So I admit, I gave it more than a second thought. Holding the card tightly between my fingertips wondering, ‘Who is this woman and what does she know about the mayor?’ Then there was the club – The ‘Knock, Knock’ Club – that I had been invited to. I had never heard of it before but the story on the mayor was leading me to some strange places.
“Why don’t we go out and celebrate my new job?” I suggested to my wife.
She was apprehensive. “No Sam,” she returned. “I’ve had a long day. Can’t you see how exhausted I am?”
“Maybe getting away from the house will make you feel better?”
She shook her head and pursed her doll-like lips.
“You always do this!” she slapped my arm impatiently.
I took her in my arms.
“Fine, we’ll stay here.”
She looked back at the living room. She must have decided getting away from the house was a better idea after all.
“Where will we go?”
I raised my eyebrows and offered a wry smile. “I hear there is at least one club open. I may even be on the guest list.”
Theresa slapped my arm again, playfully this time. She managed a smile. “That isn’t funny Sam!”
I put my arm around her. “Don’t worry. Nothing is going to happen to me. But I have to chase this story. It could mean big things for us. Unless you’d rather stay here?”
Theresa shook her head. “No, I don’t want to be home alone again.” She started to sob.
“I’m sure you will find that it was all for nothing. She probably just has some information on the Mayor.”
Theresa hesitantly agreed.
As I washed and freshened up I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of club the Knock, Knock Club was and what I would find there.
Around 8pm, Theresa and I drove through the sun scorched streets. The summer looked as though it was nowhere near ready to give up the fight. There weren’t many people out though. The Shady City looked like a ghost town. The address for the club was in the South West, in an area known as The Shanties. The Shanties was the most deprived part of the city. It was normally over-crowded and the streets full but, on that night, it was like a ghost town. Mayor Feltz had helped in draining it of the last life it had.
“I want go home Sam. I don’t think we are going to find that club,” Theresa said.
I was just about to agree with her when I noticed a brazen neon sign flashing deep within an alley. ‘The Knock, Knock Club’. Perhaps it was my own apprehension, or maybe empathy for my wife’s concerns but I found myself asking, ‘Are you sure about this?’
Theresa gripped my arm. “You are just going to ask some questions right?”
I smiled and sighed, the nerves fluttered in my chest. I was never this nervous of a story. Perhaps it was because Theresa was with me, but as we approached the heavy door I hesitated. The main street seemed a long way away. The door wasn’t particularly welcoming for a night club. The sign above offered a light humming noise as the bulbs committed tirelessly to their duty.
A man stood outside. He looked as though he was waiting for someone, leant against the wall like a school boy hiding from the teachers. When he saw us his expression changed from boredom to excitement in an instant.
“New faces,” he cheered.
“Is this the Knock, Knock club?” I asked. It was a stupid question given the sign but I had to confirm.
His stare lingered on Theresa. She smiled back at him girlishly.
“The name is Dennis,” he told her. “I’m the manager here. You just let me know If you need anything.” He took her hand and kissed it. “It’s always nice to see new faces.”
‘Yeah,’ I thought to myself, ‘as long as they’re women.’
Dennis pushed the door open and the music from the club flooded out on a wave of excitement from the patrons.
With a flick of his wrist a scantily clad young girl dashed over to Dennis’ side.
“A good table Lees,” he requested. The girl, blonde haired with a large beaming smile nodded.
“Sure thing,” she said. “Follow me hon.” Theresa gave one final glance back at me and headed into the darkness.
I made my way to follow her but Dennis put his arm out across my chest and stopped me.
“Not so fast buddy.” He flicked his fingers. “Invitation?”
I passed him the invitation with a glare and headed on in.
Lisa – the serving girl – offered us a menu each. They were simple, black with the name of the club on them. My menu was sticky and well used. There was a stage as the main focus of the club. The band was deep in their music. The chorus girls were dancing around in a parade of sequins and feathers. The Knock, Knock Club was actually so homely it would be pleasant if the brick work walls didn’t make it seem like a prison. Theresa was still nervous. She kept turning back to look towards the door. We ordered some food. It wasn’t fine dining but it was effective none the less.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen,” the voice of the Knock, Knockers band leader boomed over the soft playing. Most of the room looked up from their conversations and gave him their full attention – including my wife and I. “Welcome to The Knock, Knock Club. It has now come to that part of the evening that we all love. I know it’s my personal favourite. Please welcome on stage – Knock, Knock’s finest – Miss T.”
In a rush of drums and wind instruments, like the welcoming flag parade of a queen, the man rushed from the stage. The spotlight caught a very striking woman in its clasp. She was met with a thunderous applause. She was accompanied by two bare breasted dancers.
She started to sing. Her voice was sultry but strong. The red dress she wore flowed perfectly across her modelesque body. When she smiled I noticed a gap between her front teeth that gave her a charm that she knew how to wield.
I turned back to Theresa. Her already pale face had drained completely of all colour.
“What’s the matter?” I asked.
She reached her quivering hand out and pointed to the stage. “I don’t want to stay at some filthy show Sam!” she screeched. “You shouldn’t have brought me here.”
“I just have to find out who it was that came to speak to me today.”
