(2018-09-01) Early at the Last Chance
Luke shows up early at the bar, and Maddie gets a suspicious visitor.

Pink and green hues of buzzing neon dance off the dull rustic woods of the country bar, vague and pale in the dying afternoon sunlight. It's early still, and they've just opened. The mechanical bull hasn't been turned on yet, there's no music, and it's completely empty — save for one. Maddie stands behind the bar in full Johnny Slim's attire; a thick red flannel worn open over a white tee that's tucked into a pair of small daisy dukes she was no doubt forced into by her manager. No cowboy hat yet, but there is one lying on the top of the bar. She's hunched over the counter along the back of the liqour cabinet, fiddling with something. "Snnff…"

It's early, he probably knows it, but the neon sign in the window says OPEN and the door is unlocked, opening freely when Luke places his palm flat on the wooden surface and gives it a push. He's dressed in a thin cotton shirt - black - and a pair of fitted blue jeans, ambling with an easy stride into the bar and sliding his hand throug his hair as he takes a look around at all the emptiness that welcomes him. It brings out a sigh, but the man makes his way to the bar regardless, slumping into a stool and putting his arms on the bartop, leaning forward to catch sight of the girl in bent over the liqour cabinet.

"Too early for a beer?" his voice is deep but friendly, brows lifting to punctuate his question.

The sound of the door opening has Maddie stiffening. A customer? /Already?/ A quick and hasty "Snffff—" is heard from her nostrils, and soon she's occupying her hands with clinking glasses, pretending that yes, of course she's been working this whole time. She rubs at her nose with the side of her hand, and tosses a few pint glasses that had been left out overnight into the sink. When Luke sits, she turns around to greet him. She smiles, trying to break through any awkwardness that may have occured due to her suspicious activity.

"Howdy," she says, almost sarcastically, as if aware how on-the-nose the greeting is. "Startled me a little. And it's never too early for beer. Draft or bottle?" They have the classic selection of American piss, though there's a few heavier IPAs on selection, too. But nothing fancy at all.

There's a shift on the stool and a noticeable lack of comments regarding her behavior. If he thought it suspicious or otherwise, he's not telling - there's just a grin reflected back to her smile, a hint of a dimple deepening in his cheek at the expression. "You need a hat to tip if you're going to be greeting people like that," he comments with a light chuckle peppering his words, a shoulder shrugged at the question. "Whatever's on draft is fine. But a tall glass, yeah? Been a long day," he replies, and there's a flicker down the way to note the labels, before his attention refocuses on Maddie there behind the bar.

"It's dead in here," he remarks, and there's a glance over his shoulder as though to emphasize the emptiness. "Not even your usual regular drunks."

"Oh, I /hate/ the hat," Maddie says, that carefree confidence of hers flowing as she freely shares her distaste for her work uniform with the first customer of the day. She glances to the side, eyeballing the star-badge adorned hat where it sits on the wood bar. "At least I'm the Sheriff." There's a sigh and she plops it onto her head and nestles it into her hair.

A nimble hand snaps out a tall glass, and it twirls in her hand with an effortless display of finger-y dexterity before coming to rest underneath the tap at an angle. "All American Bud," she tells him, yellow froth oozing down the inside of the glass. It's slid over a moment later. "One ninety-nine." She laughs a little at the comment. "It's five o'clock," is her response. "That door's been unlocked for a total of five minutes, ese."

There's a glint of humour in Luke's blue eyes as he notes her disdain for the hat, leaning with an elbow on the bartop as he adjusts his focus to the hat. "It really could be worse. They could make you wear the whole get-up, cuffs and all," he chuckles, following the hat when she picks it up to place it atop her head. "Do they give you a fun stage name, at least? Sheriff Hot Pants? Captain Flannel?" he grins, lifting his hand to skim it through his hair again as the beer is passed his way.

He shifts to grab his wallet, tugging it out of his pants and flipping it open to tug out a five. It's slid across the bar before he takes up his beer. "No change," he says, leaning back into the seat as he lifts the drink to his mouth. But he doesn't sip. Instead, he squints across the rim at her, and slowly lowers the glass again, his voice rich with sarcasm. "Well I hope you're not trying to tell me that -I'm- the usual regular drunk, Sheriff Daisy Dukes," he laughs, taking a gulp of the beer after. "I'm definitely more of the occassional, once or twice a week kind of drunk."

