Choices, Part 35

By far the longest section I’ve uploaded at one time, but I didn’t want to put a break in the middle of a good bar fight.

“Em, I want you and Junior to stay here. Keep the engine running and if we come out in a hurry, get us out of here pronto.” I said as I pulled into the lot and parked with the nose of the Civic pointed toward the road.

“No dice, Pop. I’m going in there with you.” She said, getting out of the car as soon as I put it in park.

“No way, kid. This could get ugly…”

“And if it does, you’re gonna need every pair of hands you can get. I’ve been in a few ugly bar fights in my day, and I know how to handle myself. I’ll make sure to get out of the way if things get too out of hand, but I’m coming with you.” I knew the look in her eye; I’d seen it in Myra’s eyes when she announced that she was coming with us on this little journey.

I figured there was no sense trying to persuade her, so I just said, “You still got your backup?”

“Yup.”

“Alright. Here’s the plan. Junior, you stay close to the door with the keys in your hand. Keep your head down and get your ass in the driver’s seat if we make a run for it. Michael, you stay on my left side and if we need that big fiery toothpick of yours, don’t waste any time making it appear.”

“Why am I to be on your left, Adam?” I had to give the angel credit, he didn’t protest, just went for the tactical questions.

“I’m right-handed, so I wanna make sure to keep that side clear if I need to do anything.” I reached into the trunk of the Civic and slid Cain’s piston into the back of my jeans, and pulled on a light jacket to hide the gun. I really hoped I didn’t have to use it, but it wouldn’t be the first time if it came to that. I looked around at my posse: a twenty-something waitress, a tattooed and pierced street preacher, and an archangel getting ready to storm a biker bar in Tennessee with the oldest man on the planet. This had to be the most fucked up rescue effort in history.

The bar was darker inside than I expected, and it took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the smoky gloom, even though it was night outside. We made our way over to a corner table where Cain, Eve and Myra sat warily watching the rest of the bar’s occupants.

“Hey kids, what’s up?” I asked as I pulled up a chair. I sat on Cain’s left elbow, with my chair turned around so I was leaning on the back of the chair. This gave me a good view of most of the bar and gave me something at hand to throw in a hurry if it came to that.

“Hey, Pop. How’s life?” Cain and I bumped fists, and after the waitress took our drink orders (tequila shots and beers all around, the only way to go into potential combat) he leaned over and said in a low voice “The big bald guy came on to Mom when she was picking songs at the jukebox. She was a little, um, enthusiastic in her rebuff.”

I put my head in my hands and asked “What did she do?”

Eve piped up with “Nothing! Well, not much, anyway. I slapped his face a little, and that was no big deal. He laughed, and his buddies laughed at him, and I laughed an it was all good.”

“Then why the panicked phone call?” I asked Myra.

“I wasn’t panicked. I was simply…concerned. But it wasn’t over that.” She said.

“What happened next?” I asked.

“He kinda didn’t take the hint. And then he kinda grabbed me. And I might have kneed him in the balls a little.” I groaned a bit, and then looked over at Cain.

“And you had to get involved at this point, right?” I asked him.

“Well, when he got to his feet he was pretty pissed. And his buddies were really giving him shit, and he looked like he was gonna take a swing at Mom, so I might have stepped in.” He at least looked chagrined about the whole mess.

“So at this point you’ve decked the behemoth, Cain has defended your virtue, and all is right with the world. So would you mind telling me why in the seven hells you’re still here?” I will admit to getting a little irritated, but I really wasn’t looking forward to getting punched. Immortal does not equate to having no pain receptors.

“My songs aren’t through yet.” I looked at her incredulously, and she calmly went on “I paid three bucks for six songs on the jukebox, and they aren’t done yet. I told Myra to give you a call and tell you to meet us here for a couple of drinks, I can’t imagine those idiots are going to cause me any more trouble tonight.” That might have been the most ludicrously contrary thing I’d heard in a couple of centuries. And it was 100% pure Eve.

“So you just wanted us to come over and have a drinky-drink while your songs played out on the jukebox, and if a bar fight happened to break out, all the better?” I’ll further admit to snide to go with my irritated, but the two so often go hand in hand.

“Pretty much. You must be the Chosen. Good luck with that. I’d drink more, if I were you. And once upon a time, I was.You, that is. I’m sorry, how rude of me. I’m Eve.” Eve held out her hand to Junior, who took it wordlessly. I think the whole scene might have been a little much for him. It was a little much for me, too, and it didn’t look like it was going to get any better when four mammoth bikers lurched over to our table, including the mountain of flesh and jailhouse ink that Eve said she kicked in the balls. My night was getting better and better.

“Hey.” The biggest one said as they stood in front of our table. He was at least 6’4” and 300 lbs. if he was an ounce. He looked like a refugee from a ZZ Top video, if there was a video where some monster ate all the members of ZZ Top and wandered around with their beards. His gut was barely constrained by a Harley-Davidson t-shirt, and he wore a black leather vest. All of them wore matching vest. Great, they were sporting colors. And my mood continued to improve. I didn’t see any indications of firearms, but most of them had long hunting knives at their sides. I really hate getting stabbed. Aside from the pain and bleeding, it puts big holes in my shirts.

