June. An OK month. Not sweltering hot, but you know that’s coming.
And roses . . . For like a week, they spring up in neighbor’s bushes. Like that tight-assed bitch’s, who lives next to Scratch’s. Bitched to Lew ‘cos Snake picked one for Nina, the crack-whore.
“Can you believe that shit?” Lew switches on Scratch’s ceiling fans. “Over one fuckin’ rose?”
Behind the bar, you slice limes. “Getting territorial.” You’re the queen of two-dollar words.
“Four o’clock, on a Sunday. Should be layin’ in the sun, enjoyin’ retirement. But no, she’s worried about. . . .”
You both turn around.
A customer. All cutesy, with her finger in her mouth.
A foreign load, you bet Lew’s thinking. Nothing pisses him off more than somebody who walks in, trashed already.
“What would you like?” you say.
“I’m looking for . . .” She giggles. “I don’t know who, but a friend said I can find him here.”
Lew checks her out: blonde, forties. With that 50’s starlet look: more Monroe than Mansfield. Pastel halter and long skirt with a slit. Thick legs, but Lew can’t get past those loose tits.
“You wanna drink?” he demands.
“I guess,” she says. “Uh . . . chocolate martini?”
Lew and you share a look.
“Kahlua and milk?” you say. Bitch won’t know the difference.
She nods, and struggles onto a bar stool. Tosses a sequined purse on the bar.
“So . . .” You grab the Kahlua. “Who’d you say you were looking for?”
“She don’t know,” Lew says, sarcastically. “A friend said he’ll be here.” He puts his arm around her. “This guy . . . what’s so great about him?”
Smirking, you look away.
“What can he do,” Lew says, “that I can’t?”
“I need him,” the chick says. “To kill my husband.”
You almost drop the milk.
Two years, you’ve worked here. Seen all kinds of stupid. But this bitch . . . You bite your lip. Can’t even look at Lew.
“That brute,” she says. “That sonuvabitch!” She starts to cry. “Look what he does to me!” She raises the skirt.
Both legs are bruised. But yours would be, too, if you got that trashed before 4 P.M. P.and slammed into shit.
“I brought the money.” Out of the sequined purse comes a fat roll of bills.
“Lemme ask you,” Lew says. When you look over, he’s counting the money. “You come in a strange place, looking for somebody—don’t even know the bastard’s name—, carrying thousands of fucking . . . how much is in here, doll?”
She sips her drink. “He says the guy wants five thousand.”
“Five large.” Lew keeps counting, just in case. “To knock off your old man.” He slaps the bills down. “You don’t know who you’re looking for, who says he’s the right guy?”
The chick wrinkles her nose. “There’s a secret word. Only this guy knows it.”
“What is it?” you ask.
“ ‘Stu-,’” she said. “‘Stupe’-something.”
“ ‘Stupendous’?” Lew says. “‘Stupefaction’?” Now he’s behind the bar. Maybe looking for a dictionary.
She crosses her bruised legs. “‘Stupe-’ and something else.”
“ ‘Stupidiocy,’ ” Lew says.
“That’s it!” she says.
“That’s not a word.” You, of all people, should know.
“Yes, it is,” Lew says. “But you came to the wrong place, doll.”
There’s dead silence. Outside, you hear kids yelling up the block. A dog barks.
“Oh.” The chick slides off the stool. “Maybe I did.” She doesn’t seem drunk, anymore.
Lew doesn’t answer. Just leans across the bar, staring at her.
Something about his demeanor chills you, suddenly. After two years of thinking he’s just a big, lovable dope.
The chick leaves fast.
Like she knows that right where Lew’s standing’s where the gun’s hid. His Desert Eagle .44. Big enough to blow away her brute of a husband.
Lew pours milk into a glass. “‘Stu-pid-iocy,’” he says, smirking. He swirls the milk around before downing it.
But you . . .
Fuck, you need a shot.