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September 26, 2022

Night Time 41

By Lydia Manx

Jed lumbered closer to Cinda and me and turned to his buddy saying, "Paulie, which one is going to be yours?" Jed had a voice much higher pitched than I expected.

"Hey, little ladies, you wanna party with us?" Paulie felt compelled to seem polite while trying to intimidate us with his buddy's size and appearance. Early Neanderthal crossed with drugged up biker was the easiest way to think of Jed. Maybe he had a sweet soft side but I wasn't going to bet Cinda's life on it.

"No." I simply uttered. Cinda was slightly nervous but hiding it fairly well.

"Yes, you do." Jed rumbled at us.

Oh, and apparently he didn't like to be told "no." I gathered this as he tried to take hold of my arm to move me somewhere other than where I was standing. Irritated I grabbed his other hand off my shoulder where he had been trying to guide me away from the motel entrance and over into the shadows and simply snapped it at the wrist. I was stronger than I expected. I looked at Jed on the ice covered ground cradling his wrist whimpering slightly. His small friend looked at me and said, "How the hell did you do that?"

"Would you like a demonstration?" I said softly. Cinda grinned and continued past the two men towards the doorway.

"Hell, no. You bitches are too ugly anyway." False bravado, I noticed as I took a small step towards him and he jumped back stumbling over his prone friend. I walked around the still moaning man and walked away. Other than some choice swear words, nothing more followed us inside.

The lobby gave way to a bar with the expected pool tables and assorted men and women. We were the youngest folks inside the room by far. At least ten to twenty years separated us from the patrons at first glance at the folks lined up along the bar and at the green felt tables, and once I peered into the corners, a decade or three more in the other areas of the room.

Cinda was completely unaware of the differences in age as she sauntered up to the bar. Then I noticed how she was walking and bit back a shout. It wasn't Cinda at the bar but Misty. I should have expected that given Cinda had her mystical friend locked down for a while. Misty asked the bartender if he could give her a light. I hadn't even seen her snag a smoke from anyone. She was good. The bartender laughed and asked to see her driver's license.

I walked up and quietly took the stool next to where Misty was leaning. She pulled out her wallet and flipped her ID to the man. He carefully removed it and held it up to the light checking for signs of tampering. Slowly he slid the ID and wallet back to her and she put her license back inside her wallet sleeve, more than a bit put out by his questioning her. We must have looked like babies to him given the average age of his clientele seemed to be mid- to late forties. He arched an eyebrow at me and I handed him my driver's license without any overblown fanfare. He nodded once he looked it over and handed it back to me asking, "What'll it be?"

"Coffee," I said not really interested in anything in a glass. Misty asked for a scotch and soda. I wasn't exactly sure when Misty had either, since I would have heard if Cinda was drinking hard whiskey in town. I guess Misty had got out a bit more than I knew.

The bartender looked hesitant until she called out a name brand. Shrugging he fixed her drink and poured me a cup of coffee. I sipped and waited to see if Misty was going to spill more than Cinda had before we were interrupted.

The various surrounding people drinking were deep in their own thoughts and deeper in their cups. They slowly began to resume whatever conversations they were having before we had walked in the room. Misty sucked back half the drink in a single swallow and finally had her borrowed cigarette lit. She inhaled the cigarette even deeper than she had the drink. I guess she missed getting out and playing since this whole trip had started.

I waited to see what Misty would say. I didn't have to wait too long; she wasn't much more secretive than Cinda when it came right down to it. The bartender had moved off to refill pitchers of beer for the guys shooting pool. We were in our own little isolated pocket of quiet.

"So, Art has been a bad boy. Time and time again. I didn't say much earlier because it wasn't like I can spill those sorts of stories to humans just because I know about it." Misty said softly.

Nodding, I thought about it. She probably hadn't a clue until Cinda found out but I wasn't going to call her on that. I would save those sorts of challenges for more important things. I don't think Misty had as much insider information to the other side as she pretended but I wasn't exactly in a position to shout out about fakers given my new nature. I would be needing both Cinda and Misty in the future.

"So, you want to shoot some pool?" Misty drained her drink and bounced away from the bar. She wasn't giving me any new information. I guess I would have to earn it.

"Sure," I dropped some money on the countertop for our drinks and followed Misty weaving through the crowd.

We walked up to one of the four pool tables just as the couple who had been playing was heading out. Nobody had set their quarters on the ledge staking out the table so we were able to rack the balls and start a game. I took my time finding a cue stick I liked. I knew Cinda was a pool shark so naturally I guessed that Misty was pretty good also. I let Misty break since she had put the quarters in for the game. I stacked another set of coins on the edge so at least we would have two games undisturbed.

