wsotb…next installment

previously 1
previously 2

previously 3

By two P.M. the stench was palpable.  Downtown became the victim of the reek from the polluted river broiling in it’s own toxins, the odor slithering up the banks and coating everything in a one mile radius.  Cochran left his raincoat and suit jacket in the Mercury, cracking the windows to keep the cracked vinyl seats from melting.  The cars doors required a two handed push to groan shut, jarring flakes of dried Bondo off the car, floating like autumn leaves to the ground.  Squeezed between two faded brick office towers on Parker Street was a dingy white clapboard dive displaying the black wood cutout of a cat, it’s paw outstretched to hold down a black wooden cutout mouse.  The Catspaw did not pretend to be anything other than it was, no polished gold plated chrome, no sleek oak bar with high tech stools under hanging ferns.  The only new items found inside were the bottles, replenished on a constant basis after patrons, as weary and time-worn as the bar itself, emptied their contents.
Cochran pushed the heavy wooden door closed behind him, taking a minute to let his eyes adjust to the dank.  Stale cool air cranked full blast out of the single AC unit over the door, dripping condensation on anyone lingering at the entrance.  Deeper inside the temperature rose with the darkness.  Cochran took his usual stool; last at the bar facing the mirror.  The only other seat closest to the door was at the end but sitting there put Cochran’s back to the door and that was out of the question.  Two gaunt figures slumped over the bar at the far end nursing empty shot glasses and warm beer.
The mechanical ring of the till turned Cochran’s attention back behind the bar just as the barman was filling a six ounce glass from the tap.
“How goes it, Pete?” Cochran nodded. “Everything quiet?”
“In this heat?  Trouble waits ‘till nightfall.  And by then it’s exhausted,” Pete had been the bartender at The Catspaw somewhere between twenty and a thousand years.  Strands of uncombed grey hair ran around the back his turtle shaped head from one ear to the other.  Cochran could not remember a time when Pete was not dressed in an un-ironed white button down shirt, sleeves rolled up, and black khaki’s.  His face bore the crevices chiseled by every sad story laid on him by his clientele, from cheating lovers to cheating partners, dying parents to dying children, failed business to failed lives.
Pete topped off the beer, grabbed a pressboard coaster and put both in front of Cochran, glass on top. Cochran emptied half the glass in a single pull.
“Sound like you got more trouble than me anyway,” Pete said wiping his hands on a stained bar-rag.
“You think?”
“The St. Croix kid in deep this time, spoiled little bastard.”
“My, my you do have your sources, don’t you? What else you know that I don’t?”
Pete stuck out his bottom lip and shook his head. “I know that the kid will walk. Don’t matter what he’s done.”
“Don’t be so sure.”
“You working this case?” Cochran nodded. “Want my advice? Get off it. No offense but you don’t got the juice. St. Croix has unlimited cash, and that cash has bought an unlimited supply of good friends. Not you or all the cops in Jersey can touch him if he decides he don’t want to be touched.”
“That so?” Cochran smiled and drained the rest of his beer.
“You always were too stubborn for your own good.”
Winking at Pete, Cochran rose off his stool, grabbed the c-note folded under the pressboard coaster and headed back into the heat.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “wsotb…next installment

  1. yay! thanks….i was wondering if we’d see any more of this or not.

  2. Getting paid to take a break from the heat and drink some beer…nice work if you can get it…

    When they finally perfect smellivision, there had better be a way to turn it off.

    Bill

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