For a brief half-second, Jenny had a moment of clarity, one that allowed her to see that punching out Tia may not have been the best plan.
The half-second hit her amidst the realization that Tia had way too many friends at the bar. Jenny thought she could count at least a dozen angry sets of eyes trained on her, punctuated by the sound of pistols chambering rounds, bottles being broken, knives being drawn, fists slapping into empty palms…
The best plan Jenny could come up with was to put her back to the bar, not leave an exposed flank, see everyone who could come against her. Assuming the bartender wasn’t going to pull what he had from behind the bar and blow out her brains right there…
As Jenny stepped back, Tia raised her hand. Two guys helped her up, and she looked around, blood dripping from her nose and lip as she eyed everyone and finally rested her gaze on Jenny.
“All right, eh?” Tia addressed the crowd, her voice rising. “Stand down, now. Stand down! Put it away, people! Stand down!”
“What the f’n’ ‘ell ‘ere?” a voice called out from the back of the Bombardier Lounge.
“It’s all right, really. You see, I owe her money, okay? So stand down, it’s cool.”
“She tries anything, I’ll smoke her!” another voice called out.
“No you won’t, because I’ll put her down first.” And with that, Tia motioned to the bartender, got the bottle of Scotch and an extra glass, and led Jenny to a table in the corner. Tia gave a look to a guy at the table, about twice her size, and he left in a hurry.
As Jenny took her seat, Tia sat opposite her and said, “You make a hell of an entrance. I hope you like single malts, they-”
“What the f’n’ hell is wrong with you?” Jenny asked.
“What, are you still going completely nuts here?”
“Me? Me? You think I acted funny?”
“Oh, and the whole ready-to-blow-myself-up bit, that was smart?” Tia replied before she took a sip, visibly wincing as the Scotch went over her cut lip.
“And that gave you the right to do what you did?”
“I had to. Otherwise what we agreed to was going to go horribly wrong. You do remember that part, right?”
“Oh yeah, I do,” said Jenny, trying not to get madder than she was when she came in. “I remember very well, the night we were at my Nana’s place, you interviewing her and all. And I remember how we got emotional over drinks, getting real vulnerable with each other, guards down. And yeah, I do remember how you came up to me, half drunk on the couch, coming in real close, close enough to whisper.”
“So you do remember, then.”
“Oh yeah, I do. And I remember how you came up close to me, and told me the truth then, that you were really over in Buffalo because my father hired you to find me, how you were originally offered a good sum just to get any info that would lead to my being able to be contacted by him through others, but you thought you could get the extract fee as well, and offered me half of it if I just came back with you.”
“I’m glad you remembered,” Tia said, trying another sip without the sting making her wince.
“The part I do not recall, however, was the part where you kidnap me out in the middle of the lake, tie me up and drop me off in my dad’s house like smuggled contraband.”
“Technically you are. It’s not like you have entry papers into Canada, you-”
“That’s not the point!” Jenny hissed. “When you told me why you were there, we had a plan; I’d get a few things in order, wrap up some business, maybe try and make one really good score to set up everyone before you and I get a small boat and steal across. And I sure as f’n’ hell wasn’t going to be brought in to him like some damn hostage!”
“So you’re upset with me because I didn’t follow our plan, right?”
“Oh, what the hell does it look like to you, then?”
“Let me tell you what I saw, eh?” Tia said with a sharpness in her voice Jenny had never heard before. “I saw a young girl who I thought was someone I could do business with, and I watched her lose her shit because her abusive boyfriend was stuffed in a freezer, and she was going to go throw everything away and end up a bullet-ridden, hacked-up-to-pieces corpse over Lake Erie. Yeah, I got angry, because I thought I had just wasted my time and was going to get nothing out of this.”
There was a long silence between the two of them, the tension between them so thick that the occasional patron who came over to make sure Jenny wasn’t about to misbehave again withered if either woman gave an angry go-away glance at them.
The tension built, as did the chance of more blood being spilled…
All content Copyright © 2012 James Ryan