like to take young girls into your office?”

“Only if they’ve been bad,” I said. I kicked my own ass again. It’s not like I’d never fucked some broad in my office, but I usually didn’t fuck girls like Kasandra in my office.

She made a twisted smirk appear on her face and rolled her eyes at me. Her tone was laced with more practiced nonchalance, more practiced dismay, more practiced sarcasm. “Real smooth talker, aren’t you?”

“Sorry,” I told her. “I don’t know why I said that.”

“Because you want me to suck your cock?” she asked. It wasn’t a question. It was a statement but she inflected the end anyways, mocking me no doubt.

“No, it’s not that. I just…”

“So you don’t want me to suck your cock?” she asked, raising an eyebrow and sitting on the desk by my feet.

“I didn’t mean…I meant…”

She was already getting to her knees in front of me, the Colt clamped between her teeth and her one visible eye burning a hole into me. Instead of kicking my own ass again I was putting my feet on the floor on either side of her. Instead of getting up, or taking her back to my place, I was putting my cigarette out in the ashtray without looking away from her. Kasandra undid my jeans, spit her gum out on the floor, took my hardening cock from my pants, and handed her Colt to me.

“Hold this,” she said and then wrapped her lips around me.

I drew in a sharp breath and she slowly lowered her mouth down to take most of me in one go. She worked from the waist, not the neck, her whole body getting into it as she swallowed me deep into her mouth and back out again with her cheeks sucked in against my shaft. There was no real passion, no real lust, it was a utility blowjob but she was good at it. There was something trashy about it that worked for me, something about the almost bored way she went about it that had me on the verge faster than any other head I’d ever received. Every motion she made was exacting and precise, every sensation carefully orchestrated to do one thing and one thing only. Her hand clenched around my shaft moved up and down in counter to her mouth, pulling me in as she pushed her face downwards, pulling me out as she drew back to swirl her tongue around my head.

I took a drag of her Colt and ashed on the floor, my other hand pushing her bangs back from her other eye. She looked at me then, frowning, and swatted my hand away. Her hair fell back across her face and brushed against my cock and that was all I could take. My body spasmed once and she pushed her head down as far as she could take me into her mouth, pushing me against the top of her throat. She gulped and swallowed as I came then opened her mouth as far as she could and straightened her back to sit up on her heels on the dirty office floor. Cum and spit hung in strings from my head to her lips and she wiped them away like it was no big deal, catching her breath.

“I didn’t say you could smoke it,” she said, frowning. She took the Colt back from me and put it back between her teeth as she stood up.

“Thanks,” I said, putting my cock back in my jeans and zipping them up. “But why?”

“Why?” Kasandra asked me. “Why what?”


“Oh don’t get all awkward on me now, Chuck,” she said, taking her purse from the desk and crushing the life from her smoke before opening the door and letting the sound of music and people and booze come back into the room from downstairs. “You gonna buy me another drink or what?”

As first meetings go it could have been worse. Things like that are often better left as they are though, so if it been first and last meeting maybe things would have turned out different. Maybe Rory wouldn’t be in jail and I wouldn’t be the owner of a bar. Maybe I’d be married and have kids. Maybe my staff wouldn’t look at me funny when they made eye contact with me. Maybe we’d still have the college crowd and not the degenerates and drifters and last call trollers.

Instead I gave her a job and nothing was the same again.

Nothing really ever ‘stays the same’ the way people talk about it anyway. Everything changes, everything shifts and becomes something else. Asking yourself ‘what if’ is like putting one bullet in and spinning the chambers and crossing your fingers. It’s the best way I can think of to set yourself up for an ass kicking.

I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Maybe just because I’ve never told anyone else before, maybe it’s because I’m bored, maybe it’s because I want someone to look at me and tell me it’s not my fault. I don’t know if this is a confession or a justification or an excuse. Maybe it’s all of those. Maybe I’m just numb now and so I don’t care. Numb is kind of a pussy thing to be, but you’d like numb more than the alternative. I know I do.

So I gave Kasandra with a K a job and even that shouldn’t have been enough to tip the scale. Turning points are a bitch. It’s never just one thing but the real pain in the ass is retrospect. Looking back you can always find one moment where it all shifted. If I were really honest though it wasn’t just one thing, it wasn’t just one point where it all went wrong. There were lots of little turning points, small twists and bends you don’t see at the time, not just one big corner you went around without looking.

Take Sammy for instance. There was more than one time when he looked at me with that bent grin and lifted eyebrow. I’d always trusted Sammy, it’s why I let him hire the staff. He could read a person. That same night I met Kasandra, after she had left in a cab and we were shutting the Cove down for the night, he looked right at me with that look on his face and asked “So what’s the story with chicky?”

