Hi all, I’m practicing writing short stories… I already failed since my goal was to tell a story in less than 1000 words, but hopefully I can keep it under 3000. Knowing the way I write, it’ll probably end up being a novel. Hope you enjoy!
Sergei wiped the bar top with a clean white rag, polishing the last bit of wax to a perfect shine. He looked over the bar and smiled in satisfaction; everything was ready to go and he still had a half hour before it was time to open. After all the things he’d been through and done, this pub was the only thing he was truly proud of. The small silver bell over the door chimed and he frowned. He didn’t think he’d forgotten to lock it.
“Serg. Just checking in.” A familiar voice preceded a familiar set of footsteps and Sergei grinned and pulled a pint of his own home brewed root beer for the early visitor.
“Officer Ordean, to what do I owe the pleasure?” He asked placing a coaster on the counter and the root beer in the center. Chelsea Ordean was a powerfully built woman who had earned her way in the force by equal parts skill, luck and brains.
“No time for drinks today Serg. Just looking for some girl who supposedly got stabbed at the eighth street subway station.” Her face was grim and despite her words, she slugged down half the root beer in one long gulp. “You haven’t seen anyone in here have you?”
“Just me so far.” He frowned, “I thought I’d locked the door though. Maybe check the restrooms?” The Rambler was his pub, but the layout wasn’t his design and the toilets were on either side of the entry door.
“The door was not locked.” Chelsea said, unsnapping her pistol but not drawing it. “Let’s go have a look.”
“If someone was stabbed wouldn’t there be blood?” Sergei asked, following her up to the entry. The bar itself was three wide steps below the entrance. “Knife wounds bleed Chels.”
“She was apparently wearing a thick woolen jacket. I’m just checking places that folks know they can get help.” She said, giving him a sidelong glance. They both knew he wouldn’t turn someone in need away; even though it was almost time to open.
They swiftly checked the bathrooms and found nothing. “You need to check the rest of the place Chels? I don’t think anyone came in while I was bringing up kegs but I thought I’d locked the door too. You got the run of the place if you need it; you know where everything is.”
She nodded her thanks and moved through the pub, checking in the back office, the storage room and even the cold storage although that was the only place he’d have been able to miss someone coming in. satisfied, she clapped him on the back and walked out.
Sergei dumped her root beer, cleaned the glass and straightened his apron before making his final pre-opening checks. He hoped Chels would find the girl before she bled out. Knife wounds were no laughing matter.
The usual ‘last call’ crowd were finally stumbling out to their taxi’s and fumbling for their subway passes. Sergei smiled in satisfaction. It had been a good night, his regulars had been joined by a decent crowd of businessmen attending some conference who apparently had gotten the green light to drink on the company tab.
He closed and firmly locked the door behind the last of his patrons and turned back to the bar. There was just a bit of cleaning he needed to do before the he headed out himself. The voice nearly startled him out of his skin.
“I heard some of them talking Sergei. They all said that you used to do things before you came here.” It was a girl’s voice. Not a young woman, but a girl, likely only barely into her teens. But he couldn’t see anyone. “Is it true?”
“Show yourself please.” He said calmly, walking back to the bar and taking down his bottle of Laphroig. He always had a double shot of the smoky Islay single malt scotch after closing along with pipe of Molto Dolce tobacco. “If I can assist you I will endeavor to do so.”
“I need you to kill someone Sergei.” A tiny slip of a girl stepped out of the shadows. Literally out of shadows, there was no room or place to hide. She had the darkest skin he’d ever seen; a perfect rich dark chocolate and her hair was in twisted dreadlocks that stuck up from her head like ruffled feathers. “I need you to kill him before he finds me and finishes the job he started.”
“I’m sorry girl, but I am not a killer for hire.” He said, tamping the tobacco down in his pipe. “I suggest allowing me to call my friend Chelsea Ordean. She’s a very competent officer and can handle anything the wrong side of the law can throw at her.”
“I’m not a girl, I’m older than you are.” She said with a glare, “As for your officer friend, I’ve taken her measure and she can’t handle this.”
Sergei barked out a laugh and snorted pipe smoke out his nose. “You can’t be older than fourteen.” He said, looking at her critically. “If Chels can’t handle it I don’t want any part of it.”
“My age and appearance are irrelevant.” She snapped, “She would follow procedure, and right now I’m going to bleed to death before procedure can be of any use to me.”
“You really have been stabbed?” Sergei asked, setting his pipe and his glass down and moving to her side. His years patching up wounds since he seemed to be the only one who had the knack tried to come to the surface, but he ruthlessly shoved them back down into the darkness. That was the past.
“It’s nothing you can help with.” She said, “He used hawthorn.”
“Is that a poison?” He asked, pulling back her coat and finding another coat underneath it. She had layer upon layer of clothing on. “What is your name? I can’t just keep calling you girl.”
“Stop that, you don’t need to look at the wound.” She said, “You can call me Corva.”
“What good is killing this man going to be if you won’t let me stop the bleeding Corva?” Sergei asked, “You said yourself that you don’t have time to wait.”
“If he is stopped I will be able to get proper help. If he lives no place will be safe for me no matter what.” She looked at him with eyes so dark gray they were almost black. “I need your help and you’re the only one who can help me.”