Sky jogged the last few steps to ‘Cuffs and bounded up the steps before she pushed on the heavy wooden door. She was greeted by a blast of warm air from inside the bar and she looked down as she stomped the snow from her feet and shook it out of her long red hair. She finally looked up, her mouth opening to remark about the weather when the scene in the bar silenced her.
This was all wrong. First, ‘Cuffs was never quiet. Typically the dockworkers and ship’s hands were loud folks; sharing stories, belting out old sea songs and shouting at each other just before a fight broke out. Second, Scottie never tinkered with anything. In fact, he’d been forbidden from doing so since he’d “fixed” the phonograph in their home, which now made any wax cylinder sound like an air kraken during mating season. Third was the man in the corner, the front of his coat drenched in beer and standing in a puddle of the amber liquid. Bringing the half empty glass in his hand to his lips, she saw why. He involuntarily twitched just before, spilling a quarter of the glass down his front.
She sighed deeply and shook her head, marching around the semi-circle counter. She approached Scottie, hands on hips, and demanded, “What’s going on in here?”
Scottie cast a quick glance at her while he turned a screw, “Hmm?”
Sky rolled her eyes, more than a little irritated. She swept her hand in a wide arc, indicating the silent scene before him, “This?” She then raised her finger, pointing at the Zapper, “And what are you doing with that?”
Unfazed, Scottie finished turning the brass screw and set aside his screwdriver, hopping down from the mantle. He held it up for her inspection and pointed to the screw. “Well, it appears there’s a voltage regulator right here. It was set to full power to deal with the crabbies, but I thought if I turned it down it might be really useful in other situations.”
Sky nodded, finally putting the pieces together. She pointed to the man in the back, “Your first test subject?”
Scottie cleared his throat and shrugged, “Well, there had to be one. Apparently I set it a little too low and it only gave him a rather nasty shock. He’s drinking free the rest of the night.” He then chuckled, dropping his voice low enough that the man in the back couldn’t hear, “What he can actually get in his mouth, anyway…”
Sky shook her head, crossing her arms and giving him the ‘look’, “You can’t electrocute our customers. It’s not good business…”
“Yeah, we’re payin’ customers, see? We don’ need ya shockin’ us whenev’r ya feel like it!” shouted a ship’s hand by the name of Barney, thinking that with Sky in the room he was now safe to voice his opinion. He was wrong.
Scottie extended the Zapper without a word, flicking the toggle just before the metal prongs made contact with the Barney’s shoulder. Electricity arced, a distinct ZZZZAAP! was heard, and the man flopped like a flounder on the marble countertop. The rest of the crowd shrunk away.
“Scottie!” Sky shouted out to her husband, her face turning as red as her hair. Scottie flipped the switch again and watched as Barney slid off the counter and land on the floor in a heap, twitching spasmodically. Scottie knelt beside the man, feeling for his breath and checking his pulse, “See? Still alive! Perfect!”
Sky fumed and another ship’s hand, known simply as Al, hopped down from the counter, wagging a finger at Scottie as he rose back to full height, “Oy! That’s me best mate roight thar! Wotch what yer doin’-“
This man found himself in the same position as his best mate, outspoken and within reach of the Zapper, which was not turning out to be the safest place to be at the moment. Scottie shoved the business end of the Zapper into the man’s belly and flipped the switch. ZZZZAAP!
Sky batted Scottie’s arm and he turned it off, allowing Al to crumple to the floor alongside his buddy. Scottie turned to his wife, completely oblivious that he’d done anything wrong, “What!?” Sky huffed and snatched away the Zapper from him.
An older dockworker, rather inebriated by this point in the night, cackled loudly and pointed to Scottie, “Ooh, yer woman’s got a temper. Ya gotta nip that in the bud, lad. Next ya know, she’ll be nailin’ yer coin purse to the wall.”
Sky, already furious, closed the distance between herself and the dockworker quickly, the electric blue light strobing and the tell-tale ZZZZAAAP! alerting everyone to the fate of the man before he fell back on the counter, twitching wildly. The remaining patrons cleared the room and fled into the cold dark night, some not bothering to grab their jackets in their haste to avoid being the next victim of the Dapper Zapper.
Scottie chuckled gleefully, pointing at her, “I told you so! See how useful that is!?”
Sky growled as she watched ‘Cuffs empty out. Still holding the Zapper, she turned back to Scottie, walking slowly towards him, mumbling, “Oh yeah, it’ll be quite useful…”
Scottie’s eyes went wide, backing away slowly and raising his hands defensively, “Now honey, they’ll be back, you know they will…”