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"First we get a lil tempted murder, now thievery? Fuck if this is some kinda fourth huh?"

Frank brings himself closer to Emerald. "Why, this is the one I was gonna pair you with Rick. Shit. Girl, what were you thinking? Here, at a party of all places?"

"Listen, I'm tired, I was up really, really late last night...hustling, Mr. Billiard"

"Oh were you now? And you just thought you'd take a nap, yeah?" Mr. Billiard grins and then the man with the outhouse moon taps his shoulder. Frank's tight, muscly neck twists his head to face the man and something unspoken and agreed upon in a prior moment occurs before Frank looks at Emerald with a wet grin as he licks his lips.

"Well you can take your nap, and Cory here will tuck you in." The bald man with mean eyebrows steps forward and clasps an iron grip over Emerald's arm.

"Rick? Did you want to help tuck Emerald in?" Frank asks, but the kid shakes his head, looking down at the floor.

The giant doesn't so much drag Emerald as he does haul her through the air, past the bedroom she had been plundering and toward a room in the farthest corner of the upstairs hallway. Of course, Mr. Billiard doesn't want the other girls to see or hear what’s about to happen to her. A junkie, never mind a whore, is as loyal as a hungry pet gator, but no woman would ever rest easy knowing Emerald's probable fate. There would be runaways and last chance robberies, maybe even stabbings and overdoses.

Mr. Billiards associate, Carlton, the drug manufacturing scientist and lunatic that privately owns Emerald's club, wouldn't want a rebellion on his hands. Emerald's heard him claim that "his" girls are hooked just enough on the candy and the meth and the coke and the multicolored drops and drips and tabs, that he owns them both body and soul. Emerald's heard him say this practically right to her face. She’s hidden her smirk, just as she hides it now because she knows, when the moment is right, all slavers come to a bloody end.

The giant drags Emerald into a messy, mold-and-piss stinking bedroom nearly identical to the one she was caught in. She's thrown to the ground as the giant towers over her, a thing of shadow and half-light from the partially folded window blinds. " This is bullshit", the giant mutters, before crawling over Emerald and slapping something cold over her wrist: a pair of handcuffs, the other end of which he latches to the wooden bedpost.

"Hell's wrong with you, miss? You know they gotta put on a show snooping around like ya are, silly as fuck girl. You better find a means to break that post there, or your fucked, when the New Englander comes in here...find a way to break out or kill yourself, my advice, he aint right." The giant leaps off her, shakes his head, then hurls himself out of the room. Emerald is left with her heart pounding, ripping away in the dark. She knows she's done a silly thing indeed, misunderstanding both the mercy and the limitless savagery of animals. She’s not afraid, though, nobody at no cost gets to put that to her.

#

"These here are ‘merican strippers, they aint’ afraid of a few burgers and ribs like them vampire European imports you see in New York," Frank dares to wag his finger at Lark, The New Englander, who’s just one plain crazy fuck in general. He's got a weird half moon tattooed on his cheek, and Frank didn't want him to come here. The cloud gatherers that tell him what to do insisted, however, and now the saying’s true that every party has its weirdo.

It was Lark’s idea to see if anybody was “snooping around” the house and to Frank’s sincere regret, shit now has to get nasty. It’s also Lark’s idea to save the girl whatshername for the “after after party,” whatever that means. Frank knows that Lark is part of some fucked up, balls to the wall moon cult in one of them clam chowder states and he knows that, in this case, it’s best to give Lark what he wants. Whatever he does to that damn poor fool of a girl won’t matter in the long run. There’s plenty more beer to drink, and Frank’s hardly gotten started. As it is, Rick’s damn friends have gotten themselves into trouble and worse yet, Sheriff Longshaw says it’s not their fault.

Frank didn’t respond well to the phone call and tried to hang up immediately. Of course, about forty minutes later Rick had to go pick up sparklers and his buddies Buzz and whatever the fuck his name is because their Camaro was shot to shit. Apparently that poor fuck Perry Rash had lost his mind and was having some kinda PTSD flashbacks because of all the fireworks. Go figure, somebody always has to be going around turning shit ugly. Marv and Buzz, despite being surrounded by affectionate strippers with thick thighs over on the pool chairs, are still fucked up and twitchy. Some of the other guys don’t like the sound of it all either, and, on top of Lark’s depravity, this is quickly becoming a pity party. This is what happens when you run things and try to give everybody a good time: You end up suffering the most.