The Slam Decision
She just sort of sat down at my table. Now, normally I’m the sort of guy to go for that not-so-indie movie girl bullshit. Great, right? An adventure tinted the color of Mumford and Sons and socially acceptable quirks and wacky hair dye and swimming in a pool after hours or whatever bullshit passes for endearingly free spirited this year. Normally.
She was bleeding. From the face. Not like a nose bleed or busted lip or even a cut. It’d just… just sort of well up and run down from a spot on her cheek. It’d form a line and drip like there was supposed to be a cut there but I never saw one. She wiped it away with a rag she was carrying. The rag wasn’t covered with blood, just a few spots here and there.
"Yeah, shut up please. Eat your grand slam."
"It’s a lumber—"
"I said please shut up."
Okay, so not a great start. She was staring a fucking hole through me. If I’m honest, it took everything I had not to flip out. The stupid part of that is that the thing that pissed me off the most was that she didn’t seem to care about the different between a grand slam and a lumberjack slam. I mean… come on… one has ham. Way more meat. It’s a statement about a person, what sort of slam that get and she just fucking sits down at my table, bleeding into her gross rag out of some fucking non-cut in her… admittedly fairly attractive face… god damnit… It’s not like I was done with the ham. She could see the ham. I saw her look at the plate when she sat down—
"Hey. Look at me."
"Huh?" Shit, what was I on about? The ham, right. I looked down at the plate.
"HEY!" Her tone was hushed but insistent, "Eyes up."
"Am I still supposed to—"
"Look, I know this is weird. And I’m about to sound even weirder but I need you to…"
She trailed off as a really sort of nondescript guy walked past. He didn’t seem to notice us. Blue jeans, average height. She narrowed her eyes and followed him until he was out of ear shot before continuing.
"I need you to help me. This cut on my face, well it’s… you can’t see the cut but—"
"It’s a lumberjack slam." Fuck me, I finally said it. God that was killing me.
"…" I’m pretty sure the witches they burned during the inquisition were met with friendlier faces than the one she gave me. "What?"
"It has ham, it’s not—"
"Fuck me, why’d it have to be you?"
"I’m sorry, but these… the slam decision says a lot about a person."
"Are you not at all curious about how I’m bleeding from a cut you can’t see?!" Oh, she’s pissed. But I am. I mean, it’s weird.
"Well, yeah. But the slam—"
"Jesus Christ. No. They’re in here so I need you to meet me out back exactly two minutes after I leave."
"Is this a sex—"
"Stop. I will hurt you if you complete that sentence. Two minutes."
She got up and walked toward the bathrooms but passed them by and headed out a side door.
Oh shit… do I have a timer app? How the hell do people keep track of time?
I craned my neck looking for a clock. There was one up over the bar area, but I couldn’t read it. Also it didn’t have a second hand. I decided to just count it out. I used to be pretty good at counting seconds back in school. Hippopotamus system. Works perfect every time. One hippopotamus. Two hippopotamus. How many seconds are there in two minutes? One is sixty, so two is one-twenty. Should I start over? Three hippopotamus.
Anyway, I finished counting and headed for the door she went out earlier. I poked my head out, half expecting her to be gone but that wasn’t the case.
"Fuck. It’s been like five minutes, moron. HELP ME!"
That guy… the guy in the jeans. He was on top of her and she was struggling. I mean she was pretty skinny. Couldn’t have been more than five-three or five-four. She’s probably one of those types who insists you use the half-inch. Like, oh, I’m not five-three, I’m five-three and a half.
Anyway, it wasn’t the time for that. I went over and kicked the dude in the stomach as hard as I could. I felt burly as fuck so I figured I’d go for some shouting.
"GET OFF HER, ASSHOLE!" Yeah. Smooth.
He rolled over to the side clutching his ribs. I helped her up. She was neither pleased nor impressed.
"Two minutes, idiot. What the fuck?!"
"I didn’t have an app."
"Fuck sake you are—"
A sharp, unintelligible cry rang out about a quarter second before something tackled me from behind. I fell to the ground with enough grace to make my old youth karate instructor really depressed. Face down on pavement is not a stance I remember working out well in most action films. And whatever the fucking thing on me was, it felt like it had four fucking arms, it was everywhere and I was restrained. Shit.
Blood trickled down my forehead and into my eyes. I was blind. I could hear the girl fighting off to the side. Whoever or whatever was on my back was seriously invested in the fight. And from the feel of things, the girl was winning. A sound of concern escaped from my attacker and the grip loosened. I rolled over under it and swung blindly up. I connected hard and heard a gasp. Figuring I head a second I wiped the blood from my face and looked up.
… There was nothing? The weight was there, the sting in my fist but I couldn’t see a god damn thing. I closed my eyes and started swinging, half to defend myself and half hoping it would fix whatever brain injury made people invisible to me.
To the left I heard a body slump, I open my eyes and looked to the left. Jeans guy was on the ground, bleeding out into the street. Above me I heard the wet sound of meat parted by a blade. A second later a dim, glowing rainbow of color spilled onto my chest and the weight on my chest stopped shifting.
"AHHHH! FUCK! WHAT THE FUCK!!" The very image of composure.
I flung the thing off of me and jumped to my feet staring at it.
"I’m sorry, I didn’t think they’d attack with you…" She didn’t finish the sentence as I looked to see her. Her hand was empty but the unmistakable shape of a butcher knife was there, outlined in the dim glow of… invisible thing blood?
"What… what the fuck is happening? Is that a knife?"
She looked down at her hand, I guess forgetting it was still even there.
"Huh? Oh, no. Not really."
"Then what is it?"
"I can’t really… It’s imaginary."
"…" Fuck knows how long I stood there. In my mind it was only a second. Finally I managed it. "You… you just killed two people with make believe?!”
It’s etched into my brain, everything about her response. Such conviction, no sense of irony. The truest word I’ll probably ever hear to the stupidest question I’ve ever asked: