“Don’t make a face. The Montilla is the finest establishment anywhere. No moonshine, only the best malt liquors. It’s a little hard to get to, but that just makes it tougher for the cops to raid. Of course if you can’t put up with a little discomfort to get a greater reward I could always look for someone a little more adventurous.”
“I can be plenty adventurous. What are we waiting for? Let’s go.”
Frank led the way into the alley. His eyes adjusted to the gloom, but not before he stepped right into a puddle. The cold water oozed into his sock. He didn’t want to complain, so he soldiered on as Ruth glided around the pools of water. They came to an iron door, thick with rust.
“Are you sure this is the place?”
“This is just one of many entrances. We still have a ways to go yet.”
Frank pulled the door open. It moved reluctantly, and after they were inside the smell of sewage flooded his nostrils. Ruth didn’t seem to notice, so Frank kept walking and trying to rub the rust off his palms. When he saw a river of filth running along next to them, he turned to his guide.
“They sure don’t make this place easy to get to.”
The thick smell made him gag.
“Of course not. If it was too easy, anyone could get in. You can’t enjoy yourself with common drunken louts running around. The Montilla serves an elite crowd.”
“Sounds great. Are we at least getting close?”
“Just a little farther Frank.”
Light streamed through grates above their heads. Car horns warped as they filtered down. There was no debating it. They were right in the middle of the sewers. Frank did his best to keep his crinkled nose turned away from Ruth.
Little scratching noises drifted from the darkness between the sewer grates. The sounds died away as they got close, but Frank shivered anyway. His darting eyes caught a few glimpses of movement or the end of a tail as its owner scurried out of sight. The rats grew bolder as they got deeper in.
“You’re sure this is the way? These rats don’t seem used to visitors.”
“We are in their home, and without permission too. But perhaps you’re right. We should turn back. The pleasures of the Montilla are not for the faint of heart.”
“I never said anything about turning back. Just wanted to make sure you knew the way.”
“Who could forget the golden whiskey that flows like water? I’m sure it’s this way. Not much farther now.”
Frank’s mouth watered at the talk of alcohol. Ever since the amendment, it was impossible to get a drink in his hometown. Just another reason he was glad he traveled so much. He tried to force the rats and sewage out of his mind but wasn’t very successful. Ruth’s red lips and shining eyes made his heart flutter, but if he thought he could remember all the turns to get back to the alley, he probably would’ve left her.