The Empire had quieted down to a muted hush with everyone privately peering into the looking glass of their personal drink. Conversation had diminished. This was the usual time of quiet after the initial euphoric rush of alcohol began to wane. People entering at this time of day were usually out for a casual steak dinner and couldn't be bothered with the goings on in the ominously dark and quiet drinking room of the regulars. Often stealing a peek in passing, most were content on having dinner and not joining the dregs of society of which the regulars no doubt appeared as to outsiders.
The two latest unwanted recipients of attention, Les and BC, were now sitting together quietly commenting under their breaths about the futility of freeway traffic outside the big picture window. The morbidity of day's events flashed before them on the television news further exacerbating their negative opinions of society in general.
Trucker and Buster seemed oblivious and loud, enjoying detecting chinks in the armor of anyone walking in or walking by, either outside, inside or on television, commenting on any perceived flaws in their clothing or facial appearance.
Robbie wobbled by carrying a bucket of ice.
Helen, in a brief moment of harried respite, became actively engaged in lively banter with Malcolm discussing the social and moral ramifications of lesbianism in society. It was interesting to note Helen quoting the bible while Malcolm asserting humanity's right to love anyone they wish.
Snaggletooth and Baron sat quietly, nursing their drinks, watching basketball on an adjacent television with the sound muted.
Other patrons entered and seated themselves signaling Helen to abruptly end her debate and cheerfully approach and bubbly take their order.
The big picture began vibrating loudly and the sound of a large bore motorcycle engines could be heard negotiating a parking space close to the building.
"Harleys," Snaggletooth commented.
"Sounds like it," replied Trucker.
Buster nodded in agreement.
The engines ceased with one last hurrah rev and all became still. Everyone anticipated the arrival of the riders. All turned and faced the front entrance. Looking like futuristic cowboys, two riders entered and momentarily stood, seemingly making the determination the bar was to their liking.
"Looks like trouble," Robbie murmured in passing.
"We'll watch your back," Buster whispered.
Intimidated, all faces returned to their original positions. Everyone that is, except for Buster. He seemed fascinated. Nobody spoke. The tension was palpable. The riders seemed larger than life. Each was well over six feet tall with a massive girth and overall imposing frame. The two made their way to an obscure dark table in the back corner of the bar. The two made themselves comfortable and began scanning the area for eyes willing to make contact. Buster was the only one to oblige. The three exchanged nods.
"Careful Buster," murmured Trucker.
Buster simply smiled.
One stood to remove his leathers and after seeing his tiny frame under the massive jacket Buster accidentally let out a quick giggle. The man froze in mid-removal. The two immediately engaged in the classic playground 'stare-down'.
The man finished arranging his jacket behind the chair and approached Buster.
"You gotta problem?" he growled.
Buster turned away. "No man, no problem here," he smirked.
Trucker maintained a crazy, unwavering stare at the man. The other man seated at the far table then approached.
"Smart," the man replied, and the two started back to their table.
"Fuckin' pussys," Buster mumbled.
Trucker rolled his eyes.
The two men returned.
"Like I said, you gotta problem?"
Buster abruptly turned in his stool and faced the man, stood, standing inches from his face. Trucker dismounted as well, facing the other. In a dramatic show of defiance one of the bikers kicked a nearby barstool sending it skidding across the floor. A small smile appeared across Truckers face. Others began distancing themselves. Robbie gripped a small billy club out of sight under the bar. A series of small, unrelated events began to unfold. A baby in the restaurant nearby began to cry. A crow outside squawked. A glass of water fell to the floor shattering. All time ceased. Buster unexpectantly struck his assailant in the face emitting an audible 'crack'. Trucker swiftly lifted his leg and planted it firmly in the groin of his man. Both lay incapacitated, withering in pain on the floor. Buster's man shot to his feet and attempted to deliver a telegraph blow to Buster. Borrowing Trucker's move Buster swiftly kicked the man in the groin and he fell again,
joining his friend on the floor.
Trucker and Buster exchanged a light fist punch.
The two bent down and grabbed the men by the collars lifting them and turkey trotting the two to an adjoining service door. Buster's man still had a little fight in him and pulled Buster to the floor where a wrestling match ensued. Buster forced his hand blindly upwards to the man's face and began gouging his eye with his thumb.
"That's a Hells Angel's eye your gouging, motherfucker!" the man shrieked.
Trucker completed expelling his man and proceeded to help Buster. Firmly planting his boot in the man's groin again effectively silenced him. Buster squirmed out from under him and the two expelled him as well.