“Hey.” I said. I didn’t stand, just sat there and looked at him.

“She your old lady?” He pointed at Eve.

“Not so much these days, but she used to be. Why, you want a date?”

He let out a laugh, making his massive belly shake not so much like a bowl full of jelly but more like a jell-o mold full of cottage cheese. “No. I wouldn’t touch her with Tiny’s dick and Spider pushing. But she needs to learn some manners.”

Tiny? Spider? Where do they get these names, out of a book? “I’ve been telling her the same thing for longer than I can remember. If you want to try, go right ahead. But I hear one of your boys already gave that a shot and it didn’t work out so well.”

“Yeah, and Tiny wants an apology.” He jerked a thumb at the one he called Tiny, and in a stunning fit of originality and irony, Tiny was the biggest son of a bitch I think I’d ever seen outside of professional sports. He was half a head taller than ZZ, whose name I’d never gotten, and if he could walk through a door without turning sideways, it was only because it was a double door. I could only imagine the pain and suffering his engineer boots endured with his every step.

“Well, tell Tiny to get in line, because there’s a lot of people looking for apologies from that one, and they’ve all been disappointed for a long time.” I said.

“Not from her. We got no hard feelings towards her. Tiny’s been insulted by him.” And he pointed at Cain. Shit. I probably could have talked them out of a beef with Eve, but this was probably going to lead to someone getting hurt.

“What did he do?” I asked before I could even think.

“He put a knife in Tiny’s face and said some nasty things about Tiny. You don’t get to pull a knife on an Outlaw in our bar and just walk out. That just don’t happen.”

“I understand. This shouldn’t have happened. Cain, apologize.”

“I’m sorry, Tiny.”

There. We good? Cain’s apologized, Tiny feels better, and we can all just have another round, right? “ I motioned for the bartender to set everybody up with another round.

“It ain’t that simple.” Of course it wasn’t.

“Why not?” I might as well keep playing ignorant, as long as I could try and keep everybody’s blood on the inside.

“Tiny’s been insulted. His manhood has done been questioned. And that just don’t happen. Your boy here is gonna have to take a beat down for that.”

“Well, then we have a problem.” I stood up at that point, and Cain, Michael and Eve stood with me. Emily moved Junior and Myra over closer to the door, and I thought I saw her reach up her sleeve for something that might have been shiny.

“I guess we probably do, don’t we?” Mammoth replied, and I gripped the neck of the beer bottle in front of me. But before I could step forward and swing, I heard a thump beside me and looked over to see Junior on his knees, reciting a Psalm.

“ThelordismyshepherdIshallnotwant.Hemakethmetoliedowningreenpastures” he recited quickly, and in the second I gave him my attention, Mammoth stepped up and cracked a fist the size of a Honey Baked Ham across my jaw. I spun around and found my face oddly pressed up against the wall of the bar. I leaned there for half a second before I realized that was what was holding me up, and I pushed off the wall into the fray.

And in that half a second, a melee had erupted. Eve produced the fat end of a pool cue from somewhere, probably that big damn bag she carried everywhere, and laid into Tiny, obviously deciding that he was her bitch du jour. Michael was being soundly pummeled by the other one, I suppose he was Spider, because he had black spider tattoos on the backs of both hands. It made for an interesting picture as one spidered hand was wrapped around Michael’s throat pinning him to the wall while the other spider bounced off his face again and again.

Cain had grabbed a pair of bottles off the table and beaned Mammoth with both of them after he sucker-punched me. Then he actually jumped onto the table for a second, which proved to be a poor choice when the center pillar of the table toppled, taking him to the floor with Mammoth underneath him. He just kept waling on the biker as they went down. I looked around, saw that I didn’t have anybody to hit for a second, and yelled at Emily “Get Junior and your mom outta here!”

She didn’t wait, grabbing Junior by the collar and yanking him to his feet. She shoved Myra and Sidney towards the door, and stepped in front of them to punt one of the bouncers square in the nuts when he made to stop their exit. Eve took a second from bludgeoning Tiny to throw her truck keys to Myra. “Get both cars running!” I shouted as I picked up the chair I’d been sitting in. I cleared my throat to get Spider’s attention, and when he took a second from pounding Michael’s face into tapioca, I broke the chair into splinters across his head.

He fell backwards almost in slow motion, taking out another table as he toppled like a redwood. Michael slumped to the floor, and I could almost see the little birds circling his head. It would have been a lot funnier if I hadn’t looked up just then to see a half-dozen more thugs heading our way, along with a pissed-looking bartender swinging a baseball bat. I thought for a second about pulling the pistol, but since none of them had done anything worse than a little bludgeoning so far, I figured I didn’t need to escalate things. After all, they couldn’t really do any lasting damage to any of the four of us, so it wasn’t worth it to me to kill anybody over a little bar scuffle.

