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Trevor had been ready to kill Mike when he realized it was him on the other end of the phone, "It's 2:45 in the morning man, what the fuck do you think you are doing?"
"Celebrating and offering to let you in on it", Mike said casually, "I'd think you'd be grateful"
"Tell you what, drop by right now and I'll show you just how grateful I am."
"Better yet, meet me at The Anchor at 5 today and I'll tell you all about it, drinks are on me. If you still want to show your gratitude when I'm done, fine, you can try. See you then.", Trevor hung up, turned the alarm to silent and fell into an angered and curious sleep.
At precisely 5:00 that afternoon Trevor opened the door to The Anchor, a bar that Mike and he had haunted ever since they were 16. Now 22 they had seen no reason to abandon its familiar and comfortable environs just because of a little thing like the age of majority. What others may have called inertia they preferred to see as loyalty. The interior was dimly lit, like most downtown bars, just bright enough to see and just dark enough to not be seen. Perfect for the clientele.
The albino bartender was polishing the allegedly clean glasses when Trevor interrupted him, "Hey Spook, lemme have a Moosehead a slim-fast".
"Fuck you Trev, I hate that name. Your table's open, I'll be there when I convince myself to give a shit."
"Always a pleasure, Mike's buying."
The table was pressed against the back wall, large enough for 2, 3 if one of them was female or holding. Trevor would sit nowhere else. On a dull Tuesday night about two years ago a minor celebrity had gotten into a drunken argument with one of the regulars about the relative merits of Molson Canadian and Moosehead. Canadian, and the celebrity, lost by a bullet. That day Trevor had decided he would claim that table as his own, "A good omen", he had said, "It's been pre-disastered" and he had switched to Moosehead - because you just never know. Spook set the Labatt Lite in front of the empty seat and the green bottle before Trevor,
"I told you it's on Mikey."
"You're here and he isn't, I can put them back in the cooler till he gets here if you want - otherwise, $5.50."
"You know he's always late man,"
"And I know you never tip. Now pay me, 'cuz I've got other people waiting to be ignored."
"Spook man, you're a fucking prince." Trevor said fishing a $10 bill out of his pocket. "That's $4.50 back."
"I can count."
"Good, 'cuz you sure can't colour." Trevor and Spook had always gotten along, neither one of them really liked most people and that leant them a sort of dysfunctional kinship. It is sometimes comforting to be understood. 3 Moose and 45 minutes later Mike strolled in the door,
"A round of drinks for all my friends, Spook"
"You only have one and he thinks you're a fucking lowlife."
"Then it'll be a cheap round."
Mike made his way to the table, "Hey Trevor man, started without me? I'm hurt."
"And you're ugly and late to boot. Sit down and tell me what in Christ's name made you think it would be a GOOD idea to call me at quarter to 'too fucking early in the morning'."
"You feel like making an easy 10 large?", Mike sipped his long since warm beer.
"Man, you know I'm on probation. One fuck-up and it's 3 years."
"Nothing illegal up front man. Just a quick twitch of a finger and it's beer and bitches for a month"
"I ran into this guy who told me about a club. You ever heard of Russian Roulette?"
"Yeah, I've also heard of fucking stupid. What's your point?"
"One quick gut check, a little luck and you walk out a richer man."
"Or get dragged out a headless one". Trevor drained his beer, "Hey Spook, 2 more."
"And make this one cold you pink-eyed son of a bitch.", Mike added. "Yeah, well your rent's due, you're broke and no one is beating on your door to hire you. It's either this, go back to dealing or live in the park. Take your pick man. The way I see it there isn't much of a problem. Here's the guys name and number. Do what you want. Now let's get shitfaced, I want to leave here drunk and with someone prettier than you."
Trevor took the card and said nothing more about it. The night became a blur about 3 hours later, too bad he couldn't say the same for the morning. A good time is like a credit card and the bill arrives the next day. Trevor felt like a dirt floor after a tractor-pull. Hazy recollections, a hang-over like a gaudy awning and a plain white card were his only souvenirs. It had been another good night at The Anchor.
A pot of coffee, some Kraft dinner and a long shower later Trevor picked up the phone and made the call. The guy on the other end asked who he was, how he knew and if he was serious. Trevor answered and was told when and where. He was also instructed to bring a life insurance policy for $50,000 made out to an obviously faked name. He had six days to get the policy.
