It was always darker than normal in Sin City, even during the day. Jones was glad to be home regardless of the occasion. Other than a fresh coat of Killer Crimson lipstick nothing pleased Jones more than the cover of darkness on her home turf and a bottle of whiskey.
The bar was crowded with locals in wife beaters. The air was thick with cheap perfume and desperation. Jones watched her pawn through thin wafts of cigarette smoke.
Both of her guns were locked and loaded. One, the Bersa UC nine millimeter, under her leather skirt, strapped to her thigh. The other, a Sig P238 tucked under her leather jacket in the small of her back. Jones took her final drag from the cigarette and sighed. She really didn’t feel like killing anyone. Her lipstick was perfect. Plus she knew at some point she might like the fuck this woman again and wouldn’t prefer it as much if she had to clip her wings tonight.
The nervous woman at the bar sipped her fruity cocktail and checked her watch. She had on tennis shoes. Jones winced.
Having purposely watched the woman for a half hour, Jones had hoped that she wouldn’t need screaming bullets her first night back in town. She could hear her father’s warning in her mind- A woman in sneakers outside a gym is either sick or crazy, sometimes both, Jones reminded herself.
The fearful woman dabbed sweat off of her cheek with a cocktail napkin. She checked her watch again.
Jones emerged from the shadows and winked at the large man behind the bar. The old fashioned jukebox played Robert Palmer’s “Some Like It Hot “ but no one could hear it over the screaming garbage men shooting pool complaining of being laid off.
The fat bartender hanging champagne flutes squinted at Jones and then smiled.
“Bella? Is that you? Hey Vincent, come out here and look who is finally back in town, Bella is out here!”
A voice from around the corner yelled over the music and raucous pool players, “Tell that half breed bitch to pay her fucking tab, for once, gawddamnit!”
The nervous woman looked up to see Jones standing next to her and gulped.
“Jameson squared, Sal, with his clothes off.”
“I know honey,” he said, “and keep em coming right?” He laughed hard. “ You lost a lil weight Bella, looking good!”
“Sal?” Jones said, scooting her stool closer to the worried woman.
“Yeah, Bella?” The bartender asked.
“The last person who called me honey got a warning shot in the leg. Isn’t that right, Vincent?”
“Shut up, Bitch!” Vincent muttered out of sight. He wasn’t going to come around that corner either. He knew better. Not with his painful limp from last time.
“ Oh! No problem, Bella, yeah, hey, I didn’t mean nothing by it, you know I’m kinda slow around sexy ladies, heh heh…but it’s still good to see ya Bella, real good” Said the bartender, “Here ya go, this one’s on me.”’
Jones put her left hand on the woman’s bouncing knee and grabbed the glass with her right.
“Sal! My office NOW!” Vincent shouted.
“Relax.” Jones said to the scared lady.
“You’re late.” The woman mumbled into her fruity concoction. She took a deep breath and said, “ I see that you cut off all of your hair again.” while moving Jones’ hand from her knee.
“I’m never late. I saw you walk in. You smell good.” Jones ran her fingers through the woman’s long brown curls. “Tangerine shampoo, now?” Jones asked.
“Stop. Just Stop.” The woman scooted away slightly but not out of reach. “Why does the bartender call you Bella, is that your name?”
“He’s Italian. He calls every woman Bella.” Jones said.
The timid woman turned to face Jones. Her face looked sallow and long. She had been crying all evening.
“They’re going to kill me for this, Jones.” She whispered. “They’re going to kill me if I do this.”
The crowd in the bar swayed to the barely audible music. Two men in the back started a shoving match.
The fat bartender returned, with red tissue stuffed into his nostril. A bruise was forming.
Jones finished her shot, put down the glass and motioned to the bartender for one more.
She smiled at the woman while squeezing her thigh.
“Jones, don’t, I’m a married woman now and I’m not really gay…”
“Do you have what I need or don’t you? “Jones asked. The woman’s face flushed red.
The nervous woman rubbed her hands together.
“Yes, but what if I don’t give it to you, what if you get it some other way, Judge Lance, knows it’s me, Jones, if it gets back to Nina Caine, I’m dead.”
“Sal?” Jones said.
“Yeah, Bella?” The bartender looked worried.
“Your nose is leaking, friend. Turn up the television please.”
Jones used her index finger to turn the woman’s face toward the screen.
The news was announcing the apparent heart attack earlier in the evening of a local court judge who had been born and raised in Las Vegas.
“Your new husband, David is his name, right?” Jones whispered to the woman.
“How did you know that, wait did you kill Judge Lance?” The woman asked.
“I fucked your darling David earlier tonight, sugar. He’s loud and quick.” Jones said.
“Jones, you wouldn’t.” The woman’s eyes bugged.
“Dick less Dead David, is what I like to call him and in 25 minutes that is exactly what he will be, in your home, in your bed if you don’t get to him in time, sugar.” Jones said, brushing the woman’s hair back from her ear.
“It’s a shame too. I left his dick in a bowl of ice on your kitchen counter. You can still get him to a hospital. Probably. He has been drugged and hog tied though, sugar. But the only way you will make it is if you give me what I came for.”
“You didn’t!” The woman’s face turned to shock.
The bartender slid Jones her second Double Jameson shot, neat, across the bar. His nose was still bleeding.
“If you leave now, you can save him.” Jones said. “He’s a bleeder, like Sal, here.” Jones drank in silence.
The woman, mumbling and crying, opened her purse and handed Jones a folded manila envelope.
“Uh Bella, I hate to mention it,” Said the fat bartender, Sal, “But all together that will be one thousand four hundred and sixty two dollars and uh, ninety eight cents including the one on the house, I’m sorry.” The bartender stuffed more tissue up his nose.
The terrified woman slid off of her bar stool and tried to bolt for the door.
Jones grabbed her arm. “Make no mistake, if it ain’t right, goodnight.” Jones said staring at her drink.
“What? Are you gonna kill me too?” The woman asked. She was shaking.
Bella Jones smiled.
“Not if you pay the bar tab,” Jones pulled the woman back to the bar stool. The two guys who were shoving earlier were now hugging and laughing.
The bartender stared at the terrified woman.
“Uh well, Miss, all together that will be one thousand four hundred and sixty two dollars and uh, ninety eight cents for Bella’s tab and uh sixteen fifty for yours.”
“What?!” The woman gasped.
“Twenty two minutes” Jones said putting the envelope inside of her jacket pocket and standing to leave. Jones kissed the woman on the forehead. “ My hair has always been short.” Jones said.
The woman shuffled through her purse for her checkbook. She could barely write. Tears stained her shirt.
“You insufferable bitch, Jones, you rotten piece of shit!” The woman cried.
Jones was already back into the shadows.
On the way out of the door she yelled to the nervous woman, “Don’t forget to tip, sugar” and strolled into the dark night crimson lipstick intact.
Vincent hobbled from the backroom.
Is that fat whore still here or what, he asked to no one, loudly, already assured that Jones was miles out of earshot.