tales from the dark city…

by santoki

[EDIT: When I wrote this, I was imagining Humphrey Bogart ala Maltese Falcon. Maybe it got lost in the translation…]

Details in the story may be smaller then they appear. Please use caution.

In most parts of the country, June is still spring. Not here, in the Dark City. Not here, where the humidity is so thick, it takes hold of a stench that can only mean garbage day. No. Here in the Dark City, the first of June is a forecast for hot, sticky days.

It had been a long week of corporate realities and personal heartbreak. I was just putting the final touches on a meaningless report when the phone rang. “Hey Boss,” I said. Caller ID makes it impossible to hide.

“We’re leaving now. Meet downstairs?” he asked. There was only one answer to that question.

“Sure.”

It was the Boss, the young Imperialist, and me. For our own reasons, we each needed to disappear. The plan included hard drinks, and lots of them. We had no clue of the destination, but we sure as heck was gonna find it. We shoved our way through the Dark City crowd. It was fat with the congestion of the pre-theater bridge and tunnel types. With Bossman leading the way, we ended up at a Bennigan’s knock-off packed with pensioners.

I needed safe harbor, but all I got was a shoal.

Sensing my despair, the Imperialist led the beeline to the exit. We overruled the second bar out of hand. Any place advertising something in its name so rarely delivers. We head over to the last in a series of three wannabe pubs. We ended up at Connolly’s. The promise of live music and a happy hour was a small bit of hope for our weary souls. Well if hope is a thing with feathers, my thing flew the coop.

Only the wicked looks for solace in a bar while the sun burns bright. The Dubliner behind the bar knew our type. He saved his fake smile for the tourists and put his real face forward. “Whaddya need?” he asked. Well if that ain’t a loaded question. Whaddya need? What I need, he ain’t serving. On the other hand, that Fruity Patooty punch might come close.

He poured fast and heavy. Four girl drinks later, we were ready for more. Where’s this live music? We would need to wait another 4 hours to hear “The Screaming Orphans.” I sauntered over to the Dubliner. Could he give me what I need? Not tonight, but he knew where I could find it. A soggy thanks, and it was over to Keats.

Keats is the no nonsense type of place. The place for locals who are all looking for the same thing. We walked in to a small woman crooning out an old country standard. Yep. This was the place. The Imperialist lined up a few shots of tokillya, and then looked at me. I knew what was he expected of me. I took my liquid courage like a woman. In small sips.

It wasn’t courage that I needed. I needed something else. Maybe it was affection. Maybe it was sympathy. What do I know? All I know is I was needy, and I was in the right place.

I was told to look for Danno. He was easy to spot. He was the one with the ladies swarming, and the men laughing. He dripped with power. He was the one. I snaked my way through the crowd. I was at his side in moments. “Are you Danno?” I purred.

He looked me over and smiled. “The Dubliner told me to look out for you,” he replied. I’d been made.

“Then you know why I am here.”

His smile dissolved into a smirk. “I can help. Let’s see what you got.”

By 3 AM, I showed him what I had, twice.

As he walked me to a cab, he told me that I was great. He told me to come back next week. He told me that he would meet me there.

Platitudes and affections within a karaoke bar. All empty promises of the Dark City.

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