Fate rolls in and fucks up the place when least expected. Like when Yancy’s Tavern was empty, as it often was mid-afternoon Mondays, up until four when happy hour kicks in and the place fills with exactly the sort of people with whom you didn’t want to associate. I knew because I’d been watching it for a while. Part of the job. Sitting and watching. Boring as hell, but the pay’s good. No benefits except the occasional increase in heart rate. I could also include booze as an expense and no one asked any questions. I think they called that a fringe benefit.
The analog clock on the dash of my ’67 Comet eased a tick to three o’clock and I killed the motor, letting myself out of the car’s warm interior into the angry bite of winter’s air. The door screeched in protest as I sent it home and used the key to lock it. Modern cars had that electric piece of crap that locks the doors with the push of a button. Hell, some cars didn’t even need a key to start the damned things. I preferred the tactile feel of turning the key. Confirmed the connection between vehicle and me.
I strode across the road towards Yancy’s. I didn’t look for oncoming traffic; there wouldn’t be any. Sitting in the middle of a row of squat, downtown storefronts, the bar boasted a set of high-placed windows along the front of the building through which even the sun often refused to enter. Daylight made its begrudging appearance in the form of a row of geometrical motes as dingy as the walls and uneven hardwood floors that hadn’t seen a mop since “soda jerk” was still a thing. I let myself into the place.