(Hello and Welcome.  Another day, another post, and another slice into a crime novel in progress, here on this blog.  If you’re a first- timer, please click back to the July 16th entry, in the Archives section, They Had the Right to Remain Silent (1), where the story begins.  For those following, thank you and let’s check on what happens next…)
They Had the Right to Remain Silent
Richard S. Jachimecki
Chapter ( xvii )
     TONY MARCUZZI PUSHED THE DOOR OPEN to Salty’s, entered, then stopped, and the door swung shut behind him. Barely inside, he was temporarily blind, the afternoon sun non- existent in this windowless watering hole. He wore only a tanktop T- shirt, his boss called it a ‘wife beater’. The cool of the AC touched his sweaty back and drew pins and needles on his skin and he shivered, as he stared forward into the dark cavern. Squinting, his eyes began to adjust to the murky luminescence of the lamp above the pool table, the glow from the underside of the bar, and a few neon signs that haphazardly hung on the walls of wood paneling, darkened from years of smoke residue buildup.
     The bartender looked up from the sink.
     “Hey, Tony, starting a little early today?” he said to the muscular figure.
     “No thanks Ray,” Tony replied, then scanned the tables and booths.
     “She’s over there, in Number 2,” Ray said quietly while he leaned over the bar, and pointed to the blond sitting solo in a booth near the back wall of the room.
     “Sure you don’t want a draft?” he asked.
     Tony changed his mind, watching the woman sip from a tall frosted glass and now looking in his direction. “Give me a Beam with a chaser.”
     Tony walked to the booth and asked the occupant if she’d like a fresh drink.
     “Captain and diet Coke, with lemon,” she said.
      He placed the order and leaned an elbow and hip against the bar, then looked back to catch her gaze, while Ray poured and mixed. Tony returned with their glasses and sat across from her. Both were hidden in the shadows cast by the tall backrests of the booth.
     “You picked up a nail, I plugged the tire, you’re all set,” Tony told her, placing her car key on the table. “I drove it over here, per your request,” he alluded to the fact this was preferential treatment.
     She placed her hand on his left forearm across the table. “You’re a lifesaver, Tony,” she said. “I thought I would have to cancel all my appointments, instead of just one.”
     “No big deal,” Tony assured her, noticing the hand still holding his arm.
     “It was so fortunate to meet you yesterday at that diner. And then to break down near where you work, now that’s fate.” she stated.
     “Yeah, fate,” he answered, his mind already wondering what else the future might have in store.
     “Victoria,” he started.
     “Please, I told you, my friends just call me Vicky.” she stopped him, squeezing his arm.
     “OK…Vicky,” he said, “ah…it’s too bad you got stuck fixing a tire on a rental.”
     She shook her head, “I’ll just hand in the bill as part of my expenses, no problem.”
     Lowering her eyelids, she leaned closer. “I only wish I could give you a little more…” she whispered.
     He no longer was wondering.
     “You really don’t have to go back to work, do you?” she asked, though her tone conveyed a coy request.
     He had a sharp thought of his boss, and a customer he expected to drop by that afternoon, “They’ll expect me back at the shop,” he moaned, embarrassed having to say it.
     “Pity.  Maybe we could meet somewhere later…somewhere private.” she said.
     He moved up, sitting on the edge of his bench, “What do you have in mind?” Tony replied, his right hand now firmly caressing hers.
     “Well, she said, “I’m only in town until tomorrow morning. We could meet at my hotel and relax for a while.”
     Perfect, he thought, no strings.
     “Sounds very appetizing,” he agreed.
     “OK,” she said, “get cleaned up a bit and meet me at the Talmage on 7th. You know it?”
     He smiled and nodded.
     “I guess I will have to clean up. Nice place.” he confirmed.
     “How about eight tonight? I’ll leave an envelope for you at the desk.” she said, grabbing the large Dooney and Bourke from beneath the table.
     “Let me pay you what I owe.” She reached into the bag to get her clutch, Tony stopped her. “Let’s settle up tonight,” he suggested.
     She raised an eyebrow, “Mmmm…sounds delightful.”
     She shifted to the end of the bench, rose from the table, then kissed the tip of her index finger and pressed it to his lips. He noticed a light hint of rum.
     “I’ve gotta go…see you tonight.” she cooed.
     She headed quickly to the front, stopping momentarily to speak with Ray, then opened the door, letting in the flash of late afternoon. Tony watched her movement and imagined the flesh beneath the business suit. Some days are just better than others, he mused. He finished his drink and let parts of his body relax from the encounter, before getting up from the table.
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