The lady in red smiled at Bruce as he looked up from his phone. How much had she heard he wasn’t sure, but he was certain she heard the last of it and this bothered him. He always wanted to know more about a client than they did about him, but now she had a little sliver of info she could use against him.

“Mr. Willis?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said rising. She waved him down and she sat. “Family troubles?”

“Teenagers,” he said flatly.

“You know,” she said, “you actually look like the real Bruce Willis.”

“I’d argue that I am the real Bruce Willis and he looks like me,” he said. “It’s probably just his stage name anyway.”

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Anyway, what can I do for you?” he asked.

“Your nose is even a little crooked like his,” she said. “In a good way.”

“Right, so what type of services do you need?”

“Actually,” she said. “I’m not your client.”

“What do you mean?”

“I got here early, hoping you would reconsider taking her on as a client.”


“It’s a long story, boring and full of infuriating little details, but that’s beside the point,” she said. “I’ll pay you double what you were going to charge her just to walk away. ”

“That’s a lot of money. What else would you need me to do?”

“Nothing, just don’t have any contact with her,” she said. “Ever.”

“I appreciate the offer, but I’ll need to at least meet with her this once,” he said. “It would be highly unprofessional to stand her up.”

“Triple,” she said.

“I have a reputation to uphold,” he said as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair.

“I’ll pay you five times your normal fee,” she said sternly.

Bruce leaned back in his chair and let out a whistle. “Who are you?” he asked.

“Doesn’t matter,” she said.

“Yes it does,” Bruce said. “I need to know if you’re the good guy or the bad guy.”

“This isn’t a fairy tale, Willis.” she said. “You know how it is, everybody is the grey guy.”

“I don’t believe that,” he said. “And I think you’re the bad guy.”

The lady in red laughed out loud. It was a heartfelt laugh and she too leaned back in her seat.

“What if I am the bad guy?” she said. “Ten times your fee if you walk away from this.”

“I’m afraid you’re wasting your time,” Bruce said. “Offering me all this money just makes me even more curious. Now I have to meet with her.”

“What would it take to change your mind?” the lady in red asked.

Bruce started to say “nothing”, but the lady in red unbuttoned her blouse slowly. He paused and she loosened another button.

Bruce looked around at the Polynesian themed bar he was in. The place was half full. There were businessmen and businesswomen, tourists and some college coeds at the big table in the corner, but one thing was obvious. The lady in red was the most attractive person in the place. By a long shot.

He looked back at her. He could see the top of her bra now as she unbuttoned another button. He looked at her eyes, studying them closely and he noticed she was wavering, as if she were about to faint. There were a few beads of sweat on her forehead.

“You okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she said quickly. “What will it be? What will it take?”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t ditch out on a client. For anything,” he said.

She sighed and buttoned up her blouse. “Thank God,” she said as she grabbed a napkin and mopped her forehead.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“I am the client,” she said. “I had to make sure you could be trusted.” She grabbed both sides of the table and looked as if she might faint.

“Are you ok?” he asked again, in seriousness.

“I’ve only been in this place for a few minutes, my body hasn’t adjusted.” She stood.

“The smell of the burning wood make you nauseous?”

“What wood? No,” she said wobbly. “It’s this entire place.” She started to walk away. “Follow me.”

He stood hesitantly.

“Quickly,” she said, “before I get sick.” She moved like a drunken sailor toward the restrooms. Bruce followed, warily, imagining that he was probably being set up.

If she couldn’t pay him off, she’d lure him to the restroom by using the oldest ruse in the book. He felt the small of his back with one hand. His snub-nosed revolver was there.

He loosened his shirt tail to make access easier.

  1. Blaine Hicklin says:


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