Susie Moloney

The July Special Guest Writer is Susie Moloney

Feel free to find out about Susie HERE


by Susie Moloney

The kid was already getting herself up on the stool when Cal saw her. His back had been turned, changing the tap on the coke keg. When she hooked her little hands around the top of the stool and started pulling up, he had just put the old tap into the sink. He saw her then. Scrambling her tiny self on to the seat, her body at once awkward and fulsome in a way that was nearly painful in its beauty, all cheeks and red parka, limbs and simplicity. 

“Hey kid, you can’t come in here.” And a joke occurred to him.

So this little girl walks into a bar –

She didn’t answer right away. She pushed down the hood of her parka. Underneath her hair was yellow and matted a little at the back. Cal had a sister with a kid. That was about all he knew about them, what they looked like. This one looked about six.

“I’m looking for my dad,” she said quietly.


Cal swung his head the full scan of the bar. Most of the patrons were at tables against the wall, shadowed in the dark, lit from the lights over the pool table, like black-and-white movie with Lon Chaney.   

Shadows were part of the perks. Squinting he could make out lemon gin & soda with whiskey neat; he thought they were married but she had to be 60 if she was day and unlikely to be somebody’s mother. They were pissers, and true to form, hammered even though it was hardly ten o’clock.

Bourbon and seven was a couple of tables from them, but still in the dark. Cal could make out his ball cap. His name he thought he knew, it was like Gord or Doug or Henry, something invisible. He came in after work. A couple of times a week he stayed to closing.

There was a table of three guys all in plaid of a sort or other sitting in the corner, eyes stuck to the tv set in the opposite corner. There was shit on for sports and Cal had it tuned to poker without the sound. The radio played instead, mostly late 80s metal. Cal didn’t even hear it anymore, it was white noise.

And that guy and that guy and that guy. All of them regulars. No-name bodies. Nobodies. He knew nothing about them except for what they drank.

“Who’s your daddy, honey?”

“He told me to wait for him.”

“In the bar?” For a second Cal got a funny image of a man in a bowler, patting his little girl on the fanny you just wait one moment for papa right here my sunshine, the bar a saloon, some dork at the piano plinking rag time. A family bar.

Like that song Paul is a real estate novelist never had time for a wife/he’s talking with Davy who’s still in the navy –

Like Cheers, where the drunks were all harmless and comical and the can didn’t smell like piss and puke.

Wrong bar, dad.

One of the regulars – Bud and lime – lurched up to the bar and gave Cal a nod. Cal got the beer and slapped a dry wedge of lime into the narrow lip of the bottle and put it in front of the guy.

“Hey Bud?” Cal said. “You know this kid?”

The man put watery eyes in the direction Cal gestured for just a second. Then he shifted a confused look to Cal. He put a couple of bills on the bar and dug in his pocket for silver. Cal pretended interest, but knowing history, he wasn’t getting more than a quarter tip. Bud-and-lime dropped the silver into Cal’s palm and took the beer back to his table without a word about the kid. It embarrassed Cal oddly. His cheeks burned and he kept his face away from the girl so she wouldn’t see. All six years of her. What the fuck.

“You wanna a coke, kid?”

He punched No Sale on the cash register that was older than he was by ten years and dropped coins and bills into the sticky ruts. The guy had left him a dime. Cheap prick. Cal snorted, but not so hard that he didn’t drop the dime into the ashtray he kept for tips. Everything in there was silver, a few quarters, some nickels and dimes. His optimism at having an ashtray at all, was pathetic. It was pathos.

Bathos? He considered.

No. Not bathos. He always got those mixed up.

Lit. First year.

Bathos was feeling sorry for the fucker who tipped him a dime, hoping that he’d get a quarter. Depressing. His old lit professor – Koots – ran through his mind. Cal had really looked up to Koots. It seemed embarrassing now, pathetic. Koots used to stand for up to a minute at a time thinking about just the right way to answer a student’s question. He wore sweaters. Cal had loved him, maybe.

The kid said, “Coke is bad for you. Teacher said. It melts your teeth.” For about ten seconds he’d actually forgotten about the kid. There she was, an incongruity, wrong, like shit on a flower, blood on a baby.

Kid wavered like a long road in the sun.

“Where’s your mom?”

The girl had changed position. Her head was resting on the bar, face hidden by her hood. Her hands were on either side of her head, clenched into little balls of fist. She was sleeping, or resting. He couldn’t see her feet, but pictured them dangling, like a couple of  –

His lips curled up, a kind of a smile, thinking of bowling pins yanked and dangling by the pin caddy – in high school he’d worked in a bowling alley. A better job than this shithole. He should’ve kept that job. But this shithole was closer to the university. Walking distance. Ten years ago, the pay was better too. Tips bigger than a dime.

