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Friday, 11:50 P.M.
Officer Dusty Salad had been given strict orders to bring Detective Sarah Wilson directly home after the Burnside Country Club investigation wrapped up. No stops, no detours, just straight to 126 Maple Road. The address of Detective Ethan Frost and his wife Susan. Only, Officer Salad was not following the orders he was given. He was not on his way to 126 Maple Road. No instead, instead, he was driving his police cruiser in the opposite direction. And, in two short minutes, with the key party to those orders in the backseat, would be pulling up to Lochlan’s Pub. A bar located a few short blocks from the precinct that catered mostly to cops. It was the perfect place to blow off a little law enforcement steam and a place Sarah was a regular.
“Please, Detective Wilson. Let me bring you home.”
Officer Salad’s final plea fell on deaf ears just as the others he pitched during the entire car ride did. Nothing he had said to her the whole way had registered. And, now that the car had finally come to a stop, nothing was going to. She was already pushing her weight against the door anxious to get out but could feel the Officer’s eyes still burning a hole through the back of her head. She quickly turns to him.
“Officer, I told you when you picked me up and I’m telling you now. I don’t want to go to my sister’s place, I want to go here. Now, take off that seatbelt of yours, exit the vehicle, and open this door for me on the other side…please.”
The officer quickly gets out of his seat, scrambles across the front of the police cruiser and grabs the back driver’s side door allowing Sarah to exit.
“OK, Detective Wilson, but you know your brother-in-law’s going to stick me behind some stupid desk somewhere. I’ll be pushing paper for weeks because of this. If you don’t let me drop you off it’s my career on the line. I’ve heard he’s done worse for less.”
“Oh, don’t be so dramatic. And you leave my brother-in-law to me. Now goodnight, Officer. Thanks again for the lift.” Sarah gets out of the vehicle, waves one of her hands behind her head, and makes her way towards the doors of the pub.
“God damn it!” Dusty cursed to himself. He got back into the car. Shifts the police cruiser to drive and slowly moves away from the curb. As he did, he took one last desperate look over his shoulder, but it was only enough time to see Sarah closing the pub’s big wooden doors behind her.
Inside, Sarah stood for a moment as she was met by a bunch of slurred faces staring back at her. Patrons momentarily turned in her direction. In unison and by ritual in response to the little bell that jingles each time someone enters the establishment. As quick as they all looked her way, they turned just as quickly back to their business of bullshit and boozing. The crowd looked happy hour-ish, packed with regulars. Full of people she was not in the mood to talk to. Especially no one close to the case. The last thing she needed was to be annoyed with questions about the ongoing investigation that she had no answers to give. So, the faster she could make her way toward the back, to where her favorite booth was, the better.
As she navigated her way through the congregation of different levels of drunkards, she managed to catch the eye of Scott Reed. Resident bartender and a mid-twenties heartbreaker who had a smile of a mistake waiting to happen. She puts two fingers up, then with the same two fingers pointed toward the booth where she was still making her way to. When she got to the table, two shots of whisky awaited her arrival. Not only was Scott easy on the eyes, he was also very good at his job. With a hurried left hand she struggled to peel off her coat. With her right, attempted to throw both of the shots down her throat. One…tap, two…tap. Before the sting of alcohol drained from the insides of her cheeks, she noticed two more setup in the water-stained marks left by round number one.
“Tough day I take it?” Scott asked. His smile with that same goddamn effect on her.
“Hey, Scott. Yeah, you can say that.” Sarah replied snapping back from Scott’s blue-eyed trance.
“Talk about it?” Scott followed up as good bartenders do.
“Nah, I’m fine. Just need to be alone right now. Thanks, though. Sweet of you, Scott.”
Scott wipes the corner of the table grabbing the empty shot glasses with his knuckles.
“Well, you know me. I’m a great listener and I am only right over there if you need me. You sure you’re good?”
“Yeah, I’m good…thanks.”
Scott slowly moves away from her table. He mouths the words “I’ll be right over there” continuously while pointing toward the bar. Sarah smirks releasing a held-back chuckle and raises the third shot. She tips it at him, smiles a little bigger and fires another sharp whisky down her still burning throat. Three drinks in, she felt stoned cold sober. Not so much as a slight tingle. Scott had more effect on her than the whisky was. However, she did notice she was starting to relax a bit. The atmosphere was taking her mind off her shitty day and more importantly, the crime scene she just came from. She sat there for a minute sipping her now fourth whisky enjoying the room some more. Then, the doorbell jingled. A small group of people stumbled through the pub’s entranceway. Clumsily, they all slid-walked the three tiny stairs down to the pub floor. Probably a bunch of drunks from some convention overflow, or a city hall wedding spillover. Mostly men with just a few women. All of them were very well dressed. Some of the guys were cute.
