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By Wayne Austin

Gary stared at the young woman and fumed. Why did she have to be so rude? It wasn’t a crime to ask if he could buy her a drink. He sagged against the pillar and took a swig of his scotch and coke. Maybe if he hadn’t pressed up against her ... and it wasn’t like he was really drunk.

Pity. Under the bar’s spotlights, she looked delicious in her pale-blue cocktail dress. Her friends were chatting with other guys and that’s all he wanted to do. What was wrong with that?

A waiter swept past with a tray of drinks and jostled Gary. His arm jiggled and spilt half his precious drink. He swung round. ‘You stupid....’ But the waiter was gone. A couple of patrons glanced over, dismissed him and turned away. In the dim light, all he could see were silhouettes of heads bobbing, while the droning of voices drowned out all but the thumping bass from the jukebox. Talk about a fish out of water.

With a sigh, he turned back around.

‘Damn,’ he muttered and clenched his teeth. A cocky sleazeball with bleached spike hair was turning on the charm with the woman. And she smiled at the guy. Didn’t she know the world was full of creeps?

The guy eased his arm around her shoulders and his hand stopped over her drink.

Gary perked up.

The hand jiggled and withdrew, and with what looked like practiced ease, slipped something into the guy’s pocket. With a nod and a saucy smile, he raised his glass.

‘Don’t,’ Gary mouthed, but she picked up her glass, clinked it against the guy’s and sipped. Gary shook his head. Where was she from, Mars? Hadn’t she heard about Rohypnol?

After a few minutes of small talk, she blinked at the guy and swayed against him. He caught her, and with his arm around her waist, led her away, though after a few steps it looked like he was carrying her more than she was walking. They reached a fire exit and he dragged her through.

Gary hesitated. Should he bother after the way she had treated him? Still, it was wrong; even a rude bitch didn't deserve that. With that, he followed.

The exit door opened into a corridor and Gary winced at the sudden antiseptic brightness. He stopped to listen as the door shut, cutting off the babble behind him, and up ahead, round a corner, a woman moaned even as a voice shushed her.

Gary crept forward, every nerve in his body telling him to go back.

‘C’mon, baby. Don’t fight me. You know you want it.’

‘Uh ... no ... wha’ ... I don’ feel good.’

Gary sucked in a breath and peek round the corner. The guy had the woman pressed up against the wall, her arms draped over his left shoulder, and he had bunched her dress up around her waist. Her head lolled to the side, her eyes closed.

‘No...’ she mumbled.

‘Hey you!’ Gary charged out and put his fists up. It was ridiculous, but it was all he could think of.

The guy jumped, like he had just had a heart attack, and stumbled back against the opposite wall, his pants loose round his hips. The woman slid to the floor and rolled on to her side.

What now? Gary wondered. If the guy call his bluff ... but the guy just stared at him, his face frozen in fear, and then his jaw began to work — little movements up and down. ‘I ... uh, it’s ... it’s not what you think. She wanted it!’ Then he grabbed his pants and bolted like a startled rabbit and was gone before Gary could move.

It took a moment to sink in, then Gary sucked in a deep breath and lowered his fists. He wobbled as his legs threatened to give way and he put out a trembling hand to support himself against the wall. What was he thinking? I’m too old for this.

He looked down at the woman. Her dress was still bunched up around her waist and only a white g-string offered any modesty. But as a soft snore escaped this sleeping beauty, this harpy who had snarled at him back at the bar, she looked much younger, almost like Dianna (when she was asleep, and not haranguing him for trying to be someone he wasn’t.) The thought of that last argument with his daughter soured Gary’s mood. He wasn’t that old. You’re only as young as the woman you feel. That joke had gone down like a lead balloon. But what did Dianna expect? Her mother had been dead for three years now, and she was growing up and didn’t need him anymore and he wasn’t ready for the scrap heap.... What a pair they made: him pretending to be a young dude and her slapping on the makeup and dressing to look older, so she could impress the boys.

Both living a lie ... which had led to this.

He hesitated. What should he do? Call the police? Go and get help from the bar staff? Maybe he should pick her up and carry her out first. Or he could....

He licked his dry lips.

