The young lady wove her way around the ottoman and sat down in between Brig and Tommy.
“My name is Rose, what’s yours?”
“I’m Brig. Nice to meet you.”
“You speak Cantonese very well.”
“You flatter me. I speak only a little. But thank you. Do you speak English?”
“A little,” Rose admitted, holding her index finger and thumb slightly apart.
Peter chose one of the girls wearing a black evening dress, and the rest of the girls filed out of the room.
“Wait! Aren’t you guys going to choose a girl?” Brig asked anxiously.
“Relax,” said Tommy, “Of course. T wants to have a longer look at the menu, and I have an old friend that’s coming.”
As the last girl exited, a new group of girls streamed in, each one as pretty as the last. The girls repeated the drill of announcing where they were from, “Chongqing,” “Shanghai,” “Dongguan,” “Xian,” “Hohhot.”
Several of the new girls wore mid-length black dresses and gaudy jewelry. Tommy explained that these girls were supposed to be “models” with more experience and consequently more expensive. Brig couldn’t see the difference other than how they dressed. “Marketing,” Tommy agreed. “Some people have more money than sense.”
Tarantino chose a girl from Xian. Brig thought she was a little on the heavy side but she had a wonderful laugh.
“Tommy. What are you waiting for?” Brig asked. “It’s impossible to choose wrong.”
“Oh, look at you. Suddenly you’re a pimp now?” Tommy laughed. “Listen. Don’t worry about me. I have somebody coming. Wait until you see this woman.” Tommy held his arms out in front of his chest, gesturing that the woman had big breasts. “Are you having fun?”
“So far, so good,” Brig slurred through a lascivious smile. “This is Rose.”
“How are you, Rose? I’m Tommy. Have you eaten your dinner yet?”
“Yes. I’ve eaten. Thank you.” Rose shook Tommy’s hand, then retrieved three full shot glasses and passed them out. “Gan bei!” she smiled.
“Gan bei!” repeated Tommy and Brig, and the party started in earnest.
The karaoke playlist started out innocently enough, primarily Mandarin pop songs, or “Mandopop.” It turned out that Peter was quite the crooner and was getting along fabulously with his gal. Brig sat back and enjoyed the cultural experience. Rose was taking good care of him, and the mix of pills and whiskey hadn’t sent him under, yet. Eventually, the group coerced Brig into singing an English song. Rose chose Careless Whisper by Wham! for him, and he killed it.
As the evening progressed, Tommy became increasingly agitated. His date was late, and he checked his phone every ten minutes. “She says she’s on her way,” Tommy informed the group.
Rose became increasingly affectionate, even protective of Brig. She asked Brig how he knew Tommy.
“I met him a few days ago in Hong Kong. He’s a great guy.”
She lowered her voice and nodded towards Tarantino, “How do you know that other man?”
“I don’t, really. I just met him tonight. He’s an old friend of Tommy’s.”
“Be careful of him. He comes here often. I heard he’s a dangerous man. Triad,” Rose whispered as Tarantino and his girl began a duet.
“Really? Tarantino?” Brig shouted over the noise, catching Tommy’s attention.
“What are you two talking about?” Tommy inquired.
“I was just telling Brigham how handsome you are.” Both men saw the sudden fear in Rose’s face and her veiled attempt to cover up what she and Brig had been talking about.
“I totally agree. You are a very attractive man,” Brig said, reaching across Rose and squeezing Tommy’s breast. Fortunately, Tommy’s phone rang, drawing his attention away from Brig and Rose. Tommy stood and walked through a door that Brig hadn’t noticed to take his call. The door looked identical to the walls in the dimly lit room.
“What the fuck?” In Brig’s altered state, he thought it was a magic trick. “Where did he go?”
“That’s the toilet,” Rose explained, still shaken by her exchange with Tommy.
“Excellent. Bathroom en-suite.” Brig needed to pee but remained seated, waiting for Tommy to finish his call. A few minutes passed, as did another song, and Tommy still had not returned. The pressure in Brig’s bladder threatened to burst, and he could wait no longer. Brig stumbled to his feet as Peter sang the chorus of Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by The Platters. With Rose’s help, Brig navigated precariously around the coffee table and fell heavily into the bathroom door. He turned the handle, but the door wouldn’t budge. It was locked. Brig knocked, but Tommy didn’t answer. Brig pounded on the door again as Rose stood nervously at his side, not knowing how to help. Brig held his crotch and looked over at Tarantino for help. Amused, Tarantino laughed and motioned for Brig to knock louder.
Brig put his ear to the door. He could hear Tommy’s voice.
“C’mon man I gotta pee!” he said as he jogged in place, trying to calm his bladder.
Brig knocked again and leaned hard into the door when it suddenly opened and Brig fell drunkenly to the tiled bathroom floor.
Rose screeched and rushed to help, but a laughing Tommy was already helping Brig to his feet.
“Slow down little brother. The night is young. Pace yourself. We’re just getting started,” Tommy advised as he playfully helped Brig straighten up.
