Antoine slowly rose up from his nook and hid his blanket, first in an equally old green paper bag, then into a disused manhole by the street. Antoine didn’t understand the attraction of Place D. It was in a smelly backstreet away from the yellow street lights. But every night, posh cars parked up and down the street and their passengers disappeared into the club till the wee hours of the morning. Antoine knew some of them, not by name but by the cars they drove.
Toyota always had three girls in his company when he arrived, hardly ever the same ones, but he always left at around two and he always left alone. By then the three would have left earlier with other men. Mercedes One seemed particularly fond of the Toyota’s girls as he always left with one. Prado must just really like dancing because he never staggered drunkenly out of the place and neither did he leave with company. Mercedes Two always got thrown out when he came. He was a boisterous drunk who once even got in a fight with Lexus, another boisterous drunk and they both ended up having the daylights beaten out of them by the bouncers.
Antoine liked BMW. BMW was kind to him, sometimes even buying him a plate of something and bringing it out to him. He had noticed BMW because that was the same car his father had driven. Not that he had a shred of respect left for his father; the car just reminded Antoine of a better time in his life. He had meekly offered to watch the car for the patron just to feel like he had his old life back. BMW had let him, and given him a tip for his “troubles”, as if Antoine had better places to be. The symbiosis suited them both just fine.
Antoine walked across the street to Place D, but noticed BMW wasn’t there that day. None of the other patrons let him near their cars so he hardly bothered asking to watch them. He drifted to the dim doorway, with the glowing red staircase ascending to the club partly visible from the street. He stood in the doorway and let the heat from inside the club wash over him. The smell of beer and perspiration from the club coupled with the smell of urine and sewage from the street notwithstanding, Antoine wanted to stand there all night.
A shadow fell across the stairwell and Antoine almost ran, thinking it was the bouncers coming down. Before he could, however, a shapely pair of legs in high heels and a short skirt stumbled down to the landing as if pushed. It was one of Toyota’s girls, but Antoine didn’t remember her coming in the car. Toyota was with her in a jiffy.
“What’s wrong with you? I’m not working tonight!” She said, arms akimbo in a defiant stance.