“You’re stealin’ these girls’ tips?” Miguel asked.
“No, they give me half,” Benny stuttered.
“Now, why would the girls do that? Benny, you pay under minimum wage, three bucks an hour? Yeah, I heard that, everyone heard that,” Miguel said softly and dangerously. “Then you steal half their tips? Tips they work their asses off for ‘cause you don’t fuckin’ pay them minimum wage?” Miguel roared, and I flinched. Whoever Miguel was, he was mad.
“Chance…” I said from Bear’s arms.
“Babe, how many tips do you earn on average a day?”
“Clio earned around fifty bucks on an average day. Of course, there are days when she earned one hundred bucks and more,” Leslie broke in when I didn’t reply.
“And you took half off her? My girl earned three hundred and sixty bucks a week, including her tips, working twelve-hour days, six days a week? You piece of shit. My estimation is Clio was damn popular, I’m gonna average her daily tips at seventy a day. You owe her six months’ worth,” Chance fell silent for a few seconds and spoke again. “You owe Clio six and a half thousand in tips, that’s what you’ve stolen from her over six months. Add the fifteen hundred you owe Clio eight thousand dollars,” Benny spluttered.
“This is robbery.”
“No robbery is what you’ve done to those women. How long you been here, darlin’?” Chance asked, turning to Tania.
“Two months.” Tania grinned at Chance, sensing her luck was about to turn.
“Asshole takes half your tips too?” Tania nodded. Chance thought quickly, I could see him doing the math.
“And you?” Chance asked Zoey.
“Three months and the fat bastard took my tips too. Benny told us we didn’t give him half, we’d be sacked,” Zoey replied.
“Anyone else?” Chance asked Leslie.
“Carla has been here a fortnight, Kris, four months. I’ve been here for years. Brittany and Saffie never had their tips touched, Benny likes them,” Leslie sneered. Chance grew silent as Benny began to sweat, Chance pointed to Tania.
“You owe her, two thousand one hundred and sixty, round it up to three and a half k because I’m damn sure she’s worked over her hours.” Chance pointed at Zoey. “That one you owe, three thousand, two hundred and forty. Round that up you owe her five k.”
“Damn right,” Leslie sniped.
“Carla, Benny can pay a thousand to, and Kris four thousand three and twenty. Round Kris up to six thou. You, darlin’?” Chance asked Leslie.
“Pay the kids. They need the money desperately,” Leslie said, glowering at Benny.
“My maths makes that twenty-three and a half thousand. I want the money now, Benny!” Chance spat.
“I don’t carry that money on me, I’m not paying,” Benny yelled, looking cornered. Customers were getting to their feet. I watched again as Chance reached out and snagged Benny. Without saying a word, Chance grabbed Benny’s throat and lifted him off his feet. Benny kicked frantically at thin air as Chance without breaking a sweat held him there.
“You’ve ripped your staff off of twenty-three thousand in six months?” a woman whispered. I turned and saw her writing in a notepad.
“It’s how Benny can gamble,” Leslie replied.
“Shithead,” an old man called out. A giggle escaped me, and Bear tilted his head down and gave me a grin that was terrifying, although I think he meant it to be humorous.
“Want that fuckin’ money, Benny,” Chance said calmly, too calmly.
“I don’t have that!” Benny choked out.
“The liar took out fifty thousand from the bank this morning for his stake in a game tonight,” Leslie spoke up, venom in her eyes. Leslie hadn’t realised the extent of Benny’s corruption and greed until Chance gave it a figure.
“Where’s the stake?” Chance asked.
“Fuck you, they can’t have it. Fat lazy bitches, all of them. I earned the tips because they do shit except serve food. I cook and prepare it,” Benny yelled wild-eyed. His hands scrabbled at Chance’s grip and Chance tightened it in retaliation. Benny’s eyes bugged out. Leslie disappeared behind the counter and through the staff door.
“You’ll pay their cash, or you’ll pay another way. Think on who you’re arguing with,” Chance warned. Chance shook Benny like a dog and dropped him in a heap. Benny grabbed his throat.