Gerry Tuttle and Brad Jasper from school worked at the bowling alley too. Couple of cards. and they’d call out when a pretty girl bowler got a split and the caddy pulled those two pins up, spread wide, they’d call out –

Spread ‘em up hang ‘em down!

Then for no good reason, he got an image

(hang ‘em down!)

of a pair of legs dangling in the air, from an unseen tether. Just hanging, dead, wearing his shoes. Where the fuck had that come from.

The little girl was so still, and it bothered him. She looked like the world’s smallest drunk.

That was bathos for sure. No. Damn.
It was pathos.

He poked her, his finger under the dish towel he’d just dragged over the sticky bar. “Kid?”

She raised her head and looked around, probably confused for a minute. Eventually she looked at Cal. Her eyes were the sort on posters and in cartoons, giant and round. Japanese anime.

“Where’s your mother?”

Then one of the guys in the corner shrieked.

“Bartender!” Except it sounded more like bar-endar … If it had been a sitcom, there would have been a hic after it. Cal cringed. He and the little girl held their gaze a moment until Cal felt the heat creep into his face again.

“Yeah?” Cal said. It felt loud. The guy hardly turned his head, but he managed to raise his glass. The man was sitting at an old gaming table. Back in the day it had been a Pac Man. Now it was just a heavy, awkward table.

“Drink –“ the guy managed. Dring. He wiggled his glass.

The light over the scarred pool table hit the bottle just right, amber glowed. Bushmills. He could tell by the color. And the loser.

The guy had been in the place since Cal’s shift started. He was pickled then. Stoned. Hammered. Wasted.

That guy wiggled his glass. “Bartender!” he shrieked again. Cal fought an urge to put his hands over his ears and shut the man out.

“Yeah, shut yer pie hole, I’m coming.” Cal slapped the dishtowel on the bar and flipped up the swing bar. The old fuck was drinking Bushmills but he didn’t bother bringing the bottle. Make the fucker work for it.

“Yeah?” he said to the guy. The guy looked up at him.

He was surprised. The guy was only about forty. His eyes were blood shot and sunken, but not aged. Cal stared. He was hammered, though.

Barely, he got out, “Gim-mme another won – ” His eyes were at half-mast, his words begotten out of primordial need. Sounds, demands. 

“Bourbon?” Cal said.

He nodded. Tapped his glass. Bon Jovi on the speakers overhead was half way there, living on a prayer.


Cal picked up the empty bottle. He held it to the light to see inside. It was as empty as possible. He grinned. Smug.

“You drink all this?” The guy stared at him, empty save for the desire.  “You want another bottle?” he joked. “You don’t think you’ve had enough?”

“’nuh-ver bottle.” The man nodded, his mouth open, whether from bottle lust or drunkenness, it didn’t matter. “Ge- me –“ he didn’t finish.

“Roger- that and-Fuck that, sir,” Cal said. He leaned in close to the man, thinking to tell him that he’d had enough. That he was done. That someone had to put him in a cab and send him to the graveyard.

What he said was, “This cannot end well. You know that, mister, right? You should listen to me. I’m the Piano Man.”

The guy looked up at him, knowing back in his reptilian brain that the look was required. It was unfocused and exhausted coming from a graveyard of responses.

“I guess you’re the guy who doesn’t have a family. This is your family, right?”

The man grinned, and managed to raise his glass in salute.

Disgusted, Cal shook the bottle at him. “Fine. Die like this.” He took the bottle and the glass back to the bar.

At the bar he put the empty in the recycling bin and the glass in the bin for the dishwasher. He did a little maintenance, wanting that guy to wait for his drink, but ever aware of the drink-bar-time-factor. The longer he waited to serve him his drink, the more time he gave him to decide to go home and stop paying for drinks.

It was like bar tenet. To go without is to leave.

Could get another dime.

He laughed. And the little kid at the bar spoke.

“I’m cold.”

He looked up, temporarily dumbfounded. His face fell, the anger that had been solid in his lips, eyes, tongue, slipped and he felt cold. He nodded. Fucking kids. He didn’t have any kids. You couldn’t live like this and have kids.

And: It’s a bar. Who tells their kid to wait in a fucking bar?

“That’s some old man you have, kid,” he said. He poured the Bush into a dirty glass. Fought the urge to spit in it. Shirley called from the corner for another round, her voice slurring the words, a cackle coming out of her whether because of that, or something her drunken companion said.

He hadn’t intended on working here after he graduated. He’d looked hard for a job for a long time, in publishing at first, then in public relations. Then office work.

He’d temped for a while, getting older, keeping the job at the bar. No joke, after a day of job interviews with some asshole in a suit or worse, not in a suit, looking down their nose, over their glasses not looking at all at you, coming to a place where you were the clear front runner was seductive.   

