Note: This is the third of several installments from my latest work-in-progress, The Circle. If I knew how to make the copyright symbol on a MacBook keyboard, this is where you would find it. Don't steal my shit, man.
Tommy Mendenhall was the only customer at the Wasp’s Nest, a dingy little armpit of a bar near downtown Indianapolis, early that Saturday afternoon. He darted back and forth between his bar stool and the pay phone back by the pool table.
“So, ya gonna have another one, or are ya ready to settle up?” the really large, biker-looking guy behind the bar asked him as he sat down for the sixth or seventh time since his arrival.
“Um, yeah, gimme another one…say what time is it?” Tommy asked. The bartender pointed to the old, beat-up clock radio next to the cash register that read 11:13 a.m. When bartender reached forward to turn off the tap, the customer noticed the spider web tattoo on his left elbow. “So, ya killed a guy, huh?” Tommy asked.
The bartender scrunched his face and barked, “What the fuck are you talking about, asshole?”
Tommy backpedaled almost to the point of falling back off his barstool onto the floor. “Oh, hey, man, I’m sorry. I just, I saw your web there and I always heard it was some biker sign for killing a guy…I didn’t mean nothing by it, I swear.”
The bartender continued his scowl, making Tommy even more nervous.
“Hey man, really, I was just…my name’s Tommy. I just came here to drink a coupla beers and lay low for a coupla hours. I’ll shut up, man, I promise.”
The bartender lightened his scowl. “Don’t sweat it, dude, he said. You’re my only customer. Is something wrong, ‘cuz you’re sweatin’ like a nigger on Father’s Day?”
Tommy started to breathe again, but he was still too jittery to get his cigarette lit. A five-pointed star, hanging inversely off a tin chain around his neck, spilled out of ratty, old Judas Priest concert shirt he was wearing under his blue Members Only windbreaker. The bartender struck a match and lit the cigarette for him. When he leaned forward, he saw Tommy’s pupils were dilated wide open. Tommy noticed that the bartender noticed necklace, and quickly stuffed it back into his shirt.
“Man, you shouldn’t mess with that crank,” the bartender said. “My old lady started tweakin’ and wound up fuckin’ every trucker she could find tryin’ to get more. I even put her in the hospital, but she took off and I ain’t seen her since.”
Tommy giggled involuntarily, clutching clumsily at the star tucked inside his shirt. “Um, yeah man, I know what ya mean,” Tommy said. “I hardly ever touch the stuff, but I gotta stay wide awake, man.”
The bartender chuckled. “What, the mob lookin for ya, or somethin’?”
“Naw, man, I wish,” Tommy replied. “This bitch is trying to find me and so I’m staying outta sight. I just gotta find my cousin to get me some money and I’m gone…but I ain’t closing my eyes til I’m way away from here.”
The bartender laughed out loud, very loud. “What, you’re on the run from some cunt? What, she gotta fuckin’ black belt or somethin’? I’ll tell ya what, you call her and tell her to come down here and Ill kick her ass for you. It’ll only cost you twenty bucks.”
Tommy shook his head. “Man, you don’t fucking know, man. This bitch is…she, like fucks with your head, man. She’s a fuckin’…”
The front door creaked open. A set of bright red fingernails reached inside, followed below by shiny black leather boots. As the door started to close, the light from the street revealed a bright-haired, curvy woman in a black dress.
Tommy started whimpering and crying like a baby.
The bartender looked at him, then asked, “Is this the bitch you were talking about?” Then his eyes locked onto her eyes. Her eyes were so bright that the big biker thought they might have been on fire, and he was suddenly terrified of getting burned.
She strolled up to the bar. Her curly orange hair draped down over the straps of the seamless black dress that look as if it were painted onto every contour of her unbelievable body. She took her eyes off the entranced bartender and fixed them onto Tommy. She smiled very slightly, forming perfect dimples on either side of her full, bright red lips.
Tommy fell back off his stool and stumbled away from the bar, feeling behind with his left arm and jutting his right arm out in front.
“Di-Diana, this is all a mistake,” Tommy pleaded. “I didn’t do anything, I mean, I was just borrowing some money and Mom got mad. For Christ’s sake, it was an accident. She fucking tripped!”
Tommy backpeddled slowly, only to stumble and fall flat on his back. She approached him quickly, almost gliding to his spot before he could get up.
Diana leaned over him and said grimly, “Christ has nothing to do with this, Tommy.”