It's busy tonight.
Rocky is already there, at a booth in the corner, coke laid out in lines on the table, surrounded by glassy-eyed would-be model types in transition between humoring him and ensorcelled by him. Wen dances, glimpses of her small frame flashing from within a sea of moving bodies. Coral leans against the bar, drink in hand, daring men to approach her with her wry but icy stare. Gunnar won't show for another hour. Gunnar doesn't really go for the scene anymore.
I don't blame him. But there are rules.
Five of the several hundred people packed into this club will have a moment of terror and probably ecstasy and possibly death. Though, to be fair, a couple of those people may not even be here yet: Wen is fickle, and impetuous, and often changes her mind at the last minute. Gunnar will choose one at random, possibly one who's just walked in the door. Gunnar doesn't care.
Rocky will pick the prettiest girl he can seduce, which won't be the prettiest girl in the club or usually even at his table. Low self-esteem is Rocky's wingman. Coral will choose the one who earns it.
Mine will live, and so will Coral's. Rocky's usually lives, and so does Wen's, though her control is questionable. This might be one of those nights. Gunnar's will die.
Wen sees me and waves. I smile and nod and begin scoping the crowd. I don't always choose a woman, but—
"How are you?" Coral is at my elbow. She never talks to me until after, until the post-game. This is unusual.
"Shouldn't you be working your magic? You've only got an hour before Gunnar—"
"Gunnar's not coming."
"Gunnar was a liability. He made us more vulnerable." She fixed me with her eyes. I'm serious about this now. "I made an executive decision."
Meaning Gunnar is dust, somewhere, probably nearby, and I am not to make a scene. We don't have a leader, except for Coral.