35 Arrested After Riot in Vegan Strip Club by Chloe Cocking

Kalee stifled a sigh as she rubbed John’s face in her sweaty cleavage. She tossed her long black hair over one shoulder in a practiced gesture. Wednesday nights were always a very slow night for lap dances. Club Vee was particularly empty tonight. Privately, Kalee blamed all the late night Christmas shopping extravaganzas. Almost all of her mid-week regulars were standing in line to buy Iphones or Xboxes or some such shit. There were only four shopping days left until Christmas. The only regular who had come in tonight was John. Of course, he was the one Kalee liked the least.

It wasn’t that John was intimidating or threatening. He was just so awkward. He spilled his drink at least once every evening. He never realized when he had spinach in his teeth. His personal hygiene left something to be desired, and worst of all, he thought he was witty and charming.

Tonight was no different than any Wednesday since Club Vee had launched. He appeared about fifteen minutes after the club opened, ate three plates of food from the vegan buffet, and stared expectantly at the stage until the first dancer came on. When Kalee started to circulate among the customers, offering lap dances, he had greeted her as he always did. “Heeeey, bouncy Miss Kalee! Good to see you, sexy mama. Tell me, is the vee in Club Vee for ‘vegan’ or for ‘va-jay-jay’?” Then he smiled with satisfaction, as though this was the cleverest thing imaginable.

Kalee’s own sense of humour trended more to the absurd – dysfunctional cheese shops, ex-parrots, the Spanish Inquisition and the comfy chair – but she pasted a grin on her face and giggled anyway. All part of being professional on the job, after all.

Kalee took a step back from John’s lap and turned around. She bent her widespread legs and placed her hands on her hips.  She started to twerk just a couple of inches over John’s lap. Snapping her pelvis to the tempo of the hip-hop blasting from the club’s sound system, Kalee reflected that it wasn’t just John’s sexism or his tedious repetition that annoyed her. She was aware there were boring and cheesy people in every workplace. No, what bothered Kalee was how disrespectful John could be to the concept of veganism itself. Why does he bother to come to a vegan club if he hates veganism so much? It doesn’t make any sense. He could go to Klassi Ladieeezzz over on Templeton just as easily.

Kalee turned around, once again stuffing John’s face into her cleavage. And that’s the other thing—for a guy who claims he hates “rabbit food”, he can sure pack away the saag soy paneer, all while complaining we don’t serve hot wings. Who does that? Can’t the vegans of Portland have one meat-free sexually-themed club?

The whole thing struck Kalee as very unfair.  Her gyrations grew faster and faster the more she thought about it.

“Ow!” said John, face muffled by Kalee’s cleavage.

Kalee stopped moving. “What’s the matter, baby?” she cooed.

“G’off, g’off me.”

Kalee stepped back from John. He clapped a hand over his nose, protectively.

“What happened? What’s wrong?” she asked.

John moved his hand away from his nose. Kalee realized the rim of John’s left nostril was bleeding from a tiny slit. She had managed to nick him with one of the sequins on her push up bra. Oh shit, not again.

“John, I’m so sorry. Let me get the first aid kit, I’ll fix you,” Kalee said. She started walking toward the bar.

“No, it’s ok, darlin’, I’m ok, just come back ‘n dance some more,” John said, dabbing at his nose with a paper napkin from the dispenser on the table.

Kalee continued toward the bar anyway. Pete, the manager at Club Vee, had been furious the last time she’d accidentally cut a customer on her sequined bra.

“Kalee, this is a vegan club!” he’d screamed. “It’s important that the club stay one hundred percent blood-free at all times. We can’t be getting any blood on the floor or in the drains or anything.”

Kalee had not been intimidated by Pete’s outburst. “The customers aren’t going to be licking the floor or the drains, are they? Why does it matter?” she asked.

Fuming, Pete had grumbled, “It just does, ok? We were really lucky this time, even though the guy got cut, we kept it contained, so we’re all right. Next time we might not be so lucky.”

