Dominance in Despair

Chapter 13

"It Smells like Danger"

The transmission clicked compliantly as Marge shifted the red station wagon into park, snugly behind a familiar pink sedan, the run down apartment building in the old part of downtown Springfield looming over the worried woman like a stern schoolteacher, leering at a rambunctious child.

The mother weaved a stray strand of blue hair out of her eyes and back into her ragged beehive hairdo, confirming the address with the one drunkenly scrawled on the tawdry bar coaster. She was disheartened to hear that Barney was out of town, and was uneasy about talking to her estranged husband alone, especially with the divorce case pending.

But Maggie was more important than that.

As she exited the car, her heels tapping on the filthy concrete, a group of men huddled together under a streetlight at the corner leering at her. One or two catcalls emanated from the group before they returned to whatever it was they were doing, Marge certain that it was horribly illegal.

Locking the door, she straightened her clothes as she marched up the short staircase to the tenement building door. A quick scan of the mailboxes for Barney's name revealed her destination. Gripping her purse close to her, she made her way up the flights of creaky stairs.

"Apartment 5B," Marge thought to herself. Taking a deep breath, she knocked gingerly on the low-quality wood. She nearly jumped out of her own skin as the unlatched door creaked open, the interior dark, although a figure was obviously present.

Gingerly, Marge stepped inside, looking around for any response to her presence, if not a light switch. "Homer?" she called.

The door slammed behind her.

The line of drunks at Moe's Tavern failed to respond as Paul entered through the door. A few nursed drinks like always, while most of them seemed to be keen on drunkenly impressing a woman sitting at the end of the bar.

Moe himself, however, was much more attentive. "Hey there, mac. What can I get ya for," the disgusting bartender said as he spat in the glass he was shining in a horrible example of stereotyping at its' best.

"No, thanks," Paul muttered. "You can help me find someone though. Woman, mid to late thirties, blue hair stacked high..."

"Oh, you mean Midge?" Moe interjected. "Yeah, she was here earlier, was lookin' fer Lenny." He motioned towards one of the men hitting on the lone woman at the bar. "Dunno where she went though."

Paul nodded his gratitude as he approached the two.

"Eyeeee there lady," Lenny slurred, holding onto the woman's arm for stability before she brushed it off disdainfully. "Why dun you come withth me n' my friend for a good time."

Paul grabbed Lenny by the shoulder and spun him around. "Where did Marge Simpson go?" he demanded.

Lenny only gargled as he fell out of his chair, hitting the floor.

"I think the woman you are looking for went to a 'Barney's' apartment," the woman pipped up. She brushed aside her short black bangs as a cigarette burned away in her other hand, the smoke drifting upwards haphazardly.

Paul sat down in the recently liberated seat. "Do you know where that is?"

The woman pursed her lips, pulling out a pen and writing an address on a napkin.

Paul grinned and went to take it. "I'd thank you properly, but I'm in a hurry."

As Paul gripped the napkin, the woman grabbed his hand, stuffing what looked like a business card into it.

"When you're done saving the day, meet me there, and you can find out just how you can thank me."

Paul shifted a little uneasily as he pocketed both items, a little taken aback at the intensity with which this oddly familiar woman gazed at him from behind those vivid violet eyes. He only managed a nod as he headed out the door, stopping only to liberate Lenny of his car keys.

None of the bar patrons seemed to notice, much less protest.