“This the place, sweetheart?” the cabdriver asked, pointing out the window at a flickering neon sign across the street that declared the establishment to be Mulligan’s. I didn’t need to look at the card in my clutch to know; I’d worn the edges of the plain business card – just the name and a street address – down to a soft roll in the months since it had shown up in my post box. Sam always let me know where he was in his own way.
I overpaid the cabbie with a crisp five-dollar note and told him to keep the change. He smiled greasily.
“Anything else, darling?”
“Forget I came,” I said, and slammed the door behind me. He saluted from behind the wheel and pulled out in a spray of water.
Under a flickering streetlight, I paused to turn up the collar of my trench coat against the cold wind then set off across the deserted street. A wave of cigarette smoke and liquor fumes rolled over me as I opened the door and raucous laughter blended unharmoniously with the sound of a jazz pianist. Definitely Sam’s kind of place.
A hulking bouncer loomed by the door, his square face oddly squashed, as if he’d been in too many fights and his nose had never recovered.
“Looking for someone?” he asked, stepping quickly to block my entrance. There were few women in the place and those that were, weren’t exactly ladies. He looked me up and down, taking in my dark trench coat and fedora with a curl of his lip. I stared him back in the eyes without a smile.
“I’m on the list. Kate Donaghue.”
It was a bit of gamble. I’d never been here before; I had no idea if I was on any list, or if they even kept one here. But me and Sam went way back. Just like the cards in my box, he’d never stopped throwing my name on the list when he was in town. I never came by.