by Cindy Rosmus
“Come on, baby!” Tony said. “You can’t mean that.”
Giuletta just smiled.
“Torn up by a tiger.” Tony shuddered. He appealed to Lou, the bartender. “No girl would let her man die like that.”
“’S’ only a story,” Lou said wearily, “in my kid’s eighth-grade reader.”
“But it’s timeless,” Giuletta said. “‘The Lady or the Tiger?’ is all about human nature. Obsessive love, and . . .”
The back door buzzed open, and two giggly blondes came in. One short, one tall. The tall one caught Tony’s eye.
“. . . Jealousy.” Giuletta dug her nails in his arm.
Bitch, Tony thought.
The blondes sat far enough away not to look suspicious. Maybe too far away.
Here, at Royal Flush Giuletta called the shots. It was the classiest bar her family owned: shiny hardwood floors, top-shelf booze. Swarming with cougars and wiseguys. And the occasional model-svelte blonde.
If you knew, he thought smugly, who I fucked last night.
“She loved him to death,” Giuletta said. “Literally.”
“It’s the old man’s fault,” Lou said, after he’d served the blondes. “The fuckin’ king’s. He made her choose.”
“He made him choose,” Giuletta said. “Lowlife scum. Daddy was pissed he loved his daughter.” With a side look at Tony, she said, “Can you blame him?”
“No,” he said, wearily.
Like that king, Giuletta’s dad would kill Tony if he knew they were fucking. “Nino the Ice” was a tiny mobster whose pinky ring boasted a diamond twice his size. You could see your face in it.
But “the Ice” didn’t stop there.
Tony shivered. Nino was the coldest fuck out there. He’d order a hit with his morning coffee, want it done by the last bite of breakfast.
Nino’s look could freeze you to death. Even if he liked you. And I don’t like you, shithead, Nino told Tony more than once. God knows why Nino kept him on.
‘Cos I shut up good, Tony knew. Like about fucking his daughter. Besides fucking every. . .
Again he eyed the tall blonde, who pretended not to notice.
“Can you blame her?” Giuletta asked Tony.
“For choosing the tiger.” Her smile unnerved him. “She’d rather see him get torn apart than be happy . . . with some blonde.”
Tony’s chest felt tight.
“Wait a minute!” Lou swung around from the register, “It don’t say that.” On his stubby fingers, he began counting. “Number one, shithead loves princess. Number two, king finds out. Surprise, surprise!”
Tony wiped his sweaty forehead.
Lou kept going. He ignored customers waving for drinks. By the time he got to,“ ‘One of the fairest damsels’ in the king’s fuckin’ court,” Tony wished he were on a plane to fucking Cancun.
“In other words,” Lou said, finally. “The story don’t say nothin’ about her bein’ a blonde.”
An uncomfortable silence followed.
“You’re right.” Giuletta had the Ice’s chilly blue eyes. “It don’t.”
Shit, Tony thought. She knows.
He forced a smile. “It’s a dumb story,” he said. “No girl who loves her man, like . . .” He slid his arm around her stool. “Like you love me, would hurt him. Not on purpose.”
She smiled up at him. “No?”
“If I were a chick,” Lou said, “I couldn’t do it.”
Giuletta didn’t see Tony wink at Lou. “She didn’t do shit,” she said stubbornly. “It was the tiger.” Bracelets jangling, she held up her hands. “Her hands were clean.”
The moment Tony saw the blonde texting, his cell vibrated. Oh, yeah! he thought, in the midst of all this. Pictured those luscious pink lips around his cock. His pants felt unbearably tight.
“Louie,” Giuletta said, “Buy the house.”
As Lou set up free drinks for everybody, Tony peeked at his cell. His heart leapt: “cum outside 4 a BIG surprise!” the text read.
He slid off his stool, flashed a Marlboro. “Smoke,” he told Giuletta.
Usually, her icy stare would’ve sat him back down. But tonight his cock was doing the thinking.
“No jacket?” she said. “It’s cold out there.”
He turned, suddenly, to Giuletta’s strange smile. Her bracelets jingled as she stroked his leather jacket on his stool. It was butter-soft leather, a Christmas gift from the Ice, himself.
As Tony passed her on his way out, the tall blonde didn’t look at him. Again she was texting.
Now what? he thought.
But it wasn’t for him.
Outside the back door, the Ice’s boys were waiting.
“Shii—” Tony said. Before he found the “t,” he was down.
Never felt the next shot.
BIO: My stories have been published in the usual places, such as Hardboiled, Beat to a Pulp, Mysterical-E, Out of the Gutter, and A Twist of Noir. I'm the editor of the noir/horror ezine, Yellow Mama: http://blackpetalsks.tripod.com/yellowmama/index.html