My latest post is the second installment of Jannick. I hope you enjoy
“Will you be having another beer?” Charley asked as he made his way down to the end of the bar where Jannick sat. Charley offered him a new ashtray and a big smile.
“Happy Hour is almost over, you know!”
“Happy Hour, Charley?” Jannick said, doing little to mask his grin. “There ain’t ten people in here right now and four of them are drinking coffee. I hope for your sake that this is not Happy Hour.”
“It’s a little slow,” Charley admitted. “It usually is this time of day, especially in the middle of the week.”
“You were pulling my leg about Happy Hour, right?” Jannick asked. “I mean, it does pick up later on in the evening, right? I mean, it always did in the old days!”
What Jannick really meant was that it always picked up in the evenings back when Jannick was sitting down on the bar stool at one in the afternoon every day and not leaving until midnight. Back in those days, he damn near kept the bar open with his own tab.
“Business is not as good as it once was,” Charley said. “The new sports bars up town have really kicked me in the ass. It is hard to compete with a twenty television screens and waitresses that are build like magazine models!”
“Maybe you should get some of those!” Jannick said.
“Models or television sets?” Charley grinned. Then he shrugged. “Doesn’t matter, really. I am not going to spend the money on either. The young kids, the college kids, are going to the places that are closer to college these days. They can get home safe on a ten dollar cab ride if they split it up. They ain’t coming all the way down here no matter how many television sets I hang on the wall. Any way, I made all my money in good the days. I didn’t blow it, either. I could walk away and be fine. I just don’t know what else I would do? I have been behind a bar since I was old enough to be behind a bar.”
“Yeah,” Jannick said. “I don’t ever seem to have any trouble finding a bar stool, either. How about you ring me up, Charley?”
“Registers don’t ring any more, Bob,” Charley said. “Anyway, stick around. Have another beer. I’ll keep the Happy Hour prices going for you!”
Jannick gave him an eye, a near dirty look. It wasn’t a look in jest, either.
“You know damn well that three beers is my limit!” he told Charley. “You know if I have one more that I will be in here all night!”
“Really?” Charley asked. “No! Really, I didn’t know! I thought you had all that drinking stuff under control!”
Jannick finished off his last beer, crushed out his cigarette and said, “Under control and cured are two different things altogether, Charley. Anyway, I gotta go. I gotta meet someone and have a little bit of driving to do before I get there!”
“Off on another big case?” Charley asked.
‘The only big cases are the ones on television,” Jannick said. “This is just a case. Just something to pay the bills.”
“Speaking of bills,” Charley said. He was holding the check in his hand.
“Just drop it on my tab if you don’t care!” Jannick said.
“Sure thing!” Charley said. He walked back towards the register. He called back at Jannick over his shoulder. “You know those god-awful tabs I used to bitch so much about?”
“I sure do?” Jannick said.
Charley waved out to the mostly empty bar and laughed, “I kind of miss those now!”
“That’s funny,” Jannick said. “I don’t miss them at all! I for sure don’t miss the black outs and hangovers that went with them.”
Dauber City’s West End had once been a vibrant part of the city when railroads were king of the transport. Decades ago the warehouses that filled this part of town had stored and shipped everything imaginable. The owners of the warehouses were important people who got rich many times over moving the goods that America bought. Then the interstate system was completed and, slowly but surely, the railroads became less and less a factor in how things moved. It was all trucks now. Warehouses were still important and still needed, just not the ones left to decay in the town’s West End.
The minute Jannick got off the exit and turned his car down Railroad Avenue, the street lights became less and less prevalent. The deeper Railroad Avenue traveled into West End, the fewer lights there were. The lessening of lights correlated perfectly to the rise in Jannick’s uneasiness. Thirty minutes after getting off the exit, pulling into the empty parking lot of the warehouse with the shadow’s of the night long across the cracked pavement, he was acutely aware of the emptiness of his surroundings. As he exited the car and shoved the revolver into the holster under his jacket, the uneasiness had not yet made him jumpy, he was on full alert, his senses heightened. He was aware of every sight, every sound, and every smell.
The warehouse was forlorn, so much so it looked as if it should have been perched on top of some mountaintop in Transylvania with buzzard perched in its window ledges. He had known when he was still on the phone that the shipment could be nothing more than a ruse to get him isolated. Still, knowing it from the safety of the office with the light of day still shining through the windows was not the same thing as knowing it with the face of the building standing tall over him and every shadow seemingly alive and dangerous. Jannick choked back the urge to get in his car and leave. He had never been a coward. He wouldn’t start being one now.
Still, the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end as his heels clicked across the pavement towards the door of the warehouse.
Harwell, you son of a bitch! Here I come.
March 25, 2011
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