That Story, or Ten Reasons Why Priestly Doesn't Like Chicago
1. The Little Old Lady | 2. The Weather | 3. The Computer Genius | 4. The Bars | 5. The Crazed Psycho | 6. The Women | 7. The Tripper | 8. The Lost Boy | 9. The Skateboard | 10. The Little Old Lady (Again) | 11. Epilogue
The sun had set two hours ago by the time they ambled into the gloomy bar. It wasn't classy, but the floors also weren't covered in unknown substances, so Boaz didn't really mind. The only thing that stood out was the man in the corner that seemed to have locked onto him the moment he walked in and wouldn't take his eyes off. Boaz pretended not to notice him as they made their way around the tables to a booth by the corner.
Buzzer took off for the bar as the rest slid into the booth; Delia on the inside next to Boaz, and Jake and Tom on the other side.
“Buzzer works here weekends so he’s working his magic on the drinks.” Tom said.
“Which is to say, he makes sure our glasses are clean,” Delia clarified, cleaning her glasses lazily.
Boaz nodded in understanding and slowly cast his eyes around the bar. The man from earlier was still trying to sneak furtive glances over his beer, and the three men at the pool table abruptly turned away when he looked their way, their stances leaving no doubt that they were talking about him.
They can probably tell I’m not twenty-one, he thought, Tom could get away with it because he’s tall, and didn’t shave this morning. He froze. They wouldn’t tell anyone, right? He looked over again, and they were smiling in a way that made him uncomfortable. It probably didn’t help matters that they then started over to the booth.
Boaz groaned. This can’t end well, not with my luck this week.
Buzzer returned with the drinks about the same time the men started to head over, so their approach went unnoticed by everyone except Boaz. It wasn’t until they were standing two feet away did everyone else stop fighting over the booze and look up.
“Help ya?” Jake asked.
The apparent leader of the three, a dangerous looking man built like a tank with a hair cut that screamed “Army! He’s fuckin’ trained to KILL – Piss off at own risk,” squared his gaze straight on Boaz.
“How’s about that rematch?”
Boaz frowned. “Uhh...”
His companions turned to him then, Tom voicing what all the others were thinking, “You been here before Bo?”
“That would be a ‘no’.”
“Except for last night, right?” Crew-cut replied.
Boaz didn’t really want to tell the possible marine and his two buddies (who, now he thought about it, looked like they were in the same platoon or regiment or whatever) something he wasn’t looking to hear.
Without explicitly saying “no”, Boaz said, “I just got into town last night.”
The blond blinked. “Good for you.”
“So I... wasn’t here.”
The mans’ eyes narrowed. “Unless my friends and I are mistaken, you did say that the next time you were in here you would gladly accept a rematch. Well here you are, I would like my rematch.”
Boaz cleared his throat, as though he knew he was going to get his ass kicked for saying what he was about to; “You’re mistaken.” When Blondie glared at him, he hastily added, “But sure, let’s have a game.”
The man smiled, and Boaz was suddenly put in mind of sharks.
The three turned and headed back to the table, leaving Boaz to face three puzzled stares and one impassive one.
“I ain’t gonna tell that guy no – he’d kill me,” was all Boaz said before slipping out of the booth and following the others.
“Hey, Bo,” Jake called, scrambling after him. “Can you play pool at all?”
“Not really, no.” Boaz answered. “But I’m hoping that after he realises that, he’ll leave me alone.”
“Good call.” Buzzer piped in.
Delia, who was carrying the drinks over, scoffed and rolled her eyes. When Boaz looked her way she didn’t say anything.
They reached the pool table all too soon, and Blondie was circling it, tossing a cue in Boaz’ direction. “You can break,” he said.
“Uhh, ‘kay.” Boaz walked over to the head of the table and lined up his shot.
With a loud clack the balls spun out in their own directions (none came back towards him). When they had all settled, he realised that all sixteen were still on the table. Yep, that’s about right.
Blondie raised an eyebrow as if to say he wasn’t buying it and took his turn. He sank three balls before it came back to Boaz, who fumbled on the nine. Blondie snickered and sank another two. “You really think I’m going to fall for that again?” he asked.
Boaz didn’t know how to reply to that, so instead he just sunk the nine (finally), and then tried for thirteen (he missed).
The game was over in less than ten minutes, with Blondies’ mates smirking at him. “Never seen a man so eager to give up his money,” the shorter of the two remarked.
Boaz opened his mouth, but it was Jake who spoke. “Na hold on, no one ever said this was fer money.”
“Course it is,” Blondie replied. “Fifty dollars, same as before. No point in having a rematch unless there’s dough on the table.”
Tom jumped into the discussion at that point, backing up Jake who was refuting the claim. Boaz remained silent as he tried to figure out how, in the span of an hour, he came to be in two-thousand and fifty dollars in debt. It just wasn’t making sense.
“Alright fine, we’ll waive that first one,” Blondie’s voice cut in. “But from here on in, you better start putting money down.”
“I don’t have any money.”
“What, you spent it already?” The third man, a redhead scoffed.
“How could I spend-” Was as far as Boaz got before Blondie held up a hand to cut him off.
“Look, just shut-up and play.” His tone brook no argument.
“Fine, but just one game. Emphasis on the one. One.” He repeated, making sure Blondie understood. The big man looked annoyed at him but said nothing to the contrary, which Boaz took to mean yes and racked up the balls again.
Blondie broke and the game proceeded in much the same fashion as the first had. The only difference was that, with each failed shot by Boaz, Blondie grew more and more agitated. When he finally sunk the eight ball, he was almost livid. “Again.”
“What?” Boaz was incredulous.
“Cut the crap, and play properly.”
“Look, I know this may be hard for you to believe, but some people can’t play pool as well as you.”
Blondie slammed the pool cue onto the table. “You really expect me to believe that you can’t play pool; that last night was just a wonderful stroke of luck? Do you really think that’s likely?” Before Boaz could reply, Blondie steamrolled over the top, his voice a barely controlled rage. “Or, do you think it’s more likely that some punk kid has just realised that he’s gotten in over his head swindling someone he shouldn’t have, and is trying to cut the game short so he doesn’t have to give back the money he cheated?”
Boaz raised his hands in placation. “Dude, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
It was the wrong thing to say. Boaz’ mind knew that the second he’d said it, informing him with an exasperated idiot and a mental slap.
Enraged by the remark, Blondie started for Boaz; his large flexed fingers intent on making good on the warning his haircut gave.
He was met half way by Jake, who was trying to diffuse the situation. Blondie however was having none of it, and shoved Jake out of the way.
Not one to take physical assaults lying down, Jake sprung back up and shoved him back. Blondie’s two friends rushed to his aide, and the second they both tried to gang up on Jake all hell broke loose.
Tom and Buzzer darted in to defend Jake. Boaz was about to help when he was reminded why this all started with a swift punch to the face. He stumbled over the table and barely had time to look up when Blondie was attacked by his would-be stalker from before. The man jabbed Blondie in the gut, winding him before tripping him over. He then wasted no time in shoving Boaz out the back door before he could even speak.
[ cont>> ]