Looking at each member of the group up and down, she notices one of the women with them was texting. It lead Sarah to pull out her own cell. The phone wakes, and the screen brightens. A digital thumbprint appears at the bottom. Pressing down, she unlocks it. A message notification pulls her eye to the top. A text from Susan received a while ago. “Hey Sis, you’re missing some great food from you know where. Look at all this bread they gave us. Coming over soon? Love you…xoxo,” The message was followed by a series of eating, wine, and heart emojis. She smiles to herself and clicks the photo making it full screen.
“Wow, that bread does look good.”
The three dots in her message reply box danced for a few seconds after she typed “I”, initiating her response. A slight glance at the time she quickly backspaces and closed her phone.
“Jesus, it’s after midnight. They’re both asleep.”
She puts her phone back into her pocket and tips the remaining contents of her fourth whisky shot into her mouth. And, as quickly as the last drop disappeared, her mind reverts to the horrible events of the day. Visions of her best friend and her ex-boyfriend flashed back. The harder she tried to focus on something else and the harder she tried to push those thoughts away, the more vivid the flashes of her friends became. Then, flashes of the killer entered her conciseness. Completely blackened in mystery. Now, thoughts of the killer still being out there flashed butterflying her stomach. It didn’t matter what Ethan said to her earlier that day. This case is 100% about her. That evil is out there right now planning their next move, and she still has zero clues about the first one.
Sarah was starting to feel her night was becoming sabotaged by all the dark thoughts she was having. It was probably time for her to leave. She grabbed her coat and started to exit the booth when a waitress placed two more shots on the opposite edge of her table. Before she could get the girls attention and turn them away, the girl had vanished. Swallowed up by the bar crowd. With one arm in her coat, she thought about it. She stood there fixated on the drinks giving an angel and the devil a chance to whisper in her ear.
“Maybe I’ll have just one more. One more? Fuck it, one more.”
She slitters her coat back off of her arm and pulls close the two drinks and tips a fifth whisky to her lips in what seemed like a single fluid motion. That one she felt. That one had a little more bite than the rest. The alcohol was finally starting to do the job it was given. She picks up another shot, tips back looking towards the ceiling, and number six disappears faster than the five before it.
Several shots later…
It was now that time of night where the Eagle’s Hotel California played on repeat and a random crack of pool balls stirred the remaining sleepy drunks enough to make them realize it’s time to move on. A neon-lite clock hung behind the bar where Scott was still standing at his post cleaning some glasses read 3:43 A.M. He looked over to check on Sarah. She was still sitting in the booth with empty shot glasses lined up in front of her. Fallout from the alcohol doing a damn good job after all.
She had her hand on her chin and she was playing with a soggy bar napkin. Sarah’s eyes semi-open, she begins to standup to put on her coat. She immediately misjudges the small step leading out of the booth and stumbles.
“Woah!” Sarah with a trip and a moan.
“Easy, girl! Easy. Careful, you’re going to fall. Here, let me help over to the bar.“
“Awe…you’re so sweet, Scott. You’re so good to me, you gorgeous man, you.” Sarah’s face was trying to adjust to the change in light and stared straight into Scott’s blue eyed trance once again. She was trying to focus and look sexy all at the same time. It wasn’t working.
“Need me to call you a cab? You’re in no position to walk out of here on your own. Can I call someone? What about your brother-in-law, he’s a cop too, right?”
“Nooo!” Sarah, with a brief sober moment.
“Don’t you dare. Do not call anyone. I am perfectly fine, and I will call a cab as soon as I find my coat.”
“Ah, you’re wearing it already.”
“I knew that.” Sarah shoots back searching her pockets for her phone like she is doing some form of the Macarena dance.
“Whatever. Look, at least let me share the cab with you. I’m only three blocks away from where you live. You’re on Nelson. I’m on Bishop. Let me finish up here and we’ll go together. OK?”
