Shane walked to the back of the bar and found the door opened to an alley littered with the garbage of the bar and the restaurant beside it, the one whose neon sign has two lights blown out.
“Sally, we should leave through this door if the man I told you about comes in.”
“Why?” He seemed agitated, and unused to disagreement.
“The alley has no exit, except for a locked chained linked fence, and besides, we have nothing to be afraid of.” She says, rubbing his shoulders soothingly.
The bar was crowded, and despite smokers hanging outside, the air seemed thick, or viscous, with something that felt like dewdrops suspended: they almost could not breathe. Yet they felt warm within the crowd, and the frigid air outside was an incentive to stay put, at least for awhile.
Sally and Shane ordered two beers, and nursed them for twenty minutes before they started to discuss the real reason they were meeting tonight, on such a cold night in a seedy part of town.
“The money is with my cousin, actually distant cousin; he will bring it to my apartment tomorrow night, just as the sun sets.” Shane wiped the moisture that had left a mark on the counter. Sally swallowed the last drops of her beer. She ordered another; Shane was still taking shallow sips of his.
“Okay, then. Put the money in a laundry sack surrounded by linen and bring it to the laundry mat across the street from my apartment. I will meet you there at nine. It will still be quiet at that hour. We won’t be seen.”
I will pay the woman who has helped others with this money, and the problems we have been having will go away. She never speaks of such matters to others, and her word is good.” Sally was finished with her second beer, and tying her scarf tightly around her pale neck and tucking the woolen red and blue scarf into her brown jacket. She took a deep breath and declared the matter settled. She did not see the man with the knit black cap, pulled so low over his face one could not see his eyes, a scarf wrapped around his mouth, come in and approach the bar.
“One vodka and tonic, please”.
Shane immediately recognized the voice and became afraid. He whispered to Sally about this man, and she frowned deeply, only to smile abruptly when she saw Shane’s fear.
“The woman who we are paying knows of him. He cannot harm us.”
Shane walked quickly to the exit, Sally behind him, noticing the streetlights outside flickering as he stepped outside, and, pulling his dark coat tightly around him, bid goodnight and walked quickly down the street, his footsteps echoing like the voices of long lost friends. Sally waited for her ride, and as the car pulled up, Shane turned and saw the driver was his wife and the passenger his brother. Shocked, he almost ran to the car, now leaving the curbside, and called out “Sharon! Bill!”
A blackness enveloped his senses after unbearable pain and he was unaware of falling.
The next morning, at a corner newsstand near where Shane used to commute by train to work, the newspapers sold had as a bottom headline, in small bold printing, the news of the murder of a man: the commuters ruffled through the articles, and then set the papers aside after reading of such events in a small brightly lit city.