“Yeah, you lost. That’s it.”
“But I didn’t even start…”
“Doesn’t matter. Look at her; she eying me.”
Johnny glanced at her—a stunning, night-haired jewel tucked into the corner of the smoke-choked bar. She sat, alone for the moment, sipping a crimson concoction. She gave Jimmy a demure look, inviting his attention momentarily before averting her topaz-colored eyes. Jimmy was right, that bastard. He usually was, at least when he was on the prowl like this.
“You see that?” Jimmy asked.
“Yeah, I see it. But you haven’t won yet.”
“I’ll close the deal; I’m a closer, right? All day, every day. You know that. She won’t even know what hit her: like an earthworm on the freeway. I’ll give her the same treatment I gave that blonde bunny last night.”
“You got lucky last night. I almost snared that little hare.”
“But you didn’t, did you? And you still haven’t paid up, you dirty little welsher.”
“Yeah, well, this one’s double or nothing. If you don’t net her on the first try, I’m going to snatch her up fast as a hyena on a kitten. You’ve got one shot, slick. Better make it count,” Johnny said and took a sip of his Greyhound.
Jimmy grinned like a snake and said, “Man, you know me—I could talk a nun out of her black and whites. Peep her vacant look; she’s dumb as a bag of boogers. She needs what I’ve got.”
“I hear a lot of talk but I’m seeing no walk.”
“Hold on man, you have to time these things just right. I don’t want to run straight over there like a chump. She needs to know I don’t need her; she’s just the next in line.”
“If you wait too long, she’ll lose interest. Then she’s all mine.”
“Not a chance. I have her hooked already. She’s a sexy tuna caught on my line, but my line’s so fine she just doesn’t know it yet.” Jimmy took a swallow of his single-malt and adjusted his Windsor. He caught his convex reflection in the mirror of his glass and fine-tuned his well-practiced smile. “Time to reel her in,” he whispered as he stood and stalked over to her.
Johnny watched a flower of delight bloom on her face as Jimmy administered his verbal sunshine. He couldn’t hear their exchange; he didn’t need to. Jimmy gestured and spoke. She laughed. Jimmy spoke some more and laughed. She repositioned herself so her whole body faced him. Jimmy spoke, softer now, like a sorcerer weaving enchantments. She touched his arm with delicate, outstretched fingertips painted red as wine.
Damn it, Johnny thought. I lost. He scooted away from the table, scraping his stool as rudely as possible and withdrew one hundred dollars from the ATM. Then he strutted over to the jukebox, slipped it some dirty quarters and played “Under My Thumb” by the Stones. The song salved his shame, like a Sunday hymn to a Saturday sinner. Jimmy was first back to the table, and greeted the loser with a simultaneous raise of eyebrows and a fresh scotch.
“Well?” Johnny asked. The question was, of course, mere formality.
“The Golden Package.”
“You bet your lily ass. I sold her our most expensive plan. I talked her into better medical insurance and life, which she’d never even considered before. Life insurance! What is she, twenty-two? If she gets creamed by a bus, she’ll have a rich cat. Or a lucky boyfriend. She was practically a virgin! She’s even going to send some of her friends my way!”
Johnny sighed and slid a handful of twenties across the table.
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