a sheriff with a big gut hanging over his belt, a floozie with a heart of gold, santa claus (he wasn't really santa claus, he was just dressed up as santa claus to stand beside a black kettle all day and solicit money) and two nuns who had also spent the day asking people for money.
and joe the jolly bartender , who was trying to keep everybody in a good mood, in spite of the winter storm raging outside.
the door opened, letting cold air and a little snow in.
reed came in.
"whiskey, reed?" joe asked him.
joe poured the whiskey.
"you know what i just did?" reed asked him.
"no, reed, what did you just do?"
"i just killed a man."
"i do tell. i just did an honest day's work." reed looked around the bar. "which is probably more than any of you parasites can say. a man paid me to do a job and i did it."
reed threw the whiskey down his throat and slapped the glass on the bar. "the son of a bitch begged for mercy. i told him to look in the dictionary under 'm'".
"i think you've used that line before, reed," joe told him.
joe looked over at the sheriff. "did you hear that, sheriff, reed says he just killed a man."
the sheriff didn't look up. "in what county?"
"hell, " reed answered, "i don't know. it was down the road. way down the road."
"the county line's just across the street," the sheriff told him.
reed ordered another shot of whiskey.
they all fell silent.
the door opened again letting in more cold air and a little snow and a seventh customer.