Waverly slipped into her black skinny jeans and headed to the closet. She spent a minute or so flipping through the possibilities until she landed on the light purple crop top. Tips were always better when you flashed a little skin.
The early shift on Friday promised to be worthwhile as long as one was willing to balance friendly banter with flirting. By 10:00pm the tips increased, but so did the danger of drunken, wandering hands. Not to mention the occasional clean up from customers who needed to see how much of their paycheck it took to obliterate the memory of that week’s labor.
Waverly had worked enough late shifts on Friday that she would rather banter for tips than avoid the wandering hands of drunks moments from passing out or worse. Her biggest obstacle tonight would be if Champ showed up before she escaped around 9:30.
Waverly headed for the bathroom to put on her makeup. She stared at her features, happy her eyes showed no sign of the previous evening’s tears. She was still pissed at herself for crying. Her tears a result of frustration with herself that she’d yet to end things with her sometime boyfriend.
He’d cheated so many times, then begged her to forgive him- and every time she’d let her resolve crumble and let him walk all over her. Well this was it! She was done being Champ’s rug. She was determined that seeing him with his tongue down Stephanie Jones’ throat was the last time she’d let it slide.
She put the finishing touches on, grabbed her jacket and headed for the door. She had just enough time to pick up a coffee on her way to Shorty’s. As she climbed in her Wrangler she sighed, another night, another week, another monotonous year.
Nothing exciting ever happened in Purgatory.
It was 8:45 and Waverly was in a funk. The night had been slow the tips light. She was looking forward to getting off and heading home where she could curl up with some hot cocoa and a good book. She was just heading to the office to see if she could leave early when a commotion caught her attention at the front door.
Champ stumbled in the entrance with Stephanie at his heels. The blonde reached for his hand only to be shaken off. Both were drunk already. Stephanie grabbed him by the shoulder, spun him around and opened her mouth to complain.
“Leave me alone,” he mumbled. “Told you... here.. to see... Wa.. Way... Waverly.”
Waverly ducked back into the kitchen before the pair noticed her. She almost knocked over Chrissy who was delivering a tray full of wings to one of the tables near the entrance.
“The hell, Waves, what’s going on?”
Waverly had confided in her best friend just hours ago how done she was with the shit show that was her (not much of a) relationship with the legend in his own mind. The pair had stood in the kitchen while Waves railed, eyes flashing.
“Big flippin deal Chrissy, he was a star in high school.
“Now he’s just a ten pound load in a five pound sack.
“I let him walk all over me for the last year and a half.
“That. Ends. Now.”
Chrissy hugged her friend and offered her support. She was a good enough friend that she swallowed the words that sprang immediately to mind.
What took you so long?
So when she heard Waverly’s one word explanation, she took control of the situation.
“Just get out of here. I’ll take care of the Chump. Tell Gus I’ll cover your last few minutes.”
Waverly nodded gratefully and slipped out the rear door.
The next morning, Waverly was up early. She made bacon, eggs and waffles. She was just pulling the waffles out of the iron when Gus came downstairs.
“Hi Gus. Want some breakfast?”
She absolutely wasn’t trying to make it up to Gus for booking the previous evening. She told herself she would have done it no matter what- even though the last meal she cooked was when Gus went to Calgary six months ago.
Gus raised her eyebrows briefly, then smiled and wrapped an arm around her niece.
“Love some honey. Are you feelin’ ok? Chrissy said you were sick last night.”
Waverly dropped her head. She always found it hard to lie to the woman who, along with her late Uncle Curtis raised her from such a young age. Now that Curtis was gone and Wynonna was absent more than anyone wanted to talk about, Gus was all Waverly had.
“I’m sorry Gus, it was Champ. He came in and I couldn’t face him. I’m done with him but I didn’t want to get into it at work. I need to see him in person and tell him so. I’m actually going to try to meet him sometime this afternoon.
“Doc said Champ was coming in today to pick up his car and he said he’d call when he knew more about what time. I’m going to try to head down there and talk to him. It’s neutral territory and I can tell him and get out of there.”
“Honey, I’m glad you’re finally dumping him, but don’t think breaking up with him will keep him from sneaking around. He’s been coming into Shorty’s since he was in high school, I don’t think he’s the type to stay away from one of his favorite haunts just because his ex works there.”