“But the blood isn’t going into the food, so who cares? I just don’t get it,” Kaylee said, shrugging her bronzed and glitter-gelled shoulders.

Pete had sighed heavily, and taken a deep breath to calm himself. “Consider it a matter of principle, Kaylee. It’s essential to our business model. Besides, you benefit from the policy—that’s why all you dancers get time off with pay when you get your monthlies,” he had argued.

Kalee had thought it over at the time, and because she liked the paid time-off, she didn’t object further. Every workplace has a few weird rules, she had thought to herself.

Kaylee wasn’t sure how Pete was going to react to another sequin incident. He’s gonna ban this costume for sure, it’s a two-time offender, she thought, looking down at the green and red sequined bra she was wearing. This is my best holiday season costume. If he bans it, what else can I wear that’s festive? Kaylee was damned if she’d do what some of the other dancers did—wear Santa or elf hats while they danced. Kaylee considered herself an artist, and her costumes were an integral part of that. I guess I have the silver lamé one, I could maybe get some glitter stick-on tattoos that look like snowflakes, maybe do a Jack Frost theme. When she reached the bar she told Amber, the bartender, that she needed the first aid kit.

“How come? You didn’t cut yourself, did you?” asked Amber with alarm. Amber dug a hair elastic out of the front pocket of her jeans, and started to put her long red hair into a pony tail.

“No, not me. I nicked John’s nose with a sequin,” Kalee explained.

Worry flashed over Amber’s face like gathering storm clouds. “Oh shit,” she said, looking over Kaylee’s shoulder at John on the other side of the room.

“What? Is Pete out here walking around checking on us?” asked Kalee.

Staring at John, Amber said, “No, I think he’s gonna knock those bloody tissues off the table with his elbow. JOHN –NOOOO BE CAREFUL WITH THOSE TISSUES!”

John turned his head to look at Amber. He looked at her quizzically and shrugged. His elbow hit a crumpled bloody tissue, and it fell to the floor.

Kaylee could hear a scream from Pete’s office. The club patrons and dancers went silent. Rick the DJ, one headphone held against his ear, pressed ‘pause’ on his equipment. The silence was deafening. The manager’s office door flung open violently, and Pete stood in the doorway, his chest heaving and his eyes wild.

“Amber!” he shouted, “There is blood on the floor, I feel it!”

“I’m on it!” she shouted back. Amber ducked behind the bar and pulled out a sawed-off shotgun. Even cut down, the shot gun was almost as long as Amber’s short arms. She moved the slide on the gun, loading shells into the chamber. The sound of the gun cocking drew all eyes to Amber. Several men stood up slowly from their tables and started to edge their way to the exit. The dancer on stage slowly backed up to duck behind the stage curtains.

“Take this,” Amber said to Kaylee, handing her the shotgun over the bar. “You’re going to need it. Take off your stupid platform shoes, too– you are tall enough to aim for their heads without them,” barked Amber.

“Their heads?”

“Yes, aim for their fucking heads, bitch. Now take off your shoes.”

Kalee stepped out of her high-heeled clear acrylic mules. Flat-footed, she stood about five foot seven, six inches taller than Amber.

Amber ducked down behind the bar again and came back up with a sword. Why the fuck does she have a sword back there? Kaylee thought. Placing a hand on the polished wood of the bar top, Amber vaulted over the bar, and landed on the balls of her feet next to Kalee. Kalee gaped at her. I had no idea Amber knew parkour.

“Pete,” Amber shouted, “Get the protection herbs ready!”

Kaylee was about to ask Amber what was going on when the floor started to rock and buck under their feet.

Kaylee could hear customers and dancers behind her yelling and running around. She grabbed Amber’s shoulder before Amber could bolt away. “What the hell is going on? Is this an earthquake? Who am I supposed to shoot? I don’t want to kill customers!” screamed Kaylee, above the din.

Amber’s blue eyes flashed like shards of pitiless glass. “Not customers, dummy, the restless dead! Turn around and look!” Amber shoved Kaylee’s shoulder to make her turn around.

