Author’s note: This is just an introductory piece for a collaborative writing project I’m participating in… there may be more to follow if things pan out. Hope you enjoy.
The door opened, to Lex’s and he knew it was a regular since they didn’t open it far enough to allow the steel edge to come in contact with the five-foot length of pipe he had near the wall. The clang was enough to make everyone think twice about mistreating his door.
He liked his door. He’d found it in a surplus depot and paid nearly two thousand dollars for it. The inlaid oak, ash and walnut made interesting contrast and the carving of a huge tree that grew up it matched the custom brass hinges he’d had made to look like tree leaves, branches and roots. Most people didn’t notice his favorite part though. Just above the polished brass kick plate, the roots of the tree grew not into soil but into a field of bones. Subtle, but macabre. Just his style.
Recognizing the man’s silhouette even as he began to walk down the three stairs that would bring him into the bar, Alexander took down a bottle of Belvedere vodka and mixed a gimlet. He was just garnishing the drink with a twist of lime when Investigator Jon Lee slid into his usual seat at the bar.
“How do you know it’s me? I’m not even wearing my normal uniform today.” Jon was one of NYC’s finest. He also only came to Lex’s when he was off duty and had a rough day. His usual ankle length cashmere coat was indeed missing; an oddity considering the sleet rattling against the half windows that faced the street.
“I got an eye for people.” Alex said with a shrug. “Where’s your coat, this weather is shite.”
Jon grimaced. “Dry cleaner’s.” He took a drink and pinched the bridge of his nose.
Alex grunted, but didn’t say anything else. When Jon’s drink was empty another one appeared in front of him like magic. He closed his hands around it and glanced around the mostly empty bar. The usual two old men in the corner were playing chess, each with a pint of Alexander’s bitter ale close at hand. A bored looking woman sat next to a young man who was ignoring her in favor of his phone. Nobody was within earshot.
“It was bad. That fire on 87th? Well, I’ve heard of spontaneous human combustion but I thought it was a myth or something.” He shuddered and placed the cold glass against his forehead. “Nothing else it could have been though. Burned all the way through her middle right where she was laying in bed. Didn’t so much as set the sheets on fire.”
“Huh. Well. At least the building didn’t burn.” Alex looked over and saw the girl catch his eye. “Excuse me Jon.”
He glided down the bar, moving smoothly and silently especially for a man his size. Looming up behind the man he rumbled, “What can I get you Miss?” Carefully keeping his expression blank, Alexander chuckled inwardly as the young man started and almost dropped his phone.
“Can I have an appletini?” She asked.
“No miss, I don’t carry that apple garbage. I’d gladly make you a regular martini or perhaps a Cosmopolitan?” Alex said, crossing his thick arms over his chest. With the black tshirt and white apron, it made him look much less threatening than his words might have initially suggested. Like a favorite uncle.
“What’s in a Cosmopolitan?” She asked.
“Vodka, triple sec and cranberry juice.” Her date said with an annoyed look first at Alex and then at her.
“My Cosmopolitan has Vodka, Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime juice and real cranberry juice.” Alex said smoothly, “Combined and shaken before being poured into a martini glass and garnished with a twisted rind of lime and lemon.”
“That sounds pretty good actually.” She said, smiling.
“And for you sir?” Alex asked, looking at the man.
“Bud light.” He said.
Alex sighed, shook his head and pointed a finger the size of a bratwurst at the chalk board behind the bar. It listed the available beers with the alcohol content, serving size and price. At the bottom was written ‘Bud Light. 3.2% ABV 12 oz can. $50.00’
“Fifty Dollars?” The guy exploded, but Alex pointed to the sign hanging below it which read.
‘This is a brewpub. I make these beers. If you want that piss water you’d better be willing to pay me for the insult.’
“I have a very nice British Blonde Ale.” Alex said patiently in a voice that suggested he’d said the same thing hundreds of times. He pointed to the top beer on the list named ‘Blondes Have More Fun’. “It’s as close as you’re gonna get here.”
“Yeah. Sure.” He said shortly.
With an inward chuckle, Alexander went back to the bar and pulled a pint of Blonde and then mixed the perfect Cosmo. After serving the drinks, he brought a fresh pair of pints to the chess players and returned to where Jon was finishing his second gimlet. He placed a glass of water in front of the cop and smiled inwardly again at the surprised look his face.
“How’d you know I didn’t want another?” Jon asked, “You always seem to know exactly what to do or say.”
“Bartender’s instinct. We know you better than your lover does. You tell us stuff you wouldn’t dream of telling anyone else. We get ta know ya.” He let the smile travel from his mind to his lips, “These are on the house. You’ve had a rough one lad, take all the time ya need.”
“Thanks Alexander. You’re a good man.”
“Ain’t nothing.” He said, turning to take a bottle of scotch from the top shelf. Just as he was finishing pouring a double shot of Laphroig over ice. He had a feeling an old friend was about to walk through the door, and all Duff Bowman ever ordered was Laphroig on the rocks.