Only the Dead
by David G. Blake
The man shuffled in around closing time before I had a chance to bolt the door or turn off the sign. A dark blue suit drooped from his drawn frame, and his black shoes reflected the dim floor lights. Neither suit nor shoe had been in style since the mid-seventies.
I nodded hello and wiped down a spot for him at the bar with my lucky rag. "What'll it be?"
He clutched my arm, his grip a tight pale that made my skin throb. The ache faded slower than the rosy handprint above my wrist.
"Whatever you decide," he added, ignoring my reaction, "make it a double."
I grabbed a bottle of 1800--my poison of choice before going cold turkey--and poured him a slug. "On the house." It seemed he needed it more than most.
"Kind of you."
"Yep. My pleasure. Should help warm you up some."
He met my gaze--eyes a feverish shade of blue that matched his suit--and gulped the shot down. Quick, as if worried I might snatch it back. "I've waited thirty-five long years for that drink."