Projection Lounge

Part 1

The green and white lights flickered and spun, showering the stainless dark floor with small circles. They bounced off several dozen bodies; some lights bounced off a shiny watch or flickered within the diamonds of an earring. The DJ played a calm, trancy mix within the minimalist yet chic medium sized lounge, nestled within the basement of one of the city’s most posh hotels.

She was at the bar alone, an after-work haven for many. She didn’t quite stand out in the mostly dark space as she casually sipped on a small glass, filled with ice and an indistinguishable clear liquid.

At 10 pm on a Friday night the mood was serene, yet yearning with potential. Eyes were floating around the well-known Projection Lounge. This place had a reputation for luring Manhattan’s youngest and hottest low-key millionaires. There were no five dollar beers or screaming sports fans here. She remained at her post, slowly sipping her drink and scaling the room.

Her legs were crossed as she sat at the on a bar stool, wearing a tight black dress and the most elegant black Prada heels, showing just enough of her toes to show a metallic silver pedicure.

A man in his thirties approached the bar. He had flowing, mid-length dark brown hair and wore a dark colored suit that may have been black or navy under the lounge’s atmosphere.

“Scotch on the rocks, please,” said the man, now more clearly wearing a navy suit and a light blue shirt without a tie.

The bartender quickly poured the drink, pouring the scotch in a counter-clockwise motion over a small glass of ice.

“Would you like to open up a tab, sir?”

“Sure, why not? And I’ll take a drink for the lovely young lady next to me, too. I’m Malcolm Griffin III, you may have heard of me before,” said Malcolm to the woman in black, now neighbors at the bar.

“Um, I can’t say that I have,” she coolly replied, “And I’m not interested in a drink from you, but thanks for not really asking.”

“I can assure I have no ill intentions, I just figured a young lady at the bar by herself with a glass of vodka might want a drinking buddy.”

She responded with silence and by turning away from the tall, handsome man.

“You know I hear you’re considered an alcoholic when you drink alone.” Malcolm persisted to try and grab her attention.

She again said nothing, carrying on as if his stool was empty.

“Another scotch, on the rocks sir.” the bartender promptly delivered his second scotch.

“Hey, I’ll tell you what, if you’re still that uninterested in me after one drink, I promise you I’ll leave you alone. I just think you’re breathtaking, and I’m glad you haven’t heard of me. Maybe it’s better that way, so you can see that I’m not so bad. Just one drink, how does that sound?”

She slowly turned her body to face him, crossed her legs and locked eyes with his. She waited just long enough to say:

“Sounds like something a guy says before he slips some kind of date rape drug into the drink he just bought for some ‘lovely lady.‘”

Malcolm’s face contorted. He looked surprised and hurt. He looked away, sighed and shook his head.

A silence followed, this time Malcolm was the one avoiding her gaze.

“You can have it if you want. I haven’t touched that drink and you saw the bartender make it, but if you’re going to make me out to be someone like that, then never-fucking-mind. Have a nice night,” Malcolm said, and walked away with his glass in hand.

She tasted the glass of scotch. It was a bit strong, just how she liked it.

A few minute had passed when she walked over to Malcolm, now sitting on one of the many dark purple, rectangular love seats that rounded almost every wall and corner of the lounge.

He was admiring the visual display projected on the wall next to the DJ and stage.

“Hey. I’m sorry about that,” she said, with a much friendlier tone than before.

“Sometimes I tend to push the right kind of guys away, but I can tell you’re genuine.”

“I appreciate it, but I’d rather hear your name, and how you like that scotch,” Malcolm replied.

“Stephanie,” she introduced herself,”and this scotch is pretty good.”

She sat down next to him, encapsulating his eyes into hers as she slowly sipped on her glass of scotch.

“Can I try yours?” Stephanie asked.

“Sure, although they are the same kind,” Malcolm said, as his previous spirits seemed to be restored.

She took a small sip of his glass, grimaced a little, and then stirred the drink a little with her ring finger on her right hand.

“Not bad, but it’s better if you stir it every now and again,” Stephanie said in her silky, confident tone of voice.

