After my failed attempt to escape the club I kept to the room they had given me. They revered me because I bore the same name as my grandfather who founded their murderous group. I didn’t know how long I could count on their loyalty and I wasn’t prepared to find out. It had fallen to evening. Normally, some of the girls working the club would bring me food and water but not that day. That day I was left alone. My stomach grumbled in protest. I made up my mind. If they hadn’t killed me by the evening show which was about to start I assumed they weren’t planning on killing me period so I might as well eat.
The club was busy so I hoped to scuttle around unnoticed like a mouse in a fancy kitchen. Dennis was stood at the bar watching the stage. The chorus girls were fluttering around in a parade of sequins and feathers. They were preparing for Tabitha – the club’s top act – to take the stage and entertain the evening audience.
Dennis caught my eye. He had been the one to stop me leaving. I got the sense that if he had to be stuck managing the Knock, Knock then I wasn’t allowed to leave either. After all, my family had created the club that caused the disappearance of his wife and child. He knew I had no involvement in that. Up until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know the Knock, Knock club existed. I don’t think he blamed me but he seemed keen on keeping me around all the same.
He smiled with that over familiarity he carried with everyone. He waved at me and ushered me to join him. As I approached he swung a vibrant red bar stool round.
“Take a load off Sam,” Dennis urged but I chose to stand.
“I am hungry,” I whined like a child. My frustrations were beginning to surface. I had remained calm – even after my wife, Theresa, had been murdered. I had decided that I would get the full story, take it to the newspaper I worked for in my previous life and expose the club and all its members. I wouldn’t let Theresa die in vain but it was becoming more difficult with each passing day.
Dennis leaned back over the bar. The girl tending bar lit up as he addressed her. “Have a plate of something brought out for Sam, will you kid?”
The girl abandoned her post immediately and danced off to the kitchens.
“How long are you going to keep me here?” I asked. “What do you want from me?”
Dennis didn’t look at me. His large, doe like gaze remained fixed upon the stage. “It’s not my decision,” he stated. “I just run the place. The order comes from upper management.”
The band had been sent into a flurry, introducing Tabitha to her audience.
“Surely you don’t want to stay here either?” For someone who was overly familiar with everyone Dennis was a bit of a closed book so I tried my luck.
Dennis laughed and finally he did look at me. “Where would I go? Everything I had is gone.” He must have sensed he had said too much because his eyes turned back to the stage. “The club needs someone to lead. The need someone with the Crusow name. Until you are ready to deal with that or they find a replacement both you will be kept here,” he explained.
Tabitha was now on stage. She had been the one to introduce me to Knock, Knock. She had been there at the police station when I was accused of murder. She had done similar for Dennis. She was the reason we both were now in the clutches of the Knock, Knock club. She was an attractive woman with long, flowing brunette hair and a steely grey stare. Her face was soft, round and innocent in appearance but there was an underlying malice. On stage she wore a top hat and tales. Her lips were painted a vibrant shade of purple. Her singing voice was sultry but soft, deep but feminine.
“We could both leave,” I boldly suggested to Dennis. “If we put our heads together they couldn’t stop us.”
Dennis stopped to wave to one of the regular patrons. “Almost eight, Frank. Getting better!” he called over jovially. The man laughed and waved back. He took a seat near the back, adjusting the button on his jacket so they wouldn’t be too strained over his ample stomach.
Dennis didn’t reply to my suggestion. I was almost at the point of repeating it when the bar maid returned with a plate of curling fries. The smell of grease caused my mouth to water. I took the plate from her with a firm thank you and laid it on the bar. I immediately set to digging in, using my fingers instead of waiting for eating irons.
“I promise I will help you find your kid,” I told him.
Dennis suddenly seemed morose so I said nothing more. It was more his loyalty to Tabitha that kept him at the club. Until I found out why that was he was never going to help me.
Those were the unfortunate circumstances I had fallen into. I didn’t like Dennis and I suspected he didn’t like me much either but there we were, stuck together, watching Tabitha entertain.
We stood in silence. I finished the food and the bar maid slid a whiskey over to me to wash it down. One of the door men approached, leaning into Dennis but still speaking loudly over the music.
“There is someone at the door looking for you.”
Dennis was disinterested. He was busy watching Tabitha engage with the audience. “If they don’t have an invite they don’t get in.”
The door man’s goon look made him a natural as bouncer. The goon looked confused as he tried to process too many words at once. “It’s a little kid,” he said.
Dennis straightened up his tall, lean frame. He groaned in frustration. He picked up a whiskey but there was nothing left but the glass. He slid it down to the bar maid. “Fill that, will you?” he instructed. “With the good stuff.”
I didn’t have anything to do. My stomach was now happily swimming in grease and whiskey so I followed him to the club’s main door that led onto the alley. Tabitha watched us from a distance. Dennis pulled open the door. Standing in the alley was a little boy of about nine or ten. He was wearing grey shorts and an oversized black sweatshirt which was made for a man double his size. He face was filthy and his knees scraped.
“I can’t help you, kid,” Dennis said without an introduction. “There’s nothing here for you. Over eighteens only. Try your luck at the Town Hall.”
The boy didn’t flinch. He was a tough little thing. I could see it but Dennis seemed to have overlooked the resemblance.
“Are you Dennis Platt?” he asked.
“Who’s asking?” Dennis was becoming suspicious.
“I’m Milo,” he announced. “I’m your son.”
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