Friday, July 5, 2013

Who's It Gonna Be

Chris began to question the wisdom of this trip as she blew a twister of cigarette smoke into the polluted air of Saint Mech’s Bar and Grill. Within her thoughts, she sat alone on the farthest stool of twelve with her back turned to the other eleven lined up toward the bar‘s entrance. She nursed a Georgia Peach and puffed a pack of Virginia Slims where her Newports ran short in a crumbled box near her ashtray. Her long dark locks surfed down her backless rose-printed bell sleeve dress, and the buttered coloring of her long legs were crossed, facing an ill-repaired jukebox. She wore a pair of black stiletto sandals, clockwise twisting a dangling foot each time her thoughts of planning murder bricked against a possible obstacle. Her foot went counterclockwise as she plotted a way around these foreseen obstructions. And while her black designer bag rested unassumingly before her on the bar, a closer look would reveal that there was more inside of its deep pockets than checks, cards, and body spray. Look deep enough and someone would find the aluminum pistol case she had stashed beneath her requisites, including her lipstick.

She needed to reach inside her bag for that lipstick, considering she tasted most of it on her tongue after gnawing her lip for the past thirty minutes.

Chris’s purple eyes glanced at the zipped and buckled bag and, reconsidering applying more lipstick, she reached to stub out her cigarette instead. Another stream of smoke spilled from her faded cherry-pink lips. She didn’t have time to think about lipstick when she wondered if she could do this? If she could shoot her ex, Darien, in the face.

Chris heard the crunch of weight over the stool behind her and gave a profiled eye towards its occupant. It was Hal. Not another drunk that needed a kick in the balls to leave her in peace.

“It’s about time,” Chris murmured as she reached for another cigarette and her lighter. She offered the two, knowing Hal didn’t smoke Virginia Slims.

Hal waved her offer away as he dug into his chest pocket for a pack of Marlboros reds, flagged the bartender down with a simple finger, and ordered a Bud Light to go with his cowboy killers. Once all was in order he reached for Chris’s lighter, instead of his own, and tried to fire up on the remaining fluid as she swiveled to face him fully.

Smoke and a blaze clouded the study Chris was trying to gather off Hal’s face. She smirked just a little as she managed to take in her best friend of ten years. He looked less hampered since his introduction to the marriage life began five months ago. The Hal Chris knew always had his ass too tight financially to even dream of getting his ratty hair trimmed. Now, she noticed the difference in his easy part and moist ends. It didn’t change the channels of lines crossing his worn, heavy face, but it was an improvement.

“You look clean, Hal. Wifey must be treating your fat ass real good?” Chris said. She tucked away a single slip of Hal’s hair as she leaned into him, thankful that he didn‘t draw back. “Is she still the American pie you wanted over me? She a fiber bar goodness in high heels and pearls kind of woman? No summer strawberry pie to help with that cholesterol problem you got going on?”

Chris titled her head to catch Hal in a defensive flinch underneath the shade of smoke she cast. Yet, there wasn’t one.

The clicking of her lighter subsided as Hal slid it back on the bar, his lit cigarette a success. He pulled into his first take, his attention steady on the blinking Corona light above the bar instead of on Chris.

“You mad?” Chris asked, voice low and sweet. “Did I go to far?”

“No, but unlike some people,” Hal said, “Delilah’s character remains consistent. If she does get off track and decide to come after me in any kind of way, whether it be shooting the shit out of me or poisoning my food, I‘ll make sure she doesn‘t succeed. You feel me?”

Chris shrugged, drawing herself back onto her stool as her sugary pink nails tapped lightly on her lighter. “I have a reason for asking you to help me kill Darien, Hal.” She grinned just a little. “I would say him sleeping with my sister sounds pretty damn consistent on my behave. You’re the one with the change of heart. Once upon a time you liked your girls tougher than you. I‘m a little concern now. Especially after I got all dressed up. Now you‘re about to flake on my proposition.”

Hal cut his eyes toward her with a bare grin. “Don’t give me that, Chris. You know what I am capable of so cut the cute shit and talk to me. I didn‘t come here to listen to you act like you belong in the eighth grade.”

“Hey, I was just wondering if marrying your lady made you soft?” Chris provided an innocent gesture. “That’s how serious this situation is to me. Do or die, Hal. Like it used to be.”

For the first time, Hal turned to his old friend. Old girlfriend. And when he felt his body calling for hers, he quickly looked away. Those calls lead somewhere dangerous with Chris. He knew this first hand after years of dealing with the queen of ambition. Yet, here he was sitting at the bar with the woman he both loved and found repulsive. Whether it was her body or her mind, he had no way of resisting. His wife lay at home in bed under his lies because of his need to both love and save Chris.

“Get to the point, Chris,” Hal said, strumming the thoughts of Delilah home alone waiting for him to return as she slept.

“If it’ll get you in the mood to help me drive Darien out and put a bullet in his ugly head, then yes, I‘ll get to the point.”

Chris reached for her Georgia Peach as the bartender slid Hal his beer then proceeded to toss a towel onto a stack of phonebooks as other patrons signaled his service. Once more, Hal and Chris were alone at the end of the bar, far from the entrance, tables, and drunkards. No one could hear their banter and mummers of murder.

Hal wrapped his thick fingers around his beer and took a swallow, hoping it would chock down that flit Chris’s body was calling toward his. “I learned my lesson dealing with toothpick broads like you, Chris. You in particular. So I want to hear this right out so I can find where you‘re going to screw me over at.”

“Whatever, Halard.” Chris sighed. Her eyes cut away for a moment then back. “You question my consistency when you know I’ve always been one to pick a fight. If a little blood shed is needed, I’m down for that too. Now‘s the time. You wanna get paid, right?”

Hal gave his head a small, reasoning tilt. “So how you wanna do it?”

Chris sat up on her stool, pulling in closer to Hal. “Like this…”


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