"Just Maddie," she says, eyes crossing up at the brim of her hat as it shadows her face from the dance of neon lights. "Captain Flannel's not too bad though." She taps a few fingers against the bar top, just a restless movement. Idle energy. She plucks up the bill with a pinch of fingers and then busies herself with the register for a moment. "Well you look sorta familiar, but I'd know if you were a regular." Her head tilts to the side, eyes flitting over Luke's face. She comes back over to his area of bar, and perches up against the inside of it with her forearms. "Not even Old Pete shows up this early, not on a Monday." She hums, thoughtful. "What's the occasion? Wife left you? Got fired? … A parking ticket?" She's smiling through all of that; she's only kidding.

"Just Maddie," Luke repeats, nodding his head. "That's a lot better than Sheriff Short-Shorts." He flashes her another broader grin, the dimple on his cheek deepening, before he takes a longer sip of his beer. He keeps his focus on her, watching her restless fingers and her walk to the register, the half-full glass set back down once she comes back over to his side of the bar. "It -is- Monday, isn't it?" he scrunches up his nose. "Mondays are the -worst-. But nope, you're wrong on all accounts," he wags a finger at her. "No wife to leave me, not even a girlfriend. I'm my own boss, so while I suppose I could fire myself? I doubt I would. And I am an -excellent- obeyer of street laws," he laughs, but the grin has faded somewhat; softened. "I guess this place is just close. And it was either come here or go home, so here I am."

"My psychic powers have failed me again," Maddie laments, her thumb coming up to nudge up her cowboy hat. It tilts back along her head. "Close?" She glances out the window to the foresty street outside. "Downtown or the trailer park?" she wonders. "Knew I seen you somewhere before." She lingers there for a second, heel bouncing in an absentminded gesture against the floor. Then, she pulls herself out a plastic solo cup and pours a shot of whiskey into the bottom of it. "To the locals," she says, lifting her cup in cheers towards Luke before downing it all in one gulp. A few others have started to leak in, mostly older, middle-aged men come to drink in silence. They perch in random areas, and Maddie occasionally breaks away from her conversation with Luke to tend to them. "What's wrong with home?" she wonders, once she's returned.

"It's because you didn't rub your temples and wiggle your fingers at me, like.." Luke squints, putting the fingers of his left hand to his temple and extending his right hand, waving his fingers at her dramatically. "Like those psychics on late night movies," he laughs as he drops his hands and returns his focus to the beer. "Downtown. I grew up here. Left with good intentions. Came back with better ones. Story of almost everyone's life, eh?" he lifts his glass anyway, saluting her and draining what's left of his beer, sliding the glass across the bartop in her direction, a silent gesture for a refill. Another five is laid on the bartop along with it. There's an occassional glance her way as she works, though he glances to the randoms that wander in, too, more of a passing interest than anything truly curious. When she returns with her questions, he shrugs. "Does something have to be wrong with home?" he replies, brows lifting. "Maybe I just like the taste of the beer better here than the ones I've got in my fridge," he smirks. "And you're definitely easier to talk to than my dog."

Maddie's eyes squint at the wiggling fingers infront of her, watching them swish through the air with a mixture of confusion and amusement. "I wouldn't know, I've never left." She doesn't seem sad about that in the least. She likes her hometown just fine. She tosses her used cup into a bin underneath the counter, and she idly glances towards one of the older customers as he shakes out a newspaper with a rather loud crinkling sound. "Just back recently, then? Welcome home."

Mads moves like clockwork, snatching up the money, tucking it away, and fizzing out another frothy glass of crisp and cold beer. "Well, thank you," she says, a lopsided smile on her face, her words just /soaked/ in sarcasm, "You're more interesting than a dog, too." The door opens with a creak, and it's not a casual smile from Maddie that greets the customer this time, no — it's a look of surprise. And annoyance.

"Ugh. You're late, Cuervo," she mutters out to the tall, burly and pock-faced Mexican man that comes up to her, leaning into the bar beside Luke but not even so much as glancing at him. Randy just shrugs, big shoulders visible under the hang of his dirty wife beater. "Jus' come to pick up my bag, chica, alivianate!" His voice is dull and lazy. Maddie huffs, and gestures towards the back. "Next time don't get so drunk you leave it here, huh? Go get it, it's… Where you left it." She gives a slight glance towards Luke, and then looks back to the imposing man. Her eyebrows rise up as if to say 'WELL?' The man sighs, lets out a faint 'Dios mio,' and then disappears into the back. "… Sorry," she murmurs, running her hand back through her dark locks. "What were we talking about, again?"

"I'll have you know, that was a halfway decent company. My dog's a downright doll," Luke replies, tipping his glass towards her, the amber liquid sloshing and threatening to spill over the rim. But then he's chuckling, shaking his head as he rights the glass and lifts it to his lips, eyes shifting to follow her glance to the pock-faced Mexican that comes leaning over the bar beside him. There's a few slow gulps, not particularly intimidated by the large man, but there's looks exchanged between Randy and Maddie, until the former disappears into the back.

