When you owe money and you haven't got any, it wreaks havoc on a man
| His voice was deep and raspy with a slight nasal tone. He held a cigarette pinched between his thumb and forefinger as he stared at the drummer of his band with a mix of disgust and shock, which waned into regret that he hadn't seen it coming.|
"You did what?"
It hissed out of his mouth dramatically, causing the drummer to wince.
"I'm sorry Jack, I didn't think it would get out of hand!"
"What do you mean you didn't think it would get out of hand? He's a loan shark!"
The drummer, a man named Iggy, ran his hand through pomade-soaked hair and writhed on his bar stool. The man yelling at him was the club owner, and orchestra conductor, a man named Jack Jasper. Jack made a habit of keeping his club as clean as possible. His policy was that if trouble didn't get brought to his door, it couldn't get in. Iggy just broke that policy, and at the door was a giant brick of a man who didn't introduce himself and wasn't very pleasant. His only response to the door man was that he was looking for Iggy, and that it was personal business. The flavor of his conversation was not very appetizing.
"Iggy, what'sa matter with you? Don't I pay you enough? And if I don't, why didn't you come to me first? Takin' out a loan from Saul, like that. Now you got Goliath at my door and I ain't havin' it! What'd you do, get hooked up with a bookie?"
"Come on, Jack, you know me! I ain't the gamblin' sort!"
"I know you, he says. How do I know I know you? You never seemed the type to be a mush melon and take out a loan from Saul Mankiewicz, but here you did it!"
"Calm down, Jackie. You're headed for a nervous breakdown," came a woman's voice. She worked in the club from time to time as a singer, but mostly she just walked around letting people buy her drinks and tell her she was pretty. Her name was Mitzy and her long, auburn hair glowed in the club lighting.
"It'll be about the nineteenth one, by this time. Now come on, Iggy, fess up. What happened?"
"Honest, Jack, it wasn't nothin' bad. See, I finally decided I wanted to ask Mabel for her hand in marriage, but I didn't have enough for the ring she wanted..."
"Dames," Jack hissed. He spun around and pointed at Mitzy. "Always you dames causin' the trouble."
"Don't look at me, Jack. I never married a man for any of the jewelry they gave me," she said with a nonchalant smile. She sat down and a martini was presented as if on cue.
"It ain't that she's particular, so much, I just wanna make my Mabel happy!"
Jack huffed a puff from the cigarette and narrowed his eyes at Iggy.
"A fine thing. Look where it got you. Look where it got me! With a loan shark at the club door and a line of people waiting outside. How much do you owe him anyway?"
"Forty-five bucks," groaned Iggy, running his hand through his hair again. His upper-cut was sagging and strings of hair fell around his face. Meanwhile, Jack's eyes widened, then narrowed again, from shock to disgust in the twinkling of an eye.
"Forty-five bucks," Jack huffed. "I won't even ask you how much you already paid him."
"Two hundred bucks," Iggy confessed.
"I told you I wasn't askin'!" shouted Jack, pulling a fifty dollar bill from his billfold. "A fine thing. I certainly hope this dame's worth it."
"She is, Jack. She's the best thing that ever happened to me!"
"If this is the best thing, I'd hate to see all the bad things that ever happened to you," quipped Mitzy, sipping from her martini.
Jack disappeared to the entryway and a moment later, stormed back in, glaring at Iggy as he commanded, "pull yourself together. I took care of the big bad wolf, and gave him a tip, too. You got a band to drum for and I got people to entertain. Stop snivelin' and pick those sticks up. And while you're at it, make sure I get an invitation to this wedding I helped to fund."
He turned back to the door man who was waiting for his command, then to the bartenders as he shouted.
"Carlo, let those people in! Johnny? Mike? Get those shakers ready! Gentlemen, we got a big night tonight, let's earn that fifty bucks Iggy spent. And as for you..."
He turned to the red head who sat at the bar with her constant nonchalant smile, and leaned in.
"Make sure you wear that dress again. As pretty as you look, the whole bar's gonna be askin' to buy you drinks. The quicker we get that money back, the more chance I'll have of keepin' my sanity."
Mitzy smiled, never ceasing in her amazement of Jack Jasper's ability to go from completely insane to cool as a cucumber in a snap.
"Yes, Jack," she cooed with a sideways grin. "Anything for you, Jack."