Midnight Music

Chapter Two

The sun had made its presence known in Chicago, despite being May. It had heated up the city. Many ladys sat in their suburban homes, fanning themselves with anything they could. Men had taken to removing their jackets even, and children found any which thing they could to find reprieve from the heat.

The night, however, had come, and with it a cool breeze. The nighttime weather brought out the nighttime activity. Young courting couples heading out, girls attached to their beaus as they headed to picture shows, ice cream parlors, and restaurants. Police officers changed shifts over, greeting the citizens of Chicago, as well as their fellow officers. Once young officer, Timmy OConnor, tipped his hat to a group of young women out doing some shopping. They giggled as they walked by, blushing that such a dashing young man would greet them. Neil greeted OConnor cordially, as if he didn know the man.

With a mild limp in his left leg, Neil managed to pass the laundromat headed towards Stews Grocery, a small grocery store outfitted with well-priced staples of every household, flour, sugar, butter, milk, as well as a few others. Neil greeted the young lady locking up and headed down the alleyway beside it. A cat yowled loudly as another chased it. Neil went up the door behind the shop and knocked the same way hed done so every day for four years. A tiny slat opened, and a beady pair of eyes squinted out at him for a long moment.

The little slat slammed shut, and the door was soon yanked open. Inside was a fat, ruddy-faced man with dark, beady eyes, and bad breath. What Andy Brewster lacked in hygiene, Neil noted, he made up for by being damn good as a bouncer. Neil greeted the man and went inside to find his usual seat at the bar. The crowd was certainly bouncing, and Clifton Wood, the bartender, was running hard to keep up.

”Busy night. ”

”Thats the understatement of the day. ” Clifton replied drily, handing Neil his usual. Vinny Morello came in then, shouting his way through two backup bartenders and a waitress, ”Coming through, stocking the counter! ” Vinny put the box down and started loading up bottles of alcohol for Clifton.

”Thanks, Vin. ”

”Always. Works for me, cause now I know what I need to order on my next run! ” Vinny turned and saw Neil sitting there. ”Hey Doc! Busy night. ”

”Yes, I noticed. ” Neil took a drag from his smoke. ”Stew not in? ”

”No, said he probably wouldn be. Had some business with De Luca tonight then was going to settle his niece in. ”

”Oh, thats right, she got in today. Whats she like? ”

”Flaming red hair, and it ain colored from no bottle. What a woman. Those gams are something. ”

”Are they now? ” Clifton raised an eyebrow at Vinny and shook his head.

”And her bosoms…. ”

”I can assure you, as a medical man, Vincent, they are all roughly the same. Youve seen one pair you know what they look like. ”

”Spoilsport. ” Vinny pouted ever so slightly. Neil rolled his eyes.

”You think that bullshit is going to work on me? ” Clifton smirked as Vinny laughed.

”Nah, you
e too uptight, even if I was some broad with all the things Doctor Dunn likes. ” Neil rolled his eyes.

”What is your type anyhow, Doc? ” Clifton asked.

”He does not have a type. ” Roland Dubois sat beside him and declined the smoke Neil offered. ”What are we talking about? ”

”Women. More specifically, Stews niece. Shes a looker, thats for sure. ” Clifton sighed and turned to Vinny.

”You better watch it, or Stewll have you by your testicles. ” Neil smirked, and Roland rolled his eyes.

”You say this, but it has not stopped his actions yet. ” Clifton grinned at Roland.

”Speaking of girls, I took one to see your new movie today. ” The bartender smirked and poured Roland his usual. The actor took a drink, and asked, ”How did you enjoy it? ”

”Not really my style, but she liked it a whole lot. ”

”Does she know you know him? ”

”Oh, yeah, she comes in here…oh, hey… ” Clifton blushed profusely, and Neil turned to see Clara Walker, the clerk of Stews grocery store, approaching the bar.

”Hey yourself. ” She smiled and asked for a gin rickey. He happily poured it, blushing just a little more when her hand brushed his as she took it. ”Thanks. ” As she walked away to find a table, Vinny poked Clifton and said, ”Our little Clifton is growing up. ”

”Oh, ** off. And get me some more gin while you
e too busy dicking around. ” Vinny snickered all the way into the store room. Clifton rolled his eyes and made his way down the bar to serve several more customers. A body suddenly stood between Neil, and Roland said, ”Oh, sally you have made it. ”

”Hi, Mr. Dubois. ” The sweetest voice Neil had ever heard on a woman graced his ears, and he turned to look at her. It hit him like a ton of bricks.

She wore your typical flapper dress-knee length, blue, beaded and with straps rather than sleeves. She had the typical number of beaded necklaces on, and hair band to add to the outfit. Normally, Neil found these outfits a little ridiculous, but this young woman had him captivated.

Her hair was cropped short and flaming red, without it even being colored from a bottle. She wore a pair of simple earrings that accentuated just how small her ears were, and that smile dazzled Neil. He felt like Cupid had shoved the entire arrow into his body. Roland glanced at Neil and smirked.

”Hey there little lady. What can I get for you? ” She looked a little lost as to what to pick, so Roland said, ”What is that drink you made Clara? ”

”Oh, a gin rickey. I bet youll like that. ” She seemed amazed as he poured and created the drink smoothly.

”It is on me tonight, Clifton, she is one of my invites. ” Roland glanced at Neil and gestured towards him. ”Sally, this is Neil, a friend of mine. ” Neil came out of it as she turned to him and eyed him up.

”Well how do you do, handsome? ” Roland seemed mildly surprised.

”Fine, ” came Neils short reply. He took a drag on his cigarette. ”Whats a kid like you doing in a bar like this? ” Before she could reply, Vinny came out with a box of bottles. She seemed surprised to see him.

”Heres your stuff, Clifton. ”

”Vinny? ” He turned to look at her, and his eyes went wide. ”What are you doing here? ” They all looked at him, and realization hit at the same time.

”Uh…well…I could ask the same outta you. Didn Stew tell you to stay put? ”

”He did. I was bored waiting for him. ”

”You
e obviously new here. The one thing you don want to do is explore Chicago on your own. ” Neil said. ”Especially not a naïve kid like you. ” She looked at him and cocked her hip.

”You act like you
e doing all kinds of exploration around here. ”

”Ive seen shit that would grow hairs on even your chest, kid. Im a lot more than meets the eye. ”

”And Im not? ”

”Flappers like you are a dime a dozen round here. ” Neil took a drink of his bourbon.

”So are grumpy old men holding up one end of the bar, but at least they know how to talk to a lady after theyve eyed her up. ” Neil bristled. Clifton walked away to answer the phone, but Vinny snorted, and Roland smirked into his whiskey. Neil glared at her, and simply went back to his drink.

”So, I ain wrong then? ” Before Neil could respond, Clifton approached the bar and said, ”Vin, shut it down. ” His face was white as a sheet.

”What? Why? ”

”Ms. Foster, if you brought yourself a coat, you better grab it and come with me. ” Clifton looked around the gang at the bar, and said, ”Its Stew. Hes been shot. ”

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