The rain continued to come down with some force and the gutters on the shop fronts had trouble coping. Jay pulled the collar of his coat up to try to stop the rain tickling down the back of his neck and quicken his pace along the now emptying streets. He was cold, hungry and tired; the head cold that had started earlier that week had now passed onto his chest, his body racked with pain whenever he coughed.
He glanced longingly into McDonalds as he passed by but didn’t have the money to spare on either a meal or to catch the bus to work. The rent was due on his bed sit at the end of the week and he lived in terror of being kicked out on to the street.
When he had first arrived in the city he had no idea where to find a bed for the night that wouldn’t take most of his meagre savings and had slept in one of the shop doorways. This had been the lowest point in his life, his parents had kicked him out when he had told them he was gay. He had been left alone and frightened not knowing what to do, with no one to turn to for help.
His mind on other matters, he failed to notice the black Mercedes as he crossed the road. A squeal of breaks and the blast of a horn soon changed that. He looked up terrified as the car came to a halt inches in front of him. The driver got out of the car and came towards him.
“What the hell do you think you’re playing at, I could have killed you! Didn’t your mother teach you how to cross the road when you were a child?” Jay looked at the man and stuttered an apology. The man in front of him was obviously angry, he was frowning and had his hands on his hips, but Jay couldn’t help but notice the colour of this eyes. They were such an unusual dark blue and oddly hypnotic. “Are you listening to me young man?”
Jay jumped and his attention returned to the man standing in front of him. “What? I didn’t hear what you said?”
“I asked if you made a habit of crossing roads without looking or did you just decide to scare the hell out of me for fun? Maybe you need to learn how to cross a road again, as it’s obviously something you didn’t learn very well as a child.”
Jay felt a bubble of anger welling up inside him, fighting its way to the surface. Who the hell did this man think he was; he had no right to talk to him like some little kid.
“Fuck you, what gives you the fucking right to talk to me like that? Well you can just fuck right off.” Turning on his heels before the man had chance to reply, Jay marched quickly across the road to the other pavement. Looking back at the man he calmly made an obscene hand gesture.
Jay turned and ran up the street, tears had now started to prick at his eyes and he felt shaky. Turning into a side street he made his way toward the night club.
Jay walked the last hundred yards to the club, his breathing laboured. His chest felt on fire and his body clammy. He had only worked at the Blue Sapphire for a few weeks; one of the guys he worked with at the petrol station had told him about it. He had been looking for ways to make more money. All his savings had gone on the deposit and first month’s rent, and the petrol station only let staff work for 15 hours a week to get out of paying a National Insurance stamp.
Going round the side of the building, he rang the door bell and waited for some one to let him in.
“Hi Jay, cutting it a bit fine aren’t you?” Mark smiled at him as he held the door open.
“I couldn’t afford to take the bus, I’ve got no money till we get paid on Thursday, so I had to walk here.”
Entering the staff rest room, he removed his jacket and shoved it into his locker along with his backpack. Mark had followed him into the room and was telling him that the owner was due in tonight, and how Greg had everyone running round like headless chickens. He closed the locker door and pocketed the key.
The Blue Sapphire was an elite gay club and had a strict member’s only policy. Jay had been interviewed by Greg, the manager, who had emphasised the club confidentially rule and that staff were not allowed to socialise with the customers. He had never met the owner, a Mr James Alexander, but he had heard the other staff talk about him. It appeared that he only visited the club occasionally and the other barmen often speculated about whether he was committed to someone. Apparently he was an extremely attractive man, well over six feet tall, with black hair, blue eyes and bags of money. The other guys often discussed what they would like to do with him if they only had the chance. They just made sure never to talk about it anywhere within Greg’s hearing.
“Bloody hell Jay you look awful, are you feeling alright? Do you want me to tell Greg you’re ill and need to go home?” Mark asked, his face a picture of concern.
Jay gave a faint smile. “Nah, I’ll be fine in a minute, haven’t had much to eat to day and I’m feeling a bit light headed that’s all. Anyway, I really need the money, my rent’s due at the end of the week.”
“You sure?” Mark didn’t seen keen to drop the subject.
“Course I’m sure, give me a break will you, haven’t you got some work to do?” Jay smiled to take the harshness out of his words. “Look, I’ll speak to you later, I don’t want Greg on my back about my timekeeping.”
Jay walked up the corridor and open the door into the bar, it was still early evening and not really busy yet. The music seemed to bounce off the walls, and he knew before the night was over his head would be pounding.
Going behind the bar, he said a quick hello to Andy the other barman and started to serve the customers. He was soon immersed in his work and failed to notice Greg come up to the counter.
“Jay, bring two Scotch on the rocks over to the table in the corner will you?”
Before Jay could reply, Greg had turned and was heading back towards the table.
“Yes, Greg, no, Greg, three bloody bags full, Greg,” Jay muttered under his breath.
Andy started to laugh. “Who’s upset you then?”
“No one. Well, no one of any importance anyway. It just gets on my nerves when he speaks to me like that. It wouldn’t have hurt him to say please.”
“You’ll have to forgive him tonight, the boss is here and he’s all on edge.”
Jay just shrugged and placed the two glasses onto the silver tray along with two paper placemats. The room was heating up and he now had the beginnings of a sick headache. Picking up the tray, he walked towards the table.
He felt a little unsteady on his feet and he was having trouble focusing. Just as he got to the table he tripped, sending both glasses into the lap of the man sat in front of him.
For a moment he couldn’t move, the world seemed to be spinning. The next thing he heard was a very familiar voice saying, “Wasn’t it enough to just swear at me earlier? Or did you feel you needed to insult me further?”
Jay looked in horror into the eyes of the Mercedes car driver; it was a relief when the blackness engulfed him and he slid gracefully to the floor.