“Try it now,” she said as she stirred her own drink with her middle finger. He took a sip of his scotch on the rocks, now about halfway full.

“It tastes a bit more watered down like that, but to each their own, I guess,” Malcolm said.

“You have really pretty eyes,” Stephanie said, her ice cold walls melting fast.

“You have really pretty everything,” Malcolm said, with a smooth half-smile.

After a few minutes the music seemed to have gotten louder, as did everyone’s voices and the otherwise muted street noise outside.

Malcolm and Stephanie seemed to be hitting it off.

“Oh my god! I know where I’ve heard of you before. Didn’t your like, grandfather or something invent something really important? I’m sorry, I’m horrible at these kinds of things.”

“Well, sort of I guess, I don’t know how important they are now, but he came up with the idea of public phones. He patented the first pay phone and sold the rights to the big phone companies of the day,” Malcolm replied.

“That’s quite the family history, don’t be so modest!” Stephanie said with the green and white lights twinkling off of her smile and sea green eyes.

Malcolm smiled back, looking a bit more fatigued then her.

“So you must be some kind of heir to the throne, huh?”asked Stephanie.

“Eh, I try to not to flaunt it,” replied Malcolm, “I’d rather make my own name in something, something different. It’s hard to do that when I’m literally named after my grandfather and my dad,” said Malcolm as they both chuckled.

“How about you? What do you do?” he asked.

“I work for a few modeling agencies,”said Stephanie,”Maybe you’ll see me in a magazine or on TV one day.”

“I hope so,” said Malcolm, wiping sweat off his brow.

“Whoa, you’re really sweaty,” said Stephanie, her voice sounding half-concerned at best. “Are you alright?”

“Yeah, it’s just a little hot in here, ” said Malcolm as he unbuttoned another button in his shirt.

“Could you go for another round?” he asked.

“That depends,” Stephanie answered, “Do you have that brand of scotch at your place?”

They locked eyes for a few seconds. “I’ll get us a cab,” Malcolm said, trying his best to play it cool.

_____  _____  _____

Malcolm’s eyes opened from an uncomfortable slumber. He heard an unfamiliar, rhythmic beeping and had to shield his eyes from fluorescent lights.

He saw two gray rails on either side of the twin sized mattress he was on. After blinking several times, he drifted back to sleep.

He remembered hailing a cab with Stephanie, telling the driver his address, and then ferociously making out with her in the backseat. His consciousness shifted between memories of kissing her, having his hand on the back of her neck, and feeling her hand reach into his pants on the way to his place.

His memory went dark.

He was lying in bed sideways, naked, covered only by his sheets, watching Stephanie get dressed. He couldn’t speak and couldn’t move at all, except for his eyes. It felt like a bad dream.

As she finished putting on her dress and heels he heard her talking to someone with her phone in hand. She was speaking a language he couldn’t recognize; the only thing he understood was her saying his address to someone on the other end.

His memory went dark again.

His eyes opened. Back on the hospital bed again. The rhythmic beeping was a bit more familiar.

He jumped up into a sitting position.

“Nurse! Nurse!!!” Malcolm frantically pressed the nurse’s alert button.

Three nurses came in, one woman and two men.

“What the fuck happened!? I want to speak to a doctor! Get me the fucking doctor!”

Malcolm tried to get out of bed, his face bright red, struggling to move.

“Sir! Sir, just calm down-”

“What the fuck happened?! What did she do to me?!”

“Mr. Griffin you have to stay in bed now!” The head nurse bellowed, drowning out his frantic yelling.

“Stop moving so much! You’re lucky to be alive. If you move like that you’ll rupture the stitches!”

“Stitches?”

“Yes sir, on your lower left side. The doctor will be here shortly to explain everything to you. There are also two detectives who need to speak with you.”

He sat up in bed, and reached around to his left side. He felt a jagged scar sealed with large staples around the area where his left kidney should be.

The news was on the old TV mounted onto corner of the ceiling.

“Police are on the lookout for this woman, last seen on security footage from the apartment complex of Malcolm Griffin III on the Upper West . . .”

