A Murder About to Happen

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A Murder About to Happen. I’ve watched several TV crime shows in which young women in their twenties and older women in their thirties were murdered by men they met in bars. It’s been a while since I was in a bar, and times have changed, but I don’t believe they’ve changed that much.

When I was traveling several days a week, I might have clients who wanted to go to a bar at night, or if I were alone, I’d go in there to hear the band. Waitresses probably thought I was the strange one, because I’d order a couple of Coca Colas while there. At the end of the night I left a nice tip, and they forgot I had ordered Coca Colas.

Bars have an eclectic group of people in them. There are business men, and you can spot them fairly easily. There are the local men who dress differently from the businessmen, and there are men whom you wonder where they came from. Some are sloppily dressed, and others in mediocre attire.

Women don’t normally come in the bar alone, two, three, and sometimes four of them together. They might chat with a man who comes up to the group, but see security in numbers, and just don’t leave with some total stranger, and that’s what mystifies me about these murders.

Business women on the road do not go in bars. They take a meal in their room and watch TV. If they’re in a motel that doesn’t serve food, they go to the nearest restaurant, and return to their room afterwards.

The women you see in bars are locals, and the local women know who the local men are. A stranger may as well be wearing a red flag for a shirt. They are not leaving with him, no matter how charming he is.

Sure I’ve had women come up to me in a bar, and want to dance or start a conversation, and perhaps if I’m with one client, two women will approach us. My client and I or if it was just me declined as courteously as we could. We had no idea who these women were, and weren’t about to find out. Maybe they were just looking for free drinks, but you never know. If I had two or three clients with me, women never approached us to try and isolate any one of the men in our group.

Bars are also a good place to study people. Sometimes I’d strike up a conversation with one of the local men, especially if he seemed to know the local scene. He could give me the life stories of a number of people in the bar, both men and women.

According to him, a lot of the local men were losers, if you count the fact they were divorced or had lost their girlfriends. I was astonished some of the men would admit to this man they had beaten their girlfriends. Sometimes that was booze talking, but sometimes it wasn’t. Some men just seemed to fear no reprisal. He had some women confide in him as well. Divorced, split from their boyfriend. Some alcoholics or close to it.

According to him, the local women knew the stories of the local guys, and didn’t too much want to hear their stories, and the girlfriend beaters were kept at arm’s length like they were the devil, which they were.

This is another reason I find it incredible that a woman would walk out of a bar with somebody she had known in conversation for only twenty or thirty minutes. They knew outsiders coming into their town had no different tales from the local men, and possibly even worse. And if they went to bars in the first place, they knew the con game was on. Even if the guy didn’t have murder on his mind, the woman wasn’t about to prostitute herself for a one-nighter.

TV crime shows normally have the basic facts straight, but there’s nothing to prevent them from dramatizing the lead-up to the murder in whatever manner they choose to make it more unbelievable than it is. That little note that says this is based on a true story gives them that license.

The reverse situation did occur in Birmingham several years ago. Morris Avenue had several nightclubs/bars, and was trying to act like a miniature New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. Some woman talked a Chicago steel exec into going with her, possibly for sex, who knows. When they got outside the bar, her boyfriend was waiting with a gun and a male accomplice. The exec’s body was found the next day in a field in an adjoining county. The three were arrested for the crime, and convicted.

I was in a bar back in the corner of the room, don’t remember the city, late one afternoon about four or so, passing time until supper. The bar had few customers at that time. I saw a well-dressed woman in an expensive business suit sitting on a stool at the bar. I observed her for a few moments, and finally determined by her actions, she was a prostitute, a very high-class prostitute. A well-dressed man eased into the stool next to her, and started a conversation. They seemed to be discussing money when I left. I’m sure the hotel didn’t condone it, but I figured the bartender got a cut of the night’s proceeds, as long as the hotel manager didn’t catch him. I didn’t say anything to the hotel manager. I figured it was capitalism at work, and why should I interfere.

Another incident occurred in Birmingham when I had a couple of clients and their wives in town. We, including my wife, had gone to eat, John’s restaurant as I recall, had finished, and I decided to drive them down a one-way 21st street to 7th Avenue, left turn onto 20th Street, and show them the UAB campus and Vulcan on Southside. I had pulled into the left lane to make the turn on 7th, but got caught by a red light at 4th Avenue. The corner was not well-lighted, but well enough for four prostitutes, gaudily dressed with exaggerated makeup, standing there to start peering into the car to see if there were some prospective business. Fortunately they saw the women in the car, and resumed the conversation they had been having among themselves. The red light probably only lasted a minute or minute and a half, but seemed like two hours. That was not exactly what I had in mind for showing everyone the sights of Birmingham, but the two wives of the clients started talking about it as soon as we pulled away. Don’t guess they’d ever seen prostitutes up close and personal. We all wound up laughing about it, and the night moved away from a total disaster.

These last two were examples of prostitutes in very different circumstances, one of them in a very protected hotel setting. These women knew the risks they were taking.

The murdered TV women I mentioned earlier seemed to have no clue they were taking risks, and voluntarily left the bars.

It still does not make sense to me, considering all the scenarios I saw. But then again, murder doesn’t make sense, does it?

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