Had a night of inspiration that stretched over a few days. Small little break from my current project.
This one is in a different style than I usually use. So let me know how it worked. :)
History Throws It's Shadow
A man walks into a bar, says, "Tell me a story." The stool wobbles. One leg is shorter than the others. Of course it is. Watches as the bartender looks up and asks, what kind of story? He's a big man. As stereotypical bartenders are. The dangerous ones. No tolerance of fighting. Tonight it's quiet. He's quiet. He's not dangerous now.
One shot down. "Any story." Second shot down just as quick. Rugged. Coat wet. It's raining outside. When did it start raining?
He doesn't look up as the bartender asks, "Any story?"
"Just a story." The whole bottle now, not shots. Maybe he's trying to drown himself. He wonders if that's possible. Frowns when the bartender says, "I don't know a story". The rag runs across the shiny wood. Not as shiny as it used to be. Dents. Gashes. Ruined wood from the sweat of many bottles. Many spills.
"Everyone knows a story."
"I know a legend."
"Legends are stories."
"Not all legends are stories. Some legends are true."
A man leaves the bar. Mumbles about something. Legends maybe. He doesn't like stories perhaps. Some people don't. Maybe he just didn't have the patience for a story. Maybe he was trying to drown too but got distracted by their talking. Because he takes his bottle with him. The bar is full of drowning people tonight.
"Legends are stories."
"True stories sometimes," the bartender insists. Someone starts up the jukebox. The thing never gets old it seems. The song is though. Rarely played.
"So the legend?" He watches a drop of water run down the arm of his coat. Vaguely wonders how long it will take to feel dry. He listens as the bartender continues, saying, "The legend. A man." Answers, "A man is boring. There are better legends. You have to have better." The whiskey is half full. Maybe it's half empty. Sometimes it's hard to tell. More sweat waves are added to the marks on the bar.
"It's a good legend." A glare is a warning. The bartender is dangerous now. "Some legends about men are good."
The rugged, wet man runs a hand through his hair. Wet spikes. Wet hand. Wet coat. "Sure. Convince me. No fairy tales."
"That would mean a happy ending."
"So he's a dead legend?"
"Legends never die."
"So they say." The whiskey is forgotten. Interest is piqued. "So the man."
"The man. A hunter." Rag long discarded. The bar is quieter than usual. It always quiets for the story.
Newcomer, wet spikes, wet coat, gulps more whiskey. No longer forgotten. Whiskey never really forgotten in a bar. "So the hunter. Big man?"
"Bigger than some. Not always in height. Second man took care of that."
"Without both there wouldn't be a legend." He has a spark in his eye now.
The man doesn't look up to see. He watches the condensation run down his bottle. Like the water drops on his coat. It fascinates him. The similarities. "So two men."
"God help us all if there were."
A man walks into a bar. Young and cocky. Struts in like he's something big. Next Muhammad Ali if you will. Another right behind. Taller. Not broader. Maybe a little younger. At the other's shoulder like he's trying to take the title. Or maybe just to be the guard. First man looks like trouble. Second one not much better.
So the man walks into the bar. Second right behind. Looks around. Takes a seat at the bar. Tall man leans against it. Relaxed but not. Reminds the bartender of a guard dog watching his yard. Waiting. Watching. Deceptively static. This dog's yard is sitting on the stool next to him. When he shifts the stool tilts. One leg is shorter than the others. Makes him lean into the guard dog and he goes with it. Of course he does.
The two can't seem to move alone. They're a single unit. One leans, the other tilts. Makes the bartender a little dizzy trying to watch. He busies himself with the rag. Wipes off the length of the table that's empty. Replenishes other drinks.
The men don't talk. But they have a conversation. Impossible to read. Two bottles later, the first man stands. Guard dog takes his seat, now comfortable where the other vacated. The stool tilts toward the man walking off. Guard dog leans against the bar. Bottle loosely in hand. Watching. Waiting for someone to come near his yard.
