“Another.” Petharic slid the empty rocks glass across the bar. He then fumbled for his watch before recalling he’d sold it to a local jeweller for a fraction of its value. No matter, he guessed the time to be roughly one in the afternoon based on the fact that the noon hour shift-change at the factory had already occurred.
It had been busy through lunch until the workers finished their fried fish and downed their pitchers of ale. Within an hour the rush abated leaving just a half dozen patrons scattered about the pub.
The Bucket of Blood’s bartender, Medusa Jones took the glass from Petharic and was reaching for a bottle when she stopped. She narrowed her one good eye and glared back with a penetrating distrust.
“Let’s see the money up front,” she demanded. “You shorted me on the last one.”
“I did not,” Petharic protested. “You miscounted.”
“Say it to me plainly just so I understand,” Medusa leaned over the bar until she was a mere inches from his face. Petharic didn’t know where to focus, the crusty-looking patch or the crusty-looking eye. “Are you calling me a liar?”
“Well, no. As a matter of fact, your assessment is partially correct,” Petharic admitted. “I am temporarily short of funds, therefore I would like to start a tab.”
“There’s no credit here.” Medusa shook her head.
“How about you go back and ask the owner?” Petharic suggested. “Isn’t he around somewhere?”
“Why would I waste his time when I already know the answer?”
“Fine,” Petharic conceded. “Give me my glass back. You took it too soon. There was still some left in it.”
“You’d be smart to just go,” Medusa nodded toward the door.
“You know who Emerson Lighthouse is?” Petharic carried on as if he hadn’t processed a word the bartender said.
“Name sounds familiar,” Medusa shrugged. “He could have been in here, who knows.”
“Today I am going finally kill that son of a bitch,” Petharic boasted.
“And why is that?”
“I can’t say.”
“Of course not,” said Medusa. “Why incriminate yourself?”
“But I will tell you this,” Petharic carried on without pause. “For almost two years now I’ve been worried about that jerk wooing her.”
“The beautiful Junie Ginsburg,” Petharic noticed how the bartender seemed to smirk and roll her eye. He wondered if perhaps he’d said something out of turn.
“I remember those two now,” said Medusa. “They own the Gangplank.” She snorted. “If whether or not he has wooed her is your only concern I can put that to rest – he has. From what I hear that girl’s been well wooed.”
“What do you mean?” Petharic cocked his head to the side.
“What do you mean what do I mean?” Medusa’s voice rose. “I mean exactly what I meant.”
“I hope you are not besmirching the fair lady’s virtue,” said Petharic.
Medusa put her hands on her hips. “You should probably shut up right now because I’m under no obligation to protect you when the militia starts looking for the dumb-ass who bragged about killing some guy just hours before doing it.”
“You would tell on me?” Petharic sounded incredulous.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Medusa shrugged. “You’re barely even a paying customer.”
“Whatever happened to the bartender you could confide in?” Petharic sneered.
“If that’s the kind of bartender you’re looking for you better start tipping a whole lot better than you have been.”
“Tipping?” Petharic threw up his arms and shook his head in mock incredulity. “For what? An hour of grief? Give me a break!”
That was the final straw for Medusa who, while brandishing a butcher’s knife that she’d retrieved from beneath the bar, chased Petharic to the road and remained there watching as he ran off east towards Abney Parkway.