“Are you okay, baby?” he asks. Scott stands up and comes over to me so that we are side by side. “It’s sore,” she says, except she is slurring so it sounds more like it’sh shaw. “You think you’re funny, getting frisky with another man’s woman?” he asks. “Hey, now,” Scott says. “He was just trying to help. She’s had a little more than she can handle.” “Stay out of it, asshole,” the guy sneers at Scott. I shake my head, pissed off now. First, his girlfriend is a problem, and now it’s escalating into name-calling. Just another night out, it seems. What am I? An asshole-magnet? “That’s not necessary,” I say. “It’s nothing more than a misunderstanding.” “Oh yeah?” the guy says, and he looks just as pissed as I feel. Maybe he had a lot to drink, too. “Come on now, let’s just talk about this,” Scott says, holding up his hands in a defensive gesture. The guy turns away a little, shaking his head. He spins around and his fist flies out, hooking me in the jaw. For a moment, I see stars, and I fall backward and crash into someone else. I’m aware of Scott jumping the guy and the drunk girl screaming above the music. It doesn’t take me too long to recover. The guy had only clipped my jaw and done no real damage. “Sorry,” I say to whoever is behind me. Scott is in a full-on fist fight with this guy. The girl is still screaming, and I become aware of the bouncers circling us. We’ve attracted a crowd, and there are phones out. This is going to get ugly, whether we carry on fighting or get banned from the club. I want to get in a hit before we are thrown out. I run toward them and jump up, punching the guy in the nose over Scott’s shoulder. None of us can do more damage. One moment, our attacker is angry, with blood blooming from his nose, and the next, we are all being dragged out by security, my knuckles throbbing. We are thrown into the road outside, and all that is missing from the way we’ve been discarded is the bouncers dusting their hands before turning around and walking away.
I push myself up from the asphalt and get to my feet. “Well, that wasn’t humiliating,” Scott says. I shake my head. “At least we still got it.” Scott laughs, and we high-five like teenagers. “Let’s get out of here,” I say. “I have to get home, anyway. I want to hit the gym in the morning, and my body is not going to like the whiskey as it is.” Scott nods. “I’ll see you in the gym bright and early then, bro.” * * * On Monday morning, I leave my apartment dressed in my suit and tie, ready to take on the week, when my phone rings. “Meyers,” I say, holding the phone against my ear. “Kevin,” a deep voice says. I recognize Mr. Franklin Hull right away. He is one of my investors, one of the most important members on the board, and I deal with him directly most of the time. “Mr. Hull,” I say. “I trust you’re well?” If there is anyone whose ass I have to kiss, it’s Hull’s. “I’m not as well as I’d like to be, Kevin,” he says, and his voice is serious. Oh shit, what happened now? “What can I do to fix it?” I ask. “You can tell me why the hell I’m supposed to invest in a person who ends up in the tabloids for a fist fight in a club. This is work, not a playground. We’re all adults trying to achieve something here.” “Of course, Mr. Hull,” I say, thinking feverishly. “It’s all one big misunderstanding.” “Well, then you can explain yourself in our meeting at nine.” Shit. They are calling me in for a meeting. What a way to start the week. When he hangs up without saying goodbye, I get in my car and open Twitter. It doesn’t take me long to find the link to the post where a crude photo of me and Scott is posted alongside a photo with two security guys and the guy with the bloody nose. Fuck. I’m in the tabloids for this shit? It had to be one of those assholes who stood around us with the cellphones. What am I going to do, now?