Steffie at the Bar #amwriting @StoryADayMay

Well, here it is, the last day of Story A Day May. If you haven’t visited the Story A Day website, I heartily endorse it. It’s a great place to meet other writers and get one-stop assistance and pointers on everything from action scenes to … to something about writing that begins with the letter Z.

I’ve had a blast this year, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my stories. Some mornings have been more of a challenge than others, but, as always, it’s been a great workout.

I still blog every day, but my fiction will be done off-blog until next May. Meanwhile, I invite you to visit my Free Reads page, and to sample my books and published short stories (links below the story).

Steffie at the Bar

by Marian Allen

As Steffie polished the long mahogany bar counter prior to locking up, she paused. The action was reminding her of something. A quick riffle through her television memories brought up The Karate Kid – wax on, wax off – but that wasn’t it. After a few more circular swipes, she had it: Jackie Gleason as Joe the Bartender.

She was still chuckling at the thought when a dumpy little woman walked in. Bridget Macintosh, as she was calling herself on this assignment. Steffie knew all about her enemy counterpart’s present job, but it had nothing to do with her. Perhaps, of all the gin joints in all the world, Bridget had just happened to walk into her current cover.

“Sorry, Miss,” Steffie said. “Closing time.”

“Aw, just one? Not even a cocktail, just a shot?” There was a sly jokiness about that last word that alerted Steffie’s every spy sense.

“Why not? On the house, since it’s after hours.”

“It’s never after hours,” said Bridget, and Steffie knew that, if Bridget hadn’t been instructed to kill her as a sub-sub-secret part of her assignment, she had been given the go-ahead after she had reported Steffie’s presence in town.

Oh, well. It had always been a possibility.

Steffie pulled a tall, slim, frosted-glass bottle with a lemon peel emblazoned on it from under the counter. “Might as well have some of the good stuff.”

Bridget was partial to vodka, and could afford to buy the best, but even she had never flown as high as this brand.

Bridget cocked an eyebrow. “Generous.”

Steffie poured two shot glasses full and lifted hers. “We, who are about to die, salute you.”

They each tossed back the shot. Bridget nearly closed her eyes in pleasure.

The women were evenly matched. As they shared shot after shot, each, with finely honed instincts and perceptions, noted the other’s intentions and ever-so-slightly conveyed counter-intentions. It was like a knock-down-drag-out fight-to-the-finish played out in subliminal micro-signals.

The last of the bottle didn’t quite fill both shot glasses.

“Next!” said Steffie, reaching beneath the counter again.

Bridget didn’t even twitch. If Steffie had come up with a bazooka, she would have been ready. But Steffie came up with another frosted-glass and lemon-emblazoned bottle.

She finished filling Bridget’s glass and filled her own.

“Here’s mud in yer eye,” she said, and they downed the shots.

Bridget feigned blowing fire from her mouth. “Is this stuff getting stronger?”

“This bottle’s probably from a different batch. They have a still, not a distillery, so each batch is a little different.”

“Thou hast saved the best for last,” said Bridget, as they tossed back another shot.

Steffie’s throat began to burn and her stomach began to churn. She could see that Bridget felt it, too.

“I’d better have some water,” said Bridget.

“Me, too,” said Steffie. Under the cover of the counter, she ran water into one glass and water mixed with more of the lemon-flavored bleach she’d bottled as personal-stash expensive vodka, just in case Bridget should show up at the bar.

She gave Bridget the doctored water and, in the groove of competitive drinking, they each chugged the tumbler dry.

Bridget groaned. “You b—” Another groan cut her off. She clutched her throat.

Then Steffie pulled a gun. “Just sit tight. I’ll call an ‘ambulance.’” She dialed the private number of her handler, Pete, and gave him a sit rep.

Bridget, now on the floor, clutched her throat with one hand and her belly with the other. She moaned and spat and drooled.

