Indulgences May be Granted in Advance of the Crime

Happy New Year!

Two minutes to three in the morning when they came in, blown through the door by the storm, a man and a woman, limp and steaming from the rain, and laughing; three fifteen by the clock that hung over the door. They kept the clock running fast. It made hustling the drunks out easier.

His hands were busy with the day’s take. “Howdy,” he said around his cigarette. “Help you folks?”

“My god, you’re still open,” said the woman.

“What time do you close?” said the man.

“Don’t,” he said, and slid one hand along under the counter to the shotgun that lay there. The butt was sticky with the blood of the bartender. “Can’t offer you much in the way of food right now, but hamburgers and eggs we can do. Coffee.”

“Coffee’d be great. God, but it’s coming down out there! I thought we were going to drown coming from the car.” The woman leaned over and whispered something into the man’s ear. Flash of light as her hair swirled around her neck. Diamonds. Laughter, low and secret.

“Yeah, it’s rough everywhere,” he said, and swung the shotgun up over the counter.