Terribleminds flash fiction challenge: Find Your Favorite Opening Line
Someone once told me bourbon was great for removing blood stains. Good thing I was in a bar. I rifled through the bottles lining shelves that were hung against a wide mirror behind the bartop. I wasn’t even sure what bourbon was. Was it a type of whiskey or was whiskey a type of bourbon? Gin was my poison, I knew fuck all about bourbon.
Ahh, here it was. “Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.” I grabbed the bottle, twisted the lid off, and splashed some of the amber liquid on my skirt. I dabbed at the reddish splotches with a bar napkin, the kind that gets served with your martini or your rum and coke, but the splotches weren’t fading. They were even worse with the brownish bourbon mixing with the rusty streaks of blood running down the front of my light yellow skirt.
Fuck me. I sank to the ground, making sure to avoid the puddle of blood coagulating on the tiled floor nearby. Tears threatened to force their way out of my eyes, feeling as hot as the blood that had splashed against me just a few minutes ago.
I had been on my way to work for another mind numbing day of corporate servitude when my car got a flat tire. I was in an industrial area with some neighborhood bars and bodegas scattered around to serve the dwindling population of blue collar workers who lived there to work at the dwindling number of factories. Many bars here still opened at 6:00 in the morning, a remnant from the days the factories ran around the clock and a man could punch out from his graveyard shift and stop to grab a beer on his way home.
After pounding my steering wheel in frustration, I got out of my car. Yep, that tire was sure flat all right. There was no way I could change it. I knew how to do it but past experience had shown I simply wasn’t strong enough to loosen the air wrench tightened lug nuts myself. The full force and fury of my five foot frame wouldn’t even budge those suckers. After a fruitless search in my purse for my cell phone I realized I had left the damn thing at home.
I looked around. A blinking neon sign about a block away that simply read “BAR” grabbed my attention. Hoping the bar was actually open this early in the morning and that the sign hadn’t been left lit by a sleepy bartender while closing the night before, I grabbed my purse and headed that way, hoping to use their phone.
The establishment was not inviting. The lone window was covered up from the inside by posters and beer advertisements that were faded and flyblown. I pushed open the heavy steel door and made my way in.
The interior was dim and I was blind for a moment. As I let the door close behind me I heard a woman scream followed by a flash of light. My ears were ringing, why were they ringing? And why was I wet? My nose filled with a sharp burning smell and something else, coppery and dank. As I stood dazed and confused, I heard, through the ringing of my ears, a clattering sound followed by a thumping heading my way. A body hurtled into me, knocking me down as it scrambled past me for the door. The reek of Charlie perfume pushed its way into my already overwhelmed nose.
I pulled myself into a sitting position as my eyes adjusted to the gloom of the bar. I wish they hadn’t. The woman had run out the door after knocking me down, but I wasn’t alone, there was a lump lying near me that I was terrified was a body. I wiped my face and then wished I hadn’t. My hands came away red with blood and mixed with little flecks of tissue and skin and bone. I wiped them on my skirt as I turned my head and threw up. The ringing in my ears, caused by the gun that had fired at close range in a confined space, began to ease up but my confusion kept roaring along.
I got up and made my way toward the bar. Bars had sinks and I could wash off the blood and gore before I got sick again. I tripped over something and picked it up to move it out of the way. It was the gun. The clattering sound I’d heard had been it skittering across the floor. I dropped it, my skin crawling and my stomach turning.
At the bar sink I washed off my hands and face with rusty water running from the faucet, made rustier still by mixing with the blood flowing off my hands. I remembered the bourbon tip and after finding that Kentucky gold I just made the stains on my skirt worse.
The doors flung open and the place filled with screaming and incomprehensible men. I tried to tell them what happened but I was thrown to the ground and handcuffed.
“We got our shooter,” I heard one cop bark into his radio.
They did? That was quick, I thought.
The cop continued, “One male, DOA from apparent gunshot wound to the head, shooter is a female, weapon retrieved from the floor nearby.”
Ummmm… what???? Were they talking about me? How could they think I had had any part in this? I looked down at my blood and bourbon soaked skirt, thought about how I had picked up the gun and left my prints all over it. This was not good. I would be cleared I was sure. Right?
As the police officers led me out the door to the waiting squad car it came to me. It wasn’t fucking bourbon that took out blood stains. It was club soda. Whoever told me that tidbit had the right idea but got the wrong part of the cocktail. My lawyer will love this.