His Witness

By: Vanessa Waltz

He saw that I saw, and cursed under his breath. My heart jumped in my throat when he made a beeline toward me, and then he opened my hand almost aggressively to shove that fifty-dollar bill in my palm. Then he winked and walked away.

He paid for my silence.

It scared me.

Even though some of them are handsome, even though some girls would find that kind of danger appealing, I don’t.

I don’t really need that kind of trouble in my life, but she’s certainly begging for some.

Michelle catches a glimpse of the man brooding at the bar, and gives me a grin.

There’s a ring on his finger!

But that doesn’t stop her. With her bubbly personality, her cropped tank top, and the skintight jeans she wears, no man seems to be immune to her charms. She boldly takes the seat next to him. My face burns in embarrassment for her.

No, don’t do it.

She mouths something near his ear. I can make it out by reading her lips.

“Hi, Joe.”

He turns slightly, takes in her appearance, and does a double take, because Michelle is a beautiful girl. A small smile flickers on his face as he slowly turns his hand, showing her his ring. I catch his voice from across the bar. It’s low and lonesome.

“I’m married.”

“So?” she says boldly.

Oh God. Jesus, Michelle…

Joe turns away from her, shaking his head as a smile plays on his lips. “Not interested, hon.”

It goes through me like a punch to the gut, as if he said it to me.

However, Michelle’s face is impassive. Her red lips shine in the low light and she dips her head, her curls brushing his shoulder.

“Your wife is a lucky woman.”

Then she looks at me, shrugs, and bounces off the stool in search of another one.

Joe watches her long after she leaves. There’s no desire on his face, but maybe there’s a bit of longing. I wish I fucked her before I met my wife. That kind of thing.

I see another man in a dark suit, his back against the wall as he crosses his arms. He raises his head and looks at me from across the room through beams of colored light, giving me a nod. A wave of revulsion rises inside my stomach and I resist the urge to flip the bird. Right on cue, a swarm of similarly clothed olive-skinned men enter the club, their heads swinging around for me. Joe turns his attention toward them and stands up to join his friends. Once they spot my face, they make a beeline for me.

Fire licks at the flesh inside me and acid bubbles in my throat, caustic and painful. I have no love for these men. They’re like a cancer somewhere in my intestines, a painful growth that swells and bleeds. I just want to excise them from my life. I’d do anything to be rid of them.

Within a few seconds, the one who grinned at me slides in front of me. He’s not as tall as some of the others, and only half-Italian. Maybe that’s why I don’t hate him as much as I hate the others. Fucking Italians. I’m sick of them.

He wears a dark-green shirt that brings out the flecks of green in his hazel eyes. Light-brown hair falls around his face. Tommy’s face is smooth shaven, making him look younger than the others. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was some college kid. Often I’ll recognize him by his loud, deep laughter cutting through the noise in the club and then by his inevitable hand on my waist, which makes my heart pound no matter how hard I try not to think about it. He leans against my bar as if he owns it, and towers over me with a sweet smile on his face, looking at me as though I’m the only girl in the place. I like the way he looks, and he’s definitely attractive, but I’ll never date him.

I know that he’s no good.

The other men surrounding him are full-blooded Italians, olive-skinned and dark haired. They stand a little bit apart from him, unconsciously dissociating themselves from him.

“Sweetie,” he says to me in his smooth voice, knowing that it’ll piss me off. “Why don’t you get us some drinks?”

There’s just something about that overconfident grin and voice that makes blood pound in my head.

I don’t fucking like to be called “sweetie.” How many fucking times have I told him? How many times have I told him to fuck off? I open my mouth to tell him off, but the piece of shit grins at me, knowing how angry it makes me.

“Why don’t you go fuck yourselves?”

I can’t stop myself.

Tommy’s smile widens and his eyes glimmer with mischief. His amusement isn’t reflected on any of their faces. There’s Vincent, who once twisted my arm behind my back. Joe, who slapped me across the face when I didn’t have my payment ready for him. He didn’t like to do it, I could tell by the look on his face, but he still did it. Both of them are married men. It’s unfathomable to me. What kind of woman would marry, let alone date these fucking creeps?

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