Chris is eating a sandwich behind the bar. It is late afternoon, the hour evident only by a Budweiser clock, plugged in and aglow, over tier upon tier of colorful, nipple-crowned bottles. Food, of a sorry sort, is made available at The Golden Spur, though nobody save the owner dares to touch it; that is, nobody dares to place an order twice. The bar, at present, supports four-elbows-only: a pair belonging to Chris, who munches liverwurst; a pair belonging to Eddy, from the Deuces, who chews the fat.

"What happened to your blackjack dealer?"

"Nothin'. Why?"

"Where is he? I've been in almost every night."

"Fridays and Saturdays."

"This is Friday."

"He'll be here, then."

"You sure?"

"He always shows."

"You ever let him deal for real? After hours, I mean?"

"Hell, no; you kiddin'? Vice is on my ass as is; they think the babes I hire are two-bit whores."

"Aren't they?"

"Finish up your beer and take a hike."

"Hey, don't get pissed. I only asked, for Chris'-sakes."

"'Only asked'? You just called me a pimp."

"Me? Chris, I swear, the thought never crossed my mind. Your girls look kinda loose, is all I meant."

"You tried any of 'em?"

"Well, no, not me in particular; I only heard."

A cowboy enters and stands at the bar's far end. Chris shifts down to serve him, has him pay up front, makes change (records the lack of tip), and returns to Eddy.

"Heard what?"

"Nothin'. You know, guys just talkin'—showin' off, most likely."

"If that's what you suspect, then shut your yap?"

"I only..."

"Or get the fuck outta here."

Eddy downs his drink and (atypically) pays.

"Too far; you've gone too far, Chris. What's that famous phrase; 'Don't shoot the messenger'?" Eddy starts to take his leave, ensuring a safer distance. "If you want some good advice, you'll dump that nigger; word is out, she'll fuck for fifty cents."

"And here's a famous phrase for you; 'DROP DEAD!'"

Chris hurls a soggy bar towel—that would have hit its target, had Eddy not ducked hastily out the door.

In his wake, Michelle and Cindy enter. Cindy moves immediately to occupy the barstool opposite Chris. Michelle, having spotted the towel, bends down to retrieve it... holding it up and out like a waterlogged rat. Chris waves her over.

"Moi?"

She lets it drop. He scowls.

"You're late."

She looks around.

"For what?" 

Their conversation ends.

Cindy, more inclined to schmooze, cooperates.

"Want that I should start, Mister Stefanakis?"

"Wait a while. I'll tell ya."

He regards her like a bullfrog eyeing a gnat.

"Yes sir."

"And cut that sir and mister crap."

He wipes the crumbs from his mustache, burps, then shifts back down to the bar's sole patron.

Michelle joins Cindy.

"A real charmer, isn't he?"

"Oh, I think so, too. You know he didn't come-on to me when I applied here? That is so unusual! He could've. Gosh, he's such a..."

"'Gosh?'"

"Excuse me?"

"Sorry, nothing. You were saying?"

"I forget... Oh, yeah, he's such a pro. He made me strip right then and there in his office—zero music. I thought, 'Holy smokes, he'll have his pecker in my mouth in no time flat.' But he just watched. No hanky-panky. Honest!."

"Oh, I wouldn't doubt it."

"Made me kinda nervous. You know, him just mumming up. Usually guys say something. You know, compliments an' stuff? Not Mister Stefanakis; just said..."

"'You'll do.'"

"Hey, that's right! You must know him pretty good, huh."

"We go back a LONG time; three whole weeks."

"I thought you'd been here longer." Cindy shrugs. "Sounds as if you maybe don't much like him?"

"Chris? He's... Chris. It's good you two have hit it off—though I wouldn't get too chummy; Molly doesn't like it."

"She a dancer?"

"She tends bar—whenever he's short-handed, that is. Chris and her are tight. Wanna keep your job, stay on her good side."

"Thanks for the tip."

"And that reminds me; don't give back your tips; it's bad for business."

"Huh?"

"Last night. With Mikey?"

"Oh, with Mike? That man is such a dear. You know he wrote a note to me? I'll show ya. Here; I have it." Cindy takes the napkin from her purse and pries it open, shares it with Michelle—who wells up in tears. "Isn't that... Hey, what'sa matter?"

"This is idiotic!"

"What; my note?"

"No. Sorry, Cindy. No, the note is very sweet... Are you and Mikey seeing each other?"

"You won't snitch?"

"Who to?"

"Mister Stefanakis. 'Making dates with customers is against the rules,' he said."

"Who you see, on your own time, is no one else's business."

Chris returns to the bar's near end.

"Let's shake it."

Cindy jumps, mouths 'Later' to Michelle, and hurries backstage.

Customers—four—have drifted in. Two about-face and exit. Michelle decides to treat herself to a slammer.

 

 

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