It has been a few weeks since I worked on my WIP (“The Reluctant Savage”). Feeling a bit rusty I decided over the weekend to write a short story – actually, a short short story – to check my brain functions as to creating a simple plot, some simple characters, and to allow the readers (if so inclined) to engage some of their own imagining, that is, leaving them room for interpretation. It was to be for me an exercise to shed some of the writing rust gathered over the previous weeks and also an optional exercise for the reader to see how many directions the short story could have gone. It’s obvious to me the short tale could be extended to a full-length novel, and maybe I’ll get around to that. For the most part, the busy schedules of my previous weeks had slowed down my writing – and for good or bad, I like to write. So, I put the brain quickly to work and wrote this improvisational short story. Have to tell you, I enjoyed very much the rather quick project… I hope you enjoy it as well.
The Moonlight Bar
A Short Short Story by Billy Ray Chitwood
“Eight-ball in the corner pocket and get your money out…” A tap on his shoulder came just before the shot was miscued… “Hey, Mofo, that’s the money ball! What the hell you doing?” The brawny man nicknamed Freepo put his cue stick on the table and stared in confrontational pose at the dignified man in a black suit.
“Sorry, Freepo, I’m paying you for the game as well as your playing partner.” He handed each man at the table a sawbuck, then threw two fifties on the table. “I’ve got a handsome proposition for you both… Are you interested in talking about it in my car outside? It’s too noisy in here.”
Freepo looked at his partner, nicknamed Jersey, for some seconds. Then he turned back to the man in the suit. “You ain’t no sicko talking some kind of sex thing, are you, pal? Cause I just might have to wrap a cue stick ’round your head…”
“No, no!” exclaimed the man. It’s a business proposition that can make you both some really good money. Honest. No ‘sex thing,’ for sure.”
“Okay, but why us? Why me and Jersey? You just walk in this bar dive and start jiving about a business proposition? You nuts or sumthin?”
The two pool players leaned against the table, eyes squinted querulously, while the suited man stood perfectly erect only a few feet away. “Look, I’ll make it all very clear to you in the car. The smoke and noise are too much in here. You’ll both be interested in my proposal, I promise. Can we go now?” The man nodded meekly toward the entrance and tentatively lifted his right palm in that direction. The man truly needed to be out of this unfamiliar dimly lit and smelly atmosphere of tinkling glasses, heavy music, and loud conversations.
Freepo and Jersey followed the man to his car, parked just a few yards down the curb from ‘The Moonlight Bar.’ At this hour, close to midnight, there were no people on the sidewalk and only an occasional car was passing. The two men raised their brows at each other as they saw the man unlock the doors to a silver BMW 750 and requested they get in the back seat.
Seated, looking at the man in the front seat of the BMW, Freepo said, “Nice car, pal! You doing okay for yourself! Now, how’s ’bout telling Jersey here and me how you come to us with a business deal? Again, I’m asking, why us out of anybody else?” Jersey had yet to utter a word.
“Fair question, Freepo…” The man was stopped in mid-sentence.
“So you know my neighborhood name! How ’bout this guy? You know his moniker as well?”
“Yes, I know your friend, Jersey.”
“Okay, okay, that tells me you been gathering some dope on us… So get on with your story and we’ll see where we go from there. Just one thing, pal! You ain’t cops, right? You don’t look like no cop I know.”
“No. No cop… Now, here’s the situation… The word is that you guys know how to get things done and that you also know how to keep a low profile – keep your mouths closed about what you’re doing. That is, you are loyal to the people who hire you to get things done and keep quiet about it. Am I right so far?”
Jersey finally spoke. “Look, Mister, Freepo and I go back a long way. We take care of each other. What I’m wanting to know before we go on is who is spreading ‘the word’ about us? ‘The word’ might very well be accurate, but we would like to know who is doing the talking. You do understand why that might be important to us, right? And, what do we call you? You haven’t given us a name. You apparently know us, but we don’t know you.”
The man in the suit quickly calculated that Jersey was the smarter of the two men and it would be he who would need satisfying on all the details. Jersey dressed himself better, spoke better, and seemed to be much better educated. Freepo was street smart, but Jersey had that plus some school smarts.
