Walter Neff was nursing a drink at Al’s Bar on the corner of Sixth and Limestone. He intended to do more than nurse it. He intended to get stinking drunk.
Neff was bitter. He was bitter because he had been cheated out of millions by a dame he liked. It was hard to lose the money, but the money and the woman both? It made him feel like a chump. Neff hated to come up empty.
His mind raced with a thousand schemes. The money was lost, but maybe he could still have the dame. It was worth a shot.
Anger and jealousy gnawed at him. He knew deep in his heart that the woman was out of his reach.
Neff slammed the bar countertop in frustration with his fist.
“Whoa there, partner,” drawled a handsome blond-haired man. He looked like Tab Hunter. “Got problems?”
“None of your business, pard-nar,” sneered Neff.
“That’s where you’re wrong.”
Neff swiveled to get a good look at his companion. “What makes you say so?”
“I would say that we have mutual friends. Perhaps mutual experiences as well?”
“Sure we do, buddy.” Neff turned back on his stool and took another sip of his drink.
The blond man leaned in closer. “I’m very serious. I’m always serious with people who have been burned by a certain redhead.”
Neff faced the younger man and wavered for a moment. “Okay. I’ll throw caution to the wind. What’s your pitch?”
“I know that a woman with red hair and green eyes cost you millions of dollars. Money that is now being wasted on Lexington’s terminally down and out.”
“How do you know that?”
“I make it my business to know. Let’s just say I’ve had previous experiences with the lady in question.”
Neff squinted while tapping his forehead. His mind was fuzzy, but still worked when he concentrated. “I know who you are. You’re that loser who went crazy and tried to . . .”
“If I’m a loser, so are you. Perhaps you would like to discuss how to become a winner. You know, revenge is a dish best served cold. I have a plan that will serve it on a platter. Would you like to hear it?”
Neff hesitated for a moment, but his anger was stronger than his common sense. “Let’s talk where there ain’t so many ears.”
“That’s all right with me. By the way, my name is O’Nan. Fred O’Nan.”
Neff shook his hand. “I have the feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
“So do I,” cooed O’Nan, studying Neff like a wildcat does a careless rabbit. “So do I.”
In a corner booth at Al’s Bar sat a young woman with short ash blond hair. She was preening in a compact mirror while powdering her nose, which drew attention from the gadget on the table resembling a smart phone recording O’Nan and Neff.
When O’Nan and Neff left the bar together, the woman nodded to two men sitting at the bar.
Taking their cue, they sauntered out into the street and followed the pair.
Another man immediately scooted into the booth with the woman. “Put eyes and ears in both their apartments. I want each room available. Make sure you tag their cars as well,” she ordered.
“Sure thing, Asa. Cars are already booted,” he said in a thick Cockney accent.
Asa frowned at the use of her name. Her tone turned very chilly. “I want their every movement tracked.”
Getting the message, the man reminded her, “This is gonna cost a bundle.”
“Don’t worry about the money. I’ll take care of everyone. Just do your best.”
“You’ve seen O’Nan’s psychological profile. If it were your mother, what would you do?”
“He would already have been neutralized. Made it look like a car accident, ma’am.”
Asa nodded in agreement. She wasn’t ruling that option out.
She threw a twenty on the table and left with her employee.
Outside they parted.
Asa got into a black SUV with government tags and pulled off her wig. “Take me home,” she said to the driver.
“To the airport?”
“Sorry, no. Take me home to the Butterfly. I need to see my mother.”
Before the SUV could take off, the back door was wrenched open.
“What are you doing, Asa?” asked Officer Kelly, leaning in. “I was sitting in the back watching you watching O’Nan. Don’t do anything stupid. The city
would love to see your mother trip up so they don’t have to pay her the rest of the settlement. And don’t think they don’t know you’re here. There were three other cops at Al’s Bar tonight.”
“I must be getting sloppy,” admitted Asa. She smiled sweetly at him.
Kelly’s eyes grew soft. “Asa. Asa.”
Asa leaned forward and kissed Kelly, holding onto him tightly.
He passionately returned her kiss, winding his arms about her. Asa pulled Kelly into the back seat and mouthed to her driver–“GO!”
“Where’re we going?” asked a bewildered Kelly.
“Shut up,” replied Asa tenderly. “Just shut up and kiss me.”