There ain’t nothin’ easy about livin’ in the Big Easy…
It’s a hard-knock life for the men of the Voodoo Bastards MC. Harder still for a young woman living across from their clubhouse. That’s how La Croix first laid eyes on her, but it’d take a while yet for him to stake his claim. That was all right, though. He had nothing but time and was a patient man. In this city, opportunity was around every corner. If it wasn’t, he would just make his own.
For Alina, her life was the nightlife. A bartender on Bourbon, she’d been making her own way since she was a teen. Happy and content, she had it all. A couple of best friends that a girl could ever ask for, and a quiet life she was content with. Then in a series of strange and unfortunate events, things began to change.
There’s a dark underbelly to New Orleans, its currency more than just cash – and Alina was about to strike one hell of a deal with one of its denizens. A man whose eyes were as black as his reputation – if not his soul… but oh, what she would do in the name of love.
I took a sip outta my flask, the rich, smoky, good, bourbon a rolling fire against my tongue and all the way down.
I squinted up past the glare of the streetlight at the window on the third floor of the old building across the way. At the woman between the curtains and the fall of her red hair over her creamy shoulders hiding her pale back under a straight shining copper fall, damn near to her waist. She wore a green tank top, the kind that clung tight to her and cut a straight line across, just above where the band of her bra should be. The bra was a neutral beige. I could see the straps around the thin ones of the tank.
Soundlessly, her voice encased by the window glass and insulated from my ears by the brick walls of the old place, she laughed as a boy picked her up and she hung over his shoulder, beating her fists against his back ineffectually. She had the most perfect heart shaped ass under her beige panties, a match for the bra. Cotton, though. Nothing fancy or satin…
Still, the underwear matched. She planned to fuck him.
I grunted and put the freshly rolled joint between my lips, fishing my lighter out of my pocket and swiping it twice, once down and once up against the rough denim of my jeans at my thigh.
“Figured I’d find you out here,” Hex called out from behind me as I sucked in a lungful of green.
I just grunted in acknowledgement of his presence. Didn’t need much beyond that.
He sighed and dropped onto the bench by my booted feet and leaned back, with an ‘ahhh.’
I knew that sound, and without a word, I passed him my flask.
“Thank you kindly,” he muttered and took a healthy swig.
I stared at him, waiting him out. Waiting to hear how bad it was.
He glanced up at me and handed me back my flask and wordlessly held out his hand for the joint in my other hand. I passed it silently and felt myself frown.
He took a puff off it and handed it back.
Through his held breath he said, “It’s bad, brother. I think we’re past a no-confidence vote. Ruth is off his fuckin’ rocker and the boys are gettin’ restless.”
He didn’t sound happy about it. Hell, I wasn’t happy about it, either.
I glanced back up to the pixie like woman through her window. I liked to watch her. She was all that was sweet and good in this world and easy on my eyes. I didn’t know her. Like, I didn’t know her name – at least not really. Just what was on the label next to her apartment number on the buzzer. At least what I thought was her apartment number. I’d never been inside the building to look… but if I had to reckon, she was in apartment 3A and the name on 3A was A. Bouchard.
“Boy you even listening to me?” Hex rapped his knuckles on the toe of my boot like he was knocking on a door.
I swung my gaze down from the girl’s now empty window and fixed my gaze on Hex who leaned back and said, “Alright, damn. Y’ ain’t gotta turn that creepy stare on me, brother.”
I blinked and frowned and hadn’t realized I’d looked at him any type of way, but with the inked sclera of my eyes, hell – probably any look was scary as fuck, which was sorta the whole point.
I took another hit off the joint and grunted again and he sighed.
“I said, I don’t know how much longer this is gonna roll until the goddamn wheels come off.”
I nodded. I knew Ruth wasn’t in his right head and I also knew we was past it. That he was too far gone on that shit he’d been breathin’ and poisonin’ himself with.
“What d’ you want me t’ do?” I asked and I turned and looked at Hex again. He looked troubled.
He sighed finally and shook his head, dropping it so he could look at his own booted feet.
“I don’t rightly know,” he confessed. “All I do know, is that whatever it is, the time come, it ain’t gon’ be pretty.”
I looked up at the girl’s window. The only thing that was pretty on this block.
“Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Don’t shove it in yet!”
“That’s what she said!” Maia called and I snorted and yelled back, “I’m not! I’m just trying to – !” The weight was just gone, like magic and I startled, and whirled looking up into eyes that were wall to wall midnight. I blinked, mouth falling open in shock as the big, and I do mean big, bald and heavily tattooed man looked down at me, face impassive and as hard as stone. He jerked his head to one side and I moved out of the way, my feet feeling like they barely touched the ground as a shiver went down my spine.
-and no, I wasn’t cold. There was no such thing as being cold in New Orleans standing outside on the summer sidewalk.
“Alina, you got it?” Dorian called and straightened up and said, “Oh, hey. Thanks, man.”
The big man holding the end of my couch up off the ground with one hand didn’t take his eyes off of me, as though he was committing my face to memory.
“Uh, right…” Dorian said after a protracted silence that was interrupted not only by Dorian but by the subtle laughing and chuckling out of three more bikers standing nearby watching the strange spectacle as a cicada screamed in the near distance.
The big man in the leather vest finally tore his eyes off of me and looked to Dorian, raising his chin as though to silently ask if Dorian was ready.
“Yeah, put it in,” he said and Maia snorted and said again, “That’s what she said.”
The rest of the bikers spectating all had another good laugh.
The couch went into the back of the van and the big man turned back to me to stare some more.
“You good?” a voice called from the three bikers off to the side.
“What? Me? Yeah,” I said finally, tearing my eyes from the big man staring me down. There was something wrong with his eyes. I mean, there was no white. It was just black as midnight, black as pitch, the inkiest darkness I had ever seen – which is when it dawned on me. It was ink. He’d tattooed the whites of his eyes – which made me shudder. I couldn’t even imagine what that’d felt like, and no! Just no. Mm-mm. No, no, no, and nope. Didn’t want to think about it too hard. I was good.
“Anything else, darlin’?” the same biker from the pack of them off to the side asked. I shook my head no.
“No, that was the last thing,” I murmured. Still wide eyed and transfixed by the giant – or at least giant to me bald man who was absolutely jacked who hadn’t budged from his spot in front of me. A coldness radiated off of him despite the muggy heat socking us all in.
“Thank you,” I said and he gave me a slow, single nod before turning and walking back up the sidewalks and joining the rest of his friends. They all turned and walked through the gate of the Voodoo Bastards compound.
“Alina?” Dorian called and I turned and looked from him to Maia who mouthed, ‘What was that?’ at me. I shrugged and mouthed back ‘I don’t know!’ and then I looked back to Dorian who looked just as mystified as both me and my bestie.
I’d lived right outside their compound for three years, now. Had a view from both my living room and bedroom window right down into it even, but I’d really never paid them any mind except for the roar of their bikes when they’d drunkenly drag raced up the block on wild party nights and the times the music had been almost too loud to think – but I wasn’t dumb. I never called it in or complained or anything. The Voodoo Bastards weren’t something you messed with out here. Not if you didn’t want to become gator food or whatever.
Still, in the last three years, this was the first time I had ever had an up-close encounter with any of them… and I was suddenly glad it was moving day, because I wasn’t sure I ever wanted another one ever again. They were scary!
Text Copyright © 2022 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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