The bartender’s name is Joe, what else would it be?
I’ll bet that at least 67% of the bartenders in the world are named Joe.
This particular Joe is a fountain of information.
It helps that I’m pretty and it helps that I have an expense account. Lot’s of things help but in the end it is the quality of the information that counts.
Joe’s information is the quality of Irish linen.
His information keeps me as warm as a Fair Isle jumper, and as focused as a double shot espresso.
My assignment seemed straightforward when I first received it but it has gone somewhat pear-shaped over the last couple of days.
‘Follow Laslo Benedict and report on everything he does.’
Naturally, I wanted to know what this joker looked like .
‘He’s average looking and always wears a brown suit, never seen without a brown suit.’
Sounds a bit vague I know, but I’ve been doing this for a while and it didn’t take long to find his hotel and his favourite bar; and his favourite bartender.
Fortunately, I have more allure than Laslo, so instead of selling me out, Joe has told me a lot about the people Laslo has been meeting.
Joe just tipped me the wink; Laslo’s been staring at me for about fifteen minutes.
I didn’t really need Joe’s insight; a girl knows these things from an early age.
It might mean that he’s on to me or it might mean that he’s a male and is disrobing me one layer at a time. He hasn’t sent any drinks my way so he is probably not on the make; not in the usual ‘bar etiquette’ kind of way.
I’m not crazy about working blind and my brief on this case is thin in the extreme.
Laslo is no ordinary bloke.
He’s been meeting with all sorts of heavies, from both sides of the law.
Whatever he is into, it’s big.
But, that’s not my problem. See and report; that’s all that is required. For the moment I’m a snooping secretary and it does not suit me at all.
It’s a waste of my talents.
Did I mention that Joe is ‘old school’?
No, I don’t mean he does stuff the old-fashioned way, I mean old school.
Did you notice his tie?
Private school; and not just any private school. Blue chip. Top of town.
So why is he a bartender? It’s a noble profession and I’ve done my share of bar work in my youth, but still, it’s not where you would expect to find someone with those kinds of connections. Parents don’t send their children to private school for an education; they send them there to make connections.
Joe is very well-connected.
His two areas of interest, apart for alcohol, are information and untraceable hand guns.
The first might get him into a bit of trouble but nothing too serious. His second interest is very dangerous indeed in a city with very strict gun laws. In other parts of the world you can pick up a shooter at a pub without too much trouble, but not here.
Problem number one for Joe, is the people he has to deal with.
Procuring the weapons is relatively risk free unless some ne’er-do-well needs to expedite a plea deal.
Joe usually deals with a small select circle, but sooner or later one of them is going to need a favour and Joe’s going down. I guess he thinks that he can stay one step ahead, and maybe he will.
The biggest danger he faces is the people he sells the guns to.
Being caught with a hand gun will get you ten to fifteen, even if you haven’t fired it, so the characters doing the buying are either crazy or desperate and either way they would not hesitate to eliminate Joe to stop him giving evidence.
Seems like a mugs game to me but Joe lives quite well off the proceeds, so I guess he feels it’s worth it.
I wonder if his ‘old school tie’ will save him or will he be found strangled with it one of these days?
Not really my problem, but I kind of like Joe. I would not let him anywhere near my expensive French lace underwear, but I like him none-the-less.
Having Joe whisper in my ear is enjoyable and I’m hopping that Laslo is not in any hurry to toddle off to bed.
I’m comfortable sitting here with this tall drink and an unlit cigarette. It won’t stay unlit for long, not in this bar, and if all else fails Joe will light it with his gold lighter. It’s one of his trademarks. Gold lighter, old school tie and a trunk full of Webleys, Smith and Wessons, and the occasional Baretta.
I do hope they don’t kill Joe until this case is finished.
Laslo and his brown suit are still staring in my direction, so I think I’ll have another drink.
“Set ‘em up Joe”.
Painting by Jack Vettriano.