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(A short story of 2487 words)

Easy Meat

Crime and Thrillers

by Hazel Ward

A sinister man gets more than he bargains for when he makes a move on a young woman in a bar.

Mac spots her straight away. She stands inside the door for a while as if trying to make up her mind whether to brave the journey to the bar. It’s a short one but the place is rammed with a mixture of office stragglers who, for their own reasons, are in no rush to go home, and those seriously cool types: the sort that make a real effort to look as if they’ve made no effort. Although he finds this a bit pretentious he has no real problem with it: we’re all pretending to be something, or someone, that we’re not...aren’t we?

The bar is all brick walls and dark wood, stripped floors with furniture that’s been knocked around a bit. It feels old school but if you look closely enough you can see and smell its newness; it’s not only the customers that are phonies. To add to the authenticity the DJ has been playing old soul and blues for most of the night; now he’s upping the tempo with seventies disco complete with flashing lights.

Mac watches her scanning the crowd nervously, probably looking for her date, he reasons. He can’t be sure if he’s caught her eye but, if he has, she shows no interest. It takes her a good ten minutes to decide it’s worth staying; plenty of time for him to make a full assessment. Roughly late twenties, she’s just pretty enough not to be plain. Her hair is that nondescript colour somewhere between blonde and brown and she’s wearing the kind of cheap, throwaway clothes you can buy for the price of a couple of drinks. She blinks and twitches as the DJ’s spotlight hits her, a mouse in a short skirt and heels. Looking uncomfortable in its glare she finally moves towards the bar…

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