The downstairs bar was dark and foreboding. The joint was almost empty except for three men sitting at a table in a dark corner drinking beer, like the dogs in a Cassius Coolidge painting. They were watching a hockey game on the wall screen and were making quite loud and boisterous comments from time to time. They were rough looking and had large hunting knives on their belts.

A sexy, sultry woman walked through the door and sauntered across the room, hips swaying like a shapely pendulum, checking her surroundings, and sat on a stool at the bar.

“What can I get you, ma’am?” asked the bartender.

“Just bring me a double single malt whisky with one ice cube”, she replied. As she crossed her legs, the slit in her skirt opened up to show the tops of her stockings. One of her spiky high heel shoes dangled from her big toe.

The three hosers at the table stopped their jeering when they noticed her and the place became as quiet as a fart at Yonge-Dundas Square. One of them, definitely an extrovert who thought he was god’s gift to women, got up and was going to approach her, to hit on her. But one of his buddies grabbed his arm and pulled him back.

“Siddown asshole, she’s way above your pay grade,” he said. And Mr. Smartypants sat down and just looked down at his beer, with his tail between his legs.

The sultry lady finally got her drink and just stared into the mirror, elbow on the bar, touching her hair and eyelashes, as vain as a peacock.

Then the door opened slowly with a low pitched squeak, and the tall, dark stranger entered the room. There was a hush over the ambience. All hands went to the hunting knives, quicker then sharks after bloody chum.

But then… nothing.

He walked nonchalantly over to the bar and stood next to the lady.

“Well, what took you?” she said to him in a smoky Lauren Bacall voice, “Patience is not my strong point.”

“You’re not the only kid on the block,“ he replied, in his usual smart ass tone, “but I’m here now, so what’s your issue?” He had a deep, rough, raspy voice like dishwater gurgling through a sink and he’d been told he sounds like that movie star. But they could never figure out who ‘that’ was.

The bartender came over and asked him, “Waddaya havin’ buddy?”

“Pour me a double whisky with one rock and leave the bottle.”

Looking into her eyes, he held his drink up as if to toast her and said,

“I got a job to do. Where I’m going you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. I’m no good at being noble but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of two little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that. Now, now . . . here’s looking at you kid.”

Then she noticed his bulge and asked,

“You packin’?”

“Of course, I don’t leave home without it,” he replied, and as he leaned over, his jacket opened and she could see the grip of his Glock-17.

“Good, because you’re gonna need it.”

“So waddaya need, darling?”

“I’m being stalked by a real weirdo, and getting worried. I need him taken care of. Under these circumstances are you up for this kind of job?”

“To hell with circumstance, I create opportunities. Physically, I’m not tough. I may think tough. I could use a few more pounds and fifteen years off my age and then, god help all them bastards.”

“Ok, you’re hired. Now shut up and pour me a drink.”


[ Quotations from Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart and Bruce Lee

other stories of the tall, dark stranger; , ]


The sultry lady sat at the bar

Here’s lookin’ at you kid.