Frankie’s may not have been the most swanky bar on the south side, but it’s clientele were mostly good people. Frankie Peterson worked the bar with his current wife Bex. He’d been married three times before but he always told Morigan that Bex was a keeper. Morigan hoped so, the other three had Frankie paying alimony out of his kaboose. Personally he thought Bex was nice, but he didn’t really get the whole red-headed Dolly Parton look. She was in her mid-thirties, and had a penchant for lycra, high heels and high hair that required so much hairspray it could probably destroy the ozone single-handedly. Without the heels, she was an average 5’6’’, with them she was 5’10’’, including the hair she was probably about 6’3’’. Some might say that stood together, Frankie and Bex were comical, but there was something kinda sweet about the contrast Morigan thought. Frankie was genuine third generation Italian-American and proud of it, but like most of his Italian gene-pool, he was just over five foot. 5’3’’ and a quarter to be precise, and with Frankie you never forgot the quarter.
Morigan took a last drag on the cigarette and flicked it in the gutter. As he pushed open the reinforced door, the familiar stench of beer and sweat washed over him. He manoeuvred through the small bustle of people to the bar and inched himself onto one of the empty barstools. He glanced round the room and seeing only the usual crowd turned back towards the bar. He was greeted by Bex in her standard clingy lycra.
“Hey Morigan honey, how ya doin’?” she chewed her gum a couple times and rested her hand on her hip before he answered.
“Peachy keen as always Bex, I’ll have a bourbon” she looked at him for a couple of beats,
“Please?” he added. A smile flashed on her face.
“Sure honey, coming right up.”
Morigan stared down at the beer mat in front of him. Some form of beer bottle was accompanied by a smiling pig. He wasn’t sure what this meant as the name of the beer was indistinct, being coated in spilt drinks had made one edge crinkled with moisture and age. Bex returned with his drink and placed it on the mat, making the face of the pig distorted through the liquor.
“Hey Bex, is Frankie around?”
“Yeah, he’s out back, you can go on out if you want, he’d be glad to see you for once.”
He picked up his glass and downed it, savouring the fire in his throat and the warmth in his belly. Slamming the glass on the bar, he swept through the door to the side, past the greasy kitchen, to the dingy office where Frankie did his books. Frankie was slumped behind the miniscule desk with a half bottle of grappa grasped in his fist. He looked up when Morigan sauntered in.
“Judging by the fact that the bottle is only half empty, the books must be in the black this month.” A smile twitched his lips.
“Ha, ha, very funny. You wouldn’t be so flippant if you had three ex-wives that’re robbing you blind.”
“No, but there’s the difference Frankie. I had no Catholic mom tellin’ me I had to marry a woman before I slept with her.”
Morigan took a step to the right and slumped into the chair Frankie kept for the rare visitor, wedged in the corner next to two industrial filing cabinets and below the lone fugged-up window that was perched high up on the wall. He surveyed the bleak room and then focussed in on his friend.
“What do they want this time Frankie?”
“Darlene’s claiming that she needs to hire a fumigator, Sandra needs more surgery to reverse what she had done last time and Maria just needs the Gucci shoes.”
“Jeez Frankie, just get your cousin Louis to bump ‘em off. Save yourself the grief and hassle, not to mention the money.”
“Says the cop. Boy, you must’ve had a bad day.” He leant back and scratched his chin.