She was making things happen on the other side of the bar, playing like Florence Nightingale in fuck me pumps for the sharp suits with their sad domestic stories. She owned a brutally effective style of management that the poor schmucks never saw coming until they were tabbed to sleep without the company to match.
Her jet black hair fell into a supine blanket of wicked across her shoulders. Her flavor was possession, to which she owned an arsenal of gestures; complex movements made to look simple as getting out of bed. Like how she sipped at her dirtied up gin martini and then followed that by sponging her cranberry lipstick on a cigarette. Next, an Audrey Hepburn-like tilt of the head to carry her laugh into . . finished with a subtle body twist that moved her shoulders directly into the speaker’s line of vision. Game, set, match.
Janson locked into her gaze a couple times since making the scene. Each time the same way, patterned as if from a musical template. Quick sweep . . hold . . cast away . . pretend it was no thing. It was the hard work of easy feeling- otherwise known as Happy Hour existentialism.
Inside of ten minutes and she was busy on her second suit. Janson decided to bide his time with the Yankees cap who was sweating the point spread of a late night basketball game. This lost soul of Angel City was making him look busy without the added expense, and Janson turned that lonesome profit into eye-minding the touchdown dance beauty.
“Fucking Lakers!” This led into a five minute diatribe by the Yankees cap on the fall of heroes being somehow connected to the fall of communism. At least the drinks were paying off for him.
Janson watched as the married suit on the other side of the bar hedged his bets while it was still easy enough to explain the bar charges on his credit card to the wife. She flashed him a look and he excused himself from the Yankees cap and moved in on her, setting down in front of a wet and empty coaster.
“Didn’t you hear, Janson? That name went out of style with vinyl.”
“You haven’t lost a thing, baby girl.” He said.
“I lost you, or was it the waitress who stole you without giving me a forwarding address. I get confused.” She replied.
“You and I weren’t a thing, and you were busy making wedding plans as I remember it. And that waitress was going to school for her Masters, thanks.”
This brought her laugh out to play. “Please, I don’t give a fuck if she was running for President. She was a waitress, and for what it’s worth . . I never made it to the altar.” She flashed a ringless finger as she waved the bartender to keep her gin busy. “Throw some Sapphire into this one, will you honey? Humor me.”
“Why’d you end it? You kill him?”
“No, sweetie. I started sleeping with his bodyguard and he found out. He ordered a hit on me. Then I killed him.” She said.
“You always were the mistress of timing.”
“Why are you back in town?” She asked, cutting away all the fat. “And save the essay for the checkout girls.”
“I wanted to catch up on my art, maybe take in a ballgame. I figured on hiring an escort for the weekend but I decided to check with you first, in the event your social calendar isn’t full.”
“The last guy who talked to me like that ended up with a couple of holes punched through parts of his body he really needed to hold onto.” She said.
“I’m looking for Martino.” He confided.
“Business or pleasure?
“In my case, both.”
“Jesus Christ, you came back here to kill Martino?”
He let his silence answer the question, but she was cooking now. “It’s not going to happen, sugar. I wouldn’t let you do it.”
“What? You’d take Martino over me?” He said, trying to phony up his lack of indignation. It was a dangerous game and he knew that full well. Getting those nostrils flaring and those sable waves of hair product management dancing in anger was like teasing a King cobra with a Popsicle stick, but dammit if she wasn’t the sexiest thing on two heels when she was pissed off.
“No, but I take getting paid over you. And I take it seriously. In our business, you tend to stick tight to a guy who’s more dependable than the FDIC when it comes to cashing in. Martino pays well for the damage I get done, and I’m not about to let you bite off the hand that’s feeding me.”
She was right on, of course. The severance package for a hired assassin was a shit proposition. Finding a money man who kept his word was like striking oil every time you hit the golf course.
“He inspires loyalty, I’ll give the sonofabitch that much . .”
“More than I can say for you.” She scoffed.
“Hey, ease up. Maybe we can come to a meeting of the minds on this.” He offered.
“Settle up my tab so we can get re-acquainted back at my place.” She said.
He watched her slip half the gin from the glass and chase it with another cigarette. It was even money he would make it to sunrise alive and he was plenty fine with that.
It sure felt good to be home.