Short Story Friday: What’s Said In the Bar Stays In the Bar

Short Story Prompt: “Babylon Revisited” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Danny dropped his hat on the bar, then undid his tie, wiped the sweat off his forehead with it, rolled it up and stuffed it into his dark blue suit jacket. “Scotch, Joe,” he ordered.

The blonde in the black cocktail dress sitting at the end of the bar said, “Tough day?”

“Not as tough as some, tougher than most.”

Any other day and he would have offered the woman a drink. This was not one of those days. All he wanted to do was have his drink and forget the day. It had been one of those days when the markets eat you alive if you don’t have a whip. When he became a trader, he didn’t think he was going in for lion taming.

The scotch came. He downed it, then ordered another.

While he waited, he noticed the blonde was drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette. He gave her his all-American smile, then decided it might be a good thing to offer her a drink.

“Buy you a drink?” he said.

“I don’t drink.”

“You’re in a bar?”

“So are you.”

“I’m here for the scotch.” Lifting his refilled glass, he raised it toward her, then had a drink.

“I can see that.”

Danny carried his scotch over to her end of the bar. He sat down on the stool next to hers.

“So, why are you here?” he asked, giving her his best boyish-charm smile.

She leaned towards him, her perfume making him forget his bitch of a day. “I’m looking for someone to help me rob banks,” she whispered into his ear.

His smile faded. She went back to her cigarette, puffed on it and laid it back on the ashtray.

His eyes dropped to the green carpet.

“You interested?” her soft voice asked.

His eyes moved from the carpet, up her long legs and the sexy dress and finally glanced at the pearl necklace. Their eyes met. This wasn’t the usual cat-and-mouse game he played with women. She was serious. “What if I’m a cop?” he asked.

Her hand reached over and fingered the lapel of his jacket. “You’re not a cop. A cop couldn’t afford that suit. At least, not on the salary they pay cops.”

He remembered his scotch, drank his glass empty and ordered a third. Another shot of scotch was definitely called for.

“So you won’t have a drink with me,” he said softly, “but you want me to help you rob a bank?”

“Banks.”

“What?”

She leaned into him again. “Banks. Not bank. And I’m not crazy.”

“I didn’t say you were”

“You were thinking it.”

“What if I go to the cops?” he said. He sipped his scotch.

“You won’t.” She stubbed out what was left of her cigarette. “If you do, I’ll find you and shoot your balls off.”

His frown went into a nervous laugh.

“I’m crazy enough to do that. And a good shot too.” She patted the small handbag on the bar next to her coffee cup.

Danny downed the rest of his scotch. “I’m not afraid of you.”

“Hey, Joe, can I get a refill on the coffee? This one is getting cold.”

“I’ll get you a new cup.” Joe called back at her. As he went for the coffee pot, her right hand slipped a .38 out of the handbag, dropped it below the bar and pointed it at his crotch, the barrel touching his pants. Joe brought the coffee over. She handed him two twenties. “For all your troubles, Joe.”

“Much obliged, Mara,” he said, then to Danny, “Can I get you another scotch?”

“I’ll let you know,” Danny said.

Joe went over to the cash register and rang up her tab.

“And I’m not afraid of you,” she said, then slipped the gun back into her bag.

Danny smiled his all-American smile, then asked, “You sure I can’t buy you a drink?”

She snapped the bag shut. “That seems to be an offer I can’t refuse. Bourbon straight please.”

Next Friday’s Short Story Prompt: “Barn Burning” by William Faulkner

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