“I know Gus, but I didn’t want to dump him at Shorty’s.
“While I was on the clock.
“Plus he was drunk. The best case scenario would have been he slobbered all over me or Stephanie while telling anyone who’d listen how he’d been betrayed.
“Worst case scenario, he causes a scene, maybe even starts a fight.
“This way we talk, both sober and no matter what, I know he gets the message.”
Waverly started as her phone vibrated in the pocket of her sweats. She pulled it out and frowned.
“It’s Doc… Hi Doc, did you here from Champ?
“One o’clock? I’ll be around. Thanks Doc.”
Replacing the phone, Waverly turned toward her Aunt.
“I need to be down there by 12:30- I don’t want him to slip in early and leave. I’d better get moving.
“Wish me luck.”
“Just be true to yourself honey. He doesn’t deserve you.”
Champ Hardy walked out of Doc’s garage and headed for his fifteen year old Corvette. His eyes were down as he checked his phone so when Waverly approached he was taken by surprise. He almost dropped his phone when he heard her voice.
“Champ, we need to talk.”
Hardy smirked from behind his sunglasses.
“Waverly, how are you?”
“I didn’t come here for pleasantries Champ. I came to break up with you. We’re done.”
Hardy scrunched up his face in confusion.
“What’s the matter honey? I looked for you last night. Thought we could slip away together. I know you like to get a piece of the Champ.”
“I saw you Champ. You were drunk and dragging your new girl around.
“I also saw you the night before last. You were at the drug store when I came out. You had your mouth all over Stephanie. Sadly, I wasn’t even surprised.
“You’ve been cheating on me almost since we started going out. Why I waited thinking you might change, might grow up, well I guess I’ll never know why.
“But it ends now Champ. I’m done with you. I may never forgive myself for allowing you to treat me the way you did, but I won’t take it any more.
“Don’t call me, I won’t answer.”
And Waverly walked away, feeling like a weight had lifted from her shoulders. Even Champ’s voice trailing after her couldn’t bring her down.
“You’ll be back Waverly. You’ll never do better than the Champ.”
Jeez, I can’t believe I stayed with anyone who calls himself ‘the Champ’.
The next few days passed in the monotony of a typical Purgatory summer. Shorty’s saw sporadic business during the week, usually the lunch and early dinner crowd keeping Gus’ little enterprise in the black.
Or at least keeping the red ink from growing.
Waverly worked Sunday through Friday, shifts varying, and had Saturdays off. The only time she’d work was if there was a large party and even then Gus tried to make certain her niece only worked when there were no other alternatives.
The only wrinkle in a normal boring week was Tuesday night when the softball teams showed up after their game. Waverly had prepared some appetizers in anticipation for the 25 or so they usually got around 8:00.
She was in the kitchen helping the staff when she heard the group come bursting in the door. Waverly cringed when the first loud voice she heard belonged to her brand-new-ex.
“Hey barkeep, pitchers on me. I guess the star of the game has to buy the first round.”
Rosita looked up from preparing her sixth batch of nachos and leered at Waverly.
“Your boyfriend’s here.”
“I told you Rosita, we’re finished. He’s not my boyfriend anymore.”
Then she looked over, sadness briefly clouding her features.
“And I’m not sure he was ever mine.”
Waverly took the tray she had been putting together out and set the appetizers out at the two large tables the staff had slid together in the center of the dining area. As she finished and headed back with her now empty tray, the familiar voice interrupted.
“So Waverly, aren’t you even going to say hi?”
Waverly stopped, turned and raised her eyes to her former boyfriend.
Then she turned and walked back to the kitchen without another word. The small crowd, still rolling in, took in the exchange with some amusement. As several voices spoke too softly to be heard, one cut through the background noise.
“Smooth Champ, she’s really swooning.”
Champs reply was laced with thinly veiled anger.
“Shut the fuck up.”
When Waverly returned with the second tray of nachos, cheese curds, chips and salsa, She pointedly ignored her ex. Once again she was interrupted when she tried to return to the kitchen. This time Champ stepped directly in her path to the kitchen.
She looked up briefly. Champ’s eyes were icy, anger flashing.
