The Scorpion Reach

Dan was head down drunk on the high table at Chi Chi’s. He had nearly knocked over the empty salt stained margarita glasses more then once in the last half hour. He held the pint glass up one last time to let the few remaining drops of beer slide past the near brown dried froth at the top to reach his tongue.

Chewie walked from around the bar pulling the tucked white dishtowel from his apron. It had been a busy night. He was tired. Only one drunk, Dan, kept him from going home.

“Come on mister, time to pack it up.” Chewie said clearing the glasses.

Before Dan could ask for one more he was shut down.

“We’re closed buddy, time to go.”

Dan slovenly moaned in dispute, “Just one more. I just lost my girl. I lost my job. I lost everything.” But his cry for sympathy went unanswered.

A few minutes later Chewie returned from the kitchen with four men. They too were worn out from the brisk business of the night. It would not be much of a challenge for these men to force their will on a man for Dan’s average size and stature, especially in this state of drunkenness.

“One more, just one more beer is all I’m asking for.” Dan protested when he saw them on approach.

Chewie held the men back with hand gesture. “Mister, we will give you all the beer you want if you accept and win one challenge.”

A smirk flashed across Dan’s face thinking of the sobriety challenge he would practice in his hazy dorm days of counting on his fingers in a specific order, touching his nose with head tilted back, or walking lines in case someone were to meet up with campus cops.

“Sure,” he said with the tone of a man that had nothing left to loose or live for, “I’ll take any challenge.”

“Very well, I challenge you to the Brazo de Escorpión”

“Great.” Dan's unenthusiastic sarcasm was lost on the night crew. “Can I have a drink first?”

One of the men provided Dan a drink while two others took a high circular table from the corner and removed the gaudy table cover. He could see that the top was well worn as they placed it in the center of the room. Deep brown stains were on either side with tiny holes drilled on opposite sides. The holes had grooved circles surrounding them. His one thought, “What have I gotten myself into?”

Chewie returned from the kitchen with a wooden box that had two fine lengths of string dangling from each end. The box was laid in the center of the table and sting threaded into each hole. As they pulled each sting taunt Chewie moved the slotted ends of the box to reveal a large pink scorpion tied to each end of the string. The creatures were dragged from the box by the string under the table to each of the blood stained circles.

Dan felt the first droplet on his brow form.

Chewie placed his elbow on the table and took a traditional arm wrestling stance. Dan could see his fate would be short when the bartender moved his fingers in preparation that years of hauling beer bottles and slinging drinks had defined every muscle in his arm.

The crew from the kitchen pressed in close to watch as Dan mirrored Chewie. When their hands clasped the smack sounded the start of the struggle. With flush face each pressed harder.

Dan strained to keep his hand from dipping. Pink death danced below the back of his hand held restrained only by a string loose enough to nearly nab him. He gave one last push from adrenaline. The opponent let out a cry of pain but did not release.

To be continued…
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