This one is actually turning out to be a bit longer than I thought, so I've decided to release it in small chunks.
Here is Chunk One:
“Ten-fifty on Crotchrot,” he said proudly, sliding his bills in front of the woman behind the desk.
She glanced at the money on the counter and raised an eyebrow at him. “Nobody bets on Crotchrot,” she said. A field of ashtrays channelled themselves through her voice.
Pocketing his hands, he shrugged, “Well, I am.”
A sigh; she took the money and shook her head, “Your funeral, kid.”
“Four-eleven on Crotchrot!” a chipper voice behind him called out.
He glanced over his shoulder. Whoever she was, she stopped just shy of his ribs and was all in black. Silver studs sat burrowed into the shoulders of her jacket. A low-collared tank top barely concealed her chest. A loose skirt stopped half-way down her thighs, an inch before a set of stockings slid into a pair of boots. Hair an unnatural shade of red was shaped into a pixie cut. Grey eyes, a button nose, and tight lips stood out on her round face.
Throwing her hands in the air, the woman at the counter rolled her eyes, “Sure, come on. When the champ puts Crotchrot through the mat, don’t come crying to me.”
“Oh, we won’t,” the giddy little stranger said, dipping into her coat pocket and producing the bills she needed.
He couldn’t help but smile, “Crotchrot fan?”
“I loved him back when he was in the Murder League with Bill the Bulldozer,” she admitted, taking her ticket, “He’s still got charisma, even when he loses. I love that!”
“He’s been losing a lot, lately,” he said, mordantly. Her enthusiasm was as intoxicating as it was infuriating.
The girl shrugged and dipped her head to one side, “Doesn’t mean he hasn’t had memorable fights.”
“Nobody forgets his match with The Bombinator,” he mentioned, hoping that would set something off.
It did. She gasped and seized the sleeve of his jacket, “I love that fight! That big turnaround at the end where Crotchrot puts him in that headlock and wins?!”
“The whole crowd went silent,” he muttered. In his mind, he recalled the wave of gasps of shock and the whispers of discontent that burrowed through the crowd. No cheers, no boos, no thrown drinks; mere astonishment was the only soundtrack.
Taking in his words, she nodded slowly, “Yeah, but… It’s crazy, but I re-watch that fight sometimes, right?” She put her up and rubbed her cheeks, a dreamy look creeping across her round and youthful face, “When I’m sad, I watch that fight again. I think it’s inspiring. It helps me get through my problems, y’know? It tells me, ‘You shouldn’t give up, Minnie; Crotchrot never gives up, no matter what! So why should you?’”
This made him smile. Mounting evidence suggested that the girl was mad, and just what he was looking for, “Well, isn’t that the damndest thing? By the way, Minnie, my name’s Clarke, and might I ask: did you come here alone?”
Chunk Two comes next week.
See you next time,
EDIT: May 23, 2012. Edits!