"That your boss?" he points a thumb in the direction of the recently departed Randy, as his attention shifts back fully upon Maddie. His brows inch up a little higher. "And we were talking about my dog. Or being locals. Or both?" he scrunches his nose up, looking confused for a moment. "You haven't ever wanted to leave?"

"No way," Maddie replies with a breathy sound somewhere between a scoff and a laugh. "Cuervo's just some guy. A friend." She wipes down a wet area of the bar with a rag, and then slings it over her shoulder. "I go to Meh-hee-ko, sometimes, to visit family. But, no. Calaveras is my home. I like it here just fine." A soft smile. Randy, or 'Cuervo', or whoever he is, comes back from the back, a duffel bag slung around his arm. "Thanks, mi amiga. See you later, si?" He gives her a harsh and abrupt slap on the ass, and it causes her to stumble into the bar for a second. She swats her hand at him in return, slapping him hard across the shoulder, "Aiiii, vete a la mierda!" Sounds like a curse word. Probably. Randy just grins and bares it, and soon he's shrugging and loping off out the door. The chugging grunt of an old Camaro can be heard, and it peels off into the distance. She rolls her eyes as she looks back to Luke, a palm running down her face. "You're getting low, you want another? On the house."

There's a look that settles on Luke's face at her explanation on 'Cuervo', an expression somewhere between mild interest and disbelief, but he doesn't ask anymore questions. Instead, he takes another long gulp of the beer. "Uh huh. I think Calaveras is one of those places that you either end up coming back to or never end up leaving. I guess the two of us prove that point," he remarks, looking up as Cuervo returns with his duffel bag. The sudden abrupt butt-smacking startles even Luke, though more so from the noise, picking up his drink again to just sort of watch the interaction over the rim of his glass, looking /very busy/ drinking in the moment. He licks his lips as the glass is lowered, only after Randy's out the door, and he just smirks at her. "Oh I see. A 'friend'," he remarks, lifting his free hand to make air quotes with his fingers around the word. And then she's asking about his beer and he's squinting down the glass, before exchanging the glass to squint at her instead. "You make a hard bargain, but I think I'm tapping out," he drains the rest of the glass to emphasize, setting it down empty upon the bartop. "Should be getting home in a few, anyway."

There's a nod of agreement from Maddie, and a nostalgic smile, "Yeah, I guess there's just something magnetic about it." She glances out the window, as if to look upon Calaveras as a whole. The sardonic comment and wiggle-y air quotes from Luke earns him a scrunch of her nose. "He's just one of those guys," she mutters, crossing to another part of the bar to snatch up a glass and throw it into the sink — which just happens to be right back near Luke's stool. "Too stupid to not be a complete asshole. He's not that bad, really. I've known him since high school… Anyway." She clicks her tongue against the roof her mouth. "Better to get out now," she says with a lilt of amusement. "We change to plastic cups at nine for a reason." Johnny Slim's has a reputation for its rowdiness — Mondays be damned, this place is a shitshow every night of the week. "What's your name, anyway? I'm Maddie."

"That's pretty poetic," Luke remarks on her comment of Calaveras, yet his focus drifts out the window if only for a moment. And then there's a wrinkle of his brows, and a light laugh as he pushes himself off the stool, stretching to his full height. "Hey, I'm not judging. It's good to have friends -and- 'friends'," there goes those air quotes again, fingers wiggling in the air, before he is laughing again, mostly to himself this time. But she gets a dimpled grin. "I'll have to come back another night to see this place get rowdy. But if I don't get home soon, the dog'll start going through the trash," he breathes out a sigh, but it is as much an exhale of exasperation as it is adoration for the pup he's got at home. "It was nice chatting with you, Maddie," he says, adding easily enough, "I'm Luke. I'm sure I'll see you around again."

Maddie's face squishes up at the mention of her being 'poetic', and it makes her a bit self-conscious. She disagrees. "Oh, please," she murmurs, "I'm no poet." Luke gets a nod when he rises, and she even gives him a dainty little tip of her hat. "See you 'round, pardner," she says, once again fully aware of the corniness of it all, her voice full of irony. "Any time. Well not anytime. Just when we're open… See you." There's an easy, breezy smile from her, another nod, and then she's off to tend to the other customers.

The jukebox has been kicked into gear by now, and Bruce Springsteen blasts over the loud speakers as more and more locals begin to trickle in, ready to try their luck at the Last Chance…

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