Johnny sipped his scotch and looked at his watch. Eleven thirty, almost time. He looked up at the band on stage, the quartet jamming away, a soft fusion number that gripped the crowd. Johnny liked the tune, got him tapping his fingers. The lights of the bar were low, the candles on the tables twinkling like fireflies in the night. The Round-About was the only live Jazz club in Milwaukee, the only place Johnny felt comfortable in.
A man sat next to Johnny at the bar. The man wore a large black overcoat, leather gloves and a scarf tied around his neck. Johnny could see the tiny specks of snow hanging on the man’s hair. His nose red like a Russian.
Johnny said, “Pretty cold?”
The man let out a short huff. “So cold the witch’s tits called in sick. How can you people live out here?”
“Lake view, mostly.”
“You can get that anywhere without the cold. What you drinking?”
Johnny answered and the man ordered one from the bartender. The bartender was a thin girl with stick arms and a big chest. She handed the man his drink; he held the glass, the cubes tickling in the amber liquid. He looked hard at the woman, she gave a slight smile and moved on.
The man said, “At least there’s one good thing about this place,” the man said.
“Come around more often,” Johnny said. “She’s here Tuesdays and Thursdays.”
The man took another quick glance. “Still, not enough to get me going.”
The band finished their set. Applause sprang up throughout the club. Johnny and the man joined in, the man leaning to the side with each clap.
“You feeling alright?” Johnny asked.
“Like you really care.”
“You’re right. I really don’t. Still, I’m curious.”
The man chuckled. “The whole world’s too goddamn curious. Ain’t your problem, man. I just drink, ain’t nothing more than that. Christ, it’s cold.”
“I get that,” Johnny said.
“I thought you midwestern types appreciate straight talk.”
“Yeah, but we appreciate a bit of respect instead of some drunk running his mouth in front of a stranger.”
“Packers suck, too.”
Johnny shrugged, finished his drink and set the glass down, not looking at the man. He waved the bartender over to him. “Mr. Lorenzo here?”
“Yes,” the bartender said.
“Can you tell him Johnny’s here. I need to see him. He’ll know who I am.”
The girl left the bar and walked across the main floor. She disappeared behind a corner and came back a minute later. “Mr. Lorenzo will see you.”
“What makes you so damn popular?” the man said. He had finished his drink and had his back to the band. Johnny just looked at him and walked away. He walked towards the hallway at the other end of the building. Rounding the corner Johnny saw the door at the end of the hall. He opened the door. A bald man with round-rim glasses looked up from the papers that strew across the small desk. The man looked up and smiled. “Been a while Johnny Boy.”
Johnny didn’t say a word. He walked to the desk and took a seat across from Lorenzo.
Lorenzo said, “Milwaukee treating you well?
“Can’t complain, except for the drunks.”
“Yeah, we get a few of those. Thank God they’re not what keeps this place going. Be bottom up if I did.”
“How the games going?” Johnny asked, clasping his hands together.
“Been steady. Just got the last drop a few hours ago and been waiting for ya. Not even the stick-up job in Kenosha did much of a dent.”
“Yeah, we’ve heard about that.”
“Twin Cities got it that fast, eh?”
“Not just that. They heard it was your call to stage that Kenosha job.”
“People got active imagination” Lorenzo rocked slightly in his leather chair, the squeaks of the chair echoed in the room. “Where they get that from?”
Johnny’s thumbs rubbed against each other. “You got big talkers out in Kenosha. Should’ve done your homework, get someone that knows how to keep their mouths shut.”
“Like I said, where you that from? Where’s the proof.”
Johnny kept silent, his eyes stayed locked on Lorenzo. The muffled sounds of music seeped through the closed door.
Johnny pulled out the gun. The bullet smashed through Lorenzo’s clean shaven head, smacking him against his chair. Johnny shot again at Lorenzo’s heart. He holstered his gun and pushed the slumped body of Lorenzo away from the desk. A sports bag was tucked under the desk near the dead man’s feet. Johnny unzipped the bag, the green stacks stared back at him. He picked up the bag and walked out, closing the door behind him. Johnny walked away, eyes looking at the exit door on the right. He saw the man at the bar talking to the bartender.
“Can you tell him,” the man said, “his brother’s here.”
Johnny kept going. He passed through the doors out into the dark, snowy night.