Beyond the Western
What are Friends For
Scott A. Gese

Harvey squirmed on his stool as he wiped his sweaty brow. Image source: Scott Gese

He owed money and he couldn’t pay up. Now, with his life was on the line, he was on the run. Would he be found?

Beyond the Western

Harvey Anders took a seat at the bar. It was early. Other than the bartender, he was the only one there.

It was a cold day in January, and yet, Harvey 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.”

The bartender refilled the glass. “What’s up Harv.? You’re all sweaty and shaking. You look like you’ve seen a ghost?”

“It’s worse than that…I’ve seen Ira Masters.”

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

“The very same.”

“Harv, you don’t want to be messin’ with him. That man has a reputation, and it’s not good. I heard he offed his own brother-in-law for not payin’ back a lousy two grand.”


“Ya. Found him swimmin’ with the fishes with a hole in his head.”

“I don’t get it,” continued Max. “Why does seeing Ira Masters make you so damn nervous?”

“It’s more than just seeing him. His goons grabbed me and ruffed me up. He’s calling in a loan.”

“A loan??? You borrowed money from Ira Masters? Are you crazy”

“Ya, 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 the sun go down.”

“Well the sun went down and you’re still here. You must have paid him back, right?”

“Pay him? No, I didn’t. I don’t have that kind of money. That’s my problem.”

“That is a problem. How much do you owe him?”

“Five grand.”

“Holy shit, 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 sweaty 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 halfway 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 here as you possibly can.”

“I thought about that, but I was hoping I could come up with the money. I’ve been at the track all week trying to win it back. It didn’t work out. I’ve been having a run of bad luck lately. I’m flat broke. I don’t have enough cash to buy a bus ticket out of town.”

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

“Not so fast, Harv. 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 goons.”

“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 yourself 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, Max here. Harvey Anders is at the Blue Moon, room 10…Hey, no problem. What are friends for.”

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