Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Pulling Even
Book Seven of the Dawnwalker Cycle
Wes Boyd
2004, 2009, 2011

Chapter 33

Sunday - Monday, January 20 - 21, 2002

The town was small but there was a bar with a restaurant that didn't do too bad with their food. The only thing wrong with it was the half-dozen young guys from another boat in the harbor who were rather loud and obnoxious. There was nothing much they could do but put up with them while they had their dinner, but they voted to find a quieter bar as soon as they could.

It was a small town and it soon proved that there were few other choices. "Well, it's like this," Scooter said. "We can either head back to the boat and hang out, or we can go back and out-party that gang, maybe with a Michelle Special. What does anyone else think?"

"Oh, goody, a Michelle Special," Michelle grinned with an evil glint in her eye. "God, it's been a while. Send me in, coach."

Randy thought he knew what a Michelle Special was – there were legends about this little blonde, after all – but had never seen it in action. This could be good.

They headed back into the bar and found a table not too far from the rowdies, who had obviously been partying hard for quite a while, now. It was cool and dark inside; the place was about half full. They hadn't even sat down when Michelle yelled at the bartender, "What's with all this fucking rap you're playing on that fucking jukebox? Where's the fucking country?"

"Hey, I like rap," one of the rowdies yelled back at her.

"Rappers have their heads up their asses, and they can't sing," she shot back.

Randy rolled his eyes. If he, Jim, or Dave had said that there would have been a fist fight right on the spot, but Michelle as a girl could get away with it. They found a table, and a black waitress got their orders. The guys, Scooter, and Mary ordered beer, but Michelle said loud enough for the drunks at the other table to hear, "I'm in the mood for something strong and rough. Whatever cheapest and strongest pilerun whiskey you have in the house will work fine."

"Are you sure you want whiskey, miss?" the waitress said in a lilting West Indian accent.

"Yeah," Michelle nodded. "Better make it a double. Oh, and maybe a beer chaser. I'm thirsty, whatever you have on draft."

"Whatever you say, miss," the waitress said.

"I like cheap bourbon, don't ask why. I can barely hack that high priced single malt Scotch some people think is so cool. Dad says I'd be happier drinking moonshine out of a Mason jar, and sometimes I think he's right."

Randy looked out of the corner of his eye to catch the reaction from the table full of rowdies. From the looks on their faces, it seemed like they figured this teenybopper was about to learn her lesson.

The waitress came with their orders a couple minutes later, and asked if there would be anything else. They allowed as how that would hold them for a while. The waitress turned to go, but Michelle spoke up and said, "Hang on a second, will you?" The waitress turned around, and watched as Michelle tossed down the double, followed by the large mug of beer in about three seconds flat. "That was pretty good," she grinned. "I could hack another one of those if these guys are buying," she grinned, nodding at the guys at the next table.

"Shit," one of the guys at the next table sneered. "There ain't no girl that can drink like that. Who the fuck do you think you're fooling?"

"I can drink your ass under the table any time I feel like it," she replied with just as much of a sneer.

"Aw, bullshit," he replied. "You're just talking trash, bitch."

"You buy it and I'll prove it," she grinned. "In fact, let's do it this way. First one to barf or pass out pays."

"Shit, this will be like taking candy from a baby," he sneered.

"Sure will," she laughed.

By now the exchange had drawn the attention of several people at tables around them, plus the waitress, the bartender, and the bouncer. "Let's start this off simple," she said. "Let's have about four doubles of some good strong vodka for each of us to get started."

The waitress just shook her head in disbelief. "You want what?"

"Oh, if you don't have real strong vodka, something else with a kick will do," Michelle grinned, and turned to the smartmouth. "Unless you'd rather do this with Everclear."

"How about 150-proof rum?" the bartender suggested.

"That's kind of candy-ass but it'll do," Michelle grinned.

"Jesus, you little bitch, you really are talking trash," the big guy said, as some other guys around his table began to laugh at the sight of him being challenged by this teenybopper blonde.

In a couple minutes the waitress had returned with the drinks. She set four glasses down in a row in front of the two of them. Michelle grinned at the guy and said, "Last chance to back out, turkey."

