From: Happy hour invitations I once sent; redacted

Associates in overindulgence—

This week I bring you a little tribute to some pals who are particularly enthusiastic about being invited to happy hour. It’s fictional; all similarities to real people are purely coincidental. Inspired by a joke from a while ago. Um... things get kind of intense here. I got a little into this one.

The following is best enjoyed with some background music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DF43b38k0Mw&list=PLYKYvzEOROHiHdF01o5lsmKWdQkIJbW40

From The [] Files

On a cold, bitter day in February, the wind was biting my cheeks like a teething golden doodle puppy. It was the sort of day you wanted to ignore, wrapped tight in the embrace of some sweet scotch, a slow smoke, and a fast woman—not necessarily in that order.

I unfurled my collar against the chill. There would be no scotch—not yet, anyway. There would be no smoke but the hot breath I left in my wake to fade into the cold [] night behind me; no women but the anonymous passers-by biting their lips at me from under umbrellas. I was on the job—and not just any job. This one promised to take me down the darkest alleys, through the sleaziest dives, and into the most seductive hospitalities in town. It was exactly my kind of gig.

 I paused, peeling the scent of the city off the air as I leaned into a gust. She sauntered through the back of my mind again, uninvited. Pamela. The moment her silhouette had appeared at my door I knew she was trouble—a no-good, low-down, gorgeous dame with everything to hide and nothing to lose.

“I’ve got it bad,” she had cooed, stalking toward me, smoky-eyed and silken-voiced. Even then she was waltzing with disaster, and with each step her shadowy partner brought her closer to the grave. “It’s on for tonight. I need someone”—she adorned my desk, pulling my tie and prickling my ear with the warmth of her breath—“a real man. Someone who can keep his appointments.” Pulling my hat down low over my face, she kissed me, her lips lingering on my jaw. She didn’t wait for an answer. A moment later she was gone, out through the door like a hurricane on stilts, leaving only singed atmosphere and a card: Seasons. Now, following the ghost of those getaway sticks into the fog, I felt the warmth of her mouth again.

But what did it all mean? What was Seasons? And where would I find my answers? I pushed into the pitch. The night swallowed me up; bristling against the darkness, I went down hard, like a jagged pill in the windpipe. There was no question now: I was in the game.

It wasn’t long before a car horn, cutting through the city air like a blue-streaking line drive through August grass, broke my concentration. When the black town car pulled up next to me, the only words uttered were “Get in.” It wasn’t a question.

In the cabin were the only three weasels I’d ever seen who could stuff a three-piece suit. Them and Pamela. She looked like a cat out of a bath: wet, scared, and mad, looking for someone to scratch or someone to keep her warm. I was the man for both jobs, I thought. I just hoped I wasn’t too late.

“We thought we’d give you a lift, see?” sneered one of the suits. “Nyeaah.”

“Yeah! Give you a ride, see?” echoed another. Threatening Pamela with his sidearm, the parrot convinced me to hand over my own. As soon as I had, the scared girl sharpened like a carving knife on Thanksgiving.

“Thank you,” said Pamela, turning the gun over in her hands and smiling, “for your cooperation. Forgive my associates their lack of subtlety.”

I frowned with comprehension. She had played me like a Russian violin. It was a slow ruse, bleak and melancholy in its pointlessness, but strangely beautiful and rewarding. Still, here I was on enemy turf, surrounded—the last piece of Canadian bacon at a Mounty convention. And it was breakfast time.

“So this is what it comes to,” I said, laughing to myself. “When I woke up this morning, I thought I’d end the day the same way I began it—in my bed with a bottle of scotch. I didn’t count on you rolling through my life like calamity in a dress—a flaming tumbleweed on a tornado path to the Wild West. Well here’s something: I’m not going with you.”

Her smile was like a magnet, and we drew toward each other through the tense silence. I didn’t give her a chance to respond before making my desperate attempt at escape. A moment later she was in my arms, tumbling from the vehicle, rolling in the street over cobblestones littered with broken glass, a red ribbon blowing in the wind.

We stopped in a puddle of blood and rain. I didn’t hurt enough; I knew it must be her.

“Why’d you do it, Pamela?” I asked, as the heavens washed her life slowly down the gutters. “Why me? What brings a dame like you to a private dick like me on a cold February morning except lies and death and secrets?”

She looked back at me with those eyes full of jazz and blues, full of fever and ice, and her final words walked down my spine like a shivering bassline.

“Happy Hour… Seasons… five… o’clo—”

The street dimmed with her passing, and the only light on me was the hot, crackling neon of an alleyway sign. I looked up.


“Jesus,” I said, starting toward the door, “I need a drink.”

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