Sections of the concrete floor were rippling and buckling, coming away in chunks. It was as if a mole of monstrous size was burrowing just under the floor of Club Vee. Kaylee watched in shock as two hands appeared, digging their way out of a nearby pile of concrete rubble. The hands were tinged green from mold, and a tar-like black ichor oozed from under the broken fingernails. The tendons in the hands tensed, and Kaylee looked on in horror as the dead man pulled himself up through the hole he had made. He was still buried from the waist down, and seemed to be gathering his energies to climb out of the earth the rest of the way. His face was not much more than strings of rotted meat, but his eyes blinked, and settled on Amber and Kaylee. He started to snarl and growl, hands scrabbling frantically in the rubble for purchase.

Lithe and catlike, Amber sprang forward toward him, holding her sword in a two-handed grip. Leading with her left arm, she swung the blade. It made a sickening wet splurk as it bit into the dead man’s neck and severed his head from his body. The head rolled away. It splattered sticky ichor from the ragged end of the neck over the concrete debris. The eyes were open and blinking, and he was still snarling and gnashing his teeth. The smell of sulphur and putrefaction permeated the nightclub. Kaylee’s stomach rolled and twisted with nausea. I shouldn’t have had that cauliflower tagine.

Kaylee felt her mind start to retreat from what she was seeing, trivialities rushing in to fill the available brain-space. I wonder how long Amber has used a sword? Maybe that’s what she does on her nights off. It explains the muscle definition in her arms . . .

SLAP! Kaylee’s hand flew to her burning cheek. “You hit me!” she yelled at Amber.

“Yes, and I’ll do it again before I let you stand here and get chewed on by these dinks. You have a gun, so fucking use it,” Amber growled.

“These are zombies?” asked Kaylee

Amber rolled her eyes, and ran toward Pete’s office. She dodged a tall man who in life must have weighed at least three hundred pounds. Amber swung her blade at him, but he dodged. The large dead man kept his head, but lost his left arm. Amber kept moving towards Pete’s office.

Kaylee saw the fingers on the hand of the severed arm bend and flex. The hand started to crawl toward Kaylee, dragging the arm behind it, trailing noodle-like tendons and the stench of the grave.

Kaylee’s face settled into grim lines. “Your fingers are not gonna do the walking today, buddy,” she said.

She raised the shotgun to shoulder level and pulled the trigger. The fat man’s head exploded in a fountain of green mold and black ichor. The arm stopped moving. Holy shit. Not only am I a great shot, apparently I have mad skillz with action hero one-liners.Feeling more confident, Kaylee cocked the shotgun again. She looked around the club.

Rick the DJ had, so far, managed to fend off the zombies who approached his platform. Barricaded behind his sound equipment, he had a vinyl record in each hand. He was using the edge as a slashing weapon. Any zombies who had gotten close had at least a few slashes across their rotted cheeks and hands.

A few more zombies shambled aimlessly across the club’s floor, bumping into tables and knocking over chairs. They sniffed the air, searching for scents. Looks like they’re trying to find someone to chase. Kaylee noticed that most of the customers and workers seemed to have made it out of the club before the dead had gotten free enough of the earth to grab or bite anyone. Maybe they’re following the scent of the people that left, that’d be the strongest smell, right?

John had not been one of the patrons lucky enough to escape the club. His body was bent backwards over a small table, entrails hanging down to the floor on either side of his body. A dead woman and her two small dead children were red to the elbows with John’s blood as they feasted on his organs. Kaylee could hear the wet smacking sounds they made as they ate. The smaller of the children, a little girl with blue mold and phosphorescent fungus growing in her once-blonde pigtails, made a low hoarse groaning sound in her throat as she chewed and swallowed.

Kaylee sighted on the middle of their mother’s forehead and pulled the trigger. Headshot! Neither of the children looked up from their buffet. She re-loaded quickly and shot the oldest brother, blowing off the lower half of his jaw. That might be good enough, he can’t really bite anybody without his jaw. The dead boy continued to shove handfuls of John’s liver into what was left of his mouth. He looked perplexed. I guess he hasn’t figured it out he can’t chew.

