Rob was well in to his sixth pint of Stella by the time the usual evening crowd arrived. Not that there was much of a crowd in Jordan’s, it was the kind of place where you had to know it was there to find it, and you had to know someone there to get served. Everyone had a dodgy past, dodgy present or would soon have a dodgy future.
No one ever knew who ‘Jordan’ was, the bar was owned by Terry; an overweight, acne scarred, balding Geordie. Terry was the end of a long line of owners who all thought they could ‘turn the place around’ and soon found out that they couldn’t. Terry, somehow, seemed to make a profit, or at least be able to stand losing money, so had stuck around for longer than anyone else Rob could remember. That was why Rob considered Terry the closest thing he had to a friend, and why he was confiding in him.
‘It’s like this you see. I have…special needs in the bedroom. I need someone I can trust, and who will…provide them.’
‘Don’t we all,’ Terry answered. Rob wondered for a second whether Terry ever got his needs met, and if so who would be desperate enough to be the other person in the room. The image was not a good one.
‘Yeah, don’t we all,’ he answered, drowning the vision in one large gulp of warm Stella. ‘Get me another one would you Terry?’ And when Terry made no sign of movement, ‘And one for yourself of course.’ That got the desired effect, Terry shouted across to Diane, regular drinker and occasional barmaid, who brought across short measures which she still managed to spill onto the already sticky table. Both men watched in silence as she walked back to the bar.
‘What about her?’ Terry asked.
Rob pondered for a moment, sucked on his e-cig and blew out a cloud of scented steam. ‘Nah, not quite right. Close, but something off.’
The door opened and three regular couples came in. Terry, who despite his looks was astute enough when it came to an opportunity to make a pound, was behind the bar like a shot so that he could provide short measures and short change personally.
Diane took his seat. ‘You look down tonight, Rob, Problems?’
Rob paused, took a long sip and let lose another cloud of vape steam. ‘No, just need…err…something.’
‘You’re a good looking bloke. You have money. You have time on your hands. You could get “err…something” anytime. You wouldn’t need to look far.’
Rob took the hint, let her down with a handy cliché. ‘If you’re suggesting what I think you may be suggesting, you’re too good a mate for that. I’d hate to spoil our friendship.’
‘I still might be able to help you out. I have friends. Friends with special skills, if you know what I mean? Tell me what you need, I’ll find someone?’
‘Let me think about it? I’ll pay off my tab, you got the card machine?’
Diane waited while he slowly tapped in the four numbers of his pin, tore up the receipt, onto which she’d added enough drinks to keep her going all night, and set off for home alone.
Everyone knew that Rob had money. No one knew where from, and he was never particularly keen to tell. But he didn’t work, he didn’t appear to be a businessman and no one had ever seen him selling drugs or tax free fags, so they all assumed (Jordan’s being that sort of place) that he was living off the proceeds of some historic crime. Rumours ranged from a bank job right through to Brinks Matt. In truth he was widowed at 24, inherited some property at 26, and made some very astute investments. Coupled with a relatively frugal lifestyle (he lived, anonymously, in a bed sit in one of the houses he owned) he had no need to work and, compared to the manual, shop and office workers he mixed with, appeared well off. He either never noticed, or never complained about his inflated bar tabs.
Two days later Rob was at his usual table, usual pint. Terry was having a rare day off, so Diane was behind the bar, filing her nails. Otherwise the place was empty. Until a stunning red head walked in, ordered a bottle of champagne and told Diane that Rob was paying. Diane looked at Rob, who looked at the red head, made a decision, and nodded yes.
‘Jacqui, and you’re Rob.’ She held out a gloved hand for him to kiss. Rob felt something stir. ‘I’m Diane’s friend.’
‘You want that champagne to go?’ He asked.
‘No, you have to earn me.’ She replied.
In those six words she told Rob all he needed to know. He set about earning his reward.
The next morning he woke in his own bed, thinking that the night before must have been a bad dream because he never brought his special ladies home. He walked into the shower room and dry swallowed some paracetamol, showered, and winced in pain when the hot water hit the raw welts on his back. So she had been here. It was only when he walked back in to the bed-sitting room that Rob’s heart stopped. His cash box was open on the floor, and empty. His wallet alongside it, empty. Even his cards had gone. Fortunately whoever had done him over, and he was pretty sure he knew who that was, had not found his savings account book taped under a draw.
He phoned the bank, to find that his accounts had been cleared out and his credit cards all maxed out. He thumped the wall, which earned him a warning shout from the room next door to ‘keep it down, asshole, we heard enough from you last night.’ He dressed and headed for Jordan’s. Terry was behind the bar.
‘Dunno, she hasn’t been in today.’
‘You expecting her?’
‘She usually pops in, but I haven’t asked her to work or anything. Here, call her if you want her.’ He gave Rob a mobile number. It rang out without going to voicemail.
‘You know where that sister of hers hangs out?’ Rob asked.
‘Sister? She hasn’t got a sister.’
‘Tall? Redhead? Called Jacqui?’
‘Mate, that ain’t her sister, that’s her girlfriend. You knew she’s gay, right? I thought that was what you meant when you said you wanted something special and said she was nearly right? That’s why I put them on to you.’
Rob didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He settled for demanding a few pints on the house.
Neither of them saw Jacqui or Diane for quite some time…
(c) Carter Lacey 2017