It was well past twilight in the no parking zone when the sleek black limo pulled up in front of Schwabs’. The place was nearly bare when they got inside, although the Marilyn Monroe look-alike was perched on a stool at the far end of the bar. They had been warned.

The guy with the dark glasses and hat looked like someone out of a Micky Spillane novel and the chick was a platinum blonde – the kind that looks like one of them bimbos in those old black and white detective movies. They each grabbed a stool at the bar and ordered two vanilla shakes. The man checked out the Monroe look-alike, careful not to be too obvious about it, until he noticed that she was checking him out through the mirror that hung at an angle over the bar. They both looked quickly away as her eyes met his shades in the mirror for that instant. He lit a cigarette by striking a match on the edge of the bar and met the bartender’s scowl – at the shiny surface of his bar being in danger of getting scratched – with a knowing wink and an apologetic nod of his head.

Blondie left her half-drunk shake on the bar and headed for the ‘Ladies’, her tight red skirt accentuating the swing of her perfectly formed buttocks as she swished past the old couple having coffee at the only occupied table. The flashing neon light outside the window made patterns of light undulate in perfect time to Blue Velvet coming out of the old jukebox in the corner. The guy in the shades crushed out his cigarette in the ash tray, tipped his hat back at an angle and focused his blacked-out eyes on the Monroe look-alike.

They were right, she was a knockout – and a dead ringer to boot. She could easily have passed for Marilyn when she was at her sexy best. Shades angled his face so that it wasn’t directly facing the object of his gaze, just so it wouldn’t be obvious to her that he was taking her in – inch by luscious inch. He concluded that she was the one – no mistaking the profile they were given, so when Blondie got back from the ‘head’, he gave her the sign that it was A-okay.

The bartender – just a bit bigger than your standard midget, was standing on a stool behind the bar busily wiping glasses and putting them back in place. The old couple at the table finished their coffee and asked the lone waitress for the check. The waitress, an elderly lady with graying hair and no nonsense look to her, hurried off to the cash register to do her bit. The music on the juke box changed from an easy jazzed up version of St. Louis Blues to Fats Dominoe doing Blueberry Hill. The neon light kept undulating, but now out of synch with the music. The clock behind the bar was close to getting both hands up straight when Marilyn finished her soda and headed for the washroom, her shiny white figure-hugging dress clinging to her hourglass figure. Shades glanced at Blondie, who nodded and quickly checked her bag, confirming that she had what she would need, then made her way towards the ‘Ladies’. Fats had finished Blueberry Hill and the jukebox went silent. The neon light outside stopped flashing.

A few minutes passed and the old couple settled their bill, said their goodnights to the near-midget bartender and waitress, and made their way out. Shades finished his shake, checked the inner pocket of his overcoat with his right hand and felt the warm assurance of the wooden implement that was so indispensable to his work. He wished Blondie would hurry up. Just about then, the clock behind the bar chimed twelve times.

Shades was just beginning to get a bit fidgety, wondering if Blondie could handle this by herself, when she made her way back. She looked a tad disheveled and not quite herself, but Shades put it down to the process. He gave her that ‘everything okay?’ look and she nodded. They got the check – the waitress appearing impatient to close up – settled their bill and left.

The bartender, also impatient to close up, wondered what Marilyn was doing so long in the ‘Ladies’ and asked the waitress, who had finished cleaning up by then, to find out and finish up with the washrooms so they could go upstairs and get it on before going to bed. A few moments later her piercing scream had him jumping off the stool to rush towards the washrooms.

And there she lay – Blondie, stripped down to her underwear. A shiny white dress was crumpled on the floor next to her. Her bag was open and by it lay a wooden stake, a silver cross and a string of garlic. The two perforations on her neck left a thin trail of blood oozing out, making a small rivulet on the tiled floor.

The neon light came on and started flashing again – this time undulating in perfect synch with the juke box that came back on again with Bing Crosby doing Baby it’s cold outside.

Advertisements