Prompt courtesy of BeKindRewrite‘s Inspiration Mondays. Follow the link to see the prompts and to read a whole bunch of great stories.
His breakfast and the confrontation roiling in his stomach, Dzinski set out. He left the diner and worked his way west. He stopped at the first early-opener tavern.
They unlocked the doors and started filling mugs at eight in the morning, so the men working night shifts in the factories and loading docks had somewhere to go before slinking home. Or at least that had been the original reason. Now they mostly got the drunks off the streets so the pretty little wives didn’t have to worry about tripping over them as they waddled from butcher to grocer and home again.
The neighbourhood was trying to change, trying to shake off the grime and scabs of its past and put on a family friendly face. A few hardheaded citizens clung to the old ways. Proud of the bend in their back forced on them by poverty and toil.
But the tenements would be torn down and apartment rents would increase and that would push them back. The taverns would close soon after, remodeled into hair salons or furniture stores. The drunks would be beaten and swept away. The old character of the streets painted over and forgotten.
Dzinski mulled these thoughts as he finished his second glass of warm beer. He tried to ignore what his gut was telling him. He drowned that nagging voice with a shot of watered down whiskey.
“Henri been through here today?” he asked the bartender.
“Ladouceur, you mean? If he knows what’s good for him, he better not,” the bartender said, wiping at water rings in the wood decades old. “Enfant d’chienne. He pissed in the phone booth and fell asleep on the pool table a few nights ago. And he snores, that one.”
Dzinski thanked him and got up and left.
Henri wasn’t at the second or third bars, either. Dzinski wondered what he was doing as he sat in the fourth tavern with his fourth bottle of beer before him. Ladouceur was like a rat, in walls and dark corners and he heard things. If someone wanted him dead, Henri would know who and how much. He finished the beer and lit a cigarette, but let it burn between his fingers after the first drag.
Dzinski wondered if maybe Houle was right. Maybe he should tuck his tail and head out of town. Let this whole thing blow over. If it did. Whoever was after him wanted him dead. Maybe leaving town was enough, but maybe it wasn’t. He could never come back if he left, he knew that much. They’d know someone put the fear in him. And all their fear would evaporate. The hard-won respect would dry up like puddles in July. He’d need to be twice as hard if he came back.
Dzinski wondered if he had it in him. He ordered a whiskey. He stubbed the burnt cigarette out in the brass ashtray and lit another. He filled his mouth with the liquor and let it swirl under his tongue and behind his teeth.
He decided he was too old and sore to start over. Too old to close his eyes and hope the monsters go away. You can hide from some things, but you can’t hide from this.
Dzinski finished his drink and walked out into the evening.