The rain was still pounding on the window and I sighed as I plunged my hands into the bubble filled sink. The lavender smell was sharp in the fry grease perfumed air. I slopped the sponge across the dirty plate, glad it was nearly closing time.
Pounding on the door assaulted my ears and I nearly dropped the plate. "What?" I scowled, wiping my hands on a towel and opening the door that served as a barrier between the drunk customers and my sanity.
I had to look up to meet the man's watery gaze. "We need you out here."
I frowned and brushed past him out into the barroom. Six men were still sprawled at the bar and tables. "What's going on here?"
A chorus of slurred responses answered me, none of them matching the other. The man in the corner stood and sauntered over, his Wonderland style top hat shadowing his pierced face. "We've made a bet, and we need you to officiate."
He slid a knife from his pocket and I flinched away. He held the handle out toward me. "It's a bet on my life, see." His Chicago accent was strong. "If I win, they owe me lots of money. If I lose," He shrugged. "I'm only out one life."
My fingers fumbled for the handle and he walked to stand against the wall. "Stick that through my hat, and you can scurry back to the kitchen."
My mind raced. It was crazy. But I was surrounded by drunks who wanted crazy. Now.
I flipped the knife over in my hand and took a deep breath. What other options did I have? I looked up at the Chicago Mad Hatter. He smiled.
(Yes, I did use a character from the entry I wrote for Teen Words of Steel. I liked him. Don't judge.)
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