A witch and a demon walk into a bar.
“Stace, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Okay, don’t be nervous, well, you can’t help being nervous, but–”
“You’re making it worse.”
“Right right. Okay, deep breath, go.”
She faces the room, takes the breath. “Attention everyone! We’ll just like some information! We’re looking for–”
One of the patrons stand. “You can’t just walk in here and demand things! No girl is–”
Here we go.
He places his hand on her forearm. “Can I do the explaining this time? You always seem to enjoy that.”
“Go ahead. I can wait.”
He looks at the man. “What we have here is your standard barroom information gathering scene. The protagonists– that’s us– walk in and ask politely. Some idiot– that’s you– will challenge them with implied violence, creating dramatic tension. But it isn’t dramatic tension per se, because you need an actual threat for that, it’s more of a comedic tension. The audience knows the idiot– that’s you– is going to get hurt. We’ve already done this part. The part we haven’t done is when the idiot– that’s you– becomes the demonstration which makes someone else give up the information. He’s going to become an example.”
“What the fuck? I can take you!”
“Probably, but that’s not the point–”
She tugs on his shirt. “What ‘probably’? Look at him, he’s barely seven feet.”
He lowers his head if not his voice. “I don’t want to break his confidence. He’s not going to try his best if he doesn’t think he can win.”
“I suppose that’s true. Go on, he seems impatient. Oh, ask him how tall he is.”
He looks up, the man is glowering. “How tall are you?”
“I’m seven feet!” He does the thing where one slams a fist into a palm. “Now let’s do this.”
“Me? I’m not going to fight, I’m a pacifist. She’s going to fight.”
“What the fuck? I’m not going to hit a girl.”
“Probably not. But you should at least try. Don’t pull the ribbons, they come right off and it’s a needless hassle to have to sew them back on. If you’re going for a hold, you need to grab the dress. But not the lace parts!” He gives an encouraging smile and a thumbs up.
He walks to the bar, sits, raises a finger at the bartender. “Do you have any green tea mixers?”
The bartender shakes his head.
“Four whiskeys then, with any soft drink. She gets thirsty.”
The fight hasn’t started, he turns back. The glowering man is still glowering. Stacey is looking at him, plainly annoyed, as if he had forgotten to do something.
Wand? No, it’s already in her hand.
Oh right. He speaks to the man: “You have to attack first. I made her promise never to attack first.”
“I’m not going to hit a girl.”
“Your lack of self-confidence concerns me. Just try your best. Nobody’s going to think less of you if you don’t hit her.”
“I’m not going to fight her.”
“Then you’ll tell us what we want to know?”
“Of course not!”
“This is what we call an impasse.”
She pats his leg. “We don’t have time for this. I told you this rule is stupid.”
“Yes, but you know what happens.”
“Just give me permission.”
“I’m sure he’ll attack at some point.” He turns to the man. “Just try to punch her. Look at that face. Is that not a face that needs to be punched?”
“What? No! Honestly, she’s beautiful.”
“Thank you, that’s sweet.”
“Stace, imagine you’ve won.”
The silent laugh, the smug grin.
“Oh. I see it now… But I’m still not going to punch her.”
“What kind of man are you? You’re supposed to protect your woman.”
“People always think that. I’m not the one protecting her from you, I’m the one holding her back.”
The afterimage from the flash of light fades. Between the man’s feet, a patch of black gives off a single, dramatically appropriate, curl of smoke.
“That’s allowed. I didn’t attack him.”
“Provocation is an attack.”
“We can talk about it later, I’m thinking fair warning should be enough, you’re going to say I’ll abuse that, we’ll talk later. There was a deli a while back, go buy me a sandwich. I’m hungry.”
He slides off the stool. “Just one, okay?”
“Yeah. Something with cheese, melted cheese, not cold cheese.”
“I meant just hurt one person.”
“Oh fine. I’m not as vicious as you think I am. It was just that one time. Okay, twice. Maybe two and a half. At most.”
“I distinctly remember– I can list more than that. Are you only counting bars?
“We are talking about bars.”
“Just don’t hurt anyone else.”
“Yes yes, go already. You’re so naggy. Don’t forget the fries.”
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||Something witty this way comes…|
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