A Long Night

    By the time we pull into the parking lot in front of Gracie’s there’s five bullet holes in the trunk of my 53’ Cadillac Elderado. Not to mention the bumper fell off two blocks ago, my back windshields in a million pieces in the backseat of my car and I’m almost out of cigarettes. She stares at me from the passenger seat, her expression carved in stone. “What the fuck? I told you to take me somewhere safe not some fucking dive bar. Get us the fuck out of here.” The tone of her voice is as calm as it was when I picked her up twenty minutes ago, that was about five minutes before my car was in full pursuit by some really pissed off looking waiters in tuxedos.
 “Look it sweetie you said you wanted safe? Well this here building’s a fortress! I counted four guys back there with guns. Well on any given night there’s at least fifteen people in that dive, and about half of them got guns, and some of them got two, so why don’t you just do what you do best and make a cute face and shut up?
 She shuts up. I take the last drag of my cigarette, and toss it.
    Ritchie Dagger’s working the door, he’s tall dumb and ugly. You know that saying about keeping your friends close but your enemies closer, well he’s not my enemy and he’s certainly not my friend and I try to keep him as far away from me as possible. His hands have seen almost as many murders as his eyes. He’ll make for a good front line against our friends in the jackets, should they show up after they pull their car out of that ditch. We walk by Ritchie I nod and he grunts, she shudders and I laugh. We step inside Gracie’s I trade in the night air for a lungful of liquor, women, drugs, sweat, blood, and vomit” The fluorescent light above our heads flickers on and off every other second but the bar stays bright with the burning signs for beer that line the walls and the cherries of lit cigarettes. Thin Lizzy plays on the jukebox in the background, I take my pack of smokes out and put one of the last two in my mouth the other I hand to her, which she accepts without hesitation. Both pool tables are occupied, and the lounge tables are filled with people drinking, sleeping or earning a living. We make our way over to the bar it’s only about half full, our feet stick to the floor the same way they do when you go to a movie at 11:30 at night. She grabs my arm, the first sign she’s shown that maybe she’s not as cool as she acts. I don’t blame her, can't say this place don't scare me every one an a while too. We settle up to the bar the ceiling fan above us swirls smoke over our heads. Gracie looks up from behind the bar she smiles that big toothless smile of hers, and heads our way.
“What’ll it be Mack?” Gracie asks in a voice so raspy it belongs in one of those anti tobacco truth advertisements.
“The usual Gracie, a beer and a shot of bourbon.”
 “And how about for your hooker friend?”
“I’m not a hooker!” she snaps back.
“Sure, sure love but just to be fair I tell all the girls who come in here in cocktail dresses with there hair all done up and a ton of crap on their face the same thing, you want to conduct business here you do it in the lounge just like everybody else.”
 “I’m not a hooker” she repeats,
“Give me a proseco, or a rose if you have one"”
“Sweet heart I got red, and I got white and their both warm”
She frowns and rolls her eyes. “ Fine,  just give me a glass of white with some ice on the side.”
She doesn’t see them yet because her back’s to the window but the prom date rejects just pulled into the parking lot about two minutes ago. I sip my beer. They’ve been checking out my Elderado, understandably she’s cherry and looks, well actually looked like she just rolled out of the show room. I take the bourbon back in one swig and chase it with my beer. Ritchie’s too dumb to notice the group of pecker heads in white tux jackets in the parking lot but he’ll pay them full attention when they try and walk through that front door. I figure I got about three minutes. I take another sip of my beer and tighten my grip on my 45. Automatic it’s going to be a long night.