She popped in solids on the break and proceeded to smack half her balls in the pockets. At this rate I wouldn't get a shot in was all I was thinking when someone came up behind me. A purr ran along my spine and I leaned back to find Harry behind me. He laughed saying, "You even playing this game?"

"Not yet," I said softly while Misty miscued. Harry distracted her. But then from the silence around the bar he was distracting more than just her.

"Your turn, Gwendolyn." He pushed me softly towards the table while saying to Misty, "This looks like Kitty's store. So where's the chocolate?"

Misty laughed and waved her fingers at Harry for a cigarette. Harry obliged and lit her smoke. Ignoring the sighs and conversations running around the bar in a low rumble I simply concentrated on my game. Remembering how much more strength I had I barely kissed the cue ball and found out how much power was behind my play. Quickly I cleared all of my balls from the table calling my shots the whole time in a soft whisper. Misty stopped flirting with Harry long enough to say, "Hey, Lynn, when did you take lessons?"

I grinned and sank the eight into the appropriate pocket while rechalking the tip once the ball sank.

"Rack 'em up," I said sweetly to Misty as she glared at my skill. I did like the extra spin my strength gave me. She was mumbling under her breath about show offs. I looked over to see Harry grinning. Then a large man ambled over and dropped his quarters on the now cleared ledge. Whoever won the new game would have to play him as a challenger. I hated playing other people. He had a full dark beard and small eyes underneath a cap proclaiming his love of beer and sex. A real keeper for sure.

Harry leaned over to my ear and asked, "So was that your work outside with the two flannel set boys?"

"They are both fine," I said softly and tried to keep the smile out of my voice. I didn't succeed.

"Yes, that snapped wrist was a nice touch. At least you didn't kick him when he was on the ground." At my silence he added, "You didn't did you?"

"Nope, should have, but didn't think of it at the time." Which was the truth. Misty was wiggling her tush while she made stylish shots. She was sort of calling them but mostly wishing them in as far as skilled shots. The challenger was watching her wiggle more than her slop shots.

Her slop caught up with her and she banked one wrong. It spun out and popped one of my balls in a pocket.

"Thanks," I said smiling while taking my turn slowly. My real skills came in when I didn't want to play the next person. The man was eyeing both Misty and I like we were part of a menu. Not my type but Misty could screw with his head for all I cared. I saw Art and Erika slink inside the bar. Art's mouth was tightly pinched and Erika had high spots of color on her cheeks. It didn't seem like either of them were happy.

"This isn't where you said you were going," Erika snarled at me.

Looking carefully over at her I took my shot, sinking the ball next to her hand and said, "No, but then I didn't say I was going anywhere. Cinda did."

Erika saw Misty puffing smartly on her cigarette and didn't bother saying a word. She was pretty clued in that she wasn't going to win this round and Harry was with us. She didn't like to look stupid in front of Harry. Harry grinned at me, knowing what I was thinking. I made the next shot and the two that followed. Soon Misty and I both had two balls on the table and the eight ball. I missed my next shot ever so carefully. Misty wasn't fooled but she was too competitive to resist the challenge. She quickly won.

The challenger laughed and said, "Good I get the sexy one."

Yeah, Misty would be having him for dinner.

Erika had intimidated a couple of the older folks out of their spot near the pool tables and commandeered a waitress to get drinks for the group. Art looked very happy at the sight of a large icy pitcher of beer heading his way. Erika poured him the first mug and I covered a smile thinking that soon Erika would talk Art out of all his secrets. Then I saw the look in Art's eyes and figured maybe not. He was probably a true sociopath given he was more than likely a mass murderer. And since Cinda had told me about what Erika discovered I knew he had killed more than just his mom.

His fears were getting caught and executed. He wasn't afraid of too much from what I read other than Harry being an agent for the FBI. The reputation of the FBI had been somewhat tarnished over the years but the core values and the tenacity of the agents was something that intimidated Art. He wasn't stupid by any means. The resources of the FBI and the agents were legendary. And Art seemed to respect that so I was mildly curious about why he had even picked us up. And from my playmates expressions they too were pondering that also.

Misty let the challenger rack the balls and took the time to chalk the tip of her cue stick. Once she finished Erika handed her a beer without asking. I wondered how her stomach would handle the switching of adult beverages mid evening. It never ended well before when she mixed hard alcohol and beer. Somehow this evening was going to be a tad different than those long past nights, I knew without asking.

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-05-29
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