Malcolm’s eyes were more fixated now on ‘Stephanie’ than ever before.

Another memory from last night came to mind:

“‘I work for a few modeling agencies,’said Stephanie,’Maybe you’ll see me in a magazine or on TV one day.'”

________________________________________

Part 2

“That bitch! That fucking bitch!”

Malcolm yelled in a rage, frantically shaking the grey rail on the right of the hospital bed.

The head nurse quickly left the room while the two male nurses pinned his arms down and urged him to calm down.

“I’ll fucking kill that bitch! Get the fuck off of me!”

The head nurse returned to his bed side with a large needle prepared.

“Turn him over,” she said, with an emotionless, militant tone of voice.

“Sir, we’re giving you a shot ’cause you’re presenting a danger to yourself right now. When you wake up, you will need to stay calm or this will have to happen again.”

“Don’t you fucking dare! I’ll fucking sue this whole hospital!” Said a red-faced Griffin, arms secured against his back, legs pinned, face down on the mattress.

“I’ll put all of you quacks out of a fucking job! Don’t you dare-” A jolt of pain, followed by a yell from Malcolm interrupted his threats as they administered a sedative by needle to his right buttock.

The effect was almost instant; his violent barking was reduced to heavy breathing, his limbs gave up the fight to leave the mattress.

He was gently turned over by the two nurses to a more comfortable sleeping position, pillow reset underneath his head and covers pulled over him. He fell into a deep slumber.

_____  _____  _____

Malcolm and Stephanie slowly staggered off the elevator to his condo. Malcolm slouched and leaned on Stephanie as they slowly walked toward his door.

“Have you ever done this before, honey? It looks like you can’t hang,” Stephanie asked Malcolm, with a menacing giggle.

“Uh, I . . . I’ve, I’ve done this. I wanna do YOU, Step uh nee . . .” Malcolm’s vision looked like an incomplete kaleidoscope, a mix of lights and colors that faded in and out with each closing of his eyes.

“Mmm, I think I hold liquor a teeny weeny bit better than you, big boy. Let’s get you inside,” Stephanie pressed her body against his, now semi-conscious, with the strength of a crash test dummy.

She kissed his dazed face, digging into his pockets.

“You’re so hawt, you’re like . . . yeah,” Malcolm said as she found the keys to his apartment.

“Show me to your bedroom, baby,” she said as she unlocked his front door.

“Come this way,” Malcolm pointed with one arm and hung on to Stephanie with the other, his one-night stand and human crutch.

They made it to his bedroom, as she let him collapse sideways on his king size bed. She left the lights off as a enough moonlight leaked into the room from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

The elaborate spread of Malcom’s liquor cabinet caught her eye.

“Hey sexy, how about that night cap before the real fun starts?”

“I dunno . . . I’m kinda fucked up, baby . . .” an almost fully sedated Malcolm managed to say, laid out sideways along the bed, arms and legs spread wide, struggling to keep his eyes open.

“Oh come on . . . take a trip on the wild side, you big, handsome man!”

Stephanie pulled up Malcolm by both arms, stirred a glass of scotch she just poured a few times with her ring finger on her right hand and fed it to Malcolm.

He swallowed the scotch. She lay him gently as he was before.

Stephanie visited the bathroom within his master bedroom, and turned him over on his  stomach. She unzipped her wallet and spread out a very small set of stainless steel surgical knives.

Stephanie called an unsaved number in her phone. A short conversation in Russian followed.

______  _____  _____

“Can I try yours?” Stephanie asked.

“Sure, although they are the same kind,” Malcolm said, as his previous spirits seemed to be restored.

She took a small sip of his glass, grimaced a little, and then stirred the drink a little with her ring finger on her right hand.

“Not bad, but it’s better if you stir it every now and again,” Stephanie said in her silky, confident tone of voice.

“Try it now,” she said as she stirred her own drink with her middle finger. He took a sip of his scotch on the rocks, now about halfway full.

______  _____  _____

Malcolm woke up in the hospital again.

To be continued…

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