“Dude! Did you wash your hands?” Brig slurred.
Tommy laughed harder and intentionally wiped his hands up and down Brig’s shirt and face.
“Dude! Stop!” Brig demanded, trying to push Tommy’s hands away but missing horribly. Brig heaved and ran to the toilet
“Aiya!” Tommy jumped out of the way as Rose squeezed past to help Brig.
“Go ahead. Get it out of your system. You need to get ready for round two,” Tommy cheered as the door closed.
Brig fell to his knees, grabbing the sides of the toilet bowl. Rose lifted the seat and stroked Brig’s back to comfort him. Brig’s dinner and consumed alcohol rushed up out of his stomach and into the target. A second and third burst followed. “I’m sorry,” Brig blubbered to Rose.
Rose whispered not to worry and softly hummed along with the tune playing in the adjacent room. The walls of the bathroom muted the music and the voice, but Brig recognized Tommy as the singer. Brig rested his head on the roll of toilet paper as Rose dampened a paper towel and wiped his face.
“Better?” she asked.
Without opening his eyes Brig nodded his head “yes.” The urgent need to urinate reasserted itself, and with Rose’s help Brig pulled himself up to a standing position. “If you’ll excuse me I have to pee.” Expecting Rose to leave, Brig stood in front of the toilet and unbuckled his belt. But instead of leaving, Rose turned to the sink to wash her hands. Ordinarily, Brig would have waited for Rose to leave before exposing himself, but his bladder and his drunken state allowed him to overcome his timidity. Unfortunately, he was so impaired that he struggled with his zipper. Suddenly, Brig felt Rose’s hands touch his.
“Here. Let me help.” From behind, Rose lowered Brig’s pants and underwear to his ankles, tenderly aiming him towards the bowl. Brig leaned his head back and relieved himself, abandoning his inhibitions to Rose.
“Better?” Rose asked again.
Brig smiled stupidly. Rose returned his smile and flushed the toilet. She closed the lid on the toilet, maneuvering Brig to sit and pushing his knees apart.
“What are you doing?” Brig asked as Rose kneeled before him, gently scratching his inner thighs with her long, purple polished fingernails, smiling seductively up at Brig.
“Oh no, no, no. You don’t have to do that. I’m so drunk I doubt I can even get it to work.”
“Let me see about that.” She pushed the straps off of the top of her dress, letting her top fall to her waist, revealing a lacy pink bra.
Brig felt himself growing aroused, “I have no money. I can’t pay you.”
“Don’t worry. Your friend has already taken care of it.”
Brig’s entire body slumped, except for his “little brother,”, which was impossibly erect and ready for action.
“No,” Brig protested. “Please. I can’t. I have a girlfriend.” Brig’s sense of loyalty to Happy was strangely at odds with the circumstances. Rose took Brig into her mouth, her head bobbing rhythmically in Brig’s lap.
As Brig half-heartedly resisted, the music from outside stopped and a voice that neither Brig nor Rose recognized shouted out angrily. Too preoccupied to be concerned with what was going on outside, Brig relented and placed his hands on top of Rose’s bouncing head. “No. Please…don’t…stop,” he begged.
The shouting from the next room intensified. Several voices were yelling, and a woman screamed, followed by several distinct pops. Pop! Pop! Pop! A hole pierced the base of the bathroom door and shattered the tiled floor.
Rose stopped mid-stroke and Brig opened his eyes as more gunfire and screaming came from the next room. Despite his state of undress and arousal, Brig instinctively fell over Rose to protect her. More bullets ripped through the thin walls, and fortunately none found Brig or Rose.
The screaming stopped. Brig jumped as two more shots followed the short-lived silence.
Rose drew away from Brig and pulled her bra straps back over her shoulders. As Brig reached down to pull up his trousers, the bathroom door crashed open and Tommy rushed in. “Brig! Let’s go! Now!”
Brig stood and pulled his pants up as best as he could, but his erection made it difficult.
Tommy’s good hand grabbed Brig by his shirt and dragged him out of the bathroom. Brig took a final look at Rose, who cowered in the corner. Brig wanted to comfort her, but Tommy was determined to keep moving and easily overpowered Brig.
The carnage Brig saw as he re-entered the karaoke room forced all other thoughts from his head. Prone, lifeless bodies were scattered throughout the room. Peter lay still, slumped over the dead body of the girl in the black evening dress. Laying next to them was the bloody body of Tarantino’s girl from Xian, with what remained of her head tossed back across the top of the purple couch. The bodies of two men Brig had never seen before lay face down on the KTV floor. The spray of bullets had missed the DJ, who shook and trembled silently, curled up under the bullet-riddled screen of the television. Tarantino also appeared uninjured. He stood holding a pistol to the head of an older Chinese woman with electric white hair and large breasts. Tarantino looked at Tommy as if awaiting his orders. Brig noticed Tommy shake his head “no.” Tarantino brought the butt of the revolver down sharply across the bridge of the woman’s nose, who then collapsed in a heap at his feet.