"Ah, bullshit," he said, grabbing a glass and tossing it back. It hit him pretty hard, for having been sitting there and drinking beer for some time. He took a couple deep breaths to recover, and started to say something when he noticed Michelle downin a glass of rum . . . her fourth glass.

"Drink up," she grinned. "You get those polished off and we're going to get serious."

"There ain't no fucking girl that can drink like that," he shook his head as he tossed back his second. It took him a while to get through the four glasses; it was powerful stuff. "There," he said finally.

"Done?" she laughed. "Or you want to get serious?"

"You don't talk to me like that, bitch," he said. "I can still drink your ass under the table."

"Good, set 'em up," she said to the bartender. "This guy needs to learn his lesson."

By this time, there wasn't a lot of talking in the bar – what was going down had gotten around, and people were standing around watching in silence. As before, Michelle tossed down her double rums, and the guy had to struggle with his. Finally, he picked up the last glass, leaned back, and it fell all over him as he collapsed to the floor.

"Pussy," Michelle sneered. "Any of you other pussies think you can finish the job, or do they grow them all with no balls and a big mouth where you come from?"

Girl or not, those were fighting words and Randy knew it. The other table emptied as the remaining five guys got up, toppling their chairs to get to Michelle. The bouncer was heading their way, but Randy yelled, "Got your back!" and stood up to face the guys coming around the table one way while Michelle faced the ones coming the other way.

Even two on five wasn't much of a fight. The five had been drinking hard much of the day, while Randy and Michelle were black belts – multiple in Randy's case. Without even thinking about it, he figured he'd be better off to just cold-cock the contenders rather than do any damage or show his martial arts skills. The first one took a wild swing at him, more to brush the little pisser out of the way to get at Michelle; Randy grabbed an arm, gave a kick, and the drunk went sliding over the top of the table, clearing it of glasses and whatnot in the process. The move left Randy a little low, so a punch to the gut of the next guy left the guy puking on the floor after he'd been shoved into the way of the third drunk coming at him. That tripped the guy up, opening up what little guard he had, and a fist to the side of the head scored big time, knocking the guy silly.

By that time the first one had picked himself up off the floor on the far side of the table and wasn't about to let this little shrimp get away with that kind of shit; he charged Randy again, with more rage than skill. A kick to the nuts took out most of the rage, and Michelle, who had finished her two, finished him off with a slug to the side of the head. Her first attacker was groaning on the floor from a punch to the nuts, and the second had the wind knocked out of him after landing flat from a throw over her shoulder. The whole exchange couldn't have taken over five seconds. "You OK?" Randy asked over his shoulder, still on guard for any who might get up again.

"Yeah, didn't lay a finger on me," she grinned. "I said these guys were pussies and I was right."

"Michelle, you're losing your touch," Scooter said as she crawled out from under the table, where she and Jim had dived, mostly to stay out of Michelle and Randy's line of fire. "I figured you'd drag it out for a while, make it interesting."

"I planned on it," she smirked. "I didn't figure on Randy helping me out."

Randy looked around again. There didn't seem to be any more signs of trouble. He saw the bouncer, a big black guy, grab one of the drunks and haul him toward the door. "Need any help?" he asked.

"No mon, I can take it from here," the guy said. "But thanks anyway."

"Uh, miss," Michelle grinned at the waitress. "I think we could stand another round. That last one sort of, uh, disappeared."

"I'll buy," one of the onlookers called. "Shit, that was impressive!"

"Thanks," Michelle grinned. "Now that those turds are out of here, we can get down and party!"

*   *   *

His head hurt. Shit, the whole world hurt.

Fuck, Randy thought slowly, the words coming slowly. Fuck it was drunk out last night. Just let me fucking go back to sleep, then maybe everything will stop fucking spinning.

Slowly, and with great reluctance Randy opened one eye, and closed it again. Even in the relative darkness of the cabin it was still too fucking bright. This wasn't his bed in Spearfish Lake. That was for sure. Where the hell was he?