Kaylee ran quickly toward the DJ platform, skirting the occupied child zombies, and leapt over piles of broken concrete and churned earth. Amazed at her own agility, Kaylee thought All those hours swinging by my knee from a brass pole are really paying off.

Two zombies, a man and a woman, were pressed against the DJ equipment, arms waving as they reached out to grab Rick. Rick was darting forward, surprisingly quick for a large man, and slashing at their hands and faces with two vinyl records. Black ichor splattered the equipment. The zombies seemed impervious to pain. Rick jumped back, out of the way of their desperate grasping hands.

Kaylee stopped about five feet behind the zombies, chambered a round, and lifted the shotgun to her shoulder, sighting the back of one of the zombies’ heads. At the time the man had died, he head had been newly-shaved. The back of his head sported a black spiderweb tattoo. It’s like a bullseye. BAM. The recoil rocked Kaylee’s stance, and she noticed her shoulder was getting tender from where the butt of the gun slammed against her several times. The bald zombie staggered for a minute. Headless, he fell forward into the DJ equipment. Lana Del Ray’s “Fucked My Way to the Top” started to boom through the club’s speakers. LIFE IS AWESOME, I CONFESS. WHAT I DO, I DO BEST.

“Rick,” Kaylee shouted, “I got you. Run to the office!” Rick looked at her with eyes showing too much white. Kaylee chambered another round. Rick looked around, waiting for his chance. The petite female zombie menacing the DJ platform turned around at the sound of the shotgun chambering the shell. Rick tipped a speaker the size of a refrigerator over on its side, and bolted for the office door. The music continued to wail. I FUCKED MY WAY UP TO THE TOP. GO, BABY, GO, GO, GO, GO, GO, GO . . .

Unlike the other zombies Kaylee had seen, this one had very little rot. The others had been mindless eating machines trailing shredded flesh. This girl was different; she had a gleam of cunning in her eye and most of her still-pretty face was intact. She had an upturned snub nose and cupid’s bow lips. She snarled at Kaylee and Kaylee pulled the trigger. Her shot grazed the small zombie’s shoulder. Oh shit.

The zombie lunged forward and tried to grab Kaylee’s arm. Kaylee stumbled backward, tripping over concrete rubble. She landed hard on her tailbone, rough chunks of debris tearing the soft skin of Kaylee’s buttocks as she hit the floor. She had managed to keep a hold on the sawed-off shotgun. The zombie rushed Kaylee, impossibly fast, mouth foaming. Fuck fuck fuck thought Kaylee, in panic. LAY ME DOWN TONIGHT, IN MY DIAMONDS AND PEARLS. TELL ME SONGS AT NIGHT, ABOUT YOUR FAVORITE GIRL. Kaylee gripped the gun at either end, like it was a staff. She used it to keep the zombie’s snapping teeth away from her face. Even though the girl was not as rotted as they others, she reeked of rot and meat and embalming chemicals. Kaylee felt herself gag.

The zombie was unnaturally strong. Kaylee’s arms shook with the effort of keeping the zombie away from her face and throat. She’s gonna rip my face off. The zombie was close enough that her foaming salvia dripped on Kaylee’s face. Kaylee turned her head and squeezed her eyes shut.  I’M A DRAGON, YOU’RE A WHORE, DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GOOD FOR.

A wet splorch made her open her eyes. She looked up. Rick stood over her, the back of a chair gripped in his massive hands. He had used the chair to bat the zombie off of Kaylee. She looked at him in amazement. “Supernatural she might be,” he said philosophically, “but physics is physics.” He grinned under his beard. He grabbed Kaylee under the arm pit, and half-dragged her to her feet.

Kaylee and Rick ran to the manager’s office at the back of the club. The jawless boy stood ankle deep in gore that had been his sister and mother, puzzling over the fact he could no longer chew. The rest of the zombies seemed to have found the exits, and were presumably milling around the parking lot or wandering across I-5. Kaylee hammered on the door. “Pete! Open up!” she screamed.

