Wednesday June 22nd, 2016

The exercise:

Write a little something about: the bandit.

Had a huge rush right at opening this morning before things settled into a more manageable pace. Then the new girl came in at ten and I was able to leave at eleven. I didn't mind at all though, as I needed to get a couple things done in town before heading home for lunch.

Did all right with the going to bed early thing last night. Might as well try it again tonight.


As soon as I walked into the tavern I knew they were having a busy night. Two guys at the bar instead of the usual one? Check. Customers seated at three tables, with at least three cowboys at each of them? Yup. Waitress... yeah, no waitress in sight.

"What can I get you?" the bartender asked, his words whistling as they worked their way through the gaps in his teeth.

"A dozen glasses of whatever passes for your finest ale."

"Drinking to celebrate?" he asked as he began to line glasses up on the bar between us. "Or to forget?"

"They're not all for me," I said with an indulgent smile. "The rest of the gang will be here shortly."

"So there's twelve of you?" The bartender pauses, his hand lingering on the final glass.

"That's right," I replied as I eased myself onto a stool. "So maybe you should do more pouring and less asking."

"Sure, right." He did as I suggested, but his eyes kept checking the door. By the fourth glass he was spilling more on the bar than he was getting into the containers.

"Easy now," I told him. "Maybe I should take care of the rest of those, hmm? You look like you could use some fresh air maybe?"

"Uh, yeah... okay."

"Take your time. Me and the gang will still be here when you get back. We're in no rush."

"Right, okay." For some reason that didn't seem to make him any happier. "So, uh, is the whole Wilson Gang coming in tonight?"

"I guess you'll see when you come back," I told him. "After your break. Remember?"

"Right, got it." He hurried off, looking back every few steps until he nearly walked into the wall at the end of the bar. I waved him away with a frown and he finally disappeared around the corner.

"Right," I muttered as I set to work. "Let's see how many of these I can drink before he realizes the Wilson boys left town last night."


Greg said...

Sounds like a good day! The getting to bed at a decent time probably does help more than you think as well :) It's all still busy over here, and just seems to keep getting busier. There are things that need to be done, and it turns out the best way to make sure it all happens to take control of it. But that somehow involves more work, so there's something wrong in my plan here... :)
Ah, the Wilson gang were clearly a serious bunch of guys, and I like how the barman doesn't know, though the busyness of his bar does quietly suggest that he's the only one in there who doesn't. There's a lovely atmosphere to this piece, and the details with the barman's nervousness and his customer's determination play very well together. I could easily have been sat in that bar myself, off to the side, watching things unroll with their inevitability!

The bandit
"They used to call them one-armed bandits," said Vince. Dave, who had put another ten pounds into the slot machine, grimaced. "I get the banditry," he said, his snarl barely contained. "This f'ing thing's been taking my money all evening and not giving it back. Every time I get to the castle, the reels spin like they hate me."
"What castle?"
Dave sighed heavily, usually a sign that someone was going to get punched, and pointed into the myriad flashing lights on the machine's display. It looked like a sixties' idea of a futuristic spaceship control. "This bit here," he said. "When it lights up here, the castle is open, and then if you get enough Knights on the reels you advance along this path here, and you hope you miss the boiling oil spot here, and the arrow slits here,..."
Vince yawned, and then remembered to put his hand up to hide it.
"And then, so long as you don't any black witches on the next spin the portcullis opens. But you get four spins before it sends you back to the beginning."
"You won ten minutes ago," said Vince.
"I won a jousting match," said Dave, his voice tinged with disgust. "That was like three quid and I've spent nearly fifty on this."
"Can I try?"
"With your own money!"
The men swapped places, and the barman immediately started moving breakable things out of the way. The more nervous patrons decided to go and smoke, even those that didn't have cigarettes or a habit.
"That's the bloody castle... you're past the guards already... no f'ing way did you lift the portcullis on the first spin... that's the King... no, sweet Jesus Vince, you don't just waltz past the Queen like she's Quasimodo's uglier sister... this isn't happening... this isn't f'ing happening... what the hell are you doing Vince?" Dave's voice reached a crescendo that drowned out the music (T'Pau, China in your hand) and the barman disappeared for a cigarette himself.
"You can't win the whole bloody game on the first spin, you bloody bandit yourself you!"

Marc said...

Greg - sounds like you need a henchman. Or an assistant. Whatever sounds better to HR.

Thanks for the kind words on mine :)

Haha, I can picture your scene so clearly. Especially the rest of the crowd finding excuses to clear out ahead of the inevitable tantrum.

Also... that is one hell of a slot machine. I think I'd be as mad as Dave... if I'd been foolish enough to start playing.