The bar was crowded, and the collective sound of a hundred conversations was overlaid by the louder noise of a live band who had cranked up the volume. They were, he thought briefly, playing a poor version of an Eagles cover, A Horse With No Name.
He liked the song, just not their rendition of it. Why he thought briefly, did people have to mess with perfection?
He stopped just inside the front entrance for a minute, long enough to locate the exits, and where trouble might come from, before continuing towards the bar, picking a path through the patrons.
He kept one eye on the women, looking for a likely candidate for the red-haired ‘floozy’, and the other on trying not to inadvertently brush past any of the women, a task made difficult because of the crowd.
There were a number of natural red haired women, but the were office girls, and hardly what he’d label a floozy, and far too young. Nor were they with any male company.
This was going to be harder than he first thought.
At the bar, he squeezed between an auburn haired office manager in a business suit, a woman definitely the other side of forty but trying to look younger, and a spotty faced office boy, tie askew, messy hair and a spotty face. We they together?
“What are you drinking?” Bartender, gruff. Not a man to mess with.
Twenty seconds, the bartender thumped the bottle on the bar in front of him, and Harry handed him a twenty. He took the money. There was no change. Harry opened his mouth to ask, but the glare told him it was not worth the argument.
As he took a sip, he was bumped by the woman on the other side of him, spilling beer down the front of his jumper.
He turned to look at her.
She smiled. “Haven’t seen you here before.”
Mid thirties, dyed blond hair with visible black roots, too much makeup, clothes a size too small and a skirt far too short to be sitting on a stool.
This woman was trouble.
“I came to meet a friend. Didn’t realize it would be so busy.” This woman made him feel uneasy, and he realized he would have to handle meeting beautiful women better. Getting tongue tied wasn’t going to help in investigations.
“You can drink more for less,” she said, downing her drink and nodding in the direction of the bartender. “Who are you looking for? Maybe I can help.”
Harry cast his eyes over the crowd, looking around the perimeter starting at the band stage. They’d moved on to a slightly better version of Hotel California. He could see, now, the lead singer was wearing a purple suit.
Still no obvious red haired floozy. Perhaps the client had been wrong and they were not here.
“Thanks, but it’s my problem.
He stepped away from the bar, and accidentally stepped into a man twice his size, with a face that looked as though it has seen several rounds at Madison Square Gardens.
“Watch yourself,” he growled, taking the empty spot I’d just vacated.
“Sorry,” I muttered, and slowly headed towards the back, near the band stage. A number of people were dancing to the music, or in one case, to the music in their heads which had to be something entirely different.
The woman I left behind was now talking to my replacement.
I heard this strange shriek, what was meant to be laughter, and there she was. The ideal candidate for the red-haired floozy. Bright red hair, definitely not a proper hair color, and made the last woman I spoke to at the bar look like a kindergarten teacher.
And the man she was hanging off, the lying cheating bastard husband.
Oddly, I thought, they looked good together.
Only one problem. Al looked like a gangster, right out of a 1940’s movie.
© Charles Heath 2016-2018