Tops Tuesday Night!
Half priced drinks and 300 dollar max bet Black Jack.
Cause you're the tops baby!
The barkers outside were always spouting the same thing each Tuesday. All of the casinos on the strip were slow on Tuesdays, but refused to close. Gomorrah had started responding to the lack of customers by shutting off some of their stages and keeping a light staff. The Tops always ran the same promotion, trying to drag in the natives who rarely gambled, and the few NCR soldiers on full weeks pass.
Vulpes Inculta had spent a few Tops Tuesdays following around people of interest as they tried to make quick money with the increased Black Jack betting. They rarely won much more than they came in with. It was annoying him how predictable most of the people he watched could be. Gamble, drink, pick up loose women/men, and wonder why their world is falling apart. It was like degenerate behavior was built into the very walls of Vegas, and Vulpes longed to help his Emperor cleanse it.
Long ago the Frumantarrii had discovered the best place to wait for a mark to show up for their regularly scheduled debauchery was a side bar behind the stairs. Third stool over made you seem like a drunk who needed to belly up to the bar. While he would indulge in the occasional vice for the sake of cover, he mostly walked around with a soft drink pretending it was mixed.
Tonight was a more relaxed Tops Tuesday for the Legionary. His target for right now hadn't arrived on the strip, and when he did he was going to march straight into the Tops looking for Benny head of the Chairmen. Benny always wore loud suits, smelled like he soaked himself in cheap cologne, and was extremely noisy. It was like keeping track of a red blinking light in the middle of a dark room, and it bored Vulpes very quickly.
He slid his empty glass across the bar at the waitress, who took it, rinsed it out, dried it, and smirked at him. "Nother usual, hun?"
He nodded and she put her thumb over the air hole for the vodka pour and pretended to put a shot of vodka in the glass, popped the top off a sarsaparilla, pocketed the cap, and then filling the tall glass full of soda. She winked at him and slid the glass forward.
"Indeed," Vulpes half grumbled, bored.
"How is the salt trade anyways? Seems to be keeping yah in town more than normal?"
He leaned back and looked at the woman behind the bar in the faded pink dress, and nodded a little, grateful for the distraction. He'd told the bartender one night that he was out of the Utah selling salt, and was stuck in New Vegas waiting to meet a client. Like he'd planned, she filled in the rest. The bartender assumed he was a Mormon trying to blend in with the locals a little for the sake of good trade. That's when she offered him a The Utah Usual, a fake pour of vodka in a tall glass, and the rest filled with Sunset Sarsaparilla. That way people though he was another drunken sinner, while he was really just sipping like a saint.
Rene didn't have the normal jive talk of the Chairmen, but she had her own colorful way of speaking. It seemed more sincere and grated on his nerves less that then constant "Ring-a-Ding's" going off all around him.
"Still waiting on that client, you know how it goes in the salt trade. No one's in a hurry for preserved and better tasting food."
"Yeah, but I'm sure you're getting lonesome for The Utah and your people. It's gotta be really jarring to go from home to here, plus sure bet yah miss yer kin."
Vullpes nodded, she was right that sometimes it was hard to go from time at "home" to here, but for reasons she never suspected. He sucked on his drink and she kept herself busy doing side work.
He remembered the first Tuesday he'd come in and sat at her bar, she'd greeted him, and had only asked enough questions to do her job right without prying. After all wasn't the bar a drunks confessional?
As that first evening had drawn on, a group of rowdy NCR soldiers had come in and were making a lot of noise. Rene, the bartender, kept glancing over at them and muttering something about the soldiers staying on their side of the casino. No such luck. An NCR soldier , who reeked of liquor, came over and started hitting on the bar tender in a very rude fashion. Vulpes could see the appeal in her, she was round enough to fill that dress out pleasantly, her skin was a healthy natural tan, and her mouth was large and luscious. The thing he always enjoyed about her was her long brown pony tail that came more than midway past her back.
The soldier, now being egged on by his friends, stopped trying to get her to agree to go up to his hotel room for free and changed tactics. Vulpes watched the woman carefully, of course this was how most women in the casino's made money, but she also hadn't thrown herself at him the way most of the women who worked casino's did. The soldier put one hand on the bar, and bumped Vulpes as he leaned in.
"Tell you what. 250 caps. Promise you'll tip me at the end."
Rene sucked on her back molar, causing her cheek to cave a little. She then spit her response at him, "No."
