FICTION: Old Smoke and Spilt Whisky by Kirstie Turner

The air was hazy. It had a sticky, good-time feel to it. Girls wearing high heels and short skirts danced with too-old men and flirtatious laughter harmonized the salty tone of the music. Red velvet lined the tables, infused with the stains of old smoke and spilt whisky.

‘Make it a double.’ The tall man in the expensive suit spoke with a lazy American drawl. Behind the marble bar, the waiter poured the drink, a well-hidden shake in his hands.

He placed the glass in front of the man. ‘Will that be all for you, Mr. Leech?’ He took the slight nod of the man’s head to be his cue to leave, and scurried away to collect glasses from impatiently waiting parties.

Tristan Leech pushed a cigarette clumsily between his lips, struck a match to light it, then discarded of the dead match onto the dark wood floor.  He sucked greedily on the cigarette, claiming the release he needed.

‘Mind if I sit here?’ He heard the scraping of the stool next to him being pulled out and the intoxicating scent of a woman’s perfume invaded his nose. He ignored her. She tossed her white fur coat over the back of the seat and looked around for the waiter. He scuttled back over to the bar.

‘Peach and lime daiquiri.’ She ordered without waiting for him to speak. Turning to face Tristan, she shrugged her bottle blonde curls behind her shoulders and smiled. ‘Cora Locket.’ He ignored her again. ‘And you are?’

‘Busy.’ He signaled to the waiter to fill up his empty glass.

‘Anything else for you?’ The waiter tried again ‘Mr. Leech?’ He stared at him, waiting for an answer he knew he wasn’t going to get. He also knew what event was about to play out. It happened every time Tristan was in here. A pretty girl would come in. She would see the man sitting at the bar – the 6’4” man with the waxed dark hair and handsome, chiseled face. He looked expensive. She’d take a deep breath. And then she’d introduce herself.

It didn’t take long for their colossal egos to be struck by his cold attitude, and they would slither off to a less desirable looking man. But not this one. She hadn’t batted an eyelid at his attitude so far; she seemed intent on getting a conversation out of Tristan. Well good luck to her, the waiter thought. At least there would be some entertainment tonight.

‘What’s a man like you doing in a bar like this?’

‘Avoiding girls like you.’

She laughed shamelessly. ‘And what kind of girl am I?’ He rolled his eyes and turned back to his drink.

After an hour of wasted attempts at meaningless conversation, a man entered the bar and strode straight over to Tristan. They caught each other’s eyes and he nodded slightly. He reached into his inside pocket and stuffed a wad of notes, tied haphazardly together with a rubber band, into the man’s hand. It was quickly replaced with a small bag of white powder. The man disappeared without checking the money; he always knew Mr. Leech would pay, he was a good customer.

‘So you’re a bad boy.’ He let out a bark of laughter, before chucking the contents of his glass down his throat. ‘How much longer do I need to pester you before you’ll buy me a drink?’

‘I’m not here to buy you a drink.’

‘Talk to me,’ she clutched his arm and lowered her tone. ‘Or I might just talk to someone about that little purchase you just made.’ He pushed her off of him, hitting into the glass with his other arm. It tumbled to the floor, shattering into broken shards. He ignored it, chucked a few notes onto the bar surface and strode out of the room not looking back.

He went into the men’s room and leant against the chipped tiled wall. He breathed heavily, calming himself down, splashing icy water onto his face. He stared at himself in the mirror, regaining control. Reaching back into his inside pocket, he found his only desire. His vice.

Sipping furiously at her cocktail, Cora Locket avoided the stares of the other clients in the bar. Her cheeks reddened, and she shrieked at the waiter to clear up the mess, clutching at any opportunity she had to push the negative attention onto someone else.

Suddenly Tristan strode back into the bar, straight towards Cora. His hand was cut. Blood dripped onto the wooden floor.

‘What happened?’

‘I punched a mirror. Come with me Miss Locket.’ He grabbed her arm and pulled her off of the seat.

‘Where are we going?’

‘To my apartment. That’s what you’re here for isn’t it?’

‘You have no idea what I’m here for Mr. Leech.’ He stared into her eyes, before letting her go and fighting the small desire to watch her leave.

Once he was home, Tristan slammed open the front door and walked into the bedroom. Cora Locket was draped across his sofa.

‘Tonight was fun.’

‘It wasn’t supposed to be fun.’

‘You should let me come and see you at work more often.’

‘No you shouldn’t have come. One more week and I’ll have enough information to arrest every drug dealer, addict, prostitute, even the postman that steps foot into that bar. This isn’t the time for fun and games.’ She smiled and pulled him closer.

‘You should have gone into acting you know. You had me convinced.’

He laughed fondly. ‘Don’t I always?’ He kissed her softly. ‘Go and make me a drink sweetie.’ She kissed him again before skipping off to the kitchen. He went to his inside pocket again, quickly fumbling with the little bag that was supposedly evidence. After all, he was a better actor than she thought.

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Kirstie Turner is in her third year of a Creative Writing degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her ideas often appear when she is volunteering at a local horse sanctuary, people watching on the train, or in the case of her debut short story, drinking cocktails in her favourite bars! Her life ambition is to write a novel and have it published…closely followed by an ambition to build a bunny sanctuary in her back garden.  She hopes the Storgy readers enjoy reading her work as much as she enjoyed writing it.

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