Why is Breda afraid of dogs?
The interior of the bar was warm and cozy, as the fireplace actually had a fire burning in it that night. The rain had really cooled everything down. He found a vacant seat at the bar itself and ordered a beer. The woman smiled at him as she poured from the tap and winked as she placed the mug in front of him. Being in uniform definitely had its advantages.
"What are you doing here?" a voice thundered.
Breda yipped and leapt to his feet, spilling half of his drink over his arm and the bar. He whirled and saw Havoc doubled over from laughter. "What the hell is your problem?" he exclaimed.
"Sorry!" Havoc wheezed between fits of laughter. "I couldn't resist it." He wiped tears from his eyes and straightened, holding his stomach. "Just clocked out, eh? You're really noticeable. Why don't you come join me and the boys?" he asked, gesturing behind him.
"Yeah. Sure." He turned back to the bar and the woman was placing a refilled mug on the bar.
"There ya go, hon," she said with another wink. He made a mental note to get her phone number before he left. Thanking her, he grabbed it and followed Havoc across the floor to a table near the back.
One of the officers pulled up a chair and the men sat down. Havoc withdrew his pack of cigarettes and offered them to the rest of them before taking one himself.
"What are you doing here anyway?" Breda asked after taking a long drink. "I thought you had a date."
Havoc shrugged and drank from his own glass. Hard liquor of some sort. "Stood me up. She'd better not be out with the Colonel." One of the men, Pierce, chuckled. Havoc glared at him. "Just wait until it happens to you."
"So why are you afraid of dogs?" Renalds asked.
Breda grimaced and glared at Havoc. The lieutenant shrugged as if to say that he hadn't said a word. "I'm not drunk enough to tell that story."
"Then what are you doing drink that?" Pierce asked. He gestured for a server. "Bring this man something strong."
"I don't plan on getting that drunk," Breda said.
"The hard ones are on me," he said.
Breda shuddered. "That's a memory I'd like to forget."
Belle picked up the deck of cards beside his drink. "We were about to start another hand. You in?"
"Sure. Why not?"
Havoc grinned around his cigarette. "Great. I get to clean you out too."
Pierce chuckled. "The evening's young. We'll win it back."
"You haven't so far."
"Money in the pot," Renalds said and the men tossed cash on the center of the table. Belle dealt the first hand and the men quieted down, each concentrating on his poker face.
After several hands, Havoc found himself richer, leaving the others to grumble about rotten luck. They paused for another round of drinks-their third since they began their game-and Havoc pulled out another cigarette, offering the pack to the other men. He scrawled something on a bill and handed it to the waitress.
"A tip for your excellent service," he said, grinning at her.
"Thank you," she said and giggled.
Pierce rolled his eyes and Havoc chuckled. "Jealous that you didn't think of it first?" He turned his eyes to Breda. "What do you say, Lieutenant?"
"I'm really curious about the dog story. How about a wager-three card draw? If I win, you tell us why you're afraid of dogs. If you win, no one here will ask you about it again."
"I don't think so."
Havoc held up a wad of bills. "I'll toss this in too. If you win of course."
Breda stared at the money; Havoc had won nearly everything on him that night. "Half the fold if I win, the entire stack if you do. And I get to shuffle."
"Deal," he said with a grin. "But if you cheat, you tell us the story and get no money."
Sighing, he took the deck of cards. This was the last time he played any sort of game against Havoc. He cut the deck and folded the halves together again before bridging it. The other three watched eagerly. Damn vultures.
"Aces high," he announced, his fingers expertly shuffling the cards. It had been a while since he actually shuffled, but was pleased to see that his fingers still knew what to do. He dealt the cards alternately and face-down. Finishing, he set the rest of the deck in the center of the table and cautiously bent the corner of his cards as if afraid a bomb had been planted beneath one.
"Show 'em," Havoc announced.
Breda flipped his over, proudly displaying a King, a Queen and a nine. "Beat that!" he announced gleefully.
"With pleasure," Havoc said, insufferable grin firmly planted on his face. Breda's jaw dropped. Two Aces and a King. "So how about it, Breda?"
He lifted his drink-rum, he thought-to his mouth and finished it in two gulps. It burned all the way down and he immediately felt his slight buzz grow. No way to get out of it now.
"Fine, I'll tell you. But you guys have to swear you won't repeat it to anyone, especially not the Colonel."
There was a chorus of "I swear," and Breda heaved a sigh.
"When I was eight..."