‘Nice legs!’ he muttered and bent over her to stroke her thigh. His hand caressed her buttock. The skin was smooth to the touch, pliant and firm, ripe for the plucking. It wouldn’t take much to get that g-string off. He lifted her knee and stared at the faint black fuzz hidden beneath the g-string’s gauzy material.

He sucked in his lower lip. Was there any harm in looking? Or touching? Or...?

And she asked for it. If she hadn’t been so naive and careless, she wouldn’t be in this situation. And who would know? He could always say it was the other guy. She would back him up. It would be so easy. Perhaps he was wrong. Perhaps she did deserve it, treating him that way.

God, she looks so young.

He hung his head, eyes closed, and grimaced. What was he thinking?

‘Come on.’ He grabbed her arm and pulled her up into a sitting position. ‘Let’s get you out of here.’ He sighed and dragged her to her feet, supporting her with her arm around his neck. With his other arm he tugged at her dress, but it refused to drop back down. Her head flopped to rest in the crook of his neck in an intimate embrace and she moaned, the soft wail of a lover.

Gary tapped her cheek. ‘Wake up.’ For a moment she responded and managed to take her own weight, but then she sagged back against him. Her hair pressed into his face and smothered him in her perfume. He sucked in a deep breath and let it intoxicate him. As his nose caressed her ear, her body pressed against him and he felt a sudden fire in his loins.

No, no, he shouldn’t. But his hands betrayed him and he wanted them to betray him. He hadn’t touched a woman since Sandra’s death and his desire was an addiction he couldn’t shake. He clasped a breast and squeezed it and knew he couldn’t help himself. His hand slipped down between her legs and fumbled with her g-string in a monstrous caress, a desperate invasion of her privacy, a selfish need.

‘Wh-where...’ she mumbled and then groaned.

Gary froze and waited, counting off the tense seconds, but she was unconscious again. How was he going to do this? Could he go through with it? Then his hand strayed to his belt—

A burst of noise spilt into the corridor from around the corner. Gary snatched his hand away and hoisted the girl up so that he could get his shoulder under her arm to support her. His heart pounded like a runaway freight train on a stormy night, heading for a bridge that had just collapsed.

‘Celia!’ a shrill voice called out full of worry.

He yanked at her dress and managed to pull it down from around her waist.

‘Celia!’ another young woman yelled over the noise.

‘She’s safe!’ he called out as he hefted her up and staggered round the corner. Two of her friends were inside the corridor while another held the exit door open.

‘She’s here!’ one cried out and then Gary was surrounded by bickering voices.

‘She’s okay.’ Gary grunted and heaved her against the wall. ‘I saw the bastard drag her in here and I managed to fight him off before he could do anything.’

The two women pushed him aside and draped her arms around their shoulders. ‘Celia!’ one cried and jiggled the woman’s shoulder.

Celia looked up and half-opened her eyes. ‘Mandy,’ she mumbled, ‘what ... happened.’

‘You disappeared with that creep. I was so scared!’ Mandy began to sob. Then she turned to Gary. ‘Thank you! Oh, thank you so much.’

‘I ... I think we should call the cops.’ The strength drained out of Gary. So close. A shiver danced across his shoulders, but he wasn’t sure whether he was disappointed on what he had missed out on or because of what he had wanted to do.

Mandy’s face fell. ‘Oh no! You can’t do that.’ She glanced at her other friend. ‘We’re only fifteen!’ she whispered. ‘Our parents will kill us if they find out. We’ve got fake Ids.’

Fifteen? In a stupor, Gary followed Mandy out into the bar. Fifteen? They were the same age as Dianna. Trembling, he stood there and watched Mandy and her friend prop Celia up on a barstool. What had he almost done? Celia jerked and looked around, then rested her forehead in her hand and began to shake.

Where was Dianna now? She was supposed to be staying over with her girlfriends after going to a movie. And after the movie...? God ... she liked to dress up as well. And when she did, she looked at least twenty.

Gary glanced at his watch and swallowed hard. It was late, but was it too late? How could he go home to that empty house while Dianna was out there somewhere? So naive and unaware. Possibly being chatted up by some creep right now. Maybe even by Celia’s creep.

He took one last look at Celia and sighed before pushing his way through the crowd for the door.

Yes, the world was full of creeps.

The End