Alpha Dog

Chapter 1

Alcohol.

It always ended up here and here’s where things often began as well, sitting in a dimly lit bar with a broken heart, empty pockets and relying on the generosity of Sal, the bartender, which was the equivalent to really having no prospects at all. It was a never ending cycle and each come-around the jobs got a little smaller and the loop a little tighter so that, geometrically speaking, I was in a downward spiral of a thing that barely deserved the title of: “My Life.”

I was strongly aware of the fact of my decline, sprawled there, lapping at my whiskey. I had no illusions of ever returning to the top of my game. I brought the dirty glass to my lips and felt a couple of hot drops slip by the rim, twisting down the sandpaper of my chin. It was soaking into my tie, while I mourned the loss.

Just then the doors swung open and the beast that was Alvin Walter strode in. He came right up to me, the full brick building of him and leaned in close so that the sour of his sweat almost drowned out the sour of my whiskey.

Almost.

Determination is a hell of a thing and I scrounged up just enough of it to avoid eye contact with Alvin and keep focus intently on my drink. Alvin was waiting, but the reek of him was demanding attention and he kept leaning in closer until his heavy breathing was drying my shirt collar and sending ripples over the whiskey.

“Do you mind?” I eventually told him, “I get enough trouble keeping from spilling when I’m sober – far less for working rough seas in close quarters.”

It was a mistake. I had acknowledged the dogs presence and his fist came down heavy on the bar in front of me. We all jumped; me, Sal, the ashtrays, the bottles. The pretzel bowl even threw up a bit.

Alvin barked from his lantern jaw, “You owe me money, Murphy!”

It was true, I couldn’t argue with him. I owed him five large, and he was welcomed to try to take it out of my hide. Only I was pretty sure my hide didn’t have it. He could take my life, but my life wasn’t worth half of it, and the way things were now, he might even be doing me a favour. Then I’d owe him again, even more. As a friend and an honest man I couldn’t ask him to do me any more favours, so it was best we just left things as they were for now.

I told him as much, but I don’t think he followed my logic and he grabbed me by the tie. “You have til Monday to get the money, Murphy,” he said through big square teeth and then he shoved me back and stormed out.

It could have been worse, I decided, though I wasn’t too cognisant of how. I waited a respectable minute then gathered my stuff to head back to the office, but not before I’d finished my drink.

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