Drinks at Romero’s


Kelly sat at the bar, fingering her purse and sipping the kind of drink that came with a paper umbrella and a suggestive name. She had dressed to blend rather than kill; a little black dress and a pair of fuck-me-pumps. Her blonde hair was piled high save for one curl that rested seductively on her forehead.

A low babble of conversation drifted over from the dinner crowd on artificially cool air. She glanced around, noting the brushed chrome, the French menus and the floor to ceiling mirrors. Pretentious fuckers, she thought and absently watched the chunks of ice circle as she stirred her $25 cocktail.

“Hi there, I’m Steve.” He said sliding up next to her.

It was always Steve or Bill or Mac, something like that. She’d seen this one before, slot walking over at the Copper Queen, hitting on woman that either didn’t know any better or were just too wasted to care. Kelly tried to decide which of those two categories fitted her best. She looked at him sideways and lit up a Marlboro.

In the subdued lighting of the bar she thought he looked a little like Mickey Rourke, only after the surgery. He had a big, stupid grin and a peach colored lounge suit. Kelly had to admire him for that, it was the kind of thing you rarely saw outside of a Miami Vice re-run.

“Hi I’m Sara” She said blowing smoke from the corner of her mouth.

“Well Sara, can I buy you a drink?” He asked running his hand through a greasy mop of hair and wiping it off on his pants.

Kelly shrugged, Stan or Steve, whatever his name was, would do just fine.

Her therapist told her she had low self esteem, apparently that’s why she attracts these losers. Take her last boyfriend, Jimmy. His idea of a romantic evening had been knocking over a convenience store with a pistol grip Remington. He’d even bought them matching ski masks. She supposed that should have told her all she needed to know about him and maybe a little something about her tastes in men. Looking back it had been the high point of the relationship, not long afterwards Jimmy had taken off with the rent money and a Latino table dancer from Reno.

Steve sat next to her, making small talk and puffing on a Turkish cigarette that smelt like a fire in a dumpster. Kelly wasn’t listening.

“Steve honey, would you do me a favor?” She asked, smiling her best smile.

“Sure, anything for a pretty lady like you.”

“Great.” She said crushing out her butt and fishing in her purse.

She handed him a black garbage sack. He looked puzzled.

“Don’t worry baby, just sit there and hold it open for me will you?”

Kelly stood up, put her arm around his shoulders and cleared her throat.

“ Ladies and gentlemen, could I have your attention please.”

Cutlery chinked against china, heads sporting $200 haircuts turned and the room grew still. She reached in her purse and pulled out what most in her line of work would call a nickel plate nine. Soft mood lighting played on the gleaming barrel, the image reflected a thousand times over in the mirrored walls.

“Thank you. Now, I want wallets, bill folds, cells and all jewelery in the sack, otherwise Don Johnson here gets a new smoke hole.

“Hey Sara, what the…”

“Shush Steve.” She whispered and shoved the gun up under his chin.

Somebody laughed nervously, somebody else coughed but nobody moved. Kelly sighed, her shrink was right; if she wanted to be taken seriously she needed to become more assertive. A ganger banger with baggy ass jeans and prison tattoos would never have this sort of problem.

She took a rough aim at the chandler over the door, squeezed the trigger and filled the restaurant with noise and shards of glass.

“Did I fucking stutter?”

~ fin ~

Chris Leek is a contributing editor at western fiction site, The Big Adios and part of the team behind the genre fiction imprint, Zelmer Pulp.  His crime novella “Nevada Thunder” is forthcoming from Snubnose Press and his western novella "Gospel of the Bullet" will be out soon through Zelmer Pulp. He still has all his own teeth and will work for beer.