(The first of perhaps many excerpts from my novel-interminably-in-progress.)
The strip club parking lot had cars scattered throughout it, none parked in a space immediately adjacent to another. Everyone seemed to have followed the rules of men’s room urinals. Shutting his driver’s side door with a slam that echoed off the back of the one story bunker, Ethan flashed the car lock with one hand and slid his wallet into his front jeans pocket with the other. He didn’t know what to expect in an establishment like this in Fuckall, Texas — better to keep things safe.
Four thick lines of neon light ringed the roof of the stout structure. He figured the designers intended for this to give the building a seductive hue, an enticing red-and-purple beacon to lure eager patrons in. Instead, the light seemed harsh and insistent, like the first dull throbs of a looming migraine. The only sound he could hear besides its agitated hum was the crackle of his shoes on the dust-gravel of the parking lot. Realizing that his feet were moving way too quickly and that he had craned his body as if hearing a new secret, he forced himself to slow to an amble. He wanted to look purposeful but not fixated. He got himself to stop thinking about the possibility that Delia might be inside by focusing on how much he wasn’t thinking about it.
Rounding the corner to the front, he spotted a group of three guys huddled together by the door, muttering to each other. They stopped what conversation they were having to look at him. The short one ran his thumb around the top of a rusted Zippo. The tallest one hid his stockier bulk under a crinkled black leather jacket with torn epaulettes. The third guy had a bushy, steel-wool mustache and wore a gray suit jacket with black pants that were clearly from a different suit. They held their eyes on Ethan. He looked at them, then towards the closed doors of the club, and back at them. He nodded. He wanted the nod to say, “Hey, fellas. Just here to see tits, same as you. A bunch of cool guys, gathered together on a Saturday night. For tits.” He doubted all this came across.
After a few seconds, Steel Wool peeled off and walked towards the door. He pulled it open and, while propping it with his rattlesnake boot-ed foot, held a hand out towards Ethan. “Humph,” he grunted. Ethan complied, digging his license out to hand to him. The man eyed the foreign California license as if seeing an alpaca for the first time. His mouth opened as he examined the document, a prominent chipped tooth emerged from the underbrush of his upper lip. Apparently deciding that a man clearly in his late thirties with temples that were both graying and receding probably wasn’t carrying a fake ID, he gave another grunt. Ethan took his license back, nodded again, and walked into the club.