Violet jerked her shoulder from his finger hold, “Don’t touch me.”
His hand grabbed the back of her head, he gripped low near the neck, and guided her forward.
“Shut up and walk,” he said.
Violet moved as slow as he’d allow. To herself she repeated: think, think, think, think, think… The pit of her stomach curdled like milk left too long. Too many thoughts jumbled together in confusion against a heightening sense of stark terror. She drew in a long breath of brisk night air. It chilled her lungs. Violet’s forehead creased with a sudden bittersweet feeling. Would this be her last memory? How wonderful it was to fill her lungs. Her eyes rolled up in a glance at the sky. No moon, no stars. She was not going to allow herself to cry. She was not going to give him that satisfaction.
They walked along, past the beckoning lights from restaurants, bars and coffee shops that lined long city blocks. People slipped by them in the night. Violet stared at three laughing young girls who approached to her right. Violet forced her eyes open as wide as she could hold them. Trying not to blink she burned her gaze into the girls. One noticed and offered a quick smile as the group clattered by. After they’d passed, something caught Violet’s eye. Up the block, near parked cars, a tiny glowing orange dot rose and fell with regularity. It mesmerized Violet as she was guided forward. The dot rose, flared at the edges, and retracted to its earlier state when again it lowered. Violet concentrated on it as she walked. In mid-step the hand on her neck dug tight and held her there. Violet was startled by the sudden force; she’d been engrossed in the moving orange light. Strange how the dot stopped then too, and hung in mid-air. Violet didn’t take her eyes off the dot. It helped her focus.
It wasn’t a good sign that they’d stopped. Violet schemed to make a run for it. An escape plan formed in her mind. Her captor would have to release her to fumble for car keys or open the car door. She waited for the moment, knees bent forward. Ahead, the orange dot had dropped to the sidewalk. Quick hard clicks sounded on the sidewalk.
A moving dark mass materialized under the dim flickering bulb of the streetlight. Sleek black high-heeled shoes tapped and clicked toward them. An arm, hugged in black fabric, extended to Violet. Slivers of light shot to the sky from a sparkling bracelet worn loose on the wrist, glinting more with every movement made under the streetlight.
“Hi honey,” a massive woman in a tight black dress said to her. Her quirky styled black hair offset dramatic painted eyes. Violet blinked fast. Standing on the low-lit street in front of her was Liza Minelli. Bedecked in glittering jewels.
“Where’ve you been? I’ve been waiting over an hour. I love you more than my luggage sweetie but you know how I get when that last nerve snaps.” Liza’s voice sounded low and gravelly. Chest hair peeked from the low cut of her dress. “It ain’t pretty,” she said. Her red mouth cracked in lipstick when she smiled. Violet felt Liza’s gloved hand encircle her wrist and was tugged toward her. Behind Violet the man’s grip loosened but he still prevented her from moving forward.
Liza cocked her head to the side. “Oh, and who’s your handsome friend?” she cooed, looking beyond Violet. Liza held Violet’s wrist tight and lifted her other gloved hand as if to stroke the man’s face. “What a nice, tall drink of water you’ve got here, honey,” Liza cooed her words. “Introduce me?”
The man released Violet and stepped back. “Keep out of this,” he warned.
Liza pulled Violet behind her. In one swift movement she lifted her sequined purse and snapped it open, eyeing the man. “Keep out of this,” she said. Violet saw a glint of blade.
The man shuffled backward. His arms raised, ready to strike, ready to fight.
“Get going,” Liza snarled. He quickly stepped backwards and from a safe distance turned and bolted into the street. “I keep my panties clean!” Liza yelled after him and cackled with glee as she deposited the knife back into her handbag.
“Who… what…” Violet stammered. “thank you… how can I thank you?”
“Come on, honey, let’s get you somewhere safe.” Violet’s shoulders wilted with exhaustion. Liza put her arm around her. “I don’t have a set until 12:30, let’s get you to the club and then you can tell me all about it.”