WHO DOESN’T LOVE SOME SUGAR? - CHAD ROHRBACHER
“Don’t do it,” Sweet said sliding up to me at the bar.
I did it anyway.
All night we had been drinking, listening to her abusive boyfriend play his guitar while crooning about true love. All night I listened to Sweet bitch about him while she rubbed her wrists and touched her arms. “Cheatin’ bastard” this and “dick sucker” that.
Sweet had lips you literally wanted to bite off her face. They looked that good.
The bartender filled up my glass, three fingers of scotch, and took the last of my money. He also got some pocket lint and a gum wrapper.
“Just like we planned.”
Sweet was my neighbor since middle school. When she moved in, we hit it off right away. Our parents did too. Playing poker Saturday nights were followed by hangover cookouts Sunday afternoons.
Her dad sold limbs to doctors: arms, legs, the newest prosthetics with synthetic fingers. For the patients who just couldn’t afford anything for their stumps, he’d pull out a plunger and some bungee cords from his bag and laugh like hell. Sweet would roll her eyes and call her dad an asshole. That’s why I fell in love with her.
My pop was a lawyer for all the guys in town no other lawyers wanted to represent. He’d get paid cash. My pop would take us hunting in Alaska while staying at a client’s place. We’d spend a week on another client’s houseboat off North Carolina’s coast. He had a lot of clients.
“It’s not worth it,” Sweet intoned.
It was supposed to be simple. I verbally abuse him. He assaults me, and the three times you’re out law takes him to the dugout forever. I should have known nothing was ever simple with Sweet.
On stage he finished up a song with an off key vibrato and then stared at us.
I looked up at him under the lights, raised my glass, and smiled.
Sweet put her head in her hands.
“Come on, Sweet. I don’t mind. I can take his beating. I can do that. Maybe we can catch dinner later. Ice-cream? That is if I can talk.”
I had been trying to get Sweet to date me since 8th grade. She developed early.
Sweet didn’t remove her head from her hand, but she kind of turned toward me, a sly little grin curling on those beautiful lips.
I slammed down my scotch, pointed for another, and stepped away from the bar. Music man was coming off the stage.
I took out my cell.
“911, what is your emergency?”
“There’s a guy getting the crap beat out of him at Sully’s bar. You better hurry. I think he’s going to get killed.”
Picking a fight is harder than it seems, especially with a guy who could go to prison. He was damn patient.
Once he did swing, I made a feeble attempt to fight back while he pummeled me. I ended up with a broken tooth, fractured cheek, and cauliflower ear from the hardwood floors. The cops still hadn’t shown up and I was tired of getting pounded, so I squared off and hit him straight in the chest.
When he fell back unable to catch his breath, I thought something was wrong. When he turned purple, I knew it.
Sweet ran to his side, held his hand, and screamed, “I think you killed him.” Then she cried, “You killed him, you son of a bitch!”
I grabbed a straw and started sucking scotch.
Later I found out he was on a cocaine and Red-Bull cocktail that made his heart burst with adrenaline. Later I learned that Sweet was going to take the stand against me.
She never did.
“Freak car accident,” Pop said.
I didn’t question him.
BIO: Chad Rohrbacher can be reached at C. Rohrbacher
Irish Times Crime Fiction column, February 2018
11 hours ago