Monday, August 14, 2017

Sure, Beautiful by Paul Stansbury

Sure, Beautiful

That’s Zade Johnson’s girl sitting at the end of the bar. Zade’s the Boss around this neck of the woods. But did I call her a girl? She ain’t no girl, she’s a woman. A real woman. The kind of woman you dream about on a winter’s night, then wake up in a sweat. She’s sitting there in jeans so tight, I don’t see how she walked in. She’s all alone cause Zade is spending some time in County for beating some poor sonofabitch into a coma. I can tell you how it’s going to go down.

You know the story. A boss’s girl is left all alone while he’s inside. She’s OK for a while, but not too long. She needs attention. Wouldn’t be a boss’s girl if she didn’t. That kind of girl likes bad men. They need guys to tell ‘em how beautiful they are. They need excitement, to go to fancy restaurants,  the hottest honkytonks. They need baubles and clothes and plenty of them; all those things that are in short supply when their meal ticket’s in lockup. So she’s looking.

She’ll sip her longneck. Won’t have to buy more than one. She’ll pretend to search for something in her clutch, not that what she’s really after is in there. Like I said, she’s looking. Looking for some sap. Some poor sucker who can’t see beyond the blonde hair, blue eyes and those red lips. A guy who won’t hear anything after she sits down at his table and asks, ‘Got a light?’ A guy who’ll open up his wallet without thinking twice. Maybe a guy who ain’t ever heard of her old man, or the fact he’s dangerous. Maybe a guy who thinks he’s smart enough to get away with putting the make on a boss’s girl. Maybe just a dumbass who can’t believe a chick who looks that good is sitting down at his table. So, he’ll just fish for a matchbook in his pocket and say, ‘Sure, beautiful.’

She’ll touch his hand while he lights her cigarette. After a long, slow draw, she’ll gently blow the smoke in his face, marking her territory. She’ll let him buy her a draft while she sweet talks him, then suggest they go somewhere that ain’t so boring. He don’t know it, but he’s already hooked and ready to be gutted. 

They’ll start out slow, meeting once in a while at sleepy joints a town or two over. But that won’t do for long because she’s that certain kind of woman. One who likes Pappy Van Winkle just cause it’s expensive. One who craves bright lights and shiny trinkets. One who likes the excitement of being on the arm of a guy with a pocket full of folding dough. That’s why she’s a boss’s girl. 

Eventually, maybe she forgets about her old man rotting away over in county or what he might do if he found out about her and the sap she’s stringing along. Maybe she don’t care, or maybe she just can’t think about nothing but spending some sucker’s long green on clothes and jewelry and good times at the finest clubs.

And all he’s thinking about is that look she gives him, just before she turns out the light. And it’s not too long before he’s shelling out cash like he’s feeding the chickens. And he keeps it up till he’s broke. But she won’t care. The way she sees it, his job is to get the money and hers is to spend it. So she keeps on spending. Next thing he knows, he’s in hock up to his neck. Not only to his bookie but to a nasty loan shark who likes breaking legs. And to top it off, she ain’t nowhere to be found. That’s when he hears her old man is out. 

So one night, he throws some clothes in a suitcase and slinks toward the alley where he’s stashed his truck. And he almost makes it. Just across the street, he can see the black opening, but before he can get there, a figure steps from the opening into the glare of the streetlight. Before he can turn and run, he sees a flash and hears the gunshot. He feels the sting of a bullet tearing through his gut. He falls to the ground, clutching his stomach, blood oozing out between his fingers. Another figure appears from the shadows. Even with a bullet in his gut, he recognizes her. Before he dies, he watches her blow out a gray cloud of smoke which swirls around like fog closing in on a cold night. So that’s how the story goes. 

Well, what do you know? Zade Johnson’s girl just sat down at my table. She’s putting a cigarette between her lips. 

“Got a light?” she asks.

“Sure, beautiful.”


Bio Paul Stansbury is a life long native of Kentucky. He is the author of Down By the Creek – Ripples and Reflections and a novelette:  Little Green Men? His stories have appeared in a number of print anthologies as well as a variety of online publications. Now retired, he lives in Danville, Kentucky.

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