The mouse cocks his head and considers my words. His eyes are black and shiny as oil-cured olives. “A true apology, however phrased, better suits a gentleman than ill-considered insults. Yet... You have the air of a man who enjoys a challenge. It would be a shame to part without trying our skill. Here are your seconds; draw your sword.”
I decide not to mention the chef’s knife in my luggage. “I don’t have one.”
“I am willing to fight bare-handed.”
“I’m three times your size.”
The mouse stares at me, narrow-eyed. “I have fought men before.”
I’ve seen that look before, on the faces of drunken, hopped-up chefs and sous-chefs and girlfriends, right before the cops come and haul them away. I probably could have seen it in the mirror, too, except I was too busy committing mayhem at the time to look into one. It’s not a look which can be argued away, but it is a look which can sometimes be deflected.
“I’ll thumb-wrestle you,” I offer. “My thumb, your hand. If you win, I’ll buy you a drink. If I win, you buy me one.”