Steffie said, “Oh, stop whining, you big baby. It won’t kill you. I drank some, too, and you don’t see me making a spectacle of myself.” Of course, she had become accustomed to the occasional cleansing tot of bleach when on assignment in areas where the water was contaminated. She was also pouring herself a tall, refreshing tumbler of milk to counteract the effect, a remedy she withheld from Bridget.

After Pete had collected the gagging counter-agent and carted her away (making a date for a celebratory dinner with Steffie while he was at it), Steffie finished her cleaning.

Naturally, she finished with a bit of song. “A wild sort of devil, but dead on the level,” she sang, “was myyyy gaaaaaaal Saaaaaaal.”

MY PROMPTS TODAY: Clorox, Jackie Gleason’s Joe the bartender

If you liked this story, you might like my other stories and my novels. Support an author: buy a book and leave an Amazon review. I thank you, and my cat thanks you.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Steffie at the Bar #amwriting @StoryADayMay

  1. Dan Antion

    May 31, 2017 at 8:14am

    And awaaayyyyyy we go! Im glad you closed out the month with Steff.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 31, 2017 at 9:52am

      Her popularity baffles me. She’s a cold-blooded killer. Nevertheless, I confess to having a soft spot for her, myself.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Holly Jahangiri

    May 31, 2017 at 9:36am

    Well played, Steffie!

    The villains always linger a moment to long for their own good, don’t they? Hard to blame them when there’s good vodka on hand.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 31, 2017 at 9:53am

      Stay too long, talk too much. Steffi, on the other hand, just gets ‘er done. Literally.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. joey

    May 31, 2017 at 11:21am

    What’s better than a likable villain?
    Ugh, my stomach hurt while I read this, lol!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Pete Laberge

    May 31, 2017 at 2:09pm

    As an old Jackie Gleason fan, I approve. Steffie sends her enemies, POW! Right to the Moon!

    I guess I should confess that I ACCIDENTALLY pulled a Steffie, some years ago….

    I was rinsing out a large plastic Ginger Ale pop bottle to mix some juice in, so that it would be portable for me. I had filled it with water, a little dish soap, and a little bleach. I have a very small kitchen counter, so it was off to the left, behind the dish rack. I figured no one would notice.

    Dan, did. (Dan is a high order Autistic… Very smart, but they do not think the way we do!) Dan went to refill his glass. Since he had ice, and the bottle was there…. why should he go in the fridge? Besides he wanted Ginger Ale…. So he poured that mix into his glass. The he called out to complain it tasted funny. I went to see. Now, we had been drinking cola, and the drink in the glass was clear so I asked where he got Ginger Ale. Out of that bottle, he said, about to take another swig.

    I grabbed the glass, and tossed it in the sink, and explained what he was drinking. Fortunately, he had not drank much, and the solution was rather dilute. A big glass of milk later, and some toast, and he was ok. I learned not to trust Dan too much, and be more careful. Anybody else would have asked, or noticed something was not quite right. Poor Dan.

    All of Steffie’s and some other other characters, should have their stories compiled into a book. “The Oddball Stories oF Steffie and Company”
    The Holly ones are probably sufficient in quantity for their own book!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 31, 2017 at 3:27pm

      I’m certain I have enough Holly stories for a book! I’m working on reissuing FORCE OF HABIT, my novel set on Llannonn, into which I’ve inserted a Holly cameo. I plan to issue a companion volume of Holly stories. Hoping to keep that one short, so I might have to break it into two small ones! Steffie might take another year or two to earn out a book of her own. Not sure who could inhabit a book with her, if they weren’t all her stories. 🙂

      Good thing you were with Dan and knew what to do. In researching bleach drinking, I saw that one woman tried to dilute the bleach by drinking a gallon of water — and died of electrolyte imbalance from all the water! Geez!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • Pierre Laberge

        May 31, 2017 at 4:47pm

        We were lucky it was dilute, and Dan had not drunk too much. HAd a sore stomach, tho!

        “Stories at the Llannonn Library” Sort of like stories at the White Heart!

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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