The Man Behind The Bar

By Chris Sarantopoulos

Crime & mystery, Short stories, General fiction, Thriller, Flash fiction


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Street noises poured in once he opened the door; a truck panted uphill, bringing the traffic to a near standstill, a bunch of teens on their way to school laughed and joked. The timing was terrible; my favourite song was on, Phil Collins’, Another Day in Paradise. For the past five years, my bar was my paradise.

I had a feeling the man who entered was trouble from the moment I saw him. The glare from outside framed him in a blinding halo, until the door closed behind him and the world darkened. I could have sworn a young version of Steve McQueen had just walked in. Well-built, mustard-coloured hair, with a set of washed arctic blue eyes, he measured and sized people up in a way that was unknown to the average person. Even one who walks into a place looking for trouble. A look that sent hackles on a rigid frenzy, and screamed “trained professional” a mile away. A look I knew too well.

Without a doubt, a look I had on me every time I pulled the trigger and ignored the pleas for mercy.

He stood by the entrance and swivelled his head from one side to the other, absorbing every bit of information; Teddy was on his usual spot, reeking of last night’s booze mixed with stale sweat and vomit. A middle-aged woman sat in a booth by the window, surrounded by sheets of paper. Already on her third glass of cheap red wine, she typed in bursts something on her laptop whenever she wasn’t staring outside at something more interesting than her work.

Even these early starters turned their heads and eyed him, as if the man brought them out of their trance, and dragged them to his own world, like sea vortices sucked ships in old fantasy tales. Or perhaps they sensed the brewing storm. I sure did; in my bones and at the tips of my fingers.



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