AnyWay

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


As I recall it, it was only that day I’d read in the paper that there had been robberies. A man robbing people at gunpoint, wearing a short-brimmed hat as some sort of half-baked disguise. Now, I never thought I’d actually have a run-in with the guy. I mean, I’m not saying it was the guy. All I’m saying is that a gentleman in a hat approached me, and said: “Hello there.”

Me, I was already frowning, I’d had a bad day. So it may have been in a somewhat patronising tone that I gave my own reply of “Hello there.”

Now, don’t let me get ahead of myself. I’ll go back and set the scene, I’m a bartender. I tend the bar, that’s what I do. I would have had a glass in my hand with a rag stuffed into it, probably. That seems like something I’d be doing at the time. So anyway it was a quiet night. One or two patrons had breezed in and blown out, nobody staying for a chin wag, or to slump in their beer puddles on the inviting wooden tabletops. Those things can be pretty comfortable depending how sloshed you are. Anyway, it was such a quiet night that I had no trouble at all hearing some bastard - sorry - hearing that lowlife scumbag side-swipe my car as he pulled up. I took off outside, of course. My car’s not worth a lot, or anything, but it’s my car. 

Anyway I get outside and all I see was taillights. I know, right? Only way it could have been a sadder sight is if it had been pouring rain, but the storm only started later that night. Much to detriment of the dramatic edge of my story. I check out the damage, it’s not so bad, but a side-swipe is a side-swipe, and a little damage is worse than none at all. I go back inside, completely dry, because it wasn’t raining yet, resume my position behind the bar. 

That’s when the little bell above the door starts tinkling away and I look up to see a gentleman in a hat step inside. He’s the one from the start of the story. So anyway, the gentleman in the hat approached me, and said “Hello there.”

“Hello there,” I reply, as I also mentioned before. “Did you hit my car?”

“Can’t say that I did,” he said, sounding like a right toff. “I’m on foot, rather unfortunately, can’t see the stars for the storm clouds.”

“Big storm coming, is it?” I ask, not because I was unaware of the looming thunder, but because I was a bartender, and part of tending the bar is small talk.

“Could be flooding, that’s what they’re saying.”

“Are they?” I feigned interest but I wasn’t really pulling it off that night.

“Apparently,” said the behatted man, taking a look around the deserted room. He turned back to me with a smile, “Busy night?”

“Not exactly.”

“Well, it’s always been my experience that slow nights drag on seemingly forever.”

“Pretty much,” I said. 

He kept on smiling, staring at me as if I wasn’t finished.

I sighed, “I’m sorry if I seem a little gruff, it’s just not my night. What can I get you?”

His smile turned into a toothy grin at that, and he waggled his eyebrows. Quite the character. “I would like all the money in the till, if you please.”

My rag paused mid-polish, and I stared at him with my mouth half open. “Excuse me?”

“I apologise, allow me to start over. Hello there, I would like to help speed your night along by adding some much needed excitement. I have a gun in the pocket of my jacket, and I would like you to hand over the money in the till before I am forced to use it.”

I frown at him, the gentleman in the hat. “You serious?”

“Deathly, I’m afraid,” he replies, his smile going absolutely nowhere. What a rogue.

I eye him down for a second. Then I look at the baseball bat on the shelf beneath the bar, then over to the sawed-off shotgun the boss keeps beside it for just this occasion. I look back to the gentleman in the hat. “What you packing?” I ask.

“I’m not sure, to be honest. But it’s quite loud, I’m wearing ear-plugs, see?” he tilted his head to give me a better view.

“I see,” I said, because I did. And I followed that up with “All the money, you say?” because I’m no hero.

“All the money,” he clarified.

I sat the glass and the rag down on the bench between us. “You got a bag or anything?”

He shrugged, “I assumed you would have one.”

“I may have a paper bag, would that be okay?”

“That’s quite acceptable, thank you.”

“In the future, maybe consider bringing your own bag,” I offer, by way of advice.

“I usually do, I was in a hurry.”

I nodded, “Trying to beat the weather?”

“That’s right,” he said. “Got the raincoat, but managed to leave the bag on the hallway table.”

“Well, you’ll want to get home before this paper bag gets too wet. Actually, there’s an umbrella by the door if you need one.”

“Thank you, that’s very kind of you.”

Now it was my turn to shrug, “I have my moments.”

“I hope you find the man that hit your car.”

“If you run in to him on in your travels maybe you could show him that thing in your jacket,” I dropped the bag of cash onto the bar.

He chuckled as he scooped it up, tipped his hat, and left the bar forever.

 

That’s what I told the police, anyway. They seemed to gobble it right up… The truth is that the gentleman in the hat never showed up that night, I just got the idea from the story I’d read in the paper. He seemed like the perfect fall guy, poor bastard. Anyway I used the money from the till to cover repairs on the car. Nobody’s figured it out and nobody ever will. I haven’t even told anyone, except you. Now it’s just our little secret, right?


Submitted: June 12, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Shibu Singh. All rights reserved.

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