"Kay…kay…you…you're a fine lady…tell you what…500 caps, but my friend Ted here…he…he gets to wash."
"No. Ted can wash himself."
"I said…wash…not…was….Listen! Listen, I'm insulting you, and don't think, that…that I'm like that. Noooooo! I'm a gentleman, and I think….I think 800 is a gentlemanly price."
She picked up a glass and started polishing it, obviously trying to distract herself from the annoyance of this drunken soldier from nowhere California.
The soldier then lifted up his hand and slammed it on the bar, really pissing Vulpes off in the process.
"Look bitch, I'vvvve been over to the Gomorrah, and I know what mediocre tail like you costs, and it…no more than 850, or I'll go tell your bosesesses that you're a bitch."
Rene put the cup down, as calmly as she could muster. Vulpes watched her fingers wrap around the knife next to where she had been cutting limes for the drinks. "NO. Now I'm not serving you anymore drinks, you can have water, sarsaparilla, or nuka cola, but no liquor and stop calling me bitch."
The soldier then leaned over the bar angrily, and shook his finger at her in a threatening way.
"Fuck you bitch, I came here for a good time, and if…"
Before he'd had time to finish his sentence Rene'd driven the knife into the palm of the soldiers hand between, right between the bones, and pinning him to the bar. The soldier screamed out in pain, tried to jerk back, but she had already used her free hand to grab him by the hair and slam his head onto the bar.
"Look at you, you drunken piss, you're too messed up to defend yourself from a bar tender. I'm going to teach yah a little lesson now, and if you try to move away before I'm done, I swear to God the followers are going to be trying to stitch that hand back on tomorrow morning."
One of the Chairmen Bouncers stepped forward, smiling, nodded to her, but did not interfere. Obviously this woman had a reputation for not taking crap, and it seemed like the bouncers let this happen because they found her reactions a little funny.
"Not all of the women who work on the strip are whores here for your amusement," She then slammed her right arm on the bar next to the man's head, the pip boy on it making a wood shaking THUD. "Matter of fact some of us are just nice girls, who got kicked out of their vault by Mr. House, and are just trying to make an honest day's wages…Yah Dig? Ring-a-Ding?"
Vulpes snickered at her lesson, thinking he was pleased with his choice in bartender and accidently catching a fiery brown eyed glare from the woman. She then turned her attention back to the soldier, let go of his head, and pulled the knife out of his hand.
The soldier backed up, holding his wounded hand, spewed a bunch of hate at Rene, and then he and his friends were escorted out. Rene's only response to the verbal abuse she was suffering was to roll her eyes and started cleaning up her knife. The soldier's protests as he was escorted out, repeated by Rene in a mocking tone, "I'm with the NCR, Crocker is going to be all over your asses, when we take over the strip, blah blah blah blah blah."
After she calmed down she turned to Vulpes, her face softening as she regained her composure, "Sorry yah had to see those NCR twits in the middle of some drunken jack aaaa…Err…You're not pro-NCR are you?"
Vulpes gave her a creepy grin, causing her to take pause. After a few seconds he said, "Well, you know how much people from the Utah like drinking. Plus I found your 'lesson' well given, and can't blame you for defending your honor."
She laughed a little bit, wiped the water off of her hand, and extended it across the bar, "Rene, and tell yah what fella, at my bar your Utah Usual is on the house."
Vulpes took her hand firmly, and with an intelligent stare, shook her hand, "Jason Fox, Salt Merchant, and the pleasure is all mine."
Benny started to make his good night rounds, walking around kissing women on the cheek, patting men on the back, and then headed over to the elevators. Vulpes Inculta moved his eyes subtly back to his drink as Benny left, and prepared himself for the time he would now waste at the bar so it seemed like he wasn't just watching a Benny every night. It was late, and Rene's relief had just come on duty.
While he was glancing down into his drink, getting up the energy to move to a table so that he wouldn't be bothered by the slut that had the next shift, when Rene shifted into the stool next to him.
"Hey Utah. What's yer plans for the rest of the night, going to go back up to that lonely room yah got here?"
Vulpes extended Rene a long curious look. Was she coming on to him? She was always a little flirty, but not in a way you ever took seriously. Since the knife through the hand incident he had just assumed her pleasantries were work, and nothing personal. She had her use, her behavior made it seem like he was here to enjoy the company of a pretty woman, and helped him blend in. It was defiantly better than trying to find a woman just stupid enough not to ask questions over at Gomorrah.