“I don’t know man,” I told him, shrugging as I counted checks and weighed bottles and did math. “Just some girl.”

“Some girl you meet once and promo out her whole tab?” He was still making that face and it bugged me.

“Dude, we’ve all done it,” I shot back, maybe more defensively than I needed to. He picked up on it too. Of course he did, he was Sammy.

“For a few rounds, not some broad’s whole tab,” he replied, wiping down the grate under the taps.

“Who signs the cheques, Sam?” I asked him.

“You do, Chuck.”

“Right. So I make the call,” I tried for finality in my tone but only succeeded at a lame and awkward after-the-fact excuse.

“Alright man but that girl is trouble, I can see it.”

“You’re paranoid,” I said quietly, sipping the rum at my elbow.

“She dropped off a resume last week,” he went on. “I threw it in the garbage, man. She’s no good. Don’t get hung up.”

“Just because I let her blow me in the office doesn’t mean I’m going to marry the girl, Sammy. It is what it is.”

“I warned you. Just remember I warned you,” Sammy said, putting on his jacket and leaving.

He warned me, that’s true. I didn’t remember in time though. Not when it mattered. Not when it counted. Kasandra with a K was working her third shift when I should have remembered what Sammy said that night. Fucking retrospect and its ability to line up shit that didn’t seem to matter at the time.

Kasandra was a good waitress, it wasn’t that. She did the job. Customers liked her. The regulars accepted her as ‘one of us’. Maybe if Sammy had been working that night he would have reminded me, but it was me behind the wood and Doug at the door and Kasandra and Malory on the floor. It wasn’t busy, just steady. I had no problem with staff having a toke while they worked so it wasn’t that either.

It was the guy at 17. 17 by the door that went out to the patio. The patio was closed but we left the door unlocked so people could go out there and smoke without hanging out by the doors on the street. The guy at 17 didn’t look like the regular crowd, but we drew all types. The Cove was a melting pot of the city’s culture. A cross section of the cliques and groups and factions. It was the place where a guy in a suit would sit with a guy in a band t shirt and they’d buy each other rounds while talking about…whatever. That’s how Rory wanted it and that’s how it was. So this guy at 17 didn’t draw my attention. Kasandra was good at chatting up the tables so their conversation didn’t draw my attention either.

It drew Rory’s though. Rory didn’t usually come in. He’d stayed away and let me run the place ever since I’d given it to him to settle an old debt. I’d got it cheap and I’d owed him some cash and I’d given him the bar to sort us out. Even if he was your best friend from when you were kids Rory Knuckles wasn’t the guy to owe anything to. He didn’t give himself the Knuckles nickname. There just wasn’t any more accurate thing to call the guy. The tattoos across his knuckles and the way they popped out like they were trying to escape his big hands was part of it, but the rest was what he did. Some guys think with one head, some with the other, and then there was Rory who thought with his knuckles. The few things he was involved in were varied, but he solved problems one way and one way only.

“Hey,” he said, leaning over the wood and taking my shoulder in his hand. “Who’s the new bitch?”

“Her name’s Kasandra, she’s not a bitch,” I retorted. Too defensive. I can see that looking back.

“You fuckin’ that broad?” he asked me, his scowl creasing his big forehead. I didn’t have to answer him, he just knew. “You’re fuckin’ that broad.”

“Look Rory,” I said to him, “it’s not an issue. There’s work and then there’s that. It’s no big deal.”

“It’s a big deal if you fuck my shit up. I told you no drugs in this joint. No drugs, no exceptions. You know I don’t need the fuckin’ heat.”

“What are you…?”

“The guy by the door, the guy she’s chatting up. He just sold her a big sack of buds. And here you are not noticing.”

“I’m supposed to notice everything?” I asked him. Too defensive again.

“Fuck yes you are, it’s why I let you run this place. Where’s Sammy tonight? At least he doesn’t get all screwed up over some pussy.”

“He’s off. I’ll take care of this, don’t worry.” I motioned at Doug with my chin and waved him over with a flick of my wrist.

Rory’s scowl deepened and he waved Doug off, “Fuck it, I’ll take care of it.”

“Rory!” I called after him but it was too late. He was an implacable force of nature, not really a man like the rest of us. All I could do was watch.

He crossed the space in four steps, pushing Kasandra to the side and grabbing the guy at 17 by the side of his neck with his big left hand as his right balled up and crashed into the guy’s cheek. He hit him three more times as he muscled him out of the chair and opened the door to the patio with his head and threw him outside. In the same motion he was out the door after him and leaned over the guy where he cowered in the snow outside. Now there was a crowd, like everyone in the Cove shifted as one thing and blocked the door. I came around the wood and pushed through them in time to see Rory’s boot come down on the side of the guy’s head again. He leaned down over him, taking his face in his big hand and squeezing as he yelled into 17’s face.

