The Bar

by | Sep 8, 2018 | 0 comments

She stood at the black painted door and smoothed down her gray pencil skirt, unbuttoned one more button on her white blouse and stretched her neck from side to side to release the tension in her neck. With a pat of the chignon expertly swirled at the nape of her head, she made sure the decorative piece just above it was in place before grasping the handle of the door and stepping through.

Inside, eyes shot her direction at the sudden beam of light into the dimly lit room, then just as quickly dismissed her presence and returned to their activities. At one table a group of men dressed in business suits, their ties loosened, were in deep conversation against the backdrop of a fit blonde sliding down a brass pole. In the corner, a lone man watched her counterpart on another stage intently, his hands grasping a bundle of ones on the table in anticipation for the moment she would turn her attention to him.

Her eyes raked across the room to the bar, where a few men, dressed in t-shirts and jeans flirted with two women doing a good job of appearing interested. Her eyes landed on the bartender, a muscular man whose tattooed arms were expertly displayed to show off his ability to deal with any problems that may arise. Walking toward the bar, she sidestepped a scantily dressed waitress, who gave her a once over and snorted with a judgmental grin before continuing to her table. She ignored the women and continued to the bar and waited for the bartender to notice her.

“Hey honey,” the drunken voice said from behind her, and a shiver ran down her spine at the smell of alcohol seeping from his pours. She turned to find his body nearly pressed against her, his face invading her space and his breath lighting the hairs on her nose. “I think you should show us what’s under that blouse.”

From behind her, a voice boomed, “Kev, back off dude or I’m booting you.”

She looked over her shoulder to find the bartender, his arms crossed to fully display his strength, standing behind her, his eyes burning a hole through the man. She felt the weight of the man’s unwanted presence retreat. When she turned to look at him, he had his hands up in a dramatic surrender.

“Don’t want no trouble man. No trouble,” he said before disappearing into the darkness.

She turned to the bartender. “Thanks.”

“What do you want? We’re not hiring right now, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you should just get.”

“Actually, I’m looking for Barney.”

Suspiciously, he looked her up and down. “You don’t want to see Barney. Trust me,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know who told you to ask for him, but I suggest you turn around and walk out. Like I said, we’re not hiring, so that meeting’s not going to go well.”

“Or,” she said, running her hand across the bar. “You could just tell me where I could find him, and I’ll make that decision for myself.”

“Whatever floats your boat lady but don’t say I didn’t warn you. He’s in the back. Step down to the end of the bar,” he directed. “Gotta search you.”

Doing as instructed, she held her arms up and let him pat her down, before beaming a grin at him. “Good enough?”

He gave a curt nod and pointed to a door behind the bar. “Knock first,” he instructed and then walked away.

Knocking once, she waited. When no one answered, she knocked again. “Give me a minute, damn it!” a voice yelled from the other side and then the door flung open. Barney wasn’t what she expected. Instead of the sweaty, overweight man, wearing too many gold chains she thought she’d find, she was faced with a young man, probably in his mid-thirties, fit and dressed in a tailored suit on the other side. At first, his face was contorted in an angry expression that no doubt gave many pause, but at the sight of her, his lips spread into a charming grin. “What do we have here?” he asked, then stepped to the side to let her through, closing the door behind them.

“Are you Barney?” she asked, as he walked around her like a dog sniffing its prey.

“I am,” he said, finally stopping to run his fingers down a tendril of hair that was framing her face. “And you are?”

“A friend sent me,” she said, stepping closer to him.

“Really now,” he said, his hand now making contact with the skin on her neck, then running down her arm. “Who would that be?”

Slowly, she leaned forward and placed her lips against his ear. “Ellen Marks says hi,” she purred.

His hand dropped away, and he jumped back but it was too late. The ornate knife that had been buried in her chignon was already firmly planted in his neck. She yanked it back out and expertly stepped to the side to avoid the blood squirting from the wound. Panicking, he stumbled backward, his legs hitting the leather couch and toppling him onto it. Walking up to him, she crouched down, staring him in the eyes as he tried unsuccessfully to close off the wound with his hand.

“Such a shame,” she said, with a smile. “You’re kind of cute.” And then watched until the light left his eyes, his face went slack, and his hand dropped to his side. Wiping the knife on his shirt, she stuck it back in her hair, then stood back up and tossled it a little. After ripping the buttons on her shirt and pulling her skirt up a bit, she smeared her lipstick, took a breath, started sobbing and exited.

Appearing panicked, she ran past the bartender, hearing him laugh.

“Told you,” he yelled at her as the door closed behind her.

Outside, she slowed to a brisk walk, climbed into her car which was parked along the side of the building and pulled away, smiling at a job well done.