by C.C. Reverie
“The fact that I’m afraid makes me more afraid.”
She brushed her forehead with the back of her hand. The hand got wet and warm.
“Makes me sweat,” she continued, rubbing her wet hand against her leg.
At the opposite end of the table sat a man dressed in a black leather jacket, wearing a black baseball cap, drinking from a small glass. He took two sips, one after another, finishing the drink. He shoved the glass aside then slid his hand into the inside pocket of his black jacket, the one by the heart. He kept it there for a long time. The bartender, who was watching the two of them from behind the counter, wondered if the man was going to pull out a gun.
“Get over it!” the man commanded to the woman, and turning to the bartender he said “one more for me.” Then he pulled out the hand from his inner pocket of his jacket. He was holding a wallet that he opened and, taking a bill out of it, put it by the empty glass.
The bartender came and replaced the empty glass with a full one. He tried to see the man’s face but it was dark and smoky inside the room and the brim of the hat was concealing the eyes, throwing odd shadows on the man’s figure. He just took the bill and walked away.
The woman looked over the man’s head, towards the door, across the room. The bartender thought that she may want to leave. Her glass was empty but she didn’t seem to mind. Her hand gripped the purse resting on the tabletop. She was an attractive female, in her thirties, no scruples, easy going, red hair, and a helpless look in her eye, – the kind of woman the bartender would bring home for a night to make her feel better. But he wanted her gone. The man she was with seemed to make her suffer.
“Would you, guys, be around then?” she asked, leaning towards her partner. He looked up at her, from under his hat’s brim, pulled down to escape her annoying eyes.
“We’ll watch you,” he said, pushing the brim a little higher with a stroke of his knuckles. The light shone on his face.
Picking from behind the spirit bottles, the bartender saw a good looking man, about her age, two deep wrinkles around his tight lips. No wonder she’s hooked, he thought.
“You have to make up your mind, quick,” said the man, emptying the glass with one sip. “I won’t be waiting forever,” he added, setting the glass back on the table. The noise of the glass on the wood made the woman shiver.
“What about her?” she asked, her soft voice disappearing in a shallow breath.
“Her…. After,” he said.
“No. Can’t be. You promised.”
The bartender saw panic in her eyes.
“No, it can’t be after, please,” she insisted.
“You do the job, we’ll give her back. After.”
The woman moaned. She reached for her glass. The man grabbed her hand and push it hard against the table.
“Let’s go!” he said.
The woman fought to free her hand but he didn’t let go. She looked around.
The room was empty. Even the bartender was gone. He was watching them from behind the kitchen window. He saw the man standing up and dragging the woman, while she was trying to free herself.
“No,” she said, “I need to see her first, to speak with her,” she cried.
The man put a hand over her mouth and kept dragging her. The door was a few steps away. She struggled. She was strong. The man in the black leather jacket lost his grip for a moment. Then he raised his right hand above. “Don’t make me!” he sneered, and slapped her face so hard that she lost her balance for a second. Her purse dropped open, spilling over a handful of little white plastic packs, which the bartender, just coming out of the kitchen, recognized right away.
The man in the black leather jacket froze for one short moment, eyes fixed on the poor bartender.
“Pick ’em up!” he said, pushing her on the floor. “Hurry!”
Then he reached inside the interior pocket of his leather jacket, by the heart. The bartender though that was kind of funny because the man had already paid for his drinks. In the second it took him to realize that something else may hide there, he saw the man pulling out a small pistol.
A short noise cracked the night.
The bartender felt a little pinch in the stomach before he understood what had just happened. The pinch become a burn, then a flame, then a breathtaking pain spreading like a plague through his body. Falling down, he saw the woman crying while picking up her white plastic packs. He still thought he could do something to help her and, maybe, take her home, one day, if he got lucky. But he heard another short noise and felt a second pinch somewhere, between his ribs.
So much for being lucky, he thought, while his head hit the hard wooden floor. He didn’t hear the police sirens screaming, neither the woman shouting: “Don’t shoot, he has my daughter…please, don’t shoot…” her lamentation mixing with the burst of the gunfire.
Soon, everything was over.
“What a pity, he was our best informer,” said an old police officer zipping the black sack over the bartender’s body.