“…and if I ever see you in this place again I’ll open up your fuckin’ head, got me!?”

There was blood in the snow.

“Now get up and fuck off!” Rory yelled, pulling the guy to his feet.

The guy from 17 was shaking, trying to nod his head, tears in his eyes and spit and blood hanging off his lower lip. Rory gave him a push and he stumbled backwards towards the gate that led off the patio. He turned and tried to open the gate but it was stuck and blocked with snow. Rory came up behind him, kicking him with one of his motorcycle boots right in the balls before grabbing him by the back of the neck and the belt and heaving him over the low metal fence onto the packed snow outside the main entrance.

“Get someone to scrape that packed snow off the sidewalk too,” Rory said to me after leaning his head to the side to crack his neck as he came back through the patio door. He was calm again, the violence passing like a gust of wind on a calm day. He pointed one of his big fingers at Kasandra with a K as he walked past. “You, come with me.”

Doug was already on the front walk with a sidewalk scraper and the crowd had filtered back to their tables, talking behind their hands about whatever might have just happened. Rory hadn’t said shit to me, but I followed behind Kasandra anyway. She didn’t look scared so I guessed she had no idea who Rory was. I caught up with them in the hallway between the walk in cooler and the door out to the alley from the kitchen.

“What the fuck is this all about?” she was asking him. Before I could jump in and tell her to shut her mouth he already had her by the throat, lifting her off the floor and banging her against the wall.

“You little cooz,” he rasped between his teeth, shoving his other hand under her black zip up and coming out with the bag of weed. He held it up in front of her face and her eyes were all defiance instead of submission, his were half shut and full of doom. “None of this shit, got it? Not in here, not ever.”

“Rory!” I yelled at him again. “Put her down!”

He did, opening his hand and letting her drop to the floor. To her credit she landed on her feet and met his glare. He turned it on me instead, “Get your fuckin’ head straight, Chuck. Don’t make me do it for you.”

That’s it. That’s all he said before banging out the back door. It was probably another of those turning points, those chances to right the ship. I missed that one too.

“What the fuck!?” Kasandra asked me, rubbing her throat where his hand print was still livid and red on her skin. “What the FUCK, Chuck!?”

“That’s Rory,” was all I said.

“Yeah well, Rory’s an asshole,” she said back to me.

“Rory owns this place,” I told her. “Don’t fuck up like that again or it’ll be the last time.”

“So am I fired now or what?” she asked me, still more defiant than she should have been.

“No, you’d know if Rory didn’t want you here. You should take the rest of the night off though.”

“Fuck that,” she said, stretching her neck and swallowing hard. “I still have tables.”

I shrugged and went back to work. I was glad Sammy wasn’t working that night, but in retrospect I should have wished he was. It would have given me one more chance to stop it before it went too far. A chance to stop it before it went all sideways on me. In retrospect though, it would have just given me one more chance to ignore the signs and miss my turnoff.

There were enough of those as it was. I didn’t really need one more.

The next was the very next night when the guy from 17 came back with some of friends looking for Rory and I let Kasandra talk them down instead of having Doug throw them out. Sammy was in that night, he had heard the story already, but instead of being Sammy and doing something sensible he just gave me that look again and shrugged and went on break. I don’t know what Kasandra said to them but they left. Somehow I missed the ‘we’ll be back’ look on their faces. Somehow I thought it would all be okay. I don’t know how she did it, but somehow Kasandra with a K made me stupid. She must have.

Why else would I have let her move in with me a week later?

Anonymous readerReport

2016-07-08 07:22:09
Congratulations on your employment! Gotta pay the rent, and if you can get paid for doing what you love, it's a blessing. Interesting sidebar and I'm looking forward to more.

Anonymous readerReport

2014-12-02 19:02:11
Gradinita Karin `s Kids din Bucuresti, zona Piata Domenii a fost aleasa nartsoa dupa lungi cautari. Am vizitat multe gradinite si m-am oprit la asta pentru ca pe deoparte este intradevar dotata - s...

Minus ThreeReport

2012-02-15 11:48:28
I didn't even know who Hal Duncan was until I Googled that.

No, I'm definetly not Hal Duncan.

anonymous readerReport

2011-12-19 03:18:55
*ahem*are you Hal Duncan ??!?!?!

anonymous readerReport

2011-12-09 13:29:34
Ice story keep it up

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