“Look, call me Morris, but we don’t need to trade biographies here. You know how it works…people want something done, but they want to remain anonymous — that means…”
Jersey interrupted, “Yeah, we know what ‘anonymous’ means, Morris. Okay, guess you don’t want to say who is spreading ‘the word’ on us or give your real name. That’s okay. You’ve come from wherever it is you come and want to talk about ‘business.’ Okay, tell us about the business…”
Freepo started to light a cigarette… “Please, Freepo, don’t smoke in the car! It’s my health. That’s why I needed to get out of the bar. Can you understand, please?”
Freepo grunted and put his cigarette back in its package. “Yeah, okay. Do your talking.”
“The man who owns ‘The Moonlight Bar’? James Gibbons? You both know him?”
The two men glanced at each other curiously and spoke simultaneously, “Yeah, we know him.”
“Did you know he’s an evil man?”
Jersey spoke, “The world is filled with evil men, Morris. Hell, guess we would be considered by some as evil…”
“Not from the word I get on you two.” Morris held up his hand to stop Freepo from interrupting. “You two do a lot more good than evil.” He paused. “Now, if you knew James Gibbons was doing something bad to children, would you still like him?”
“Who said we liked him? We said we knew him. That doesn’t mean we like him. He won’t do it to us but he puts premium brand labels on bottles of booze and sells them at premium prices. He has his bartenders double up sometimes on drinks when people are running tabs. We go there because it’s close to home and we were going there before James Gibbons bought the bar. But he doesn’t fool around with us or any of our friends. He knows better. Freepo and I have a nice little concrete business and we pour not only the concrete but we pour a lot of money into his bar… The truth is, we don’t like him and he don’t like us. We just like his bar and the people who work for him, and he cheats them and treats them like dirt… Now, his pretty wife…we call her Ms Daisy…she’s a gem, pretty blond gal that smiles and quietly gets along with everyone in the bar.”
“That’ great. I got it,” Morris cut him off, “you don’t like him, but you like his wife… Good! I don’t like the man, either, because he hurt someone I love very much…” Morris was silent for a few seconds.
“So, this business you mentioned?” Freepo talking. “It must concern Gibbons, right?”
“Not really, just don’t like the guy. Noticed he wasn’t here tonight. He usually here?”
“Yeah, come to think of it, haven’t seen him in a couple of days, though. Hell, nobody misses him. It’s a lot better place when he’s not there. You sure I can’t smoke back here?” asked Freepo.
“Rather you didn’t. Hey, just a few more minutes and we’re finished. Can you guys pour a foundation for me tomorrow? I’m adding on to my storage shed — gathering too damned much stuff. Small job, but have to get it done by Friday when I’m moving the stuff from the Bronx, and this is Wednesday.”
“That’s the business! We could have told you ‘no’ in the bar… We have schedules, man. We’ve got a busy day tomorrow.” Jersey sounded annoyed.
“But, it’s just a small job! I’ll pay you ten grand for the pour. Easy money. You can do it before your first scheduled job. The pour area is 6′ X 8′ with depth of one foot, re-bar in and footings set.”
“Ten thousand big ones for an easy pour! C’mon, Jersey,” pleaded Freepo, “we can knock it out in no time. Man, that’s too good to pass up.”
“Can’t argue with that… This all legit, Morris? And, by the way, what’s the last name?”
“O’Fallon. And, yes, it’s legit. Google me, Morris O’Fallon, Principal, Friedland Capital and get all the information you need. I’ll pay you in the morning as soon as you pour. I’m asking at the last minute. I figure you guys deserve some extra bucks for the consideration… Here’s the address, and phone number if needed. What time you figuring on being there?”
“We’ll be there by 7:15 AM.” Jersey said.
The three men shook hands on the deal, smiled at each other, and parted company. Morris drove away while, Freepo and Jersey went back into The Moonlight Bar for one last frosty brew
Some weeks later, Detectives Corman Jones and Eli Whitsell were interviewing Freepo Gabetti and Jersey Grimaldi in the office of GG Concrete. There were only three chairs in the sparse office, one metal file cabinet with three drawers, a framed license on one grubby wall, an old scarred desk, cracked tile floor, and Freepo sat on a wooden crate at the end of the desk.