Sarah no longer cared. The alcohol had done its job and now Scott’s smile was doing its. It had been a very long day and given her condition, it was in her best interest to take Scott up on his offer.
Alright, but drop me off first.
Several mistakes later…
Next morning came fast. Sarah awoke from a headache that was playing the part of four alarm clocks. With one eye peeling half-open, she scanned her surroundings. Nothing at all was familiar. She didn’t recognize anything until her eyes were met by a pair of male ass cheeks. Scott was standing naked at the kitchen sink of his one-bedroom bachelor apartment pouring what looked like two cups of coffee.
“Shit, shit…shit!” She mumbles to herself covering her face with a bed sheet.
“Hey you, good morning. You’re awake. Did you sleep well?” Asked Scott holding the two coffees in his hands while his dick flapped back and forth as he came closer to the bed and too much closer to Sarah’s face.
“Jesus, Scott. Put that thing away, will you?”
“You didn’t seem to mind seeing little Scottie last night. Didn’t you?”
“Little Scottie? Really, that’s what you call it? Just pass me my shirt, will you?”
Scott grabs Sarah’s shirt from the back of a chair and hands to her. He then pinches his underwear with the toes of his right foot and flips it to his other hand. Sarah slowly starts to sit up.
“What the fuck happened last night? How much did I have to drink?” She says slipping on her socks and squeezing each foot in their proper shoe.
“You had a fucking epic bender is what happened. That must have been someday you had. All I can say is that you’re a beast and you made that whisky your bitch last night.”
“Ever hear of cutting someone off?”
“I tried to. Trust me. I gave up when you almost pulled your gun on me.”
“I did? Shit…sorry about that.”
“What about the fact that I am now on a first-name basis with Little Scottie? I should arrest you right now. I don’t recall when we were formally introduced.”
“Actually, that’s when you did pull your gun on me.”
“Fuck! OK, don’t tell me anymore.”
Sarah was getting more and more embarrassed as each word fell from Scott’s lips and all she wanted now was to get out of the apartment. The quicker the better.
“Alright, I have to go.”
“Nah, stay. Stay and let me cook you breakfast.”
Sarah walks across the room and grabs her phone off the counter where she must have left it. She grabs her coat and opens her wallet checking to make sure she still had all its contents intact.
“Well, my credit card is still here. Did I use my credit card last night? Please tell me I paid for my tab.”
“Didn’t have to.”
“You didn’t have one.”
“What are you talking about? I must have had twenty shots or more scattered across that table.”
“Stop telling me those things.”
“Sorry, but yeah. Some dude paid your tab.”
“Scott…my head is splitting, you better not be messing with me. I can’t right now”
“I’m not. Seriously. I am not fooling around. Some guy came up to the bar and said he would look after your tab.”
“Where was I?”
“Let’s see. You were either on the dance floor playing air guitar with the pool cue or maybe it was when you were dirty dancing with Carl, the guy in the wheelchair. He loves you by the way.”
“Scott, I told you to stop. I’ve embarrassed myself enough.”
“Don’t be foolish. I thought it was cute. You were having a great time. Besides, I had your back. As long as I could keep an eye on you, I let you cut loose. You were a wreck when you came in and you left in a much better state of mind. Albeit altered, but better.”
“Fair enough. OK, back to this guy. What did he look like? Did you get a good look at him?”
“Never saw him. It was Candice who served him. She’s the new girl. The only thing she mentioned to me was that some guy gave her a stack of cash, told her that it was for your drinks specifically, that he was a friend, and he knew what you were going through.”
Sarah started to feel her heart begin to beat faster. It was turning her headache into a category five migraine. She finished collecting her things and walked towards the door of Scott’s apartment.
“Scott, are there any cameras at the pub?”
“Yeah, but they don’t work.”
“Not sure, never did, besides that place is always crawling with cops. No one’s stupid enough to do anything there. Why, Sarah?”
Sarah opened her phone and unlocked it again.
“Well, I think that friend of mine is someone associated with the case I am working. That’s all I can say. Now, what’s this Candice’s number? Can I call her?”
“Sure, but it’s 7:30 in the morning. Highly doubtful she’ll answer.”
“Right. OK, give me the number anyway.”
As she inputted the waitresses’ number into her contacts, she received message notification. This time it was from Ethan.
“Where are you?” Are you OK? Your sister is worried sick. Call me ASAP…we found another body.”