All eyes were focused on the utility door. Momentarily, muffled voices could be heard outside and the sound of motorcycle engines starting. Everyone listened to the engines slowly fade away.
"Za know, zey might be coming back with zum uf their friends, ya," Baron commented, finally breaking the shocked silence.
"Let 'em come, right Trucker!" Buster boasted.
Trucker was solemn. He was taking Baron's words seriously.
Robbie approached. A visibly Helen did so as well.
"People are leaving! Their upset!" she scolded.
Indeed, most if not all of the patrons in the dining area were leaving in rank and file taking quick, scared glances into the bar.
Robbie stood in front of the big picture window and watched them drive away.
"Great!" he shouted, addressing the group. "I'm gonna close up shop! Lock the front door! We're still gonna have a sloggin' tonight!" and he abruptly walked away.
"I kinda feel like Gary Cooper," Buster sheepishly offered.
Trucker offered a meek smile at Buster and turned away, sending a thousand mile stare out the big picture window.
"Well, whattya think Buster?" Les asked.
Before he could answer two men entered and made themselves comfortable in one of the many empty chairs. Robbie approached them.
"Can we smoke in here?" one of them asked.
"No. Can't drink in here either," Robbie growled.
The two looked at each other.
"Why not?" one asked.
"'Cause we're closed."
"We'll have a pitcher of beer," one of them pushed, flashing a badge.
Uncharacteristic of Robbie, he left without an argument and returned with a pitcher of beer and two glasses.
"Bring this guy a straw," one seated, his words an attempt at humor.
"Bring 'em a hose," BC sarcastically commented.
After an hour of whiskeys it was not uncommon for BC to act with unrestraint.
"Listen you guy's," Robbie said standing over the two. "I was just about to lock the doors when you showed up. We're about to have a private party. Could you make it quick?"
The two exchanged looks, then decided on leaving with Robbie following close behind. The sound of the two massive wooden doors could be heard locking shut. This seemed to reassure everyone and the joviality resumed.
"Whatcha gonna do with that picture of beer?" Buster inquired.
Robbie poured himself a large schooner of beer. "It's a freebie."
Buster was the first to pour the other glass. Trucker simply walked over and took possession of the pitcher, carrying it back over to his place at the bar.
Robbie seemed upset.
"You alright?" Buster inquired.
"Oh, I'm great! He shot back. "Helen's mad, gone off with the others. The restaurants closed. I'm not making any money, and now I'm stuck with you losers! It's just great! I'm happier than hell!" and with that slammed the glass on the table and walked away to his private quarters.
Robbie's tirade made everyone uncomfortable. No one spoke for fear of Robbie hearing. All remained slumped in front of their cradled drinks. Les was the one first to speak.
"I think we should all pay up our tabs tonight, maybe give Robbie a good tip, you know, cheer him up."
"Here here! Crowed Baron.
"That's cool!" "Yea!"
All responded in unison except for BC. He remained at the end of the bar dozing.
"Ignorance is bliss, ya," commented Baron dryly, noticing BC.
A few chuckled.
At that moment the utility side door exploded open, startling everyone. Taking up all the entire doorway space stood a giant, bearded man wielding a very large handgun. The only visible facial appearance was two stern dark pupils protruding through a chest length jet-black beard. Others began entering, squeezing around his large frame. The two skinny beat-up duos were the last to enter. Buster bolted from his stool, effectively giving away his identity. He was immediately accosted and brought to the floor punching and clawing.
Trucker stood toe-to-to with other assailants exchanging blows until he was finally brought down.
The others remained restrained by the big man with the gun. Snaggletooth bolted into the fray but suffered the same fate as the others.
A single blast from a shotgun ceased all hostility. Robbie stood behind the bar, his shotgun leveled at the big man in the doorway. The big man's eyes widened and a small smile appeared across his face. He slowly backed out of the doorway and into the darkness. He then reappeared, gun lowered, and a badge emerged from over his shoulder. A head appeared connected to the badge. In the other hand was a handgun pointed in the room. Another badge appeared from over his other shoulder as well as another gun waving wildly in all directions.
"On the floor everybody!" came a booming voice.
The big man was pushed to the floor landing face down. The two guns were now pointed directly at Robbie. He gently placed the weapon on top of the bar. By this time everyone had complied and were lying face down. Within minutes the entire bar was swarming with uniformed police. Each person was manhandled and handcuffed. Les and Baron's eyes happen to meet. Baron was smiling. He seemed to be thriving on the moment. Les rolled his eyes at his friend's reaction to the entire event.