Monday, December 19, 2011

A Series of Increasingly Improbable Events - Part 3: Knock Out

            It was almost midnight, and the four of us were sitting at the kitchenette in my apartment.  We had been arguing for over two hours by then, trying to come to a consensus on the age old question of what to do with our new superpowers.  Tara started by suggesting that we talk to a scientist or someone in the press.  No one agreed.  I suggested we lay low until we knew more about our situation.  Only Barry agreed.  George thought we should fight crime.  We continuously ignored that suggestion.  Barry didn’t come up with any new ideas.
            “I keep telling you,” I said, “We should keep our heads down.”
            “So just do nothing?” Tara scoffed, “Sit here and twiddle our thumbs and hope the answers drop out of the sky?”
            “Or we could fight crime?” George chimed in. 
            I ignored him and continued talking to Tara.  “It’s better than telling everyone.  For all we know that king coconor-”
            “Konakor,” Barry said.
            “Whatever.  King Konakor is trying to find us.  If we have a bunch of scientists blabbing about superpowers, the government could be the least of our problems.”
            “We should do something!
            “We could always fight -”
            “Shut up, George.” Tara, Barry, and I said in unison. George pouted and everyone was silent.  In the newfound calm, we managed to reel in our tempers. 
            “Look,” I said to Tara, “I agree that we should find out more about our abilities, but I don’t know who we can trust.”  Tara nodded.
            “I know, but we’re not going to find out anything by sitting around and hoping.”
            “Well,” said George, “If we were to use our powers-”
            “We’re not fighting crime, George,” I said for what felt like the hundredth time.  It was actually the hundred and eighty-seventh time.
            “Actually,” Tara said, “I think he might have a point.”
            “What?” Barry exclaimed.  George beamed.
            “Not about the crime fighting,” Tara added, George’s smile disappearing, “But about using our powers.  I’m going to have a lot of free time, so I might as well be productive.”  We looked at her, puzzled.  She said nothing for a moment then admitted, “I got fired today for being late.  Again.”
            Barry put a hand on her shoulder.  We were uttering reassurances to her when I had an idea.  “George,” I said, “You know that bar a couple blocks from here.” 
            “You have to be way more specific.”
            “The British one with the Irish name.”
            “McManus’s?  What about it?”
            “Don’t the people there love to bet?”
            “Yeah, but I-” George’s eyes widened with understanding.  Tara nodded. 
            Barry appeared deep in thought, then gave up.  “What are you talking about?”
            “They have darts contests, like, every night.  I could win a bundle from that.”
            “And they have drunks at that bar.” George said, “I could win some bar bets.”
            “What could I do?” Tara asked.
            George shrugged.  “See if they need a bartender?”  Tara shot him an angry glare, and I kicked at George’s leg under the table.
            “Ow!” Barry shouted, drawing his leg up to his chest and cussing under his breath.
            “Sorry,” I said, “that was meant for George.”
            From the outside, McManus’s seemed like a quaint little building.  The type of place your grandmother would go to for brunch.  But once you get near the door and the sound of British punk rock permeates your skull you realize that only the most badass grannies would step foot in here.  In addition to the bar itself, a wide assortment of tables were splayed around the room.  Patrons were playing pool on four of the tables, which wouldn’t have been interesting if there hadn’t been only three pool tables.  All in all, this was a stereotypical British pub.
            There was a group of people playing darts by the back of the joint.  “I’ll see you guys in a bit,” I said, pointing to the darts.  I walked the thirty or so feet to where the game was being played, avoiding several drunks who almost crashed into me on their way to or from the bar.  There were two people playing and a small crowd watching and cheering.  The man currently throwing was in his early thirties.  He was lanky but had an air of craziness about him that instantly put me on edge.  He had shaggy black hair and a cockney accent straight out of Mary Poppins.  He through his final dart and hit the bullseye dead center.  The crowd cheered and the other player handed him several large bills.
            The other player looked like a sad Pierce Brosnan.  Probably because he was Pierce Brosnan, and he just lost.  He disappeared out the back door of the pub before I could get an autograph. 
            “Good show, Wesley!” a man who had been watching the game shouted.  “That’s all of them ‘cept Moore and Lazenby, innit?”
            “Just Moore,” Wesley said. “Beat Lazenby last week.  Then we played darts.”  Everyone laughed, myself included.  This got Wesley’s attention.  “What do you want?”
            “Oh, I want to play darts with Wesley.”  The people laughed.
            “Aye!” one of them shouted, “This Yank’s off his chump!”
            “I’ll assume that’s an insult.” I said.
            “It is,” Wesley nodded, and turned to the crowd, “What say I show him how it’s done?”  The crowd cheered.  “And you know what,” he turned back to me, “I’ll give you odds.    Five hundred bucks, three to one.” 
            “Sounds good,” I said.  Wesley nodded to one of the spectators, of which the number was now growing. The man he nodded to retrieved the darts from the board and brought them to Wesley.  He handed me three darts.
            “Three sets, with three legs apiece.  Play from 501 and double-in.  Sound good to you?”  He raised his eyebrows. 
            “Um,” I stuttered, “Do you mind if I get a drink before we start?”
            “Sure,” he smiled, “Just don’t bugger off.” 
            “I won’t,” I promised as I headed to the bar. 
            George was there, arm wrestling with an obscenely muscular man.  The tattoo on the man’s bulbous bicep clearly predated the biceps themselves, as what had once been a slender mermaid now looked like someone shoved Roseanne Barr down a trout’s throat.  Or maybe he was just into that kind of thing.
            Tara was sitting a couple stools down, several crumpled bills in her hand.  I sat down next to her.  Without looking at her I said, “We’ve got a problem.”
            “Why?  What’s wrong.”  She looked at me concernedly. 
            “I don’t know how to play darts.”
            Tara rolled her eyes.  “Really?”  She turned to George.  “Hurry this up, I gotta help Matt play darts.”  There was a loud thud and a grunt as George slammed the man’s forearm to the table.  Tara handed him the money and we walked to the dartboard. 
            “So,” Wesley said as we approached, “You brought some of your mates to watch you lose?” 
            “ ‘Ow many akkers for the bird?” one of the spectators asked. 
            “Be nice, Keith.” Wesley said, shooting Keith a reproachful look.  “Let’s get this started, shall we?” 
            “Sounds good.”  I said, “You start.”
            “Fair enough,” Wesley said and turned to stare intensely at the dartboard.  He threw the dart right in the middle of the 20.  The second hit the double 20 and the third the 20 again, just above the triple.  “Four-forty-one” he said and stepped aside.
            I took his place and pretended to aim.  “Hit the double 20,” Tara whispered.
            “Umm…” I replied, moving the dart forward and back in the air. 
            “The thing he hit on his second throw.”
            “Oh, okay.” I said, and launched the dart to the suggested spot.  The spectators muttered their approval. 
            “Now the triple 20,” Tara whispered. 
            “Umm…”  I repeated.
            “The little band above the double twenty.”
            I nodded and hit the triple 20.  Then I hit the triple 20 again. 
            “Three-forty-one,” Tara whispered. 
            “Three-forty-one” I repeated and stepped aside for Wesley, who was now looking rather shaken. 
            Tara gave me instructions for the rest of the game (which they call “legs” for some reason) and I won the game in nine throws.  In nine more, I won the set.  I won the next set and the match soon after.  Then all I remember is asking Wesley for my money, which he held out in his left hand.  Unfortunately, his right hand was hurtling towards my nose.  I’m not proud to admit that I passed out, but I have a distinct recollection of George shouting, “It’s clobberin’ time.”

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