He pulled his car into the usual parking space at the rear of the building taking notice of a black Lincoln Town Car as he placed his shifter into park. Mickey didn’t like surprises, or surprise visitors. He entered the bar through the back entrance and could see two men standing in his office through the Plexiglas window, one man stood holding some folders and note book in his hand jotting down notes of what the other said. Mickey made his way to the bar to find Joe, also know as Swede, his head bouncer stocking the empty coolers with beer in preparation for the night’s business. Swede was Mickey’s acceptation to the rule and the longest running employee, approximately 12 years, who could also be found doing security for local events such as festivals, or the occasional concert. A former lineman for the ULM football team, Swede grew up in the south side of Monroe where he excelled in sports, mainly football, and received a full scholarship to the local university. During his third year on the team his knee blew out, ruining his chances to continue with the sport he loved. At six foot seven inches tall weighing 290 pounds of muscle, there were few who crossed him, and even fewer who wanted to try. Swede’s success in stopping a brawl between drunk college kids made him one of the more sought after people in the form of crowd control. He could pick up offending parties off the ground and walk them out the door as if he were carrying bags of trash to the dumpster.
“Hey there Joe,” Mickey said.
“Morning, Mickey,” said Swede. Mickey was one of the few people who called him by his first name. Despite being a black man Joe Washington picked up his nickname due to a speech impediment he grew out of by the time he was in high school. Suede tennis shoes had been all the rage when he was a kid and his inability to pronounce “suede” correctly earned him the moniker.
“What the fuck are you doing?” said Mickey.
“Stocking the coolers,” said Swede
“Where’s Steve?,” said Mickey. “That’s his job.”
“He called in about 15 minutes ago,” Swede said. “He said he was running late, so I thought I’d keep busy.”
“Well knock it off,” Mickey said as he glanced back toward his office door. “So who’s here?”
“Alan Davis,” said Swede.
“What’s that mother fucker want?” said Mickey. He rarely censored his speech and the Swede knew this but did not take offense. Mickey had met Joe while he was still in college, still playing ball, and had offered him a job as a bouncer. Due to the complications of NCAA rules athletes could work while in school, but under certain conditions as well as the amount of pay they receive would be under scrutiny. It would be an easy way of bribery to young college players, and most players went without. The few who did pursue work experience normally accepted the fact that they would not one day be in the pros. Swede did have promise to go pro, but too many bad hits and a knee with little to no cartilage ended his career of football. After college he took to working for a security company for close to minimum wage due to his lack of academic focus in school. A couple of years and with nowhere else to go Mickey approached him and offered him a job. Joe accepted.
“Don’t know,” said Swede. “He said he wants to talk to you so I showed him to your office.”
“OK then. Well, stop stocking the bar and stick by close in case I need you,” said Mickey.
“You expecting trouble?” said Swede.
“Nah,” replied Mickey, “These pencil dicks won’t be a problem. I just want the opportunity to scare them if I have to. Come on, let’s see what they want.” The two made their way to Mickey’s office. When the door opened both men shot up out of their seats.
“Sit down, sit down,” Mickey said after shaking their hands. Alan Davis seemed slightly more relaxed than his assistant Thomas who sat rigid in his chair clasping on to his notebook for dear life. “So I understand you want to see me?”
“Yes sir, Mr. Russo,” said Thomas.
“Please call me Mickey,” said Mickey.
“Right. Mickey, Mr. Davis is here to…”
“Hold on a second,” Mickey interrupted. “Joe, see if Mr. Thomas here would like a drink.”
“No sir, I’m perfectly alright, I…”
“Please I insist,” Mickey interrupted again.
“A water will be nice,” said Thomas, his throat had become dry with Mickey’s insistence.
“Fine,” said Mickey. “Joe, will you and Mr. Thomas go and get that drink.”
“Sure,” Swede replied.
“If it’s OK I would like to stay and…”
“Listen Mr. Thomas,” said Mickey. “This is the third time I have had to interrupt you. You said Mr. Davis wants to talk with me and so far you are the only one talking. So please, go with Joe and make yourself useful while Mr. Davis and I talk.”
Thomas sat frozen for a moment and glanced at his employer not knowing what he should do. Alan gave him a nod and Thomas stood up and exited the room with the Swede.
Once the door was closed Mickey turned to Mr. Davis. “So, how can I help you?”
“Yes sir,” he began. “Sorry about Thomas, he’s wound a little tighter than most, but he is good at his job. Anyway, I’m sure you already know that the mayoral election is coming up.”
“Uh huh,” said Mickey.
“Well, I am wanting to run for mayor, to give this city a fresh face in the office,” Mr. Davis said. “Someone who want’s to make a difference in the city.”
Mickey sat and looked at the man for a moment, considering his words. “OK, well it was nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by, I’m…”
“Mr. Russo,” it was Alan Davis who was interrupting now. He had clearly come here for other reasons than inform a local businessman he was running for office. “Please, I’m here to ask for your help.”