"I had planned to just go up to bed. Perhaps read a little," Vulpes mused.
She smiled at him with big white teeth, then touched him on the arm, "Shucks, yer a reader! Me too, tell you what, come with me over to Vault 21, and I'll loan yah something to read…Plus well…Hell, something I want yah to see. Game?"
She was convincing when she needed to be, and Vulpes couldn't help but think she'd have made a great frumantarii.
"How could I resist such a charming offer? Lead the way my dear," He responded with a slight smile.
When the two of them reached Vault 21, Vulpes opened the door, and she graced her way in with a sweet "Thanks," Rene said.
She led him down the dark corridors like a Nix leading a traveler off of the road, and finally had Vulpes settle down in both in the Vault Hotel's mess hall. She poured him a cup of coffee, and left him there with a promise to return shortly. As she sauntered out, Rene left a strange electric feeling to the room that seemed to draw some of the hotel guests closer to him.
About half way through with his coffee Rene came back in the room wearing some comfortable brown slacks, and a white linen shirt. To his alarm she had a strange black case in her hand, it was almost as long as she was, and shaped like flat bottle. She set it down on the table and a few of the people gathered around cheered her a little bit. Vulpes kept the coffee by his mouth, breathing in the fumes, wondering if it was some kind of weapon she held in the black box.
Rene then gently lifted a weird wood contraption from the box, sat on the table cross-legged, and placed it in her lap. It was long and thin at the top by her shoulder, wide and hollow at the bottom, and had several strings running along the length of it. Vulpes put one hand down and let a finger run across a small knife he had in his pocket for security, worried this wooden thing did something in appropriate.
Twisting one of the knobs at the top, Rene began to tune the guitar, and Vulpes recognized the sound it made from the old recordings on the radio around Vegas. Rene began to strum the instrument on her lap, her fingers moving deftly across the strings, and producing a skillful music he had never experienced before. She then stopped the strumming and cleared her throat.
"Well citizens of New Vegas, it's what you've been waiting for all week, or at least sense your last bout of insomnia. Some people on the strip like to call this Topes Tuesday, but those of us who live here know the real name, Slow Times: Tuesday Night. I want to extend a special Vault 21 welcome to all ya'll, but tonight I want to make special mention of my Mormon friend I drug in here from The Utah. Mr. Fox, I know Mormon's ain't music's biggest fan, but perhaps you'll be a fan of my music. So without further adieu, and hopefully a lot less of my jabbering on, I Rene Mayberry, will sing ya'll some of the oldies from when the country was more bluesy and a lot less blown…up."
She then started playing a slow sad melody, her torso rocking to the tune a little bit, her hair fell down around her shoulders in brown wavy rivers. She then began to sing:
I was just a poor boy,
Though my stories seldom told,
I have squandered my resistance,
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises.
Her voice was pleasant, not as good as her guitar playing, but worth listening to. What compelled Vulpes the most was how it felt like she was singing the song directly to him, but as he looked around at the other listeners he knew this was just the effect she had on people. As she brought the song to the close, he found himself wanting to believe this kind and moral woman had picked the song for him, but for what she knew of him a song about a fighter would not have been appropriate.
At the end of the song she addressed the crown again, with a humble sense of charm.
"Doesn't that sound great on my Momma Geetar? Those of you who come round'nough know that this was passed on from my great, great, great Grandpappy who was originally in Vault 21 due to what a Cracker Jack poker player he was. Seems this here Momma Guitar, could get him out of many a predicament a handsome smile couldn't. Aint' we in a predicament too? War. Shiiit."
"Sure I know most of you, Vault members, NCR members who work in Vegas and have grown bored with the decadence, people from the wastes, Robot spies from Mr. House, and I like to think sometimes Caesar himself sneaks down here once an'a while. Now stop, stop, and don't cuss him to hard. Even if he is an old cuss. Do me a favor, if you NCR boys don't keep him off our necks, tell Caesar I never said nothing particularly bad 'bout'em."
"Cause you see, if Caesar and his boys come knocking on the gates, I got me a plan. I'm gonna sneak outta Vegas, just me and my Momma Geetar, and we're gonna catch us a baby Deathclaw. I'm gonna then train muh Deathclaw to be a travelin' companion. We'll be a traveling show, Momma Geetar, my baby Deathclaw, and me. A traveling show no one's gonna fuck with. Now for more music!"
