Chapter 30

Two men sat in the darkened bar. It was nearly noon and the chairs were still stacked on the tables while the hum of a vacuum cleaner gave the only sound. Rawley was grumpy as usual. The other man said very little as they waited for the cleaning lady to vacate. Even in the dimly lighted bar the one man’s swarthiness was a stark comparison to Rawley’s pallor. Gus stretched his legs at the bar stool and drained the glass of whiskey he had helped himself to from the bottles behind the bar. Rawley scooped a handful of pretzels from a box underneath. The establishment didn’t open for business for another hour but they had their own keys. The cleaning woman placed the chairs on the floor and left and they began to talk.

Rawley played nervously with the wet beads on the outside of his glass. “I know there’s a time frame but what else can I do? I can’t blow the place up and if I did the insurance would only bail him out.”

A raucous laugh poured from the throat of Gus Cavalieri. “You may have come up with something. I’ll talk to the family as how we should proceed. It helps that the old man had a heart attack. He may be ready to sell without our help.”

“Listen Gus, tell that family of yours there’s a limit to what a man will do for money. I don’t want anything dirtier than I’ve already done.”
Gus laughed heartily. “Listen, my friend, you’re in and don’t you forget it. The family won’t let you down if you don’t let them down. And a word to the wise. Don’t leave town until they tell you. They wouldn’t like that at all.” He rose slowly like a cat, arching his back. People were beginning to make the scene. On his way out the door he made small talk with a shapely waitress while he ran a broad hand up and down her back.

Rawley sat back in disgust as the bar tender placed a bowl of pretzels and a fresh drink on the polished bar. He had an irritating sensation that the job he was hired to do was going to be difficult and would require people he could trust. The description of it kept changing. His mind came back to Gus and he hated the way he made a play for every woman he met, not that he was so different. What he hated more was the way the tramps fell for it.