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A Nasty Bit of Business

by Robert C. Madison

About the Author: Robert C. Madison is a writer of primarily crime fiction. When not trying to unlock the enigmatic way of the short story, he spends his time riding his Harley Davidson Fatboy through undiscovered locations, pining for the sea, and trying to find time to just sit and read. His work can be seen in Suspense Magazine and the apocalypse anthology Enter the Aftermath from TANSTAAFL Press.


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.

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