Vulpes frowned a little when she mentioned Caesar, but since her words weren't particularly anti-Legion he felt the annoyance disappear as soon as she started to sing again. The next hour consisted of Rene telling charming stories, and then playing them some hit from the days before the war. It was one of the nicest nights he'd ever had among the profligates.
When she got to her final song, Rene seemed depressed a little, and with a tired voice told the listeners, "I'm glad ya'll came, really I am. No matter where you go in the Mojave, no matter who you meet, or what you do, for this moment we were all kin here on Slow Times: Tuesday Night. I hope when yah see each other next you smile a little bit, and remember these good times. Now this last song's for my Mormon friend out of the Utah, who always seems like he needs a friendly smile. Too bad he keeps coming to my bar, we all know I just spit in the drinks. It's never was a popular tune in the old world, but I hope ya'll enjoy it now. Sad Sad Movie, by Chroma Key."
Rene's Momma Guitar let out some somber notes, and she mournfully crooned:
My mistake is never knowing, by mistake I keep on going
Love is in the room but I don't know it, love is in the sails but I kept rowing
Sad sad movie, sad sad movie, sad sad movie, I see that now
My mistake is never knowing, by mistake I keep on going
Love is on the rails but I'm still rolling
Love is on the lawn but I keep mowing
Sad sad movie, sad sad movie
Sad sad movie, I see that now.
After Rene was done playing a few people clapped and walked over to touch her shoulder and thank her. A few people tossed money into her case, and she nodded thanking them. One man was obviously an off duty Chairman Bodyguard and Vulpes smiled as he heard her assuring the bodyguard that she didn't want to try out for a show at the Tops.
After the crowd cleared out Rene, ran her fingers through her hair and looked over at Vulpes with a tired grin.
"Well, Mr. Fox from the Utah, what yah think?"
Vulpes stood up and walked over to her, his normal confident grace showing through his tiredness. He stood in front of her and looked down into her dark brown eyes and wondered what she expected from him at this moment. Her face was cool, almost emotionless as she waited for a response, and for a second he felt a strong desire to kiss her. He wondered what she saw when she looked back at him, who was the stoic man standing over her with the high cheekbones and mute look? Did she think he was handsome, is that why he was here?
"I'll take your stunned silence as a sign you liked it. I know Mormon's don't do music typically. I apologize for the deception, but hopefully the ears haven't sinned so much that you need'ta cut them off."
She smiled as he narrowed his brows and looked at her like she was crazy. He wished he could address her like a peer, let her know he wasn't some stuffy Mormon, but his cover was important. Being a stuffy Mormon suited him, and their clean living and strict moral code had always held Caesar's approval. Vulpes then stepped back from her and rubbed his face. In another life, he liked to think, he could have come every Tuesday, listen to her songs, take her out to breakfast after, and maybe joined her on the road in place of a Deathclaw.
"No, my ears can stay where they were. It was very pleasant," Vulpes said, shaking his tired fantasy from his brain. "I appreciate the deception. I enjoyed myself," he looked at her letting his tiredness show.
Leaning behind her Rene pulled a book out and put it on the table as she gently set her guitar in the case. She pealed the old book off the table and handed it to him. He took the book from her and turned it to look at the spine, Pride and Prejudice.
She said to him coolly as she slid off her seat and closed the latches on the guitar case, "Figured it was nice a book as I had for a Mormon. I used to love it as a girl, would pretend one day I'd go out into the wastes and be a wandering gentlewoman, singing for my meals. Used to think if I was good enough I could wear pretty dresses like the women in the story. Ha. Guess the dress part came true. It was a mixed up dream anyways. Us Vault people don't like the outside much, sky's got too high a ceiling for our comfort."
Twirling on her feet Rene winked at Vulpes and started heading towards her room. Before she completely disappeared down the hall Rene paused and turned, and Vulpes met her stare, wondering where this was heading.
Rene then said, "You're always welcome back here Jason… Say, do you want me to show you the way back to the Tops?"
Vulpes tucked the book under his arm and placed his hat on his head, straitening it with his thumb and forefinger. He thought about it for a second, this woman was dissolute, she was strong, and the kind of woman Legion needed preserved here for conquest. Plus there was part of him that would lose respect for her if she did sleep with him, or perhaps it was just himself he'd lose respect for because of the lies he was telling.
"Thanks, but I believe I know the way," Vulpes sighed. "Good night Rene, and be safe."