Six days later Trevor got out of a cab five blocks from the address he'd been given and took a circuitous route to the house - you could never be too careful. Three stories, lots of windows, huge lawn. "Someone has money", he thought as he pressed the buzzer next to the solid looking ornate oak door. A man answered and led him in and down a flight of stairs.
The room was Spartan to say the least. The only furnishings were six chairs set in a circle around a large mahogany table, four of the chairs were occupied. "We'll begin
now", said the man as he took one of the remaining two - Trevor took the last on assumption. "In front of each of you there is a paper and pen. Write your name on it - first only please - and pass it to me.". As the papers made their way to him the man collected them and put them in a small brass bucket.
"A name will be drawn and he will start. From there the game progresses to the left until it is over. There is only one way it ends", he intoned, taking a black case from under the table and opening it to reveal the stacks of bills and the antique six-shooter inside. Beside the shining silver gun was a single bullet.
"The game is Russian Roulette. I will put this bullet into a chamber and spin the cylinder. Starting with the man who's name has been drawn you will each, in turn, place the barrel to your temple and pull the trigger. When the game is over the five survivors will each take $10,000 from this case and forget that you were ever here. I will see to the details. If I lose, you need do nothing but take your money and go. Any questions? Hearing none, I will draw the name. Lawrence."
The blonde-haired man two seats left of Trevor flinched and then smiled, he had done the math. He accepted the gun as it was passed to him, placed the cold steel to his head, closed his eyes and twitched his finger.
Click, He passed it to his left.
Next in line was a depressed looking middle-ager. Trevor assumed his wife had left him or his boss had caught him skimming. Either way the man seemed to need money or release. He took the pistol and after a few deep breaths fired.
Click, with shaking hands and a small smile he gave the gun over.
A man with dead looking eyes, not dead, too malevolent for dead, ghoulish eyes, took the gun in his slender white hand, placed it to his temple and with no thought of consequence fired.
Click, His eyes flashed with new-found vitality as the gun continued it's course. The ghoul-man laughed softly.
"There are three chambers left," announced their host, "One of them is the lethal one. Good luck gentlemen." He took the gun from the ghoul and casually put it to his skull. "God be with me."
Trevor took the gun. It had been too late for him to back out the moment he had knocked on the door. It had been too late to back out the moment he had taken his seat. It was too late for him to back out now. Ghoul-man leered at him. Was it too late? Would they let him if he explained that he had made a mistake in coming? God, how could he have thought that his life could be worth no more than $10,000. It hadn't been much of a life, but that isn't a lot of money for the 50 years he was about to lose. His stomach started to flip.
He could feel his lips part and the beginnings of the question form in his throat, but something in the look of the men watching him stifled the infant urge. He breathed deeply, swallowed hard and, with trembling hands put the revolver to his temple. A tear forced it's way out of his tightly closed eyes and mingled with the terror sweat that had exploded all over his body. "Shit I'm gonna be sick" he thought. "Fight it back, force it down. Too late now. Breathe and then..."
From a million miles away the sound came to him, click. Thank-you Jesus, he would live. He would live and all that stood between him and his money was some poor loser who fate had decided was no longer needed. He won. He fought to keep the joy from his face as the black haired man beside him reached out for the gun. Trevor wanted to smile, he wanted to sing and scream "hallelujah", but he had enough respect for the soon to be dead not to. He handed the gun over with solemnity and began silently spending the money.
Trevor closed his eyes and imagined the nights out, the lobster and champagne and the girls. Who could ever forget the girls. Now he could get his act together. Get some decent clothes, maybe a little piece of shit car, go to school maybe. Christ what do you do with that much money?
He was so lost in his reverie that he almost didn't feel the cold circle of steel return to his temple. His eyes flashed open as the bullet flashed out and left Trevor's most recent dreams spattered across the cement floor and the walls.
The money was quickly and quietly divided before the four men faded into the anonymity of the night, and their host began seeing to the details.
But would I be a good Messiah with my low self-esteem? / If I don't believe in myself would that be blasphemy? - The Bloodhound Gang Hell Yeah