His yard, excuse me, the man walks up to the pool tables. Struts. Like he's something big. The next Willie Hoppe if you will. He sways. He talks. He lets words slur. He fishes. He catches. He's in the next game. Money hits the table.
Guard dog tilts his bottle in answer to a smirk thrown over the other man's shoulder. The balls are racked. The game begins. The man is first. Breaks. Takes next shot. Misses. He leans heavily against a railing around the table. Takes a drink. Waits his turn. Makes a few. Misses. It goes on. Stone cold sober wink over his shoulder to the man at the bar. Bartender catches on. Waits for trouble. A few around the bar watch the game.
Guard dog leans against the bar, relaxed. Just watching. Waiting. Through three games. One beer. Finishes it right on the other man's last winning shot. Bartender catches on. This is their dance. Watches as Guard dog walks over to the pool tables as the other gathers the money. He's saying something about the disadvantages of betting. His opponents catch on.
The tall one arrives as the first punch is ducked. He takes a swing. Fluid. Effortless. The attacker's head snaps back and he stumbles back to the pool table. The guard dog has given the warning. The other man stands at his side. Money in his pocket. Bottle still in his hand. Like he's saving the last drink.
Bartender watches. Taller one doesn't move as shorter one leans to touch his shoulder to his. Relaxed move. Too relaxed for the situation. Bartender wonders. Settles on brothers. Comrade that's so practiced. Gotta be. In the pause, he counts the odds. Seven against two. Not looking good. But something makes him bet on the two.
The man, older brother he guesses though the shorter one, says, "You want to walk away." Like he's using a Jedi mind-trick on them. But the hand not holding his bottle flexes at his side. He's itching for it. It's no surprise he's ready when the attack comes.
No one counted on the brothers never moving from the other's back. Keeps everyone back. Can't break an invisible barrier. They still try. Older brother turns into the guard dog. He keeps as many away from the other as possible. His bottle is set on a stool. Younger brother holds his own. Lanky. But tall and knows how to use it. Pool cues come into play. Bottle is moved to the pool table as it's caught when stool is knocked over.
The bartender is too interested to stop it. The most entertaining fight he's ever seen. It's not all that bloody. It's not all that viciously violent. It's two boys defending each other. And seven other men being put in their place. It should be impossible. How easy it seems.
When younger brother gets his hand on a cue, he's suddenly untouchable. Older brother laughs. Never gets hit by it. Ducks and weaves. Like he knows exactly when it gets too close. Younger brother seems to know exactly where the other is too. It's exceptional. It's beautiful. Not a single piece of furniture gets broken. Not a single cue. Not a single glass. All seven men are on the ground. Older brother picks up his bottle from the pool table and finishes the last drink.
Brother's bump shoulders as they turn to set things down. The older, the bottle. The younger, the cue. Older pats the younger on his shoulder. Dimples make themselves known, making the younger's face look even younger. Says something lowly to the older. Eye crinkles stand out that only make the older's face prettier than a hunter's should be allowed.
Stepping over bodies. All breathing. Some groaning. None off easy. Older's smile changes as he turns to the bartender. Shrugs. Grins. Salutes. Sorry about the mess. Leaves behind the other's shoulder. Between him and the rest of the bar. The title of guard dog has switched brothers. Though it's probably never been the other way around.
A man walks into a bar. Silent. Shadow. Broad shoulders. Wet coat. It's still raining outside. Another man appears a step later. Taller. Just as broad. Follows the first to the other end of the bar. One's hair is in spikes. Like he ran his fingers through it. The other's is longer. Wet strands. Possibly just shaken when under the deck's roof.
Rugged newcomer, coat still wet, finishes his bottle. Finally lets his eyes wander the room. Sees the other drowning people. Watches as the other bartender gets the two new men some drinks. Studies the two men.
The taller one is sitting. Leans against the bar. Older one is standing. Leans against the bar facing the other. Not a word. Not a sound. Two beers in and the older heads off to the pool tables. The younger is right behind. No one else is playing tonight. Money hits the table.
