His Witness

By: Vanessa Waltz

If I met him anywhere else, I’d find him charming and polite, and I’d go out with him on a date in an instant. But I know him too well—I know the kind of people he associates with, and I know that he “carved up” at least one man.

“And if you didn’t pay up, it would just be my hands punishing you. No one else’s.” His eyes smolder, as if the type of punishment he imagines involves me without clothes.

Which is probably accurate.

I block that sizzling-hot image out of my head and bite my lip to keep the rudeness out of my voice. “That’s tempting, but no.”

Playful hands take a strand of my curly, dark hair and tuck it behind my ears.

No, stop!

I don’t seem to be breathing. He’s too close and my skin feels as if it’s on fire.

“You are so fucking beautiful,” he says with a sigh that makes my heart clench. “Let me take you out. Just once.”

I’m supposed to hate him, but how can I when he showers me with compliments that make my skin heat with pleasure? I can tell that he means them, too. He’s not full of shit. He’s also never been a jerk to me, even though I’ve rejected him countless times.

I will not let him worm his way inside me.

“No,” I say, finally. “Please get out of my way.”

He sighs again through his nose, but drops his hand and steps back.

“You know, you shouldn’t talk to them like that. You’ll just get hurt.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” I murmur.

The smile is still there on his face. It’s as if it’s a promise that he’s going to get me. He steps toward the door before I reach it and holds it open for me. My lips tug slightly from his beaming smile and I walk outside.

* * *

Once I leave the club, the dark cloud lifts from my head and I feel as though I’ve regained several years of my life. My feet ache as I lock up the club, slamming the door shut. It’s four in the morning, but the sky is still black. The streets are quiet. In downtown Manhattan, it’s strange. My ears pound with that woh-woh sound echoing inside my head. I stuff the cash from tonight in my jacket and make my way down the street toward the subway.

I need to go home and crash, and then I’ll have to do it all over again, to wake up at around one. Then work again at seven. Every day it’s the same. I kill myself in heels, walking around the club with a permanent headache, so angry that I make my stomach sick.

This wasn’t what I wanted to do with my youth, you know? I get to watch all my friends go to colleges that I can’t afford. They’re all studying and partying, and I can’t even get a boyfriend. Once the guys see where I work and the type of men I have to deal with, they split. Who can blame them? By now, everyone knows that the Crazy Horse is a connected club. Sane people avoid it. The fact that mobsters frequent the club seems to be an attraction for the people who flock here in droves. I don’t understand it. There must be something wrong with their brains.

The streets echo with another person’s footsteps. The weight of them suggests that they belong to a man, and my insides tense. Years of growing up in this city made me develop a sixth sense for trouble, and I feel like tearing down the street in my heels. I’m very aware of the thick wad of cash pressed against my ribs. I could cross the street, and then I’d find out for sure if he was following me. I walk across without even looking for traffic. A quick pair of footsteps behind me makes my heart race as if I just downed a bottle of caffeine pills. I don’t even look behind me. I’m too afraid to. My pace quickens, my heels loud on the sidewalk: clop-clop. He matches mine, and then finally I look behind me and he’s a foot away from me. The air rings with my scream and I tumble forward in surprise. He grabs the back of my neck and my skin screams at the violation. He slams me into the brick wall, and the breath is knocked from my lungs.

Oh fuck. What’s happening?

“Where is it?” he snarls.

I don’t know what he wants. I can’t speak because his hand is still around my throat, and my voice is gone. The brick wall scrapes my face and there’s a pinching pain where his nails dig into my skin.

“Where’s the money?”

His hands grope up my side, and I try to twist away from him. “Get off of me!”

The hand slips inside my jacket and grabs the wad of money. He pauses for a moment and gropes one of my tits. I elbow him hard, vomit rising in my throat. I don’t even see his face as he releases me and sprints down the street.


I take off after him, kicking my heels from my feet as I sprint after the dark, hooded man. Fucking piece of shit. I grab one of my heels in my hands as rage boils inside me. I’m going to use it on him. How dare he grab me like that?

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