The day had started slow, which suited Jack’s hung-over brain just fine. Lunch hour proved quiet and Jack thought he might make it through another morning shift at Scallywags without much trouble, but of course that’s when things go wrong.
About two in the afternoon something hit the pub, which caused it to rock like an unmanned boat in a hurricane. While Jack fought to just maintain his footing, bottles tumbled from the shelves behind the bar and shattered into shards of flying glass. The bartender on shift was a young, petite woman named Holly and she shrieked as the boozes exploded on both sides of her. Instead of trying to flee, she froze. Another cry tore from her when a large bottle of vodka cracked her forehead and drew blood.
With a growl, Jack hurried her way, but moving over an undulating floor proved anything but easy. He dodged falling chairs and scrambling costumers as he made his way toward her.
When at last he reached the bar, Jack leaned forward and grabbed her by the waist. As if lifting a toy, he drew her over the bar and into the dubious safety of the rest of the restaurant. More shouts and crashes were heard, as Holly held onto him like a long lost lover.
Then, as quickly as it had started, the shaking dwindled into nothing.
Miles, one of the waiters, rushed up to them. “That was an earthquake, right?”
“I don’t think it was God bowling,” Jack replied.
As if suddenly realizing how hard she’d been hugging him, Holly drew away as her face blushed red. “Um, sorry, but that was really scary.”
“Worse things could happen,” Jack said, “But right now we need to take care of you. Your forehead is bleeding,” looking down, he saw her bare legs covered with all various splashes of booze, “and your legs could be injured too.”
As Jack guided the trembling girl toward the first aid kit, the manager, Larry, came rushing over. “Hey wait, we can’t leave all our costumers out here alone.”
“You watch them then,” Jack said. “I’m not going to have Holly go into shock on me. I’m sure a thousand injured are going to be overloading the hospitals in minutes. We’re going to have to fair for ourselves here.”
Larry met his eye and then nodded. “Okay, but there’s broken glass everywhere. This place is a litigation sandwich that’s about to have a bite taken out of it.”
“I say we close the place. No one will be coming here after all that. Give me a minute to help Holly and then we’ll come around and see what needs to be done next.”
Jack knew he took a chance talking to the shift manager so bluntly, but it appeared to have paid off, for Miles and Larry took off and got busy talking to the patrons and cleaning.
Holly looked up at him with her light blue eyes. “Thanks for helping me back there. It could have gotten a lot worse.”
Looking up at the television, he saw that the storm in northern Arizona had increased in it fury. “We had better watch ourselves, it still could.”’
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