Beatrice DuPont sat on a bar stool absently stirring the ice around in her rum and coke. The bartender approached and asked if she wanted another but she declined.
“But it’s from the man sitting at the end there.”
Beatrice looked up in surprise and suspicion. “Who, him?” The bartender nodded. “No, I’ll just close out my tab, thanks.”
“Running away so soon? I had expected you to at least take the drink first.” The man sitting at the end had become the man sitting one stool over. “Would you prefer a Long Island instead? Or I hear the bartender makes a mean Hurricane.”
Beatrice looked sideways at him while she signed her receipt. He was handsome. He had a bright smile and his hair was so perfect, it looked like a wig.
“Thanks, but I figured I’d do you a favor and save you the money. Why get your hopes up, you know?”
“They weren’t really,” he shrugged.
She turned to look at him with more consideration. “Then why bother?”
He shrugged again. “Better to try and have it not work out than to not try, but always wonder.”
“I suppose that’s a positive philosophy.” Beatrice stood. “Goodnight.”
“Wait,” he said, and she did. “May I ask why you were sitting here all alone if you didn’t want someone to buy you a drink?”
She thought for a moment. “There was something I didn’t think would work out tonight so I didn’t even try. Now I guess I’m left to always wonder.”
Beatrice DuPont dug her icy hands deeper into the pockets of her little black cocktail dress. Her cropped jacket was doing nothing to keep the chill off, and only her long dark hair was shielding her otherwise bare neck. She walked along the cobbled road in her kitten-heeled Mary-Janes, wishing she had taken her own car that night.
“I guess I’ll always wonder…” she muttered to herself, head down against the cold. She passed a doorway where an old, mousy woman was huddled.
“Feed your head, my dear,” the woman called after her softly.
Beatrice was still quite a ways from home when someone else called to her.
“We meet again.” The man from the bar was just before her, leaning nonchalantly against the wall of a large brick building just off to the side.
“So we do,” Beatrice answered with her guard instantly up. Her eyes darted around but she quickly saw that they were the only two people on the darkened street.
Before she could properly react, a cloth was pressed tightly to her face and Beatrice’s body went limp soon after. The man looked around cautiously as he dragged his victim into the alleyway he had carefully picked out.
Beatrice DuPont felt her heels scrape along the ground. Suddenly the air got significantly warmer, and just when her captor’s grip slackened, she stopped feigning unconsciousness and made her move. Her eyes snapped open as she jumped up, and she kicked with all her might at the man’s knees. He sank in pain just as Beatrice hoped he would, and she made a break for it.
Hurrying along, Beatrice cursed herself for being so stupid. She looked around for signs of life and finally found one in the form of music pumping loudly through a large metallic door. She quickly stepped through it and found herself in a dimly lit, yet brightly colored club, with cloth covered tables and a tiered floor that led down to a wide stage. She made her way over to the bar on the top tier.
The bartender was a big, beefy man with a handlebar mustache and a dirty white apron. He stood stoically polishing a glass with his rag.
“Excuse me, but could I use your phone?” Beatrice had to raise her voice to be heard over the music. “I was sort of just kidnapped and I’d like to call a cab… and maybe the police…!”
“Can I help you with something?”
Beatrice turned towards the voice in her ear. A pair of bright eyes was looking at her curiously. “Uh, yes, I need to use a phone.”
“A phone!” she said louder, gesturing with her hand the classic banana-shaped pantomime, then switching to a more modern-day-accurate flat palm. “You know, a thing you call people on?”
He raised his eyebrows with a quizzical smile. “Well, I’m the owner of this fine establishment and I can help you with anything you need, but tell me, where are you from?”
“I-I don’t see how that’s really important,” she said, looking over her shoulder, “but… I’m from the other side of town… I think. I was just kidnapped, but I got away and I’d like to call the police and a taxi home.”
“You’re from the other side of something,” the club owner muttered.
“Excuse me? Look, can you help me or not?” Beatrice glanced around the expansive room again. “Oh my god!”
Beatrice was suddenly huddled behind the puzzled club owner.
“That’s him! That’s the man who kidnapped me!” Beatrice hissed. Her human shield followed her panicked pointing with his bright eyes and then also took on a startled look, but only for a brief moment.
“That guy took you? In that case…” with strong arms he forced Beatrice into a squat behind the bar. “Stay here, Cupcake!”
The strong armed club owner stepped back in front of the bar just as the kidnapper caught sight of him and approached.
“Mr. Chapeau! Long time no see!” the kidnapper greeted.
“Prince Jacques, how are you?” the bar owner responded casually, straightening his fitted three-piece suit with a certain air of indifference.
Prince? Beatrice wondered to herself.
“I’m looking for a girl actually.”
“Oh, really? Well, I might have just the right one for you, Your Majesty. For the usual price, of course.”
Beatrice’s mouth gaped open.