Flash Fiction: The Barman Always Listens

“Sometimes, people really are just useless.” James, bent over a double scotch, was snacking on blocks of cheese and cocktail onions skewered on toothpicks – hardly the thing you usually saw at these parties. Waiters were going around with other snacks in the room filled with people dressed for a cocktail party. There was a hum of voices, soft background music, and every now and then a crystal laugh. Other laughter would soon follow as it came from Mrs Van Houdt, an heiress to a few billion after the passing of her husband three weeks prior. There were rumours after his death, especially when she started having her cocktail parties again only two days after the funeral. Those wanting to stay in her good graces, however, said nothing.

The barman polished a glass with only a cursory glance at the man in front of him who had moved on to a platter of cheese and crackers. The scotch stood untouched and he wondered if it had been ordered more for effect than anything else. He had truly fallen for the bait.
“Why do you say that?” the barman asked.
“Well, take me for instance,” James said, still chewing. “I had the perfect job lined up – or so I thought at least. And I did it without question. Why? Because I was in love.” He skewered a slice of brie. “And I thought she loved me.”
“Was it illegal?”
“It was a gift to humanity if you ask me.”
“Does it have anything to do with Mr Van Houdt?”
The man’s expression told the barman everything he needed to know. The barman showed James his police badge. “James Brogges, you are under arrest for the murder of Fredrick van Houdt.”
A crystal laugh sounded above the hum of voices in the room.


By Carin Marais

Bibliophile, writer of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and maybe-fiction, language practitioner, doer of stuff.

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