The Poetry Slam, Part 4

I don’t know who Mikhel hired to soundproof the Theatre, but they clearly knew what they were doing. The noise level from the Poetry Slam was either nonexistent (door closed) or deafening (door cracked open).

Mikhel ran drinks back and forth to the Theatre. I mostly stayed at the bar, which truthfully was pretty quiet. The occasional Jäger took a break from the action in the Theatre, but they seemed to be the ones who didn’t enjoy the particular style of poetry being presented.

“Zonnets. Vy hall de fuss about zonnets? Hy kan’ listen dat herd.”

“Ho, but doze hyaykoos, dey is de vorst.”

Having heard one Jäger limerick before the Slam began, I could only imagine what the evening would be like if they’d stayed in the bar. The pristine wall of bottles behind the bar wouldn’t have made it past the first verse.

I tip-toed past the Theatre once to get to the storage room. And to check out whether the place had been destroyed yet. (Answer: not yet.) Oggie, the Jäger who had loaned me the hat for the evening, stuck his head out as I passed.

“Hy dere. Schtill lookink goot in dat het!”

At least that’s what I think he said. The yelling and crashing were still pretty intense.

Mikhel appeared entirely unfazed, however, and kept the event contained (mostly) and accommodated.

The doors of the Theatre opened precisely at midnight, and the Jägers all trouped into the bar for a final drink or two. I wasn’t sure if they had finished the event or run out of things to smash. There were some swollen eyes, scratch marks, and torn clothing. Some of them appeared to be wearing two hats, or three. All of them looked enormously satisfied.

As the last drinks were being finished and the last insults being hurled, Mikhel got everyone’s attention. “Friends! Your attention!” The din dimmed somewhat. “House rules! You will each receive a dollar discount on your bill if you take your mug with you!”

“Ho! A zuveneer!”

“Vot a schmot guy!”

“No, dat’s not hyu mug, iz myne!”

The Jägers scrambled to collect their mugs, and Mikhel managed the till as they paid their bills with what looked like bags of coins.

Not gonna ask about that.

I took off the hat I’d been wearing and looked around for Oggie. The hat had mostly stayed on my head, though it had been snatched by one Jäger who gave it back immediately upon realizing I was staff. And it had gotten knocked off by a stray punch that missed me but landed on its intended target. I had the feeling that was a quiet night for this hat.

I found Oggie at the bar and handed the hat to him. “Thanks for loaning me the hat. I appreciate it.”

He looked a bit abashed.

“Ach, hyu’re velcome. Hyu vear it nekst time too?”

He stuck it in his bag.

“Sure, I’ll wear it next time,” I said before I remembered that I had promised myself there wouldn’t be a “next time” with this group. I wasn’t sure I had the bartending chops to do this more than once.

When the Jägers and all the metal mugs were gone and the door was locked, I finally got to ask Mikhel about the “house rule.”

“So why did you want them to take their mugs?”

“Because it’s more expensive to properly dispose of them than to just buy new ones.”

I was suddenly very glad I’d chosen to wear my rubber gloves for the evening.

“They’re a biohazard??”

“More or less. Well. More.” He took off the bowler hat he’d been wearing for the evening and stuck it in a cabinet under the bar.

I never noticed that cabinet door before. This place has a lot of surprises.

I helped Mikhel sweep out the Theatre. It was easier than I expected – the furniture the Jägers had brought in had been smashed into pieces small enough to sweep into piles and shovel into trash cans, which we hauled out back.

Mikhel told me he’d hose down the space and sent me home. Before I left, I asked him how he knew the Jägers in the first place.

He shrugged. “They go way back with my family.”

“They’re not an easy crowd.”

“No, that’s why I’m glad they came here.”

That puzzled me. “What do you mean?”

He paused as he put the pin back in the Jägerbrew tap. “There are a lot of groups that aren’t welcome a lot of places because of who they are and what they do. Kinky people, for example, or trans people. The Jägers are like that but more so – they don’t have many places to do a poetry slam.”

“I can understand that.” I said. “It’s not for the faint of heart.”

“And that’s what this place is all about – we welcome those who aren’t faint of heart and want a space for that.”

“Makes sense to me.” I pulled on my coat. “Hey, I know I said I’d skip working their next party, but I think I’ve changed my mind. They’re more interesting than I expected.”

His eyebrows went up at that. “Ok, I’ll let you know.”

I made a mental note to get myself a sturdy pair of leather work gloves before the next poetry slam.

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