Hard Bastard:A Second Chance Mafia Romance(5)By: B. B. Hamel
I could head back to the hotel or I could go somewhere to kill a few hours. There wasn’t a good option, and as I sat behind the steering wheel, I suddenly felt a little nostalgic.
I turned on the engine and began to drive. Familiar sights came back to me as memories flooded into my mind.
I remembered getting in a fight with Gage at the movie theater I drove past. I remembered going to soccer games at the field on my right. I remembered Gage’s hand between my legs as he drove down the road I was driving down.
Finally, I found what I was looking for, and laughed out loud as I stood in the parking lot.
Ralph’s was an old dive bar that had been in Ashertown for as long as I could remember. Gage and I went there together a few times, since his cousin was the bouncer. He let us in and we’d drink cheap beers and laugh for hours together. I never felt so alive and so free.
Ralph’s hadn’t changed one bit. I walked over and stepped inside.
The whole place felt like home. It was dark and sticky, just like I remembered, with an old crappy bar on the left and tables scattered throughout the main room. A small stage was set up in the far corner, the only change they’d made in ten years.
I walked over to the bar and sat down at one end. I placed the file on the bar top and ordered a glass of wine from the bartender.
I shook my head, smiling to myself. It was almost as if the same people were still there, sitting in the same spots. The place was crowded, though not too crowded. Everyone was a regular, and I probably stood out like a sore thumb.
I scanned the faces, trying to find one that I recognized.
And then I froze. I couldn’t move. Too many memories were rushing back.
Those eyes. That jaw. Ten years older, harder, more handsome, but it was him. He was sitting with a group of men at a table in the corner of the room and he hadn’t spotted me yet.
I wanted to get up and run. I wanted to go over and slap him in the face.
Gage laughed at something one of the guys said, and I could hear every note, even across the room. I clenched the file in front of me and tried to decide if I wanted to get the hell out of there or risk seeing someone I never thought I’d see again.
Another hot, sweaty night at Ralph’s. The boys were being fucking obnoxious, as always, and I was on my third whisky. Not much was going on and I felt like I was going stir-crazy. Frankly, I was fucking bored.
I wanted to get out there and break some fucking skulls. I was a “debt collector” for the Petrov Family, which meant that it was my job to make sure all the fucking pathetic losers that borrow money from my boss eventually paid up.
Usually, they paid in money. But my favorite jobs were the ones where I had to get creative. I’d break a knee, take some teeth, clip some fucking fingers, that sort of thing. Sometimes, I’d take a daughter or two, if they were hot enough. The daughters rarely complained.
Once in a while, only life could pay back a debt. I was a killer, ad that was fine by me. These men entered into a contract with my employers knowing full well that they could get their ass killed if the sum they took was too high and they couldn’t pay it back. Nobody forced these pathetic losers to take outrageous loans with insane terms, but they kept coming back.
The idiots made sure that I had a job.
Lately though, there hadn’t been much work. For whatever reason, Ashertown’s finest scum collectively decided that it was better to actually pay up than it was to wait for me to come calling. Plus, there was extra scrutiny on the family from the DA’s office for some fucking reason, probably because of some federal mandate to crack down on organized crime. That shit was above my pay grade and I frankly didn’t care, but it was keeping me from doing what I did best.
Which was how I found myself in Ralph’s doing fucking nothing as usual, just watching the ground.
Boris leaned across the table, smirking at me. “You look fucking lost in though there, Gage.”
I glanced at him. Boris was my partner in crime. He was fat, slovenly, ugly, and cruel, which was exactly what I needed from him. We played Good Cop/Bad Cop very well, and Boris was always the Bad Cop.
“Sick of sitting around waiting for work,” I said.
“You eager to get in some trouble?” Alex asked. He was thin with a hawk nose and intense eyes. He was technically above us in the ranks, but barely. He was something of a local boss and scheduler for the debt collectors.
“Something like that. Just sick of sitting around in this damn bar doing nothing.”
“Well, now,” Boris said suddenly. “Look what we have here.”
I followed his gaze toward the door and watched a woman walk in. She glanced around then ended up sitting at the bar.