The Prey


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                                     The Prey

                                      By Jim Barrett    

     It was a hot, dark sultry night, but then again here in south Florida they mostly all are. As I sat in the van I’d borrowed from my cousin I could see the dive where my prey worked. It was in the seedier part of town. A town like a hundred others along Florida’s treasure coast. Not the big resort areas like Daytona or Ft. Lauderdale, just a sleepy dumpy little berg left over from the thirties when bootleggers use to get their whiskey loads from off shore, smuggled from a passing freighter.

     This was the seventh night I had laid in wait for the prey I was stalking. I could see him through the dirty glass that passed as a window, with its Bud-Light and Miller Lite beer signs glowing their enticing message. The prey was a man about thirty, short but stocky, wearing the standard Florida shorts and tee- shirt with some dumb-ass picture and saying on it. He was a red-neck with shaggy blonde hair and a foo-manchu mustache and tats all over his arms. Oh yeah, I mustn’t forget the earring he wore in his left lobe. My man was a piece of work all right, and I wanted to nail him, my man was the bartender. It gave me great pleasure knowing I was able to watch his every move and him not knowing a thing about it. Me knowing that when the time was right, I would take from him his very life. Nothing, not a thing he could do about it either for he was now mine. I regaled in this power I had over him, but then this wasn’t my first time either, though this one I would enjoy more than all the others. 

     Sitting here I liked studying the people or patrons if you will who came and went at my prey’s suds parlor. Several ladies if you could stretch your imagination in calling them ladies. A couple of fairly good lookers also, but they were with men and appeared married or at least keeping company together. Splitting the sheets, that’s what some use to call it, or shacking together, whatever. There were the working stiffs, laborers, retires, a couple of Hispanics, a few blacks who figured to be laborers also. Then there were the young punks as I liked to refer to them. Some with baggy shorts down halfway to the bottom of their ass and of course the ear-rings and tats. One dude came in with all that plus the spiked orange hair and complete with a ring through his lower lip.

     When it came to surveiling, some places were harder than others. This location was a piece of cake. All the businesses were closed except for this joint and another one just like it a block further down. No one passing paid any attention to my sitting here, especially since the windows were blacked out and I sat in the back unobserved, but observing. Tomorrow however, it was time for me to act. Tomorrow was Monday and a pretty dead day from what I’d observed last week, a perfect time for me to spring on my prey. Tuesdays was his only off day and I didn’t want to wait any longer. I itched to terminate this prey as soon as possible, for I hated watching this rotten excuse for a human being. Not that I particularly liked any of my prey, but this one made my stomach crawl. It would be a pleasure to end his existence; I couldn’t wait. Calvin Gibbs my employer would be happy for me to wrap this up, but not as happy as I. 

     Monday night, my night to spring and it was raining buckets like it does a lot in south Florida. All the better, keep any more customers away than necessary. Hell, so far having sat here for twenty minutes, I hadn’t seen a one enter, and saw only one old drunk sitting at the bar now. He looked like he was about ready to pass out observing him through the rain and fog on the windows of both the van and the joint.  

     Walking into the place, I saw the drunk was nursing a beer and an empty shot glass sat beside it on the bar. He had a cigarette in his ashtray about to fall out onto the bar top. Apparently they didn’t worry about the no smoking law here in Florida, and a stranger like me didn’t seem to disturb my prey either. I saddled up down wind from my drunken friend and the prey asked what my “poison” was. I told him I’d have a draft, whatever was on tap was all right by me. He drew it, and left me to myself. This dude was not the talking kind, but then I already knew that and it made it easier for me. All I had to do was sit there and watch, watch and wait for my chance to spring. It occurred to me I could do it without the drunk even knowing what was going on he was so far out of it. Guess the only reason he hadn’t been thrown out was because of the rain and no other business.

     Watching him work behind the bar I saw him wiping off the bottles, wiping down the bar from customers long gone, and putting clean water in the sink to do glasses again from earlier in the day. The whole time a cigarette dangled from his mouth also. The place reeked from the smoke, from stale smoke and from stale beer. The drunk down at the far end didn’t smell too good either. 

     There was a television over the bar at the end by the door with a Marlins game on them playing the Washington National at RFK Stadium in D.C. It was the sixth inning and the “Fish” were winning 6 to 2. I like baseball; it’s a nice slow game but with a lot of mental games going on at the same time. So I watched the game and my prey anticipating when I could catch him just as I wanted him.

     It was the eight inning and my fifth beer when my time had come. He was restocking the coolers with cans and bottles, and replenishing the kegs for the draft. Hefting them right and left, handling them like they were nothing. My man was strong, but if I ever had to test him, I knew I could take him with no sweat. When I take down my prey however, there’s never any problems because it’s all over before they know what hit them. The time I relish most of all.

     It was all over. The drunk was none the wiser, my prey was a dead man and he’d had not the foggiest idea of his demise when it came. Walking away from that hole-in-the-wall the rain had died down to a drizzle. The humidity was on the rise even more than before and a slight breeze was coming in from the ocean along with the smell of fish. The night traded one smell that of the old bar for that of the sea. Neither one was all that fragrant. As for myself, I figured I’d done mankind a service for sure and myself in particular. Oh how I loved my work. 

     “So Tommy boy, you say it was a concerned citizen who put you on to our man Morgan, that so?”

“That’s right Calvin, just a good citizen wanting to do what’s right.”

“More like a disgruntled former fellow worker who couldn’t stand the thought of Morgan drawing all that Workers Comp. free money. “

“Can’t fool you Calvin, you are a good judge of human nature all right.”

“Ya got that right. Funny it’s the employers who comes to us in stead of the other way around, but mind ya he was happier than a pig in stink for us to look into this. Said they’d been paying this bird for a couple years now. Wasn’t able to get anything on him before. They’re sending me a nice hefty fee too. Of course you’ll get your regular rate even though you brought it to me.”

“Of course Calvin, wouldn’t have it any other way, pal.” He looked surprised when I said that. But I was the one to have the last laugh on this case.

     What Calvin didn’t know was that it was Morgan’s own wife who told me about his cheating the government out of Workers Comp. money. She told me about it one night when we were in bed. Seeing how I was a Private Detective who did a lot of cases like this, she thought it would be fitting that I do Morgan boy out of his free ride. We hoped it might even lead to a jail term for him, but if not it was still worth it.

     Last night in the bar I had caught him with my pin-hole movie camera him lifting all that beer and those kegs when he was suppose to have a bad back. His former employers

 Lawyers love that stuff when going to court. No wiggle room for Morgan boy with that staring the judge and him in the face. After all that, I just couldn’t seem to wipe a smile off my face, oh sweet justice.


                                                        The End