“How do I know you’re not a zombie?” said Pete, from the other side of the door.

Kaylee could hear Amber in the background saying “Don’t be an idiot, Pete, let Kaylee in here.”

“But what if it’s a trick, and she eats us?” whined Pete.

Rick stepped forward, slamming the thin door with his fist. “Be worried about me, motherfucker, I’m gonna eat you whether I’m a zombie or not.”

The locked clicked open, and Amber opened the door a crack.

“No bites?” she asked, eyeing Kaylee and Rick.

“Not yet,” said Kaylee.

“Ok, come in.” Amber stepped back, and Rick and Kaylee slipped into the office.

Pete was crumpled on the floor, his face a mask of pain. His hands clutched at his groin.

Kaylee pointed her chin at Pete. “What’s with him?”

“I had to nail him in the balls to get him to open to the door,”

“Nice,” said Rick, teeth flashing white. He kicked Pete in the ribs. “And that’s for building the club on an ancient burial ground, AGAIN”.

“Again?” asked Kaylee.

Amber sighed, and rubbed her eyes with the thumb and fingers of her left hand. “That’s why we had to leave Missouri and come to Oregon.”

“This has happened before?!” Kaylee face-palmed.

Rick kicked Pete again. Pete groaned, and rolled away from him, hiding his face. “Stupid motherfucker leased the land cheap in Missouri, but the same thing happened there on Surf n’ Turf Saturday.” Rick scowled, and sat on the edge of Pete’s desk.

“So you guys thought a vegan club would prevent it,” asked Kaylee.

Amber shrugged and shook her head. Pete sat up, hands clutching his bruised ribs now. “It would have worked it you weren’t so fucking clumsy, you stupid bitch.”

Kaylee considered hitting Pete with the butt of the sawed off shotgun, but while she was weighing the pros and cons, Amber said, “Pete, shut up. You’re only making it worse.”

“Worse?! How can it be worse?” Pete yelled. “The fucking restless dead are roaming I-5! Do you know how much money we’re gonna have to give the cops to keep this quiet? It’ll break us.”

“It’ll break you,” said Amber quietly.

“What do you mean by that?”

“After Missouri, I told you that if things got fucked up in Portland, I was gone. Consider this my notice,” said Amber.

“Me, too,” said Rick, glowering.

Kaylee had a thought. “Have you guys ever thought about starting a club in maybe Mexico or something? I have dual citizenship.”

Amber raised an eyebrow, and Pete started to cry. Kaylee could hear the wail of emergency sirens over the Lana Del Ray song.

#          #          #

The next week The Portland Voice ran the following article:

Local authorities in Portland vowed Monday to prosecute the perpetrators of the violent disturbances that took place last Wednesday night at Club Vee, Portland’s premiere vegan adult entertainment establishment. A winter solstice ‘buy one, get one’ sale on lap dances led to rioting, which resulted in property damage, dozens of arrests and injuries, and the tragic death of Portland clergyman John Ryerson.

Three staff members—Amber Dougherty, Kaylee Rodriguez, and Richard Jackson— are still being sought for questioning about the brawl. Portland Police Media Coordinator Kenneth Whiteside said that while the three staff members “did nothing criminal,” they did “exercise poor judgement” during the melee on Wednesday.

Witnesses have suggested that the vegan buffet may have been spiked with PCP or so-called ‘bath salts’ because of the level of bizarre violence during the riot. Mrs. Janice Ryerson, Pastor Ryerson’s wife, stated that “he was always ministering to all kinds of people; he didn’t judge. It’s tragic that in trying to save the souls of these degraded girls in the club, he met his own death. But he’s with Jesus now.” Services for Pastor Ryerson will be held on Saturday at Church of Christ, Crucified on Templeton Avenue. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, people wishing to pay their respects to Pastor Ryerson make donations to the girl’s scholarship fund established to honour his name.