When she walked through the door the music bowed. She was a beech-wood shadow cat with rows of obsidian curls cascading past her shoulders. She moved like smoke and sifted through the crowd on the clacks of knee high boots.
The cigarette smoke ceiling choked the light in the already dim bar. It was a mid week crowd. Footsteps clung to years of spilt tequila and the sparse crowd of golden teeth and dirt caked faces sat in mismatched stools. I had grabbed a booth under a thick stained glass lantern. Out of three bulbs, only one worked. So I sat soaked in shadow.
Her heels rang over the scratchy music and demanded attention. When she reached the bar she stretched over to whisper something in the bar keep’s ear. He was a stout man with a flour patched apron and a stained white t-shirt. He nodded obediently and handed her a cigarette. After he lit it, she scanned the bar. She said nothing when she saw me.
The bar keep fustled beneath the bar and returned to her with a whiskey and a whisper. She kissed his sweaty cheek chopped away at the bar room floor. She was like a dragon’s angel gliding over the crippled and hungry, every eye was glued to her.
I waved for the waitress and ordered a rum.
Her blouse was a tight black bandana that hung to her navel. Her bare thighs and sharp hips erupted from her denim shorts. Her silver belt buckle hissed. It swung with her hips as she walked.
At the other end of the bar she met a man deep in his drink. He had pasty, child like arms and rotten teeth. His unbuttoned shirt spilled his hairy gut over his pants. When he saw her, he straightened his back and pushed his long greasy hair over his ear. His slimy locks were thin and his face was crevassed and clammy.
They spoke for a few moments while she slugged her whiskey down. He nodded, and then she pointed at me. He nodded again.
I took a deep sip of my rum as her heels strummed towards me.
She took the seat across from me without a word. The dim light left us both in darkness, but I could see the glistening gems of her eyes beneath the ringlets that covered her cheeks. She leaned over the table and into the light. A bead of sweat slid down her neck and into her tits. She snatched the glass of rum I had been nursing, drank it with a single swig, slammed it on the table, and held up two fingers to the bar keep without looking, then leaned back into the darkness.
“You shouldn’t be here,” she said. Her smile shined beneath her jade crystal eyes.
A waitress placed two shots of tequila on the table between us and walked away. We sat in silence until I reached over the table to grab one. I froze at the sound of a hammer cocking beneath the table. She raised one eye brow and smiled again. She grabbed a shot and gulped it down, grabbed the other and did the same.
“Now where were you hiding that,” I asked.
“Wouldn’t you like to know,” she purred, reclining back into her torn polyester seat.
“I don’t care what you’ve got going here. I’m just looking for him.”
“A lot of people are looking for him, but most don’t come around here. Most don’t come here at all. And no one finds him. Not even me.”
“I can help,” I said.
“And who says I need help?”
“You need help.”
“Bold words for a man with gun aimed at his cock.”
“Well, blow that off and I’ll be no use to anyone.”
“Hahaha, ok Jack. I’m listening.”
“If you would kindly…”
She pursed her lips and stared at me for a mountain’s breath, sighed, un-cocked her gun, and placed it on the table.
“There,” she said, “Happy now?”
The bar emptied quickly. A door slammed behind the bar keep fleeing to the back room. Only the sickly man at the end of the bar was left. His eyes never the two of us.
“What about your body guard over there?”
“Oh, well a girl needs her security doesn’t she,” she said with a coy smile.
“I have a feeling you’re not the one who needs security.”
“Well Jack, you’re not wrong, so you best get to telling me what you’ve got to tell me before I lose my patience.”
“Six months ago one of my girls caught wind he was moving some product through Baja up to Las Angeles again, so she went to see what she could do. But, when she got there, she didn’t find anything. Two days after her last contact she disappeared.”
“So you’re losing them Jack?”
“Very well might be. But what was interesting is that she got her tip from one of yours.”
“One of mine?”
“But Manuel has been gone for almost a year now.”
“And we got that correspondence two months ago.”
“And you didn’t think to tell me about this?”
“Well, we weren’t exactly on the best of terms,” I said pointing to my shoulder.
“Oh my poor Jacky baby, I’m sorry, but you know how these things are.”
“I guess that’s how things go Angela.”
“Ok, but what’s your point? Either it was a fake tip or Manuel is working for him. What of it? It wouldn’t be the first time for either.”
I reached into my pocket and handed her a folded piece of paper. She opened it, read it, and laid it on the table.
Javier Cortez is making another shipment through Baja towards L.A. Proceed with caution. The tall grass is filled with snakes.
She brewed for a minute. “So you want me to go with you? Is that it?”
“I could use the fire power.”
“Ok,” she said. “On one condition. I get Manuel.”