"I am a practical man."
<NYC> Alleycats - Little Italy
A throwback to an older era, Alleycats has been around in some form or other since its days as a private bowling club in the early 1900s. Still low-tech, bowlers are given pencil and paper scorecards to keep track of their score and their pins are only cleared and reset when they actually push a button to do so. There are no lane bumpers and the popularity and small size of the bowling alley -- only a dozen lanes with brightly blue and green lacquered wooden tables and cracking upholstery on their benches -- means that on evenings and weekends especially, wait times can get very long for a free lane.
Most people opt to do their turn waiting in the adjoining cafe. Often noisy with the spillover from the adjacent lanes, the pizzeria looks more modern than the bowling alley itself. There's an industrial feel to the room's exposed architecture, solid blocky wood tables and benches, a long bar at one end with a very wide beer selection. The pizzas are all baked in full view of the dining room -- with a specialty in locally-grown organic flatbread pizza the dichotomy between the gourmet flatbread pizza and the old-fashioned alley alongside has made this locale a popular one with an unusual mix of company.
Over the thunk of balls and clatter of pins and whir of machinery there is loud classic rock playing. Currently not equipped with a ball /or/ a lane, Ryan has clearly little better to do with his time than play the not-so-air drums on their napkin holders, headbanging while he sings along -- "I'm a man of wealth and taste. And I laid traps for troubadors --"
Flicker quietly yoinks one of the napkin holders away. Because he /needs/ a napkin, clearly. His arm today, a simple mechanical design with a pronged hook at its end, is dappled like sunlight gleaming through a forest canopy. The hook clamps tight around the napkin holder; with his standard-issue hand he's plucking one napkin delicately out of it, pointedly ignoring Ryan's abrupt lack of drum as he unfolds the napkin into his lap. "You know, all the time I spend waiting here I almost never think to actually /get/ the pizza. Leave it to you to come up with the radical ideas."
"If you had any decency," B is squinting over their freshly-delivered vegan-cheese-and-mushroom-and-onions-and-basil pie toward the actual bowling lanes, "you'd have got us bumped to the top of the list. She rolls the pizza cutter back over the pie a couple times, more neatly severing a few slices, which she drops on her companions' plates before taking one of her own.
Undaunted, Ryan transfers his drumming over to the side of Flicker's shoulder. The top of his head. Bap BAP. "-- what's confusing you is the nature of my game." Bap. That one maybe for good measure. "I'll have you know," he informs B with exaggerated affront, "I only use my fame for noble causes. Bringing light to the plight of the underserved. Raising money for starving puppies. Scoring free booze at clubs. Getting my dates /Hamilton/ tickets. The /important/ things in life." He leans back in his seat, swiping a napkin from Flicker before picking up his pizza and biting it with a blissful sigh. "And this, my friends, is the best vegan pizza on the entire island of Manhattan to be found outside of your pa's kitchen so skipping it would be a /shameful/ waste of social capital."
Flicker bears up under his drumming with equanimity. His thanks to B is in quiet Vietnamese, and he sprinkles a generous dose of oregano and pepper flakes atop his slice before nibbling at it. "Do you think he knows," quiet and solemn, directed across the table to B, "that you can order the pizza /at/ the lanes."
B's gills flutter in silent laughter. Ze's ignoring hir pizza for the moment, dragging hir soda nearer to suck at its straw. "It's probably harder to savor when it comes spiced with that bitter --" Her fingers waggle toward Flicker. "Defeaty taste."
"I am a practical man," Ryan agrees cheerfully. "Enjoy a last meal before my inevitable slaughter. There's no shame in it. If I only played to win I'd stick to things I'm actually good at. And if I did /that/ I'd be drunk /all/ the fucking time and then where would my life be?" He is washing down his pizza with a large gulp of beer as he says this.
Flicker appears to give this last question all due consideration. Mulling it over carefully through his next bite of food, through his own sip of root beer. "About the same," he finally decides, "at least when it comes to your bowling score."