Thursday, December 09, 2010

Twenty Percent of what?

Finally cleaned this up enough to be presentable enjoy“No, seriously, I’m not hanging up this phone until I know what is going in your goddamn mind.” The voice coming from the phone was calm and that worried Nick. He paused a moment and licked his lips trying to come up with a witty retort.
On the other end of the phone the line was silent. Nick could practically hear the rat turning what wheels passed for Alex’s brain. He honestly did not understand the guy, why he could turn this down without even considering it. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The one shot to make it. The pair got invited to do stand up while the hometown band went out on tour. They would have to do it free, but why not go and have some fun?
Alex snorted into the receiver “Which part of my last sentence didn’tcha get? I don’t wanna go, I’ve never wanted to go and I think the entire thing is pointless. I think it's pointless. I’ve a decent job. Why would I want to leave that? Explain to me what leaving gets me?"
Nick stared at the ceiling as the smoke in the bar gathered, drifting over his head as he sighed, wishing it would be different. "Well look, deal with it. You know I’d love it if you came out with us. Just let me know by noon tomorrow."
"Sure thing, Nick." He heard a lighter flicker on the other end of the phone. Alex drew in smoke. “It's just a crummy time right now what with Ellen leaving. I don't think I could manage a month on the road right now, but I'll mull it over 'n let you know in the morning."
Nick tucked his phone back into his pocket and turned, looking for Phil the bartender. The bar itself was a long shallow wooden rectangle with the opening at one shorter side and the opposite side holding the jukebox. The rest of the small floor space was covered in several small tables and a pool table. Each of the four wall’s space was dedicated to a television with a different sport.
Phil would happily put on whatever game so long as each television still showed a different sport. Phil stood out, leaning against the bar top with a beanpole frame and a mass of dyed green hair slicked back in a pompadour. Being absorbed in the Capitals replay, he was shouting at the television, fed up with the fact that the score was the wrong way. The bartender was polite enough when he came in earlier in the afternoon, but currently with time on the clock running out Phil was becoming more and more agitated. During a commercial Nick felt brave enough to interrupt the stream of obscenities that were rolling off his tongue.
“If the ref would call all the fouls an’not just ours this game’d be a lot less one sided.”
Nodding his head Phil answered. “Indeed, really to lose because of the ref, I mean they’ve gotta have set a record for power plays. Hey now, can I get you anything else? Another lager? How ‘bout a burger?”
“Erm, yeah, lager’s fine. You got a menu I can look at, if it’s no trouble?” Nick looked through the menu and settled on a small tray of wings “That bacon burger looks great but I’ll take a small order of those plain wings and my tab whenever you get a chance. Thanks,” Nick said. When the order was ready Phil came back with the chicken wings and tab.

“Here you go, Nick. Thanks for coming in.”
Nick ate the wings and decided to hang around watching the telly and availing himself to the pool table in between watching sports and debating Phil regarding merits of different movie and music genres.
Setting his lager on the bar, Nick looked at the clock and realized he had to get back home to start grading his econ labs. Phil printed the check out and went back to watching the T.V. Nick took a long drag on his cigarette, staring at the paper as he stubbed the smoke into the ashtray. He didn’t really want to get his tip card. Be seen as that guy, again. If I ask him, he’d think I’m a moron. Its complicated and the bill’s not even that much, the hell with it.
“Heya, Phil? “ Nick called over the bartender.
“Yeah man, what can I do for ya?” Phil asked.
“Well man, you’ve been really helpful this afternoon. I just, look its embarrassing, but I want to give you the twenty percent cuz you’ve been all nice but.” Nick paused and with a sheepish grin went on. “But uh, I don’t know what twenty percent is.”
“Nah, it’s simple. Here’s what you do. Move the decimal one place over, that is ten percent. Then just double it, and that is twenty percent so this is fifteen bucks eighty-nine cents.” Here he pointed at the total. “And moving the decimal over you get 1.5 that’s the ten percent and doubling that you get, oh, about three and a half. But give me whatever you want, don’t go breaking the bank. Just gimmie whatever you think’s fair.”
Nick’s sheepish grin got larger. “That’s it? Why do I not know this already? Cool, I now I can get rid of that tip card. Do ya know how embarrassing pulling that out at the end of a date. How do you know that, or is this common knowledge?”
“I used to teach math down at the private school, but I couldn’t handle the political bullshit- the kids whining and their parents on a never ending crusade.. Come back anytime. It’s Nick right?”
“Yep, I’ll be around for sure. You’ve helped out, dude. Here’s an extra buck man for taking the time, you know, to show me this and you can keep the change. Won’t miss it.”
Nick added up his total with the tip and pulled a twenty-dollar bill from his wallet and shrugging on his jacket, left the twenty on the table.
Tucking his smoke behind his ear he made his way to the bus stop at the corner humming a ditty to himself. He realized that one and half times two does not equal three and half as he lights his smoke.

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