Thursday, November 30, 2017

Secret, Secret

“Please?” I said. “It can’t wait till you get here?”

Lew almost hung up on me. “I gotta do everything? You got a full bar?”

“Not open, yet.””

“So go in the room, get the decorations, and hang ‘em the fuck up.” When I groaned, he added, “Some shit’s up with my son, OK?”

“Which one?” But he’d hung up.

Wearily, I reached under the bar for the key. Halloween was my favorite holiday. Fun-sized chocolate bars, spooky movies. But I hated decorating. That was work.

Good thing I’d bought candy. Lew was too cheap.

Who gave you a job? I thought suddenly. When your unemployment ran out?

And yeah … I trudged across the room. Some shit with his son. Junior, no doubt. Anthony, the youngest, was brilliant, and a star athlete. Anthony, Lew always said, was too good to be true.

Some shit meant “Bluesy,” that slutty, blue-haired chick Junior’d been fucking. Him, and God knew who else. Nobody’d seen her, lately.

“The room” was Lew’s secret storage space. So much shit he kept in there:  booze, tools, even letters from nasty customers. Years back, one lady bitched that Lew didn’t put enough booze in his drinks. Told me to go back to bartending school, he’d said, smirking.

And decorations. More for Halloween than Christmas: orange and black garlands, fake cobwebs, and the trusty cardboard skeleton.

But … where?

I stood there, staring. A hoarder’s delight, it was, these days. Cases of beer topped by Lew’s and his sons’ old clothes. Lots of them. In one corner, neon beer signs were piled up. An ancient TV—probably black-and-white—was high on a shelf. Christmas lights were draped over broken bar stools. But no sign of Halloween stuff.

Oh, jeez, I thought. And almost walked out.

Junior, right? Lew had said. Good kid, but he thinks with his cock. Got no common sense.

Grudgingly, I started looking through shit.

Junior was Lew’s “mini-me,” with long, curly hair and the same smirk. But Lew had really lived, and loved, lots of wrong women. Done shit he’d paid for . . . some of the time. Illegal shit. There was no Desert Eagle .44 in this secret, secret room.…

That was under the bar.

It was like, hopeless. But behind the beer was more stuff. What looked like a bony paper leg taunted me.

Finally, I thought.

The skeleton was torn, in parts, thanks to some drunk bitch. Last Halloween, she’d pulled it down and danced with it.

Yeah, it was all here. And beneath the garlands was the plastic jack-o’-lantern Lew put the candy in. The jack-o’-lantern was glowing.

I jumped back, like it’d burned me.

And, it was … humming. Actually, vibrating. Something was inside it. And not mini-Milky Ways.

I stood there, blood thumping in my ears.

Inside was a cell phone. “Mom,” was the caller. Twenty missed calls. Next to the phone was a turquoise wallet.

My sugary lunch wasn’t sitting well.

I reached in the jack-o’-lantern. A strand of hair stuck to me, as I took out the wallet. I knew whose picture would be on the driver’s license.

“Bluesy” was blonde Sandra Kopec, back then.

Was this Junior’s “shit”?

Outside, the back door buzzed open. I dropped the wallet and ran out.

Anthony, Lew’s “good” son, was behind the bar. He’d opened the bag and was eating fun-sized candy. “Hey,” he said, but without smiling.

Should I tell him? I wondered. Or the cops? Or.…

Keep my mouth shut?

Lew always took care of me.

I forced a smile. “Your dad,” I said, in a too-high voice, “said to decorate for Halloween.”

But I’d forgot the skeleton and garlands. Hurriedly, I locked the door and turned back around.

He’d moved down to the register. Directly below it was the .44. But he wouldn’t know that.

Like, he wasn’t the type to hide a phone and wallet in a plastic pumpkin. Or make a slutty chick disappear. Even if he’d fucked her, himself.

He was the “good” son, wasn’t he?

I heard an unmistakable click.

Too good to be true.…

~FIN~