Jones looked from Jersey at the desk to Freepo. “So, you haven’t seen James Gibbons in several weeks, that your recollection, too, Freepo?”
“Yeah, right! And, we had the talk with Morris O’Fallon and did the early morning concrete pour. That’s it! We finished here? We got another pour this afternoon.” Freepo was showing his business side.
“Just a couple of more questions, guys, and we’re outta here,” Whitsell now talking. “Did this fella, O’Fallon, seem like an okay guy to you two?”
“Yeah, sure,” responded Jersey while Freepo nodded, “He was just adding a section to his storage area and wanted us to do a pour.”
“Nothing more interesting than that in your conversation with him?” asked Jones.
Jersey answered, “Hey, we didn’t even know the bar owner was missing til you told us. We mentioned O’Fallon ’cause you asked if anyone didn’t like the guy. Like we told you, he came to the bar and offered us a pouring job. While we were talking he mentioned that Gibbons was a dirt bag, like, he hurt little kids, and we agreed that the man was not too honest in the way he ran his business. Otherwise, this guy O’Fallon seemed like a nice upstanding person…”
Jones continued with the questions. “And it never occurred to you two that O’Fallon was giving you some big bucks for a really quick job?”
“Well, hell yes, man, it occurred to us, but it just seemed he had finished the prep work sooner than he expected and wanted to get it done. The guy drove a Beamer, obviously had lots of dough, and we thought it was a good thing for us… What are you dicks suggesting, anyway? That this O’Fallon guy had us pour concrete on top of Gibbons? You thinking that? Cheez!” Freepo stood and leaned on the desk. “Look, we don’t know nothing ’bout the missing bar man. The O’Fallon guy looked good to us, and, yeah, the money looked good… That’s all we know. Now, we gotta haul ass to get the pouring job done.”
“Okay, Freepo, you and Jersey do your pouring job, but, before you go, give us the address of this O’Fallon guy. Look, we’re just checking out a missing person’s report. We’re not here to hassle you. Just getting information. We’re talking to all the regulars who frequent The Moonlight Bar. It just seems a bit strange this guy needs a concrete pouring job so quickly…but we’ll check out all the angles…”
The detectives had several long conversations with Morris O’Fallon and his wife. While the persistent impression of the childless couple seemed positive, there was intense pressure being applied by the wife of James Gibbons to find her husband. Daisy Gibbons was convinced someone had done him in, and she was running the bar the best she could but felt she was being robbed by the staff working there.
After talking to bar customers and other people who knew Gibbons it was clear he was not a likable and trustworthy kind of guy. Finally it was legally determined that the recently poured O’Fallon storage foundation addition could be broken up and removed to see if Gibbons body was indeed in the ground… Strangely, there was little resistance from Morris O’Fallon. There were also so many unanswered questions. Why did O’Fallon choose GG Concrete to do the pour? Why so quickly? Why not a concrete pour from a company closer to the residence in question?
So, in July, on a beautiful sunny day in a most lovely residential section between the Bronx and Yonkers, the O’Fallon residence became a busy and very noisy place. The storage area in the lush backyard was the focal point, that new section of concrete that had already been walled in. The drillers made an ugly staccato sound that had nearby neighbors scurrying to close open windows and doors to at least muffle the sounds.
By the end of the day a pile of broken up concrete lay in heaps on the lovely lawn.
After a thorough search beneath all the removed concrete no body was found in the big hole, and Mr. James Gibbons stayed missing. Morris O’Fallon was given the city’s apology and thanks. Indeed, his record was clean and his business dealings were exemplary.
A few days later, Freepo and Jersey were shooting pool in The Moonlight Bar, pausing now and then to tell jokes and tall tales among themselves and other regular bar buddies who had joined them around their common tables.
It was Jersey who saw him first. Morris O’Fallon was striding toward them in his tailored suit, his shiny black shoes, and just a hint of a smile on his face. Jersey poked Freepo in the ribs and nodded toward O’Fallon.
“Hi, fellas, you got a couple of minutes to spare outside? It won’t take long, I promise.”
Freepo and Jersey placed their cue sticks on the pool table, and Jersey spoke. “Sure, Mr. O’Fallon…be right back, you hoodlums, just leave the money on the table!” He smirked. The group smirked back.
