500 Word Short Story
What are Friends For
Scott A. Gese

500 Word Short Story

He took an empty seat at the bar.

It was a cold day in January, yet Harvey Anders was wiping beads of sweat from his brow.

“Max, give me a Scotch straight up. In fact, make it a double.”

The bartender set up a glass and Harvey gulped it down.

“Another,” Harvey called out.

The bartender refilled the glass. “What's up Harv. You look like you've seen a ghost?”

“Worse...Ira Masters.”

The bartender leaned forward. In a whisper, as if to keep the walls themselves from hearing, he questioned, “Ira Masters the lone shark?”

“The very same.”

“I don't get it. Why does that give you the sweats?”

“I borrowed money from him. I was suppose to pay him back yesterday. He told me there was no such thing as a grace period. If I didn't pay him back with interest by...yesterday, I wouldn't live to see today.”

“So did you?”

“Pay him? No, I don't have it.”

“How much do you owe him?”

“Five grand.”

“Five grand! That's not good. Why the hell did you borrow five grand from Ira Masters?”

Harvey squirmed on his stool and once again wiped his brow.

“I bet it on a pony... It was a sure thing. A no brainer. How was I to know that damn nag would pull up lame half way around the track. I lost it all and now I'm a dead man.”

“You're only a dead man if Ira finds you. Why don't you leave town? Get as far away from this place as you possibly can.”

“I've been thinking about that. I thought I could come up with the money. I've been at the track all week trying to win it back. I've been having a run of bad luck lately. Now I don't even have enough to buy a bus ticket.”

Harvey dropped his head and banged it on the edge of the bar several times. “I'm a dead man.”

“Does Ira know where you are right now?” Asked Max.

Harvey snapped his head up, startled at the thought. “Hell no. I'm keeping my distance from him and his henchmen.”

“Good, in that case I'm going to help you out.. Do you know where the Blue Moon hotel is?”

“Ya, over on second street.”

“That's the place. Get a room for the night. Call me with the room number. Tomorrow after the bank opens I'll withdraw enough to get you a ticket to wherever you want to go.”

“ Des Moines,” interrupted Harvey.

“Des Moines it is,” replied Max. “I'll even kick in a couple hundred for seed money. What do you say.”

“I'd say you're one hell of a friend if you come through.”

“I'll come through. You just call me with a room number.”

Later that evening Max dialed the phone. Ira, Harvey Anders is at the Blue Moon, room 10...Ya, no problem.”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.