For those of you who are wondering, this is not part of the book that my agent will be taking to BEA next month, but rather a project I've been kicking around but haven't really spent a lot of time on. Thanks for reading...
Mave McKinnon was a know-it-all. Literally. They’d tested her in the sixth grade, thought maybe she was some sort of Einstein. Turned out she wasn’t a genius.
She was a savant.
She remembered everything. If she read it, saw it or heard it, then she knew it. And not only did she know it—she understood it. Forever. There was no formal name for what she was. No explanation for why she could do the things she could do and that was just fine by her. Truth be told, she didn’t really care, didn’t need to understand. All she needed to understand was it made her money.
It was a favorite pastime at The Black Irish Pub—Stump Mave. Impossible, at least for the beer-swilling gits that crowded around her bar. Not once in her six years of building yards of Guinness and pouring shots of Jameson did one of them ever ask her a question she couldn’t answer.
It was a point of pride for most of her regulars. For years now, they’d been pushing through the door, the first words out of their mouths—“Alright Mave McKinnon, prepare to be bested.” For the tourists, she was akin to the bearded lady or that guy with a third leg sticking out of his ass. She was a sideshow. A freak. With the regulars it was all for fun. With the tourists it was straight-up business.
Three questions. If they stumped her on even one, she paid their bar tab. If she got all three they paid double. Those were the stakes. Usually.
Mave eyed the guy across the bar while mixing a whisky sour. This one was different. This one had trust-fund baby written all over him. They’d been at it for nearly an hour now. Him looking up ridiculous questions on his iphone. Her answering them faster than he could spit them out. He kept losing and every time he’d pull out another stack of bills and say, “Double or nothing.” Yeah, this one was different, alright. This one didn’t want his tab cleared.
He wanted a kiss.
“Mavie, love—have a heart.” Her Uncle Dan leaned against the bar. She looked at him, at his weathered face and twinkly blue eyes, and couldn’t help but smile. He was the best man she’d ever known and she felt herself bend a bit. “The boy’s completely bolloxed,” he said under his breath while he pulled a Guinness. “Give him a peck on the cheek and call him a cab.”
The guy was completely hammered and he was young, though not much younger than her. The kind of asshole that wore pink polo shirts and Puka shells and had the balls to order a Corona in an Irish pub. The way he watched her, she knew he wouldn’t be satisfied with a simple peck on the cheek.
The thick stack of Jacksons on the bar told her two things. That Pink Polo didn’t know when to quit and that she was about three seconds away from being able to pay her electric bill on time for once. She looked up at her uncle which was a mistake, because she went from bending to caving in the blink of one twinkly blue eye. Who needed light to see by, anyway? “Okay, okay—”
“Hey, Sweet-tits—you gonna answer the question or stand there and jaw with Pops all night,” Pink Polo sneered at her and threw a drunken high-five at his friend.
She felt her uncle stiffen, watched his hand squeeze the yard glass he held, hard enough to crack it. She laid a hand on his arm and smiled up at him. “Can I kick his ass now?”
He dropped a kiss on top of her head and took the whiskey sour out of her hand. “Hurt him, Mavie. Hurt him real good.”
That was all the encouragement she needed.