Last Weeks FFF: Heaven High
Leaning on the bar, Wester ordered his usual.
“Double of whiskey, straight up,” his husky voice crooned.
The base tone of his words rumbled through the bar like thunder over the horizon. With a shudder, the bartender turned to him, slammed the glass upon the bar, and poured two fingers. He began to turn with the crystal canister, but a stocky hand stayed him. With little more then an instant pressure and a grunt, the bartender was encouraged to leave a bottle.
Wester raised the glass to his lips. He scratched the stubble below his lips with the rim. The sweet aroma of the liquor invaded his nose. He began to salivate. Already, his body anticipated the nectar. His heart speed up in anticipation, he closed his eyes and tilted the cup.
A jolt struck his back. The glass leapt from his hand, and spilled its contents across his face and leather jacket. He paused, rage building inside of him.
“Sorry,” a shy voice offered.
Wester slowly placed the glass back on the counter. He swiveled on his heels and faced the man that bumped into him.
Several inches shorter, and half as heavy, he wore a nicely pressed suit and a rounded hat. The man, Gerald, offered Wester a cloth napkin. Wester snatched the handkerchief, and wiped himself dry.
“No harm done, right?” Gerald asked.
Wester kept the cloth, tucking into his pocket, next to the gun at his hips.
“You’re payin’ for my drink,” Wester said.
“That’s fair. But I need my handkerchief back. It’s very dear to me,” he said.
The man offered a small, leather pouch to Wester. He opened it, shook out the silver, and handed the empty satchel back.
“That’s more then your drink cost,” Gerald said.
“Perhaps. But it seems to me to be about what your life is worth,” Wester answered.
“You’re joking? You must be,” Gerald said, reaching for his coins.
“Do I look like a man that kids?” Wester grumbled.
Gerald studied his face. Creased with experience, and lined with scars, he had no doubt that Wester wasn’t in the habit of making a lark. Gerald swallowed hard and summoned his courage.
“I understand that. But I need my money. And my cloth. I’m sorry I stole your drink, but certainly we can settle this like civilized men.”
“You calling me uncivilized?” Wester asked, taking offense.
“Quite the opposite. I’m saying that you are civilized. Which is why you’ll give me back my things.”
Puzzlement colored Wester’s face as he tried to make sense of the things being said. After a moment of reflection, he came to a decision.
Wester dropped his hand to his waist, and gripped the butt of his gun. He pulled it from it’s resting place, and raised it to point at Gerald.
“No, no, no. You’ve misunderstood. Again, I apologize. Please, it’s alright, take my keep the coins, and the cloth. I shan’t bother you again,” Gerald said.
Gerald turned nervously, and began to walk away.
“Hey!” Wester shouted.
Gerald froze, his shoulders jumping to his ears.
“Turn around,” Wester commanded.
“I’d rather not,” Gerald said.
“You are a special kind of stupid. You think I won’t shoot a man in the back? How dare you turn away when I’m talking to you.”
“Seeing as how you brought out a gun, I figured you were finished,” Gerald said.
“You’ll know when I’m done. Now, turn around you coward.”
With hesitation, Gerald lifted his hands, being as submissive as possible, and turned. As he spun, he heard a boom. A blast, a smell of smoke, and a ringing filled his senses. His body rocked back. He stumbled a step, then fell to the floor.
Gerald tried to prop himself up with his arms, but found he had no strength, and fell again. He moved his hand to his abdomen, and found it sticky and wet. A small whimper escaped his lips before his breath ceased. His body went limp, and the escaping blood trickled, then stopped.
The bar was silent. With a grin on his lips, Wester placed the gun back in it’s holster.
“Now I’m done,” he said to the body.
He went back to his glass. The whiskey sat in its bottle beside it. Wester drummed his fingers on the bar as the tender stared at him, keeping his distance.
“Guess I’ll pour it myself,” Wester said.
He tipped the bottle, filled his glass, and finished his ritual. He smelled it, reveled in it, and at long last, tasted it. He rolled the liquor around his mouth, felt it’s velvet texture on his tongue, and then it’s sting in his throat as he swallowed.
He threw two silver coins on the counter, thought about it, and added one more for the mess. He picked up his hat from the stool and placed the wide brim on his head. He tipped it to the bartender. He took a few steps to leave, then paused. He removed the handkerchief from his pocket, and threw it onto the body. The white turned red as it absorbed the blood.
He bent over Gerald’s body, grinned once more, and spoke aloud to the corpse.
“Thanks for the drink. Two shots of whiskey, with a splash of death. My favorite.”