He slapped Shirley’s round on the tray with dead guy’s bourbon and did the math in his head, thinking about what the likely tips were. Shirley was at the in-between drunk place where she could over-tip. She used to like the look of him, used to say that you’re a good looking guy Calvin –

(Man, what’re you doing here?)

Cal walked the drinks around the bar, dropping them with too much care on to the tables, deliberately not saying thank you here you go, and then trying to remember if he ever did anymore.

What he did say was, “Drink up, drink up – for tomorrow we die.”

Then he turned doing a fucked up, joking pirouette and walked back to the bar his eyes lighting on the little girl, thinking maybe she saw and would laugh, one of those bright, catchy, kid laughs from the movies and television commercials about anti-depressants and diarrhea –

With a goofy smile on his face for the kid mostly he did a last little bow and looked over at her stool. Ta-fucking-da.

She wasn’t there. He dipped and looked around the corner of the bar, and then by the door.

“Hey kid?” Cal dropped the tray off on the bar and went to the bathroom. Before he even opened the door he could smell urine and chlorine. He pushed the door to the ladies open just a bit and called in. “Kid? You in there –“

There was no answer.

Panicked now, he ran back to the middle of the bar, by the pool table. “KID?” Patrons looked up at him disinterestedly. “Kid!?”

She was nowhere. Not in the bar. He looked at the clock over Bushmills. It was 11:30.

He scanned the room frantically, finally screaming.

“The KID!! Did anyone see where the fucking kid went?!”

A few eyes were sober enough to blink into the rest of the bar. Bushmills dropped his head to the table nearly spilling what was left in his glass. His shoulders shook.
“The kid! Where did she go?” Shirley shook her head and mumbled something to her friend. Cal couldn’t hear the words, but he caught the irritated tone.

“Fuck YOU,” he screamed. He ran out the door on to the sidewalk outside the bar. The cold hit him instantly, the air was ice, he shuddered and wrapped his arms around himself. He thought of the kid in her little parka.

The street was deserted. There were a half dozen cars parked on the bar side. They were empty, but just to be sure he scanned them. An old Dodge was at the far end, a baby seat anchored in the back. Maybe her old man came, picked her up while Cal was serving. That was it.

He decided that was it. It had to be. It was too cold to stand outside to debate it. He was going to go inside, trying to ignore the car with the baby seat. They were only for babies. Little kids didn’t use them. Did they?

What he couldn’t ignore was the spot of color in there, just a bit, the top of something that was hidden, in the front seat of that car. Red. Like a parka.

Seeing it he knew that was the tip of the little girl’s parka, without having to walk over there and look inside. He did anyway. And somehow he knew that when he peeked in and knocked on the glass that she would not look up or move.

And that’s exactly what happened. Nothing. The hood of her parka hid her face from him, but he could see her little body curled up tightly, her hands still balled into fists, under her chin. And finally he saw her legs, dangling over the edge of the seat.

Emergency services made the patrons stay and took away their glasses. Everyone had to give a statement. No one had seen a little girl in the bar.

Bushmills had passed out in the men’s room apparently, much earlier in the night. His table was empty when Cal came back in to dial 911. There was no glass on the table, no bottle except for the one in recycling.

EMT found him. They checked his wallet for ID found out his name was Robert Germaine Castleman. He had a couple of photos in his wallet, an overweight lady and a little girl.

That’s her Cal had said. The girl in the car. The EMT had not found the girl. Cal was crazed by then, the cold, the neighbourhood. She was just a little kid.

“She’s not in the car, mister,” they said. “You’ve been sampling your product.” The other EMT found that funny, even as he was strapping Robert Germaine Castleman on to the stretcher. The reek of booze coming off the guy made Cal nauseous.

The other one pulled the picture of the little girl out I’ll give it to the cops they can walk through the neighbourhood –

And a newspaper clipping fell to the floor. The EMT bent over to pick it up but Cal saw what it was as it fluttered turning over as it floated to the ground, a quick glimpse of the kid, smiling in a school picture like the ones on his sister's fridge.

The EMT handed the clipping to Cal, but he didn't read it. He held the already yellowed clipping in his fingers. Brenna. And he'd pegged her right: she'd been 6.  

So a little girl walks into a bar and the bartender says hey no kids allowed in the bar and the kid says –

I’m waiting for my dad.

Susie Moloney (born February 27, 1962 in Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a Canadian author of horror fiction. The film rights to her book, A Dry Spell, were purchased by Cruise/Wagner Productions in 1997, for a reported seven figures. Moloney was the first novelist to appear on the cover of Chatelaine Magazine. She was also featured on the cover of Scarlett Magazine.

She has been compared to Stephen King. She was the winner of the Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction.

Susie splits her time between Canada and New York City. Her husband is award-winning playwright Vern Thiessen.