Waverly mumbled “excuse me” and tried to go around him. Champ’s hand reached out and grabbed her by the upper arm, spinning her back to face him. Angry, Waverly shoved the empty tray into his chest.
“Keep your hands off of me.”
As she once again turned to go back to the kitchen, she heard a few laughs and a couple of gasps.
She didn’t stop.
An hour later, as the party was winding down, Waverly came over to clean up the empty baskets, bottles and other garbage. Most week nights they closed around 10:00, but Tuesday it usually was closer to 11 because of the softball games.
She’d managed to avoid Champ after the initial unpleasantness but was still on edge as she bussed the two tables. Rosita had offered to do it for her, but she huffed out a laugh as she headed for the dining area.
“Thanks, but I won’t hide back here every time that jackass comes in. He will not have that kind of power over me.”
At first glance, Waverly thought Champ had already left. The tables were empty and she felt a slight twinge of relief at avoiding an ugly confrontation. Then as she was finishing sliding one of the tables back to its normal location, she looked over at the bar.
All the way down to the end, partially obscured in the shadows, a familiar figure sat with a bottle in front of him. From the look of it, Champ had been doing shots for far too long. Waverly headed back to the kitchen.
She almost made it before her ex’s voice, filled with icy rage, stopped her.
“Waverly, get your ass over here, I want to talk to you.”
“No Champ, we’re done talking.”
The next sound Waverly heard was a rush of air as something sailed past her head, followed by glass breaking as the tumbler crashed into the wall behind her. Her head spun toward Champ, anger filling her eyes.
Before she could confront the drunk and disorderly man, a familiar voice interrupted the scene.
“Champ Hardy, I will not have you causing trouble in my place.”
Waverly looked over surprise painting her features. Gus stood in the hallway that led back to her office, the twelve gauge in her hands. She held it pointing at the floor, but her affect told everyone she’d use it if she had to.
Hardy squinted over at the bar’s owner. His eyes briefly cleared and showed some fear as he heard the sound of a shell being racked. Then Gus’ voice again cut the tension.
“Go home and sleep it off. And if you ever do something like this again in my place, it will be the last time you come in here.”
Hardy pushed away from the bar and stumbled toward the door. His mumbling was indistinguishable as he reached for the handle. Gus wasn’t having any.
“You got somethin’ to say Champ?”
Hardy paused, shook his head and left without another word.
Friday seemed to be an unremarkable evening except for the fact that Waverly got stuck with a double shift. One of the college girls on summer break had been in a minor car accident. Her injuries were minor, but the hospital advised her to stay in bed for a full twelve hours before resuming normal activities.
Waverly covered, as she had numerous times in the past. The good news was there was no appearance of her ex-boyfriend. The bad news was that there were several “accidents” needing clean up. Annoying, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Nothing exciting ever happens in Purgatory.
Waverly had just come back from the ladies’ room after washing up and was standing at the bar talking to Dolls. His eyes widened as he looked over her shoulder, and Waverly felt a twinge of something, wondering if her Champ-free night was about to be spoiled.
Instead, a familiar warm hand rested on her shoulder and a familiar voice cut through the noise.
Waverly spun, eyes lighting up.
She wrapped her sister in a bear hug. Wynonna returned the hug, eyes sparkling.
“I missed you too, baby girl.”
Waverly was beside herself with joy.
“Where did you come from? How long are you here? Where have you been? Are you OK?”
The questions came rapid-fire, like rounds from a machine gun. Wynonna smirked at her baby sister and just let her rant for a couple of minutes. Then she grabbed Waverly’s forearms and interrupted.
“I’m back, I’m here for awhile, and I’ll tell you everything tomorrow. Right now I just wanted to say hey and let you know I’m coming over in the morning. Or afternoon. Depending.”
She waggled her eyebrows.
Waverly smiled, too happy at seeing her sister to be upset at her leaving with her on again- off again beau. Then she frowned.
“Won’t you at least say hi to Gus?”
Wynonna’s expression clouded. The pair had always had a stormy relationship. They loved each other but Gus had never approved of Wynonna’s friends nor her periodic jaunts away from their hometown.
“I’ll see her tomorrow.”
As her sister headed for the door, Waverly’s smile was a mile wide.
Ok, at least something exciting happens in Purgatory.