“Me?” said Mickey. “Why would you need my help? I’m just a bar owner and farmer to boot.”
“That’s not what I hear,” said Mr. Davis. “From what I can gather you are a man with influence.”
“Influence, huh?” Mickey laughed at the notion. “I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but I think you have me confused with someone else.”
“That’s not what Kevin Halloway thought.”
Mickey’s brow furrowed. The name was familiar since it belonged to one of the men found dead on his roof not too long ago. His anger began to rise,“ Now you look here Mr. Davis. I’m not sure what you are getting at, but you may need to move along, I’m not going to be harassed by anyone.”
“OK, how about Frank Stone?” said Mr. Davis. “He seems to think you might be able to help me. I’m merely asking…”
“You’re merely asking to have your ass handed to you is what it sounds like,” said Mickey. “What does Frank Stone and I have in common?”
“Mr. Russo,” Alan Davis said. “I’m not trying to get you riled up here. I’m just trying to get support for my candidacy and certain sources pointed me toward your direction. I want to make a change in this city. Mayor Michaels has been in his office way too long, and I feel it is time to have new blood to revive our citizen’s interest in local affairs.”
Mickey could tell he had rehearsed this little presentation. The words seemed too well put together, just the right amount of bullshit piled onto meaningless statements used to make people feel good about themselves. “What does Frank Stone and a dead man have to do with me, other than someone dragging one of them on top of my building and killing them.”
“I met Kevin once or twice,” said Mr. Davis, “he seemed as though he was a good man, and I also have met Frank. I also know that Kevin worked for you while he was in college at your tree farm.”
“Uh huh,” said Mickey. “Which was what, fifteen or twenty years ago? Do you know how many college kids I go through in a year?” Through the Plexiglas window behind Alan Davis, Mickey saw Steve enter the bar rubbing his eyes and scratching his balls. Mickey pointed to the young man to which Alan turned to observe what it was Mickey was pointing at, “It looks like I’m going to have to get rid of another one if they can’t seem to get here on time.”
“I understand that, sir, but I also know you introduced Kevin to Mr. Stone after he dropped out of college,” said Mr. Davis.
“So what?” said Mickey. “A kid wants a job in construction and I tell him to go see Frank who happens to be the owner of a construction company. Big deal.”
“Yes sir,” said Mr. Davis, “I know, but Mr. Stone also used to work for you as well.”
“I’m failing to see your point here.” Said Mickey. His expression shifted from anger to exhaustion. “Is this where you tell me I’m a few more degrees from Kevin Bacon or something?”
“No sir,” said Mr. Davis. “I’m just trying to point out that you are a man who has been in this great city for many years. Some consider your business to be the oldest in the area and a business that has been here this long would have connections to other businesses.”
Mickey let out a sigh and rubbed his eyes. “That’s a nice theory you have there, but I don’t think I can help you. I try to keep to myself for the most part and I don’t seem to feel like the city is broken. I like Mayor Michaels. He seems to know what he’s doing. If you want to leave some bumper stickers or something then go ahead. I’ll leave them at the bar for whoever wants them, but that’s all I can really do.”
“Could I count on your support?” said Mr. Davis.
“Mr. Davis, who I vote for is none of your business,” said Mickey. “I don’t try to get bogged down in politics and sides. You want to come here one night and kiss hands of the local voters, fine. I’d let the other guys do it too if they wanted, but a bar isn’t the likeliest of places for campaign speeches. I’m not a roadside attraction used to garner up voters in a great American campaign. I’m a bar owner and I’m pretty good at doing that. So, if you will excuse me I have to meet with an employee who needs to be re-introduced to the concept of time management.”
“Yes sir,” said Mr. Davis as he smiled, stood and shook Mickey’s hand. “It was a pleasure meeting with you. Would it be appropriate if I could meet with you again some time in the future?”
Mickey looked at the politician for a moment trying to understand the younger man’s fascination with him. “Sure. If it makes you feel special inside, who am I to say no to that.”
“Very good sir,” replied the future candidate. “Until next time.” He gathered his bags and exited with his assistant through the back door of the bar.
Joe returned to Mickey’s office to find him still sitting in his chair, head in his hand. “What all did the twitchy one have to say,” Mickey asked, referring to Alan Davis’s assistant.
“Not much,” he replied. “Everything OK?”
“Oh yeah, everything is fine,” said Mickey. “I do need you to bring about five cases of beer to Dylan’s place.” Dylan’s place, a bar named Birdy’s, was located across town on Forsythe Avenue. It’s name derived from Dylan’s love of golf as well as its proximity to the town’s nine-hole golf course next to Forsythe Park. From time to time a bar owner ran low on supplies and relied on other bar owners in the city to lend them some cases of beer or liquor until their shipments came in. In most circumstances they came to Mickey and utilized his stockpile of booze. Dylan, however, had not made a request for supplies.
“Oh,” Mickey said as Joe was about to exit his office, “I need you to make an extra stop while you’re out.”