On the curb, Morris spoke, “No need to get in the car. Just wanted to see if you could do another pour for me? Don’t know if you heard but the police came and drilled out all that fine concrete you poured previously. I’m still scratching my head over that. You go through life doing the right thing and something like that happens… You guys know what I’m talking about?”
“Yeah, we know,” Freepo offered. “The fuzz came and talked to all the bar regulars, including us. We did mention you, Mr. O’Fallon, but only in the best of light. You understand we had to talk to them?”
“Sure, that’s fine, guys. You’re good citizens. There’s no problem at all. What I want is for you to re-pour that big hole the cops left in my backyard. Can you do that for me? I’ll pay you, of course.” O’Fallon stood erect, hands in his pockets.
“Sure, we’ll pour,” said Jersey. “When do you want us?”
“Is early tomorrow morning good for you? Just like before?”
“Sure, we can accommodate you, Mr. O’Fallon,” Jersey responded.
“Can I ask a question, Mr. O’Fallon?” Freepo blurted.
“Sure, Freepo, ask away.”
“How much you figure on paying us?” He almost looked sheepish in the asking.
“Same as before, if that’s okay with you two. Is it okay?”
Freepo and Jersey looked at each other, trying very hard to appear serious in their demeanors. It was Jersey who spoke, “Sure, that’s fine, Mr. O’Fallon.”
A few more pleasantries and the men parted. Morris O’Fallon got in his car and went wherever it was he was going. Freepo and Jersey jubilantly returned to their buddies inside The Moonlight Bar.
One month later, Daisy Gibbons sat and talked to Freepo and Jersey.
“You two guys are the best customers James and I have…” She looked a bit wistful in mentioning her husband. “With James gone to parts unknown, I’m going to sell ‘Moonlight.’ I’ve got Power of Attorney to do it, and I can’t see any reason to stick around if he’s not here. The Moonlight Bar was his idea anyhow… Guess he just got tired of it – and, me – and wanted to move on…” She looked away for a wistful moment. “Anyway, you guys seem to love this place. You’ve been coming here forever, so I thought I would offer it first to you before putting it on the market…”
“WOW!” squealed Freepo. “Jersey and me, owning The Moonlight Bar! Wow!”
“Hold on, hotshot, let’s hear the lady out… Whatta you got in mind, Ms Daisy?”
Daisy Gibbons made Freepo and Jersey a deal they could not refuse, and they bought the bar.
Around the same time The Moonlight Bar was being sold to Freepo Gabetti and Jersey Grimaldi, a divorce was finalized between Morris and Geraldine O’Fallon.
“Any regrets, Daisy?”
Morris sipped a margarita and gazed at the lovely bikini-clad blond in the beach chair beside him. The bright yellow in the bikini made her tanned skin and cameo face all the more breathtaking to him. The sapphire blue of her eyes matched the soft powdery blue waves that lazily washed ashore. Strands from her long blond hair fell across one moist cheek and down to an amply exposed breast. She smiled sweetly up at him, an invitation on her lush full lips. He suddenly felt a now familiar craving for her that bordered on bestial desire. and his matching yellow jockey shorts were becoming uncomfortably tight.
“Not here! Not now! Not in these moments with you… When the thoughts come I push them aside… Will they eventually destroy us, these thoughts?” There came a quaint sadness to her dazzling face, mixing with the remarkable sexiness of her lips.
“Thoughts will not destroy us, Daisy, not if our love stays strong… You did what you had to do. We must never allow ourselves to become bored with each other… And, right now, this moment, I’m horny as hell and coming after you…”
With that he pushed away from the beach chair and chased a squealing Daisy across the white sand toward a lovely villa surrounded by palms…
You can follow me on Twitter (@brchitwood) and on facebook.com/billyray.chitwood. If you like this short short story, please take a look at my nine books, some mystery novels, a romance novel, and a couple of memoirs at the following sites:
http://www.goo.gl/fuxUA (IAN: Short bio sketch and preview my nine books)
OTHER AUTHOR SITES:
http://billyraychitwood.weebly.com (Can preview my books on the Home page and push the blog button for my posts)
http://thefinalcurtain1.wordpress.com (View my current and archived posts)