Chapter 9

Roger Brown skimmed over the application in front of him. It was light, not that he’d expected a wealth of experience, though it did have more than he usually saw in these applicants. This kid had at least worked a part-time job in high school, which was something. Unfortunately, it had been at a pet store, which wasn’t exactly the same set of skills needed in the establishment Roger owned. The Six-Shooter was a western themed bar and dance club near the edge of town, several miles from Lander. Unlike many of the nearby bars, The Six-Shooter didn’t put up with fake I.D.’s or other such shenanigans. Roger ran a club, which was sleazy by definition, but he liked his sleazy club to be clean, safe, and free of harassment from local authorities.

The single sheet of paper made a light rustle as Roger set it on his desk. He turned his attention to the kid, no, the young man sitting in front of him. Roger was predisposed to thinking of his employees as kids, but that wasn’t a good description of the male currently looking awkward in the silence of their interview. He was tall and blond, with medium sized shoulders and an obviously muscular build. Even if Roger didn’t know Chad Taylor had powers, he would still have been sure this younger male could kick his ass. Chad was handsome too, high cheekbones and a strong jaw. That was a check in his favor: looks made sales and tips go up in any service job.

“I notice you’ve never had any waiting experience before,” Roger said, the first words spoken since their initial greeting.

“That is correct,” Chad confirmed.

“Normally that’s not such a big deal, picking up waiting tables is pretty easy as long as you’ve got the head for it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pain in the ass and the customers can be awful, it’s just not a difficult skill to learn. The problem here is that you’re applying for a bartending position.”

Chad nodded, his face curiously impassive. Roger wondered what this guy’s ability was. Technically it was illegal to ask if someone was a Super, just like you couldn’t ask their age or religion, but since Roger went out of his way to specifically hire them, he considered it more of just bad manners to probe.

“What made you think this would be a good fit?”

“Angela DeSoto was quite adamant that it was the right position for me,” Chad replied. “I asked for her advice since she’s been working since her own junior year, and she immediately insisted I apply here as a bartender. No other options were suggested. I trust Angela’s advice, so I followed it.”

Roger gave a nod of his own. Angela was one of his best shot girls: sexy, sassy, and able to put the fear of Lucifer into any patron who got handsy. She had come in earlier with a glowing recommendation for Chad, however she’d somehow left out his overall lack of experience.

“Look, let me level with you. Bartending well takes a great memory for recalling drink mixes, excellent organization for getting everyone served, and at least decent dexterity for pouring. Charm is nice too, but as a male bartender people will expect you to be efficient more than flirty. We both know you aren’t exactly a regular Joe, so you tell me: are those skills you think you’ve got?”

Chad reached across the desk and plucked four pens from the coffee mug where Roger stored his writing utensils. He lobbed the first one in the air, then followed suit with the others, one by one. As each descended he moved it along from hand to hand, until he was juggling all four pens.

“A Royal Flush is one part Crown, one part cranberry, and a half part peach schnapps, amounts adjusted based on if it is a shot or a drink. A Vegas bomb is Crown, peach schnapps, and Red Bull. A Cosmopolitan is vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lime.”

Chad went on for a minute and a half before Roger raised his hand and signaled him to stop. Chad complied, catching all the pens in one quick motion and carefully placing them back in the cup.

“Since we’ve established you’ve never bartended before, how do you know all that? Heavy drinker?”

“I very rarely ever imbibe alcohol. I read a bartender’s bible last night in preparation for this interview.”

“Right. So, photographic memory then.”

“Yes, sir.” Chad knew the proper term was eidetic,but he was aware enough of social conventions to at least not correct a potential employer mid-interview.

“That could come in handy,” Roger admitted. “And I guess there’s no doubting your dexterity. Organization I guess we can delay for now. You’re clearly strong, so I guess there’s no worry about you being able to haul beer from the back. Now, this might be a dumb question, however I know not all of you HCP kids are fighters, so I still need to ask. We keep bouncers here, good ones, but occasionally a customer will get rowdy with my staff. Are you able to handle yourself until the bouncers get to you?”

Chad found it surprisingly difficult to suppress his urge to smile.

 *              *              *

There were a lot of things Angela liked about her job. The tips were great, getting to take drinks with customers was fun, and the late hours never conflicted with her training. She even liked how the mandatory outfits made her feel sexy, even if the plaid half-shirt didn’t always insulate her from the AC well, or the tiny Daisy-Duke shorts had a tendency to ride up her ass by the end of the night. The one thing she really hadn’t liked was how boring all the men she worked with were. Sure they were muscular, and some of them even good looking, but all of them were so invariably weak of gumption. That was fine, she supposed, the world didn’t need a glut of conquerors tearing it apart, but she found she couldn’t enjoy the company of regular folks. Maybe it was the HCP’s fault for surrounding her with elite competitors. More likely it was her grandfather’s fault, but then again she found the trade-off for what he’d taught her to be more than worth it. No, the simple truth was that Angela was a warrior, and the only men she’d ever found appealing had been like her.

“You’re here early,” said a shorter girl with bright red hair and a set of dimples framing her smile. “Usually you don’t show up until right before your shift.”

“And a hello to you too, Cora,” Angela replied. “I’m here to congratulate my friend when his interview is done. He’s going to take over one of the bartending spots.”

“Oh wow, that’s great. Are you sure he’ll get it though? Roger is really picky about his bartenders.”

Angela answered her question with a smile that would set the hearts of foolish men on fire and fill the souls of wiser ones with a sense of inescapable dread.

“Trust me. As of today, Chad works here.”