Until four of them came back into the bar with Emily, Myra and Junior in tow. Junior was tossed over one guy’s shoulder unconscious, and it took two of them to hold Emily back. But when I saw Myra with a bloody lip, I kinda went nuts. Not Wolverine slashing people to pieces nuts, but close. I went straight at the four of them, and that didn’t go well for the guy who got in my way. I just kinda grabbed him by the neck and walked through him, if that makes any sense. I wasn’t thinking too clearly, and I just know that one minute he was in front of me, and the next I had stepped on his chest on my way to the door. I pulled up in front of the one holding Myra, and he let her go.

Emily broke free of the guys holding her and helped her mother into a chair. The fourth one put Junior down face-first on a table, and then I had four of them, all to myself. This might be fun after all.

“Which one of you hit her?” I pointed to Myra.

“Me. What you gonna do about it?” He was about 5’11, maybe 180 pounds and looked like the type to hit girls and bash bigger guys over the head from behind. He had a patchy beard and close-cropped hair that needed a wash.

“I’m gonna save you for last.” With that I swung at the one on my left, catching him full in the nose and completely by surprise. There’s a lot to be said for martial arts and flashy kicks and throws, but at the end of the day, if you break a guy’s nose, he’s out of action for the next few minutes, at least. The guy dropped like a sack of wet concrete, and I ducked as one of his buddies threw a big roundhouse punch at my ear. When I dropped to one knee, I was at eye level with his belt buckle, so I grabbed it and put my shoulder in his gut as I stood up, taking the guy up onto my shoulder. I spun him around a few times to clear some space and then backed up fast into the nearest wall. That mashed his head between my back and the wall, and he stopped struggling. I tipped his feet backwards over my shoulder, and he went down with a thump.

I looked over for the third guy, but he had all he could handle with Emily, who apparently carried pepper spray in her purse. It looked like it hurt when she got him in the face, but she’d obviously learned more hanging around the Prince of Darkness than just cards, because when the thug opened his mouth to scream, she squirted another shot right in his mouth. He clawed his way to the door with one hand on his mouth and another over his eyes, and I turned my attention to the little shit who’d decked my girlfriend.

He was wearing a wife-beater and no vest, so I knew he was just a hanger-on, a wannabe. Good. I didn’t want to take on the whole bar if I broke the little bastard, and that was kinda where my mind was headed right then. I reached out and grabbed him by the straps on his tank top and pulled him into me. When his face was just a couple inches away from mine I said in a low voice, “Tell me if this hurts.”

Then I kneed him in the balls as hard as I could. As he doubled over I grabbed both ears and rammed his face into my knee, and then pulled him upright by his ears again. I took his chin in my left hand and reared back with my right to tee off on his jaw with a huge haymaker when I heard a huge crash from behind me.

“ENOUGH!” The Voice came from where I’d left Michael, but it didn’t sound anything like the meek Archangel I knew and usually wanted to run through a wood chipper. Instead, this was the Voice that commanded the armies of Heaven in the war against Lucypher. This was the Voice that meted out God’s own Justice across the land. This was the Voice that almost made me wet myself.

I turned, slowly, and looked to where the Voice was coming from, and it was Michael. Well, to say it was Michael is kinda like saying that The Hulk was Bruce Banner, like Superman was Clark Kent. It was The Archangel Michael, which bore about as much resemblance to the thin, fair-skinned little man that had gotten his face pummeled in a few seconds ago as I did to Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was in full-on War Seraph mode, with 9’ of angelic wing spread across the bar. He was almost 7’ tall, and had ripped most of his clothes when he expanded, adding to the Hulk metaphor. Gone was the mild-mannered little humanoid, and in his place stood the Sword of Heaven. Oh yeah, and the sword wasn’t just a title, he held a 5’ long two-handed sword that was rimmed with white fire. I don’t know if it was hot, but it definitely had shattered the table that was in front of him, because it lay on the floor in a dozen or more pieces. Michael had apparently tired of the ruckus, and he had decided to lay down the law.

Nobody moved for a long moment as the immortal humans looked at the angel, the bikers looked at us, and Emily looked at Junior’s bloody nose. Michael cast his gaze across the mute assemblage and said, “Good. Now that you’re done making such an awful racket, would it be possible for my companions and I to leave?”

No one said a word, but anyone standing or lying anywhere near the door opened a wide path. Michael looked around again and said, “Good. I assume there will be no problem with the bill? Excellent. Have a splendid evening.” With that, his sword vanished, his wings folded into nothingness, and he was once again the nattily dressed British poof that came upon me outside of Myra’s restaurant. He started towards the door, collecting Junior, Emily and Myra along the way. He stopped just before the door and looked back at me, Cain and Eve.

“Coming, children?” He asked, like a disappointed teacher. Cain and I let go of the guys we were about to pound on and headed for the door. Eve took one last regretful look around, as if she could see in her mind’s eye all the pretty mayhem that Michael was putting a halt to, then she gave one last clout to the guy she’d been pounding, put the pool cue back in her voluminous shoulder bag, and followed us out into the night.

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