A fun flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog. The challenge is to write a flash fiction story about an unlikable protagonist.
He pushed open the door and entered the bar. The place was almost deserted. The Blue Lagoon Tavern was located at the far end of town, so it did not attract a trendy crowd, just the local old coots and your normal suspicious looking characters. That suited him just fine; he would blend right in. He shambled over to an empty booth and sank down into the worn, shabby cushions. It had been a long walk from the shopping district. He touched his coat pocket protectively, reassured that the package was still there. He slid the cigarettes from the pocket and dropped this on the table.
A worn and shabby waitress came over with a pad in her hand. “What’ll ya have, mister?” She asked with a suspicious stare.
He avoided eye contact and busied himself with lighting a cigarette. “Bring me a beer.”
When she left, he grabbed a fistful of napkins from the dispenser and wiped the sweat from his forehead. He thought about how he was going to fence the necklace. He never thought he’d be back in his old profession, but a man had to live, right? He’d spent over two years locked up for burglary, and he had no desire to repeat the experience. He stubbed out the cigarette in the ashtray and swiped at his forehead again. He willed his leg to stop shaking.
His beer arrived, and he took a long swallow, sitting back as the liquid gushed down his throat, burning all the way down. He nodded to the bartender for a refill. After two more beers, he was relaxed and confident enough to carry out his plan. He figured he would head over to Tony’s bar by the docks and sell the thing to him. He didn’t much care how much he got for it; all he wanted was to be free and clear of it by midnight.
He paid for his beers and exited the bar, jamming his hands in the coat pockets as a blast of cold air hit his face. He turned left and headed towards the main avenue, where swarms of revelers were amassing in groups, to start their Saturday night partying. His senses sharpened as he walked amidst the crowd, on the lookout for pickpockets or cops. The crowd started thinning as his walk brought him across the street from Tony’s bar. The lights were dim at Tony’s; people went there to drink and carry on their business in relative obscurity.
As he passed the alleyway just before the bar, he heard the bang of garbage cans being knocked over. He jumped.
Damn cats. His nerves calmed and he continued walking. A mewling sound, like an injured cat, reached his ears and he paused. He figured it had been injured in a fight. He continued walking.
The sound came again, this time sounding suspiciously like the cry of an infant.
He stopped and this time listened more intently. Yeah, it was definitely the cry of a baby. He looked around; there was no one else in the vicinity. He figured some young girl had dumped the infant hoping someone would find it.
Not my problem, he thought, and continued on to his destination.
A few steps from the entrance, he thought about it. It was a pretty cold night and he wondered what would become of the baby if no one else heard it.
For a moment he considered going back, but then what would he do with it? He would not risk getting caught with stolen goods for a baby.
This was the real world and terrible things happened all the time. It was about survival. His survival.
He shrugged his shoulders and entered Tony’s bar.