Sore Loser


Rain had come to the City of Angels and it was coming down in truck loads.  The streets were sloppy and flooded.  It’d been raining for weeks, and the skies were bleak and grey.  So was my mood.

I didn’t like driving in the rain, but I got a call from a buddy, so was headed downtown to the county jail.  He was in a jam.   I took my last five hundred bucks to bail him out.

Seems he was at his weekly poker game last night and had won big.  Good for him and good for me.  He owed me money.  Next thing he knows he wakes up in a hotel room with this doll curled up next to him.  Would have been okay with him, but she was just a kid; and only sixteen.  He’d never seen her before in his life.  But she was telling a different story and sticking to it.

Another kicker, he’d  been rolled.  They took all his winnings.  Somebody was a sore loser.

By the time I got to the county jail my stomach wasn’t very happy. I hadn’t had breakfast.  I chewed on a couple of stale lifesavers to shut it up.

Roger’s bail was set at just short of five hundred bucks.  I’d have enough left over to have breakfast at The Pantry and grab the morning paper.  The place reeked of urine, sweat and despair.  I found it depressing.  The sergeant at the desk had a two day’s head start on a beard and a bad attitude.  The soggy cigar stuck between his teeth had gone out long ago, but he kept chewing on it.   The floor was filthy from the wet traffic.  At the far end of the room a tired looking janitor was mopping up somebody’s accident.  In the distance the clang of a bell was followed by the grating sound of steel clashing on steel; it was the lock up.   The halls echoed with each sound.   I wanted some fresh air.

“Wait over there,” growled the cigar chomping sergeant when I paid Roger’s bail.  I sat and checked out the scenery.  At 7 a.m. the place was already buzzing with activity.  Cops were coming and going hauling in drunks, prostitutes and gang members sporting some pretty nasty war wounds.  Some of them were still bleeding.  The janitor wasn’t going to be happy about that.  Suddenly the clientele took a turn and a couple of men dressed in snappy business suits and shiny shoes came in.  They looked a long way from home.  I watched as one stepped up and whispered to the desk sergeant.  The other two hung back.  The guys looked familiar but I couldn’t place them.

Ten minutes later the bell rang again. I waited.  I could hear footsteps on the tile floor.  I stood up, but it wasn’t Roger.   It was the blonde I tangoed with two weeks ago and who had “borrowed” my car. Her buddies were the suits.  Suddenly it all clicked.  I’d seen them all together at The Formosa.    She looked good and like she’d spent the night at the Ambassador and not in a cell at the county jail.    She kissed the big guy and saw me.   Our eyes locked across the room.   She winked at me.  I nodded.  Suddenly Roger was standing in front of me shaking my shoulder.

“Hey buddy,” he said.

I roused myself like a man sleep walking.  Roger looked and smelled like he’d been on a two day drinking binge and then hung out to dry.  I was suddenly glad I’d come to bail him out.   As Roger signed for his belongings I looked around.  The blonde and her friends were gone.  I pushed her out of my mind.  My friend was in trouble and needed my help.  But, my troubles were just beginning.

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