In a city filled with lies corruption and murder, mayhem spreads like wildfire; especially if you can’t keep your mouth shut.
EXCERPT: Dangerous Leads
It took me thirty minutes to make it to the Safe Haven. It was a hole in the wall dive in a seedy part of a deteriorated area of the city. Metal would have felt right at home.
I walked into the bar which, from the outside, looked to be abandoned. The inside looked as though it should be quarantined. They should change the name to the Penicillin Palace. There was garbage on the floor. A beat up old jukebox in the corner of the room played hits from ten years ago. Nobody was dancing. The few occupants that were actually in the bar covered their eyes when I opened the door.
I stood in the entrance and let the door close behind me so my eyes could adjust to the dark before I made my way further inside. I couldn’t tell who was more menacing; the overweight and tattooed bartender or the guy on the other side of the bar who was nursing his drink and looked like he’d just been released on parole.
I stood at the bar and smiled brightly at the bartender. “Afternoon.” He just stared at me. The other guy stopped nursing his drink and turned to look at me. “Too early for happy hour?”
The bartender slowly made his way over to me. “What?”
“Ooh, I don’t know; something cold. What do you recommend? Something non-alcoholic because it’s a little early.”
The bartender pulled a visibly dirty glass from behind the counter and slapped it down. He filled it with some gold liquid from a non-descript bottle that had no label. Some of the liquid spilled over as he slid it to me.
I looked down at the drink for a moment and then looked back up at him. “Is this diet?”
“Does it matter?” he asked grimly.
I shrugged. “I am watching my figure.”
The patron walked over to me. “Who are you?”
“Who are you?” I asked in return.
He leaned in. I don’t think this guy’s brushed his teeth in a month. “I’m the one asking the questions.” A few of the other patrons stopped what they were doing and looked over at us.
I smiled at him. “I’m just a guy looking for a cool drink.” He had a glass of clear liquid. He swallowed the entire drink in one gulp. “That looks good,” I said pointing to his empty glass. “I think I’ll have what you’re having.”
“You couldn’t handle what I’m having,” he replied with a sneer. His eyes seemed to be dilated far more than a normal person. “Why are you here?”
“Internet. This place has great reviews.”
For a moment, he wasn’t sure how to respond. He looked over at the bartender for an answer. They both looked at each other briefly, not really sure if I was telling the truth or not.
He looked back at me with a scowl. “You’re lying.”
“You’re right. The reviews were actually terrible. Probably due to the lighting. I wouldn’t worry too much about it though. Those review sites really aren’t that reliable.”
The guy grabbed me by the shirt and lifted me off my feet. He was stronger than he looked, which was surprising because he looked like he could’ve bench pressed a small Toyota. “You better start talking. And I mean right now!”
“Alright! I’ll tell you where my grandmother hides her money!” I didn’t see the punch coming but I felt it. He punched me hard in the stomach and let me fall to the ground. This is definitely not going to be civilized. I held my stomach while I brought myself up to my knees. I could hear the big guy and the bartender both laughing.
I reached up to the bar and pulled myself back up. I gathered my breath before trying to answer. “I’m looking for Louis,” I said as I finally got my breath back.
“I’m Louis,” the bartender said.
“Really? You’re Louis?” That was a depressing revelation. I was sure he wasn’t going to give me any information for free.
“What do you want?”
“I’m looking for Metal.” He was silent as he looked from me to the large patron that had just assaulted me. I followed his gaze. “I take it you’re Metal?”
“What do you want?” he asked slowly. He still wasn’t exactly sure who I was or what I was doing there.
“Well, I need to ask you a few questions.”
“Are you a cop?”
“Would it be better if I was?” I smiled at him trying to ease the situation.
“Not for you,” he said, unfazed by my friendliness.
“I don’t know how to put this but,” I took a deep breath, “I need to ask you some questions about your dead girlfriend.”
“What?” he asked in surprise. “She’s not dead.”
“You didn’t know? How could you not know?” I probably should’ve thought about my line of questioning before actually letting it slip out of my mouth. Hind sight has taught me I’m not very subtle.
He wasn’t reacting like a man who just found out his girlfriend was dead. There was really no sorrow. He became angry. “How? How did it happen?”
“That’s what I’m trying to find out. She died in a car wreck a few weeks ago.”
Andrew Rowberry lives in Utah and has written sitcoms, cartoons, fantasy and suspense works. He received a Bachelor’s Degree from Ashford University and served in the United States Navy.
Crime Noir, Suspense, Private Investigator, Detective