New Pulp Press

"Bullets, Booze and Bastards"

Sample story from Fool Whiskey Hero

The scrawny guy in the Hawaiian shirt was in trouble. You didn’t have to be a genius to figure it out. He couldn’t cower any further into his seat in the corner booth unless he started digging into the plastic upholstery.
Granted, the Dirty Pickle wasn’t exactly a classy pub. Most of the chairs had been broken during one brawl or another and glued, wired or taped back together. The tables were old barrels with plywood nailed on top. It was dark because they couldn’t afford the electricity, not for ambience or any pretentious crap like that. The bar had been slapped together with whatever wood had been handy and the many layers of paint were all that held it together. My stool wobbled and bowed as I sat on it, I’d covered it with my jacket for fear of splinters and leaned on the bar to keep balanced. The glass I was guzzling whiskey from was chipped, and the only cleaning it received was when it was filled with booze.
No, The Pickle was not pretty, but the bartender still wouldn’t be happy if the Hawaiian shirt guy tore the Hell out of the cushions in the booth.
The guy was stoop shouldered, weak chinned and had lost more of his black hair than he’d kept. Fringes poked out around his ears like unkempt bushes. His shirt was a Hawaiian thing they sell to tourists, blues and oranges that may have blinded me if it wasn’t for the dimmed lights. His back was to the wall and he was trying to sink into himself.
Hawaiian shirt guy was scared out of his mind.
It probably had something to do with the behemoth beside him. A no-neck monster with a long beard and even longer hair and massive arms, he had a belly too, but there was no mistaking the muscle underneath or the fact he knew how to handle himself. He had two big handfuls of the Hawaiian guy’s shirt and was almost choking him with it.
The guy with the backwards ball cap sitting across the booth was slightly smaller, but still big, just in better shape. He had the same beard, but had gone with shorter hair and was the one in charge. I couldn’t hear from the bar, but the way snot and spittle splattered the chin on the ball cap guy, and how red his face had gotten as he spoke, they weren’t just telling the guy how ugly his shirt was.
This was going to get bloody, and the Hawaiian shirt guy looked too scared to talk his way out.
But I had my own problems
My glass was empty.
If I didn’t remedy that I’d wind up sober, and then where would I be?
I waggled my glass at the bartender. “Fill’er up.”
Bertie, a short squat guy, with a thick moustache and even more hair than that on his arms shook his head. He was the owner and only employee. He placed the bottle of cheap rye in front of me but didn’t let go.
“Don’t you think you’re drunk enough?”
“You sound like my wife,” I said. “But you’re not as pretty.”
“So why don’t you go home to her then?”
“If you can convince Marin to let me in, I’ll owe you for life.”
“And drinking more is going to help?”
“Isn’t your whole business model about assholes like me drowning their sorrows?”
“You want more you pay for it,” he said and lifted the bottle away.
I snatched a hold of his wrist and held firm. “When I’m done.”
Bertie stared at me for a moment, rubbed his moustache and then nodded. I let go of his wrist and he filled my glass. He nodded over to the guys in the booth. “Do you know what that’s about?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care.”
Bertie set the bottle down beside my full glass. “I’ve never seen the guy in the ugly shirt before, but the other two are the Webber brothers. The fat one is Sam and the other is Jack.” He sighed. “My guess is the guy can’t pay his debt.”
I took a drink and smiled as the rye burned my throat. “They’re loan sharks?”
Sam, the fat one, slapped the Hawaiian shirt guy hard enough across the face that his nose started bleeding.
“They’re bookies.” Bertie frowned. “Well, technically, their Momma is, the boys just collect for her.”
“A family business? That’s sweet.”