Home > The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(5)

The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(5)
Author: Amy Harmon

But I don’t just own the bar. The whole block is mine. The bar on the corner, the small indoor arena where local fights take place every Tuesday night and once a month on Saturdays, the gym beyond that, and at the end of the block, a sporting goods store, filled with Tag Team gear and equipment with my label emblazoned across every surface. My own apartment and two others, occupied by people of my choosing, sit above the training gym. The city block is my whole world, a world of my creation. And it’s all connected, each business playing off the others.

Even the bar and the fight arena are connected, and on the nights when there aren’t fights, the arena seats are cordoned off by a wall of metal accordion doors, and the cage becomes a stage in a back room, a private alcove filled with a dozen small tables and booths, the bar easily accessible just around the corner, and waitresses keeping you comfortable and in your seats. Four nights a week, the little arena is home to a totally different kind of show, a completely different kind of sporting event. A pole is erected in the center of the cage and there are no fighters allowed inside, just one woman after another, spinning and writhing on the pole in time to the throbbing pulse of music that is muted throughout the rest of the establishment. I keep it classy—as classy as stripper poles and half-naked ladies can be. The girls dance, they don’t strip, and they don’t mingle beyond the cage. But it’s just hot enough, just risqué enough, that I keep it separate from the rest of the establishment. It’s the back room for negotiations—I do more business there than anywhere else—and the cherry on the top of an establishment that caters to hard-working men who feel appropriately sheepish and grateful just to be there.

Tag’s opened two years ago, corresponding with the launch of the clothing line and my first big fight, the fight where I beat someone I had no business beating. I knocked him out cold and became a hot commodity. I timed it all, capitalizing on one success to launch another. I was a rich kid turned businessman, a cowboy more suited to riding a wave of adoration than riding a horse, and more interested in taking on the world of ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts than in taking over my father’s holdings. I could have. It was a golden-paved path that stretched out before me, a road of privilege and entitlement. But it was a road I hadn’t built, and I’m convinced you can’t ever be completely happy walking on someone else’s road. Someone else’s path. The way to true happiness is to forge your own, even if your road isn’t straight. Even if there are bridges to build and mountains to tunnel through. Nothing feels as good as paving your own way.

I’d come to Salt Lake City ready to start building roads three years before. I had money—some of it my own, money I’d earned with Moses, and some of it money I hadn’t earned. I was a rich kid, but I wasn’t a stupid kid. I knew I needed capital to build an empire. Sometimes it takes money to make money. So I took the money my dad gave me and promised myself that I would give it back before I died or before I turned thirty. Whichever came first.

At twenty-six, I didn’t have much time or wiggle room. But I was on track, and the bar was doing extremely well. The evidence was all around me when I walked in the front door that Monday night—typically the slowest night of the week—to full stools and tables, to the happy thrum of relaxed customers. The place hummed and my heart warmed to the music. Two of my waitresses pranced by, dressed like ring girls in Tag Team booty shorts and halter tops, delivering rounds instead of announcing them. They sent identical smiles my way and tossed their hair, almost as if it were part of the job description. Maybe it should be . . . or maybe it was just common sense. You always smile at the boss.

I wasn’t there to flirt, though I smiled automatically. Instead, I calculated the mood of the room, the number of men bellied up to the bar, the number of tables filled, the flow of the alcohol and the efficiency of the wait staff. When I approached the bar to touch base with Morgan, my manager, a pulsing beat began to throb from down the hall, from around the darkened corner where the girls danced and the music was louder.

“Who’s dancing tonight?” I inquired, not really caring, but asking anyway.

“Justine. Lori. And the new girl.” Morgan smirked like he had a secret, and I was immediately suspicious. He slid a Coke in front of me as I sat down and I took a long pull before I gave him a response.

“Oh yeah? Judging from that shit-eating grin, I’m guessing there’s something you need to tell me about the new girl.”

“Nah. Nothing. She’s beautiful. Great dancer. Great body. She’s been on the schedule for the last two weeks, though you’ve missed her every time. She’s always on time, never says two words. She dances, doesn’t drink, doesn’t flirt. Just how you like ‘em.” Again with the smirk.

“Huh.” I pushed my Coke away and stood, knowing I might as well go see what he was up to. Leave it to Morgan to dress up one of my Tag Team fighters and put him in the cage in a bikini. He loved a practical joke. But he was a damn good bartender . . . even if he drove me crazy with the pranks.

I called out to a few customers, shook some hands, kissed Stormy’s cheek as she delivered icy bottles of cold beer, and waved to Malcolm Short, who obviously hadn’t taken the time to change after work and looked slightly ridiculous in his three piece suit and his Utah Jazz ball cap. But the Jazz were playing, and he was getting in the spirit, happy as a clam sitting on his stool, eyes fixed on the screen. He was one of my Tag Team sponsors and it was good seeing him happy.

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