I turned back to the stage. Miss T was singing a melody with a touch of old school cabaret. The drum beat was reminiscent of a military march. Her red dress glinted under the stage lights. Her voice was a pleasant tone, soft and warm like honey.
Theresa remained frozen in her chair, staring at Miss T, complete with appreciative calls from the crowd.
Dennis walked by so I stopped him.
“I need to speak to the one who owns the club,” I told him. “It’s urgent.”
Dennis narrowed his gaze on me but his handsome smile remained. He leaned over and pointed to the stage. “You’re looking at her pal,” he explained.
“Come on Dennis!’ cried one of the other patrons inviting him to a card game.
“Don’t worry my man. Just deal me in,” he replied over the music.
He turned back to us.
“Enjoy your evening folks but I wouldn’t go bothering the boss lady,” he said. His voice sounded different. His expression was softer.
A woman approached him and called something Into his ear. He put his arm around her and headed off to his card game.
Theresa stood. She threw her arms up in exasperation.
“Where are you going?” I asked, trying to grip her arm.
“I’ll wait for you outside!” she spat. “I’m not interested in this filth.”
I gave a glance back at the stage and Miss T looked down on me knowingly. Her smile stretched before returning to her audience for the last piece of her song.
I was surprised that no one stopped me as I slipped backstage. At the end of a long hall, carpeted in a sticky well-used black, lay a door with the name Tabitha on it. I assumed it to be Miss T’s dressing room. I knocked.
“Come in,” came the same silken sound to match the singing.
I pushed open the door. The cabaret singer was looking into her mirror so she turned to face me.
“You are very lost, my man,” she said. A smile formed. Her chestnut brown tresses flowed over her shoulder. Her lips were still painted a bold red. “Unless you are a waiter and bringing me the drink I asked for you shouldn’t be in here.”
“I’m Sam Crusow,” I said with some severity. “I am a reporter for the COLDFORD DAILY.”
“Then you really, really shouldn’t be in here,” she replied unmoved.
“I’m following the story on the mayor. I just wanted to ask you a few questions.”
“I wouldn’t talk to a rag like the DAILY,” she said with a smile. “It’s pages aren’t worth putting down for a dog to piss on.”
I remained calm. “I was told the mayor was a regular here. Did you hear anything about where he might be going?”
Tabitha was still amused at her own jest about the paper. “Lot’s of people come and go here Scott. It’s hard to keep track of them all.”
She waved her hand dismissively. “What ever.”
“I would like to ask some of your staff some questions. Maybe they saw something you didn’t.”
Her smile widened. “I wouldn’t hold much hope on that.”
I pressed, “surely you would know the Mayor of Coldford has been here more than once. Surely you would notice such a high profile regular?”
She rolled her eyes. “I think when you are as naughty a man as Jim Feltz was, you are bound to make some enemies. It doesn’t take an ace reporter to crack that one.”
I noted that she referred to him in a past tense.
“Did you know him personally?”
She flicked her legs over and leaned back on her chair. “Not exactly.”
“How do you know he was a naughty man as you say?”
She gave that honeyed laugh again. “It’s not exactly a health spa I run here. The people that come here are looking to be discrete. It isn’t the kind of place men bring their wives.”
I thought of Theresa standing outside waiting on me so I made to leave.
“I have to go but I’ll be back. I hope you can give me some insight into what goes on around here. It could help trace the mayor’s last steps.”
“Discretion Mr reporter,” she said. “My clientele wouldn’t be happy if they found out I was advertising in a newspaper. It’s bad for business. I do have one question for you though.” She stood and drew closer to me. Her hands clasped behind her back. “This club is by invitation only. How the fuck did you get in?”
I kept her gaze. “I’ll come back,” I repeated. “Perhaps if you remember something it will help. I’ll keep your name off the record. Miss T is it?”
“If you are going to come visit me in my dressing room how about you just call me Tabitha.”
“My wife is waiting outside but If I come back will you give a statement? Will you answer some of my questions?”
“Pop quiz. You’re all about the fun.”
I turned to leave but she stood and pulled me back.
“I look forward to seeing your handsome face around here again then. Apparently we just let anyone wander back here these days,” she said.
As the door closed behind me I heard Tabitha’s voice.
“You are so fucking gorgeous!” she cheered. It seemed she had turned back to her own reflection.
A woman was wandering down the corridor. I recognised her as the topless dancer that had been to the left of Tabitha during her performance. The dancer smiled in acknowledgement as she passed me, as though she wasn’t almost as naked as the day she was born. It was no holds barred at the Knock, Knock club and that was just the beginning.
I managed to catch up with Theresa just outside the club. She was laughing and talking with Dennis.
“Is everything all right pal?” It was Dennis who spoke first.
“Fine,” I replied coldly.
Theresa linked her arm around mine and brought herself close to me. She still seemed to be a little shaken but the night air was cooling and it did some work in taking away our cares.
When we arrived home we found our door lying ajar. We both stopped suddenly.
“Wait here!” I instructed, leaving her and venturing into the house to assess the damage.
The door hinges were broken. The furniture overturned. Upon initial inspection it appeared that nothing had been stolen. Someone had been just trying to shake me up. What was clear though, was that whoever it was, they were relentless.
Theresa followed me in. She cried when she saw the mess.
“What have you done Sam?” Theresa cried.
That was a damn good question.
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