The Pickup Artist

Alan grinned as he saw his best friend coming through the door of their favourite watering hole. “Hey Joe, how’s it hangin’?”

Joe sat down with a sigh. “Man, what a day. I’m beat. Sorry I haven’t been around lately, I’m flat out.”

“No problem.” Alan glanced over at an attractive woman sitting alone at the bar and Joe caught his eye.

“She’s a hottie, eh?”

“Yeah, but man, she’s cold as ice.”

Joe laughed. “Shot you down, did she?”

“You better believe it. Three times. She won’t give anyone the time of day. Lots of guys have tried. I don’t know what she’s doing here.”

Joe was grinning. “Maybe you guys just don’t have the moves, brother. Let me show you how it’s done.”

Alan waved his hand. “Be my guest. You’ll be back in a minute.”

Alan was right. “Damn, Alan, she’s untouchable. Wouldn’t even look up at me.”

Alan chuckled. “Welcome the club.”

“A couple of good-looking executives like us, with lots of dough and nice threads, you’d think she’s at least consider us. Damn.”

A guy walking back from the loo stopped and turned back and walked up to them. “Sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing some of that. You guys struck out with that chick at the end of the bar, eh?”

Joe looked him up and down. “Yeah, what’s it to you?”

The stranger put his palms up. “Sorry, I didn’t mean any offence. She does look like a hard nut to crack. Still…” He trailed off, looked at the woman and then shrugged and started walking.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Alan looked at Joe and turned back to the stranger. “Hey, I’m talking to you.”

The stranger turned and walked back grinning, sticking out his hand. “Sorry, my name’s Stan, I didn’t catch yours.”

“Alan. This is Joe. What did you mean by “still”?”

“Mind if I sit down?” Stan didn’t wait for an answer.

“Look, it’s just a matter of technique, that’s all. Some guys have it, some don’t. I meant no offence, just telling it like it is.”

Joe’s back was up. He ordered another round and leaned across the table. “So you’re saying you’ve got game and we don’t? Talk’s cheap, dude.”

Stan shrugged. “Whatever. I know what I’m capable of this is all I’m saying. I don’t lose, you know?”

Alan shook his head. “Man, nothing wrong with your ego, eh?”

Stan turned his drink in circles on the table and grinned at them. “What can I say, I’m good.”

Alan and Joe exchanged looks again and Alan nodded.

“All right man,” Joe said, “If you’re all that, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is.”

Stan didn’t look up for a minute then slowly raised his eyes and gave them a crooked grin. “Look guys, I don’t wanna take your money, it wouldn’t be fair. What do you say we just forget the whole thing.” he got up to leave.

“Oh no you don’t.” Joe wasn’t letting it pass. “You shot your mouth off. Put your money down and let’s see what you’ve got, hot shot.”

Stan considered for a moment and sat back down. “Well, how much are we talking here?”

Alan pulled a bankroll out his pocket. “We’ve got money. How about $200, or is that too rich for your blood?” He smirked at Joe.

Stan tapped his chin in thought, and then stood up again. “You know, you had me going for a minute. I thought you guys might be serious.” He snorted. “$200. What a joke.”

Joe reached in for his wallet and came out with a cash card. “The bank is just down the street. How about $2,000 each, hot shot? Still think we’re joking?”

Alan didn’t look too sure, but he nodded his head. Stan sized them up one more time and reached into his jacket pocket and came out with a wad that made their eyes light up. “Why not make it $2,500?”

Joe got up. “I’ll be right back.”

Alan did his best not to look nervous. “You sure you can afford to lose that much?”

Stan was still smiling. “I like to keep my life interesting.”

Joe came back with the money and laid it down with a flourish. “You’re up, hot shot. Give it all you got.”

Stan got up and straightened his tie. “Gentleman, it will be my pleasure.”

They watched him approach her, and they were both grinning when they saw her shake her head after looking up only briefly. They high-fived each other, but their joy was short-lived. As they watched, Stan kept talking and slowly the woman turned to face him and seemed to be at least a bit interested. Five minutes later she stood up and kissed him.

Alan and Joe were dumbstruck. Stan came back to the table grinning. “Her name is Barbara, and we’ll be leaving now, that is, as soon as you pay up.”

Joe picked up the money and handed it over grudgingly. Alan was shaking his head.

Stan and Barbara walked out and hailed a cab. “That was great, sweetheart, you primed them real good.”

Barbara smiled. “Practice makes perfect. But $5,000 is chicken feed. Why do you insist on doing this every time we hit a new city to do a job?”

Stan smiled. “We can’t make our move until tomorrow anyway, it’s just a bit of fun. What do say we have ourselves a real nice dinner?”

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