Oh, yeah. Last night. Fuck, what a night! He vaguely remembered tumbling into the Zodiac, but he couldn't for the life of him figure out how he'd gotten into his bunk, not that it mattered a whole hell of a lot. There was music coming from somewhere, someone singing, but he really wasn't capable of focusing enough energy to figure anything out. He began to realize he'd never been that drunk in his life – or this hung over.

He quit trying to open his eyes, just settling for lying there with his stomach churning and his head spinning. He could still hear that singing. He couldn't really make out the words, but whatever they were they were too fucking cheerful for this hour of the morning and this much of a hangover. How the hell much had he drunk, anyway? Too fucking much, whatever it was.

It was warm in the bunk, and he could feel himself sweating. Probably the booze had something to do with that, but he wasn't capable of figuring it out. Then there was this god-awful smell that made him half want to hurl, but he couldn't quite find the energy to do it.

Steeling himself, he tried to lever one eye open again, in spite of the brightness. With it barely open the light didn't hurt too bad but he had no idea of what he was seeing. Mostly it was a field of a very light brown, but occasionally a yellow streak went across his field of vision. What was it? No idea. Maybe if he closed that eye it would go away. He tried that, and some indeterminable time later he tried opening it again. No change – that light brown field with that out-of-focus yellow streak was still there.

Maybe it was just his eye. He tried opening the other one, but whatever that brown and yellow thing he could see was still there. Now what the hell? "Oh, fuck!" he moaned.

The brown and yellow whatever it was went away for a second, and he could hear Michelle's cheerful voice. "Ah, the dead have arisen. Rise and shine, Randy, breakfast will be ready soon."

"Oh, fuck!" he said again.

"Hey, come on," she said, still sounding disgustingly cheerful. "We both promised Nicole that there would be none of that on this trip."

The brown and yellow whatever it was appeared in front of him again, still out of focus. All of a sudden, he recognized what it was – it was Michelle's ass, wearing a yellow thong bikini bottom not three inches from his nose as she worked at the galley across the aisle. "Oh, fuck!" he repeated, this time with even more feeling.

"Hey, that was a good party last night, wasn't it?" she said cheerfully. "It had a pretty good warm-up even though on the tame side overall. We ought to be able to get some serious partying in before this trip is over with."

"Oh, fuck!" he said again, in misery at the thought of feeling even worse. If that was a warm-up, what would a serious party be like?

"You're beginning to sound redundant," she laughed. "A little too much last night? Oh, well, it was all in a good cause. I even got a little buzzed myself. You might want to think about getting around, breakfast will be ready soon. Bacon and eggs, and I'm even making coffee river style. That'll wake you up in a hurry."

Oh, shit, he thought. I've got to get the fuck out of here. Out on deck. It might be cooler. He'd be out of the smell that had him that close to blowing whatever he had left in his stomach, and he'd have a whole ocean to blow it into. Best of all, it might be away from her cheery voice that was so goddamn disgusting right now! It was the first positive idea he'd had in a while, and the only one that made any sense.

It was no easy task to drag his ass out of the tiny bunk. As small as he was, he hit his head on the overhead, and that didn't make him feel any better. At least he was still dressed in his clothes from last night, not that he really noticed. He stood up, looked out the hatch, and realized it was really bright out there. Did he really want to go out there? If he did, the sunlight might kill him like a vampire. On the other hand, the smell inside the cabin and Michelle's cheerfulness could damn well kill him. Oh, well, let it happen. Right now he was half afraid he wasn't going to die anyway.

"Hey, here's your sunglasses," Michelle offered. "It's a little bright up there; you might want them."

"Oh. Yeah. Thanks." he mumbled as he tried to stumble up the steps to the cockpit. It took him a couple tries. He flopped down on the seat, head down and eyes shut to keep out the glare that penetrated the sunglasses, and sort of hoped the world would stop spinning around him.

Bits and pieces of the evening started to come back to him, now. He remembered the fistfight, of course, but he was also pulling up memories of Michelle leaping up on a table, dancing around, doing a striptease – not that the tiny skirt she'd worn did much to cover her ass anyway – and then with the string of her bikini stuffed with tens and twenties, doing a standing back flip off the table onto the floor. And then, later, standing on the table again and reciting Eskimo Nell from memory to a cheering crowd. The booze had kept coming and kept coming and he'd tried to keep up with it, and with all those others in the bar doing the buying, there wasn't any way he could get through all of it . . .

