Mick Ronson was sitting at the bar In through the outdoor having a Tom Collins, holding a small piece of paper in his hands. Bull rolled his eyes, kept wiping the beer mugs with a damp towel. Ronson smiled at Bull as the paper caught fire.
It was what Mick Ronson was good at.
All he has to do is think about an object and it catches fire. A beautiful blue-red flame with tinges of yellow enveloping the object.
Ronson loved it so. He wasn't just an firebug. He thought of himself as an artist. From the time he was nine years old and he thought of how he'd like to burn that mean old Mrs. Avery's house down for telling on him stealing gum from the store, to the time he caught Mr. Donner's pants on fire in history class in the tenth grade, Ronson knew he was special.
In his hands the paper caught fire without the aid of a match or lighter.
Bull poured Ronson another Tom Collins.
“Oh by the way, Mick, this is Cora. If you got a twenty she'll make your world move.”
Ronson looked up and a tall, blonde in a green sequence dress, was standing in front of him. Ronson smiled a toothy grin.
“Bull's just mad cause he can't make as much money as me. Not enough sickly old men that like bald ugly queens like old Bull.”
Bull growled. “If you weren't my sister,” He showed Cora his fist. Then he went off to tend bar for three drunk sailors that just entered, falling over each other.
“You really Bull's sister?” Ronson placed the flaming paper in an ashtray.
“Afraid so, came from same mother.”
Ronson stared at Cora, chewing on an ice cube. She sat the stool beside him, not so much lady-like, but enough to get Ronson's eyes moving toward the open flaps of her dress.
“So what do you want?” He said.
“Conversation,” Cora leaned in with a cigarette and lit it by the burning paper in the ashtray.
“You could have that with those sailors over there.”
Cora sighed. “Not my type. Never had a good situation with military guys.”
“That put's a kink in your kind of business, don't it?”
“That was a neat trick,” Cora said with a giggle.
“What trick was that?” Mick raised an eyebrow.
She pointed at the ashtray.
“Oh, that,” He had a toothy grin on his face. “That's a trade secret.” He chewed on an ice cube.
The sailors were hootin and hollarin' at each other as they took shots for quarters.
“Why aren't you talking to them?” Mick threw a thumb toward them.
“Not my type. I like guy's in white suits.” I said.
“You do do you?” His eyes grew wild. “If you only knew me......”
“I would like to,” I placed my hand on his leg.
“What were you burning?” Cora picked through the ashes, took piece that hadn't burned.
Dear Mick, I can't see you anymore. Peter has found out.....
The rest had turned into soot, then the paper ends.
Cora nodded. “Oh,” She carefully placed the paper back in the ashtray. “I see. I hate it when that happens.”
At that moment the bar door slammed open. Everyone stopped to see who it was.
Peter Barnes stood in the doorway, looking every bit intense, and intending to do harm. He wasn't a big man as much as he had those crazy eyes that drilled a hole through you. He was there with two men much bigger than he, and faces only a mother could love. His suit was so red that Bulls in Mexico were looking for him.
“This, boys, is the kind of place where you're served drinks that burns a hole in your stomach,” Barnes said. The two men behind him chuckled. “Bull, baby. How are you?”
Bull became very nervous, the beer glasses shook in his hands. “Mr. Barnes.... I'm not late on my payments am I?” Bull let out a whimper as Barnes and his men ambled to the bar.
“Bull, sweetheart, don't be nervous,” Barnes patted Bull on the hand several times. The drunk sailors were staring, their mouths left gaping. Barnes snarled at them. “You bums beat it!” He barked at them. They exchanged bug-eyed looks and scattered out the door.
Barnes was now standing directly behind Ronson, staring a hole in the back of his head. Ronson didn't flinch. He kept drinking his tom Collins, chewing on an ice cube. Cora began to breathe uneasy. She stood, Barnes put his hand on her shoulder.
“No reason to leave, honey,” He said. “Finish your drink with Mr. Ronson. I'm only gonna talk to him, me and the boys.” Like good soldiers, his bodyguards stepped forward to put an exclamation mark on his statement.
Ronson turned to Barnes, gave him a huge smile, pushed his panama jack up on his forehead. “What's shakin', bub?”
Barnes leaned in, whispered, or maybe it was growl, no one was really sure.
“You fucker,” Barnes laughed. “You promised to do a job. You were paid. And you didn't fucking come through. Then YOU got the nerve to fuck Violet?”
“Language, Barnes. There's a lady present.” The smile on Ronson disappeared.
One of Barnes men placed a hand on Ronson's shoulder. His hand burst into flames. The six foot-seven inch man full of muscle and a large belly, ran screaming to the bathroom. The other bodyguard pulled his .38 from his holster and placed the barrel between Ronson's eyes. The man's head, which was a square box of meat, was now engulfed in a blue-red flame. His ear-piercing scream could be heard as he ran out the bar's exit and into the street.
Ronson took another sip from his glass. Everyone was flabbergasted. Cora was motionless. “Oh, God, oh,God,” She said over and over under her breath. Bull kept batting his eyes,but he knew what Ronson was capable of. This though, was the worst he'd ever seen.
Barnes backed away from the bar slowly. “What-what are you? Some kinda genetic freak?”
He backed into something soft by the exit. He screamed, turned. It was Violet. Dyed red hair, bad makeup, but still had the body of a stripper from years past. She threw her arms around Barnes, kissed him wildly. “I thought it was too late! I meant to warn you, baby. You don't know what he is....” She pulled away, still holding Barnes hand. “You're a monster!” She pointed at Ronson.
“Look what he did to Snake and Terror.” Barnes walked out with Violet, as if he was being led by his Mother.
“I know, honey. I'm sorry I cheated on you with that THING.” Violet said.
“Hey, Barnes!” Ronson yelled after him, not once turning to see if he stopped. Barnes poked his head back in the door. “I'll be visiting you in the morning. Talk business.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Barnes said nervously. “Sure thing, Mick.”
Barnes disappeared. But one of his bodyguards showed up, with his shirt wrapped around a deformed lump of flesh attached to his wrist. He stopped, looked at everyone. He ran for exit as fast as his feet could take him.
There was a long silence, save for Bull wiping Beer glasses. Cora couldn't move. But her eyes would shift toward Ronson once in awhile.
“Whew!” Ronson said, removed his panama jack to reveal two small red knobs protruding from his head. He wiped sweat from his forehead. “Boy, it's hot in here.”
Cora began to panic again.”Oh, God, oh, God,” she said.
Bull dropped a beer glass. The sound of it shattering echoed in the bar. He nearly fell over on the liquor wall.
Ronson stood, threw some money down. “Well,” he put his panama jack back on his head, fixed the brim. “I have to get going. Got an appointment.”
“Hey Mick,” Bull swallowed dryly. “Um..if you don't mind me asking. What was the job.....you know...what you had to burn?”
Ronson smiled a toothy grin. He pointed at the floor. “Here,” He started for the exit. “In through the outdoor.”