A flash-fiction noir set in the prohibition era. Seedy speakeasies and a little bit of violence are the marks of this piece. This was originally presented at the Nampa Death Rattle Writer's Festival in Idaho. For more about the Death Rattle Writer's Festival, check them out at deathrattlewritersfest.org.

Sally's Speakeasy

“I’m not in the business of killin’, ‘less I have to, of course,” I explain.

Sally leans over the bartop. Her ample bosom rests just in front of my whiskey glass. She likes to flirt whenever I wander into her speakeasy. That’s the type of gal she is. Low-cut dress, shapely body, and a fiery mop of hair. She has an attitude and a special kind of way about her you don’t usually see in a gal her age. “Of course,” she says dryly. “’Nother refill hun?”

“You got it.” Sally knows me. Never pries – only listens and pours my drinks.

The door to the watering hole flies open and the noise pulls my eyes away from Sally. At the top of the ten short steps stands a man wearing a black duster stained with the red of fresh blood. His eyes are wide and his face flushed with a look of panic. Joe’s never seen a dead man till today, which is surprising given his line of work.

“You brought a fed?” Sally asks.

Almost sounds like she’s mad at me. “Musta followed me in Sally. Don’t worry.”

Sally stands and places her hands on her hips. “Whether you brought ‘im or he followed, it’s trouble either way.”

Joe climbs down the steps. He draws a .38 special with one hand, and a pair of cuffs with the other. The cuffs dangle uncertainly at his side and the firearm hangs in the air, tremoring for a moment. “Put ‘em up pal!” His voice squeaks uncomfortably.

I pull out my own weapon, an M1917 .45 revolver with exactly the type of sex appeal my pastor warned about. Her barrel is still warm with the scent of gunpowder. “You’ve never fired a gun, Joe. Don’t be causin’ any trouble here now.”

“Come along and there won’t be any.”

Behind me, I hear Sally cocking her own weapon – a short barreled shotgun she keeps under the counter. I shake my head. “Two to one, Joe. Two to one.”

“Drop the heaters boys!” Sally orders.

I ignore her, keeping my eyes and gun on Joe. His hand is shaking and his finger hovers over the trigger. “Just come al-“ Joe interrupts himself and fires an unexpected round.

I don’t wait to find out where his bullet strikes. I fire my gun and send two rounds into Joe. One smacks him center chest, and the other finds a home in his throat. I watch him fall and then turn back to Sally. “Sorry about the mess sweetie.” I replace my revolver with a wad of bills.

I look up. Sally levels her gun at me. I give her a wry grin. “Hey, hey, sorry ‘bout the trouble. No need for the gun.”

She’s still holding it. Her eyes are dead serious. I watch her finger pull back the trigger and the last thing I hear is, “I’m not in the business of killin’, less I have to.”