DPA

Jen stood outside The Pit, chain smoking cigarettes. Five butts already littered the ground. She puffed one last time on her current cigarette before dropping it to join the others. She quickly ground her heel against to put out the remains and began pacing out front. She was delaying going inside, even though eventually she would have to. It was part of the job. It’s not that she didn’t enjoy going to bars when she wasn’t on duty. She never stepped foot in The Pit during recreational hours though. It was a dangerous bar. That was the problem.

She silently cursed the anonymous tip that had come through on her department’s old rotary phone. Whoever it was had tipped her off that the mating pair of Stymphalian birds that they had been looking for ever since they were slipped past customs had come through The Pit. She felt no surprise at that announcement. To listen to Arthur, her boss, The Pit had at least three instances a night that should involve the Department of Paradoxical Animals. When she asked him why they hadn’t just shut the bar down on the violations he’d told her that it was a dangerous bar. That was the problem.

She would have worried about the patrons and the owners of The Pit seeing her pacing around out front, but the bar itself didn’t have any windows. Hell, there wasn’t even a sign hanging out front to let people know that there was a bar. There was merely a set of steps leading down to a solitary door. That door opened into the pit. Briefly, Jen considered smoking another cigarette, but it was probably time to get this over with. She went up to the door and knocked. Arthur had told her that she would need to knock, otherwise the door wouldn’t open for her. A slat opened up and red eyes sunk into a pale gray face peered through. A gargoyle bouncer. Great.

“Whaddaya want?” It’s voice poured out like a foot stepping on gravel. She pulled out her badge and held it up to the slat.

“DPA. Just want to come in and ask some questions.” She shifted her feet as she said it. Secretly, she hoped that the gargoyle wouldn’t let her in. She’d walk back to the office and tell Arthur it was a no go. Then they could track down the birds some other way. After a short consideration, however, the slat closed and the door opened. Jen stepped inside.

From the way that her boss had talked about the place, she had expected some dingily lit, seedy looking joint with smoke hanging as low in the air as people’s expectations for the quality of their drinks. The actual atmosphere shocked her and left her speechless. It was early in the day, so apart from the ogre daintily polishing glasses behind the bar and the gargoyle who had let her in, there was only an old man sitting alone at a booth. The hardwood floors were immaculate. The tables all seemed to be solid redwood with a clear lacquer and polished until they gleamed. It was all brightly lit by some small, yet ornate, chandeliers. Her surprise must have shown on her face, because the ogre at the bar spoke.

“Not what you were expecting, huh?” he said.

“No. Not quite.” she replied.

“Come on over, I’ll answer whatever questions you got. We don’t need the DPA breathing down our neck. Bad for business, you know?” He kept polishing the glasses while she came and sat at the bar. So far so good, she thought. But it was a dangerous bar. That was the problem.


Apropos of: A writing prompt generated by Seventh Sanctum

I’m actually going to continue this story with tomorrow’s post. For now, however, I have a novel to work on. Thanks for reading.

-Crouse

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