Double Black

April 30, 2010
He sat at his table, alone but not lonely, a motionless figure in a seemingly dead pub. His jacket still speckled with droplets that seemed to explode on impact with the ground. A small puddle formed at the feet of the wobbly chair and flowed through the channels between each beer soaked stone. His Bowler sat forward on his head casting a shadow over his entire face, the cigarette between his lips gave only a faint glow that showed his thick mangled mustache. “Another day,” he thought to himself while he blew out the thick smoke from his lungs. He looked down at his hands, his palms were dirty and callused, “the pretty side,” he thought to himself. His hands flipped back over onto his knife-carved table, revealing the countless cuts, gashes, bruises, and scrapes that littered his knuckles and fingers. “The hands of his business,” he would say when a stranger noticed them. When one healed he would replace it with another, whether it be by tooth, knife, or other, they all left the same red line as the next. The pain had left him long ago, his mind knows its there, but his past reminds him of its insignificance. The day he was forced to see his little girl be shot while she screamed, “DADDY HELP!” was the last day he would feel anything. That sight was the thing that brought him comfort every time he watched a man die. “1 less.” He carved into all his victim’s arms.

He put out blood stained cigarette and walked slowly to the bathroom to clean his hands. His feet striking the stone with a soft scrape and thud. As he passed the brass trimmed bar the bartender comments, “need the bathroom key to open that door son.” He turned slowly and looked at the bartender, exposing his wrinkled face and lifeless eyes. His lips seemed to disappear under his dark mustache. The bartender reached out his trembling hand with the keys rattling in his fingers and dropped them on the bar. He grabbed the cold metal door handle and put the key in, “try jiggling it, these old locks get sticky from time to time,” said the bartender. He shuffled into the dark and musty bathroom over to the sink and turned on the water. He ran the water until the rust color had disappeared from it and stuck his hands in to rinse them off. The sink ran red with the blood from his cuts.

As he splashed water on his cold leathery face the door in the bar slams open. “Great, another drunken frat boy thinking he’s invincible,” he says to himself as he reaches for the towels to pat his hands and face dry. He looks in the mirror and adjusts his jacket, putting on his gloves before exiting the room. “Time to get outta here John,” he said to himself as he opened the door. Someone was sitting at the bar now, a large man with greased black hair that attempted to cover his ever growing bald spot. His suit looked designer but soaked up water like a new sponge, not typical of a nice jacket. John walked past him and tipped his hat goodnight to the bartender, but just as his hands met the cool bronze of the front door the man at the bar turns and says, “you get any w****s in here?” the bartender simply nods his head and continues to wash glasses. “You ignoring’ me friend? I just asked you a question! You def old man?” John could smell the Vodka in his breath as the draft swept it toward him. “We don’t get many customers, let alone women, at this time of night. I was thinking of closing up right about now anyways,” said the bartender. Something told John that this guy wasn’t about to let that happen, he was usually good at sensing when someone wanted a fight. The fat man shot a look towards John and said, “Is there a problem here?” “Another a** hole thinking he’s tough,” he thought to himself. “No problem,” his raspy deep voice speaking softly. “Good, now turn around and keep walking like you were friend,” ordered the man. John had learned to hate everyone, so it took almost nothing to ignite his temper, and the fat b****** had said the wrong thing at the perfect time.

His boots squeaked as he turned on the balls of his feet and faced the fat man, his heart beginning to pound in his ears so loud that it drowned out the bartenders pleas of, “no its alright bud don’t worry about it, don’t do this here.” By the time his sentence was finished John already had a handful of the fat mans cheap suit jacket. John pulled with one arm and threw the man across the bar hitting one of the support beams. He was dazed but not out cold. The man was cursing quietly to himself as he fumbled to get his jacket back on correctly, when John reached him the man turned on the floor and pulled out his .45 revolver and shot wildly in John’s direction, skimming his jacket. John’s heart pounded faster now, it was at this peak of adrenaline at which he performed his best in with all the other scum he lay dead in the street over the years. It was the one feeling he felt, rage, and this time was no different than all the others. As the hammer pulled back on the gun, and as the trigger came to a close, the man’s fate was already sealed. John’s hunting knife plunged into the man’s stomach at belly button level, slicing through the midlife crisis layer of fat the man had acquired over his years of sitting in a cubicle sipping on Dunkin Donuts coffee paired with his normal Bavarian crème. The pistol fell from the man’s hands but fell slowly as if time had stood still, his eyes rolled back in his head as the coughs of blood began. John slowly let him down on his back on the cold bloodied stones, and began to leave his mark. “1 less,” he smiled with accomplishment, his big teeth shown under his mustache. The bartender stood paralyzed, either in shock or in fear, watching as John walked up to the bar and sat down.

“Now, since you seem to know who I am I’m going to give you two options: 1. you let me walk no questions asked, and you keep this quiet, or 2. you wait for me to leave, call the cops, and I find you and kill you.” The bartender began to shudder; he held out his wrinkled, pale, shaky hand and put up his first finger. “You picked wisely my friend,” John whispered across the bar. Once again, John tipped his hat to say goodnight to the bartender and reached across the bar with his hand open. The bartender accepted his hand and shook it firm as he could, “Cleveland Summers, p-p-pleased to meet you,” he said. John walked to the door and grabbed the handle one last time, waved goodbye, and flipped up his collar. Back into the rain, he sparked a new cigarette and was gone.

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