Wilson quickly pushed the coin tray of the pool table and blinked rapidly. No, he couldn’t have just seen that, it had to be a trick of the eye. He slowly pulled the tray back open.
The gremlin was still there. It was tiny, barely two inches high, and horribly ugly. Black, beady little pinpoints stared up at him from behind a large bruise-colored nose that was more akin to some monstrous potato. Framing this were two oversized pointed ears sporting tufts of fine hair on the tips and more wiry strands coming out. The rest of the creature’s head was completely bald and wrinkly. It wore a patch of rough looking fabric as a smock and a peanut shell on one foot. In its tiny hands was a quarter with a small… what was that, a bite mark?
Wilson and the gremlin stared at one another for several second.
“Wee di ba ba.” squealed the gremlin.
Wilson slammed the tray shut, spinning around grey-faced to check if anybody else had heard that. Kelly and Steve were busing tables as usual, though a patron or two at the bar turned questioningly at the suddenly bang. Bruce leaned to look over them.
“Heck was that, Wilson?”
“Nothing, sorry! The tray, tray got stuck. I’m working on it.” This appeared to appease Bruce, who shrugged and went back to talking with the regulars. Wilson looked around once more before opening the tray again and leaning in. The gremlin was on its tiny butt, wide-eyed and shaking a minuscule fist up at him, quarter held to its smock wit the other, squealing indignantly. “What are you?!“, he blurted in a hushed whisper.
The gremlin made a spitting motion. “Ki di fif.”
“Give me that, you can’t be eating that. We’re supposed to count up the quarters and make sure nobody’s cheating th-.” The gremlin stared into Wilson’s eyes and took a bite out of the quarter, chewing grumpily. “No, stop“, he hissed, “how am I supposed to explain that to Bruce?”
“Wilson?” He spun around at his name, straightening up abruptly and almost clipping Kelly’s chin and the tray she carried. “Whoa, easy there! What’s got you in a bunch, you’re fidgeting like a maniac over here.” Wilson pushed the coin tray closed behind him.
“Noth-nothing, nothing! It’s just the pool table, it’s sticking again. Bruce knows about it, nothing to worry about, no need to tell him.” Kelly looked at him with knitted eyebrows.
“All right,” she drawled before turning and getting back to work, “if you say so.” Wilson slapped a hand to his forehead and let out a whoosh of air. He couldn’t take a tiny quarter-eating man in the pool table right now. I need a drink, he thought wearily as he went over to the bar. Bruce looked over from the regulars and grinned.
“That table giving you the grief, Wilson?”
“In a way. Get a Coors?” He took a seat at the bar and took the can, taking a long, stressed pull from it.
“You know, you got me thinkin’ about my dad. He liked how things were when he ran this place and insists that I keep it just the way he had it. That old record player you have to smack now and then, the original label signs, even if too many of ’em don’t work anymore, that old table that one of you has to fight with every night.” Bruce laughed. “You know he raised us on stories that this place had problems on account of gremlins? Of all thi-.”
Bruce was interrupted as a torrent of alcohol came bursting out of Wilson’s mouth, spraying over both bar and bartender. Wilson flew off the bar and was grabbing paper towels from the supply closet before Bruce could get another word out.
Way back I had a short story in my writing folder about a guy working in a bar who has to deal with gremlins. The working title was Billiard Gremlins. Today I saw the Daily Prompt and it came back to me. Not only that but I was actually able to pare down the idea to its very core, leaving only the most important details. I’d call that an accomplishment since my method of write is usually what I would call “glacial” at best and “geologic” at worst. :p