Sam Nero Meets Tony Mandolin

Listen in on what happens when Sam Nero Meets Tony Mandolin, thanks to Tall Tale TV!

It’s just a bar, like any bar, on any street corner, in any universe. It’s perpetually twilight, and the bartender nurses a sawn-off ten gauge should he venture out from behind his bulwark of scarred mahogany. The mismatched tables are a little sticky, and the barstools may not all have the requisite number of legs. In one corner of the room, a skinny old guy coaxes something approaching a melody from the stained keys of an ancient upright piano. Even the waitress has seen her best years and she walks as if her feet hurt, but she still manages a smile for the long, tall drink of water sitting in a booth alone. He smiles back showing two rows of excellent teeth.

“And one for yourself beautiful,” he says genially as she brings him his bourbon (straight up).

The waitress knows better than to outstay her welcome and she shuffles off just as the street door opens to admit another man cut from much the same cloth as the one in the booth. The first man stands and holds out a hand.

“You must be Tony Mandolin. I’m Sam Nero. Pleased to meet you.”

Mandolin, dressed for the weather in a well-worn trench coat with the collar pulled up to meet the brim of his dark brown fedora, looks down at the hand and then shrugs, as if throwing off an impulse of habit.

He takes the hand and shakes it, squeezing enough to let the other man know he could go further if needed, and then releases the grip, “We’ll see. Frankie didn’t say what this was about, only that it was important. I’ll let you know up front, I don’t do cheating spouse cases, regardless of the down payment. If it’s one of the weird ones… well, that can get expensive.”

Mandolin looks down at the table and sees the drink. “How’s the scotch in this place?”

“Foul. It’s either bourbon or beer. Neither of which are too bad at all. And now I have a confession. I have no idea what the job is either. I’ve just been paid a big fat wad of credits to come to this bar and have a chat with a guy called Tony Mandolin. I wasn’t gonna do it, but Sugar said I should.”

He looks Mandolin in the eye for a moment then comes to a decision.

“Nice handshake Tony, but I’m mostly ‘droid so I never felt a thing.”

He holds up one big hand and the waitress shuffles over.

“Mostly droid, huh?” Mandolin sits and says to the waitress, “Beer, Anchor Steam if you’ve got it.”

Then he leans back and looks Nero over, “Hmm…” He murmurs, “Whoever did the work, it doesn’t show. So, you don’t know either, but you got paid. All I got was a rushed shove out of my door by an agitated drag queen,” Holding up a hand, he added, “Don’t ask. You know…” He shifted slightly exposing the butt of a highly efficient and illegal hand gun, “You may want to have whatever you’ve got ready just in case. I don’t know the bar, but I know the neighbourhood, and I’m getting that old itch.”

“Hmm yeah. Me too. You reckon somebody wants the pair of us dead?” Sam’s smile is as cold and vicious as the grin of a swamp alligator and the gun that appears in his big hand is big and rather strange to the eye. “It’s a blaster,” he explains. “Now let’s have a think about who has a hard on for a pair of private dicks. Do we even know any of the same people?” He looks at Mandolin and lifts one black eyebrow. “It isn’t as if we move in the same circles. But what we do have in common is that we chase the bad guys.”

Jane Jago and Robert Lee Beers

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