Only slowly did he become aware that Scooter was also sitting in the cockpit, and she didn't seem to be any better off than he was. He looked over at her through shades, squinted eyes, and said, "You still alive?"

"Oh, yeah," Scooter shook her head. "I guess I've got a bit of a head on me this morning. I haven't done that for a while, I guess I'm a little out of practice. It was flowing pretty good there for a while."

"Pretty good, my ass," Randy snorted. "It was flowing like the bubble line through Lava."

"I guess that proves it," Scooter said. "You're a boatman at heart, anyway."

"Is anyone else up?"

"No, Dave and Mary and Jim were still dead to the world when I left," she said slowly, refraining from shaking her head. "I'm actually a little surprised. I figured you would be the last one up."

"Michelle kind of woke me up with her singing and making breakfast," he said, all of a sudden realizing what Michelle had been singing – Jimmy Buffet's Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw? How in hell was anyone supposed to screw when they were that drunk, anyway? "God, that's disgusting," he said.

"Michelle?" Scooter smiled. "Yeah, she can be a little disgusting on the morning after the night before. She was knocking them back pretty good. I think she actually had a sheet to the wind there for a while. You don't often see that with her, and it never lasts long."

Michelle poked her head out of the cabin. "Here's your coffee, me laddies and lassies," she growled out in something resembling Pirate-speak. "River style, except someone left some coffee filters on board, so there aren't quite as many grounds as usual. I dropped in a handful just to make it seem more like home. That'll get your eyes open; maybe we can get some sailing in before long. Breakfast in a minute."

"I'll fucking kill her," Randy said. "I've got more fucking black belts than she's got; I ought to be able to manage it. No one should be allowed to be that cheerful the morning after a night like that. It just isn't human."

"You aren't the first one to say that," Scooter chuckled. "It gets a little irritating, I have to admit that."

"How the hell does she do that, anyway?"

"Hell if I know," Scooter shrugged. "Well, I've got a theory anyway; I don't know how much it's worth."

"What's that?"

"It could be total bullshit," she said. "But you know how Native Americans and Asians have the reputation for not being able to hold their booze as well as Europeans?"

"I know a lot of people think that, I don't know how much truth to it there is."

"From what I know, as a general rule it's true," Scooter said. "My understanding is that Europeans have more of some blood enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than the others. My guess is she has a shitload of it. On the other hand the scientific basis for that theory rests on a freshman biology class I took at UV-R years ago. And I flunked the class."

"It's as good a theory as any, I guess," he shrugged.

A moment later, Michelle popped up out of the cabin carrying plates of bacon and eggs. "Here's your breakfast," she said. "Eat it up, you'll feel better."

She disappeared back into the cabin again, while Randy just stared at the plate. Even the thought of food made him want to lean over the side and get the barfing over with. On the other hand, it might settle his stomach a little if there was something in it. He grabbed a slice of bacon and took a tentative bite as Michelle came back on deck, carrying a plate of breakfast of her own and a big mug of coffee. "What a glorious day," she gushed, scooping up a forkful of eggs. "The breeze is up already. It's going to be a great day for sailing. God, the water is clear here, isn't it? Maybe we can anchor some place and do some snorkeling."

Randy couldn't take it anymore. "Michelle," he said seriously, "No human being can drink like that and still be that chipper in the morning. What the fuck, are you from Roswell or something?"

"No," she laughed. "But my grandparents are."

"That settles it," he said with a shake of the head that he realized he'd have been better off not doing. "That fucking explains everything. You really aren't human. Rhonda here has been called 'Scooter' for years and your boyfriend is known on the river as 'Icewater.' I think we'd better start calling you 'Alien.'"

"Well, if I am an alien I don't know it," she grinned. "But you might have a point."

"Just like an alien, deny it," Scooter snorted. "Randy, I think you've got something there."

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To be continued . . .

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