April’s Fool

Beachhead Bar 8:00pm. Be ready to talk business.

Harry’d said he wanted to settle things. Now some fool reckoned he’d got an edge. Harry burned the note.

7:45 pm: Harry enters the Beachhead. Sits in a corner. Doesn’t order a drink. Waits.

8:17 pm Fool arrives, leers, swaggers over to Harry’s table, “Sorry I’m late, bit of business.”

He sat down, “Drink?”

“Same as you.”

Half turning he calls over his shoulder, “Two whiskey and sodas on the rocks.”

Harry gives the bartender an almost imperceptible nod.

“Anzio beachhead,” said Fool, “dodged bombs, bullets and bayonets for three weeks, felt like three years, but I stuck. This,” tapping the table, “is my new beachhead, my business beachhead.”

Drinks arrive. He raises his glass, “To business.”

Harry raises his glass, “To success.”

They drink.

“Now,” he put his glass down. The second word never came out. One hand grabs his throat. The other slams the table. Face turns blue. Mouth opens, emits a long simmering hiss. He slides off his chair like a ship slipping beneath the waves.

No one at the bar turned around.

Harry switches glasses, stands, walks around the table, glances at Fool’s empty stare. He sets the glass on the bar. The bartender washes, dries and nestles it in the middle of dozens of other glasses, exactly identical, in an instant. Harry nods perceptibly.

Pushing open the door he stands in the cool evening air lighting a cigarette, “Fool’s bar, my bartender.”