Newcomer runs his hand through his drying hair. Done drinking. Watching now. Sees the two men playing. They move around the table. Bumping shoulders. Shoving. Teasing. Threatening with cue sticks. Two games. The taller comes to the bar to get more drinks. The other watches from the table with sharp eyes. A word provides itself. Guard dog.
Bartender leans against the bar. "Mellowed out some," he huffs in surprise.
Rugged newcomer, coat almost dry, doesn't look away. "Them."
Bartender chuckles. "Them. Older. Five years now. But them." Different bar. Not a hunter's bar. Just a rundown bar. Bartender, retired hunter, sees the changes. Younger is taller, no longer lanky. Hair longer. Eyes sharper. Mouth harder. Until the older makes him smile. Brings out dimples. Older has more lines. Some frown. Some smile. Still too pretty for a hunter. Until his gaze lands on you. Bartender sees it now. He's always been the guard dog. Watches until younger brother comes back.
Another game. And another. Each one different. New moves. New jokes. New money hits the table. Other's join. The people decide to play. People decide to watch. Decide it's better than drowning. Money keeps hitting the table. Some won. Some lost. Beer bottles keep lining the perimeter.
Older starts swaying. Words start slurring. Younger says stop betting. Older rolls his eyes. Another game. All in. Makes a shot. Misses. Opponents turn. It goes on. Older gives younger a wink. Younger rolls his eyes. Almost smiles. Watches. Eyes move over the others. It happens suddenly. Older starts winning. Keeps winning. Does win. Gathers the money.
Saying something about the disadvantages of betting as younger keeps his eyes on the others. Bartender thinks it'll be fine. Newcomer, absently wiping the last of the water from the sleeve of his coat, thinks it will be fine. Until the older stops swaying. Speaks clear. Gives a stone cold sober smile to his last opponent.
In a beat of silence, the younger brother sighs.
The bartender sighs when the silence breaks. Noise exploding. Yelling. Threatening. Attacking. The older keeps himself between his attacker and his brother. Until other's join in to protect their friend. This fight is less clean. Glass shatters. Blood flows. Only stools and chairs are saved. Kicked or shoved out of the way.
Younger brother is the one who laughs this time. Deep and thunderous. Older brother throws him a smirk over his shoulder as he ducks a fist. The smirk is gone the next second as it turns into a snarl. The owner of the fist he was ducking is suddenly out on the floor. A gun is the older's his hand. It's pointed over the shoulder of his brother.
Younger brother freezes. Crouched. Looks over his shoulder. Eyes narrow at the man with the knife frozen where he stands. He doesn't look scared. Just snorts. Stands. His fist shoots out and takes him out. Older brother laughs this time. Eyes crinkle up. Younger brother turns to him, smile revealing dimples.
Bartender leans lazily against the bar. "Out!"
Older brother laughs again turning to grin at him. Hand comes up, cups the back of the younger's neck. "C'mon, Sammy."
The younger, Sammy, turns to the bartender, sweet smile turning to a grin. Let's his brother's hand pull him forward to take the lead. Older keeps a hand on Sam's back as he looks over his shoulder again. He winks. "Sorry about the mess. Again."
Bartender shakes his head. Waves them off. Looks over to the men still on the floor. One is finally waking up.
Rugged newcomer, finally dry, pays and stands. "No happy ending?"
Bartender gathers the cash and shakes his head. Remembers everything else he's heard about the brothers. Just because he retired, one of the few who's made it this long, doesn't mean fellow hunters don't still talk to him. "Not for those two."
The man gives him a curious look before turning to leave. It's still raining. His newly dry coat gets wet again as he steps outside. He's just in time to see the two separate, getting into a sleek beast of a car. Shiny and beautiful in the rain, it rumbles to life.
The man only takes a second to think about the way he saw them separating. What his mind thinks they were doing. He shakes his head. Thinks, 'brothers'. Gets into his own car. He never sees them again. Each time he hears of a bar fight, he listens to the stories. Every once in a while he wonders if it's them when an exceptional pair are mentioned.