Vic sucks his Marlboro light as if it were a straw filled with some life-giving elixir instead of a mere cigarette, with a furious desperation that turns it into ash in just a few hard drags.
He sits at his desk, immobile except for lighting, smoking and putting out cigarettes, his eyes flickering from monitor to monitor. Nine monitors on the wall opposite him make up a grainy black-and-white mosaic of the sectors of the club: the parking lot, the front door, the back door where the deliveries, dancers and cash go in and out, the dressing room. The VIP room.
- Honey, says Nada, you really got to cut down on the cigs.
- Got the patch, what else do you want me to do?
His eyes skip from monitor to monitor.
- How’s it going?
- Not good, not bad.
- You keeping your eye on that bartender?
- Yes, she says over his question.
- Edgardo’s crew’s coming in later, you remember?
She nods. She remembers. She knew before he asked, just as she’s already calculated the take at the door and can project, in her head, the likely profit for the evening, and for the week.
- Jesus fuck. Where’s Andre? Look at the corner there – that’s Melody, right?
Nada examines the smeared shadows on the monitor: the chair back, the pair of hands gripping its sides, a head bobbing up and down.
- I told them not to grind the guys longer than six seconds. That’s the legal limit, right?
Nada nods, equally intent on the closed circuit images.
- That’s already longer than six. Who’s she with?
- Some guy who thinks he’s a high roller.
- I’m taking care of this.
He hauls his bulk out of the cushioned leather chair.
- Sure you don’t want me to?
- I said I’ll do it.