As soon as he’d opened the door to enter the belly of Tony’s, he felt a gust of air that smelled of day-old vomit and spilled booze. A small shudder went through him as the door closed behind. In the darkness; anyone in the place could see him instantly, but he needed a few seconds for his eyes to adjust and he didn’t like that feeling.
He remembered one particular night in this place when he had to be carried out. That was after Debbie had left him and taken every last dollar he’d stockpiled in their apartment from the jobs he’d done. He’d been kicked awake in the same alleyway he’d just passed, only to find two cops staring down at him and then spending two years in the joint with a hangover.
Debbie knew where all the bones of his life where buried and he’d trusted her way too much. She was the only babe who knew exactly where to scratch his itch; and now he hated her. If he ever ran into her again; he had plans for the b*tch. The only desire left in his black heart for her was a wish to personally put her in a bag with a long zipper.
Seems she’d been afraid for her life after ripping him off. She knew all too well that he’d track her down and she’d pay dearly for every last dollar. So, two days after scurrying as far away from him as possible, she’d turned him in by telling the cops where he’d stashed the loot from his last job. That was enough to put him inside for two long years.
To his right, a shiny topped mahogany bar stretched the entire length of the smoke filled room. Around it, patrons sat on stools or stood drinking, smoking or eating from bowls of peanuts and small pretzels strategically placed. He quickly sized them up as he entered. The vast majority were second-rate mooks and perfumed dames, looking to subdue their troubles and vying for any opportunity to f*ck each other not long after last-call. As he made his way to the left and away from the bar, he kept his eye on one gamook at the far end, sitting alone and nursing his drink. That guy didn’t fit with the rest of the crowd. Stew instinctively knew he needed to position himself as far away; across the dimly-lit room as possible.
Against the far wall to his left was one long upholstered seat running the length of the wall and in front of it were small tables. To the right of that and in the extreme back of the room was a small stage. It was currently swathed in pink and blue lights moving slowing to the beat of some indistinct rhythm and blues tune.
A small mirrored ball rotated above a shiny gold pole. Clinging to the pole was a glitter painted, too-slender, drug spoiled ghetto-bird, who was currently sliding gracefully down its length. As Stew found and then sat behind one of the small tables, the ice-queen on stage whirled around twice and then pouncing on all fours; she indelicately aimed her ass at the suckers with the bucks in the first row to give them an effective eyeful of her candied p*ssy. This had a first-rate impact on the drunken rubes, who immediately hooted incoherently and threw paper money at her smile. Stew laughed to himself at the scene as a waitress ambled up to the table.
He recognized Janet almost immediately. Janet was a split-tailed trooper. Dense about life and used by nearly every man she’d ever been involved with; she was always holding out hope for the right guy to come along. While she waited, she’d had three fatherless children and quadruple as many broken hearts and now was just a late forties-something waitress. Stew knew she’d probably end up a drunk, sitting in front of her television looking at the tattoos on her arms and neck and God only knows where else and remembering the idiots she’d acquired them with or for.
“Hey Stewie!” Janet yelled; “Long time no see. How ya been anyways?” She leaned over and in so she could hear him above the music and noise in the room. She found and squeezed his hand and even though he didn’t really want to, Stewie looked up into her eyes. She was wearing a broad smile and seemed almost genuinely glad to see him. Stew had been drunk and waxed his schlong in Janet a couple of times, more than a few years back when she was convinced he might be the right guy. He’d let her down easy and they’d somehow managed to remain on good terms through the years. On his part, his tolerance toward her was mostly out of pity but also because he wasn’t quite certain whether one of those three bastard kids wasn’t his.
“Great now. Just got back in town a couple of weeks ago. Gimme a Guinness and a shot of dark rum would’ja sugar.
“Sure thing. Always with the Guinness and rum Stewie! Hardly nobody else drinks that crap beer except for you, ya know. I asked Tony to keep it around just for you. Heard you just got clear of the joint.”
Stew straightened up and pushed Janet gently to the side. “Hey move over a little honey. There’s someone at the bar I want to keep an eye on.”
“Okay, Okay, ya don’t gotta push me Stewie. Just ask and I’ll be happy to move for ya. Hey, funny thing…” Janet said, suddenly looking around from side to side.. “You remember Debbie right Stewie?”
His dark eyes shot suddenly from the man nursing his drink at the bar and sternly caught hers. At the same time, he squeezed her hand hard. She instantly understood that she was going to tell him everything she had in that nearly hollow noodle of hers.