Chapter Nine: The Brawl at Busty's

Not long after Cliff and Celia disappeared, Claire nudged a tipsy Nami off her shoulder and went to find a bathroom of her own. Tired, wired, and entirely ready to get moving, she used the restroom and was on her way back and a hand fell on her shoulder.

"Young lady, can we talk?"

Claire spun around and felt weak in the knees. Most guys weren't worth Claire's time to consider. She found the notion that every guy felt entitled to get into her pants entirely contemptible. She'd never had a boyfriend for longer than a few weeks in the entire time that Jack, Cliff, and Grey had known her and although her standards didn't appear to be high, she never let them on as to what or why she would or wouldn't go out with someone. They simply dismissed her as picky.

Which was not to say she didn't get weak in the knees on occasion. And this was one such occasion. This guy...

Just...wow. She thought to herself. Drop dead gorgeous.

Standing a good six feet tall and with a head of slicked back red hair stood a man in a casual business suit. He had the most piercing eyes she'd ever seen. They seemed to cut right through her, which was to say nothing of his jawline, which was so sharp you could level a shelf with it. He was handsome, dashing, and fixed a devilish smile right at Claire.

"Can I help you?" she managed to eek out.

"No, but I can help you." He said, extending his hand, "The name is Mr. King. Ignis King. I'm something of a talent scout, you could say. Happened to be in the area and saw your performance. Very impressive."

Claire, never one to be backed down by sweet talk for long, felt gears clicking in her head. "How did you just "happen" by a tranny biker bar and strip club in the middle of nowhere."

Ignis smiled. "I always end up in the middle of trouble, it seems. More to the point, though: I like what I see in you with your talents. I'm wondering if you would like the opportunity to go places. Big places. Places that seat ten thousand people and not a pack of drunk bikers."

Claire cocked an eyebrow. This was too good to be true. "Of course I'd be interested. Let me get my brother and the rest of the band and we'll talk about it."

Ignis held up a finger and wagged it, "Ah, ah, ah. Not them. Just you. This offer only extends to you."

Now Claire raised both her eyebrows. "Sorry, but we're a band. We've been playing together forever. If my friends can't go with me, then I'm not going."

Ignis lowered his gaze to the floor, his expression never dropping. "Well, that is disappointing. I was very much looking forward to extending you a contract. I can do that, you know. On the spot. Right now."

He reached into his business jacket and produced a folded up envelope and extended it towards Claire, who regarded the envelope with suspicion.

"I'll tell you what, Claire." Ignis said, "You take the contract and look over it later. if you change your mind, you can sign it and mail it in. But, ah...just a word of advice. Don't let those boys drag you down. You're the one with the talent, not them. Stick with them and you'll go nowhere."

Claire said nothing and didn't move to take the contract. Ignis took a step forward, bringing himself nearly face-to-face with Claire, who suddenly felt like her knees wanted to buckle under his steely gaze. He reached a hand up and tucked a finger over the top of her blouse and into the top of her bra. Claire blushed but didn't move to stop him. Ignis smiled a smile that would have gotten him into any pair of panties he wanted and then proceeded to tuck the envelope into Claire's bra. "Keep it safe, alright?"

With that, he spun around and walked off, seeming to vanish into the crowd as he snatched a beer off someone's table as they were turned in another direction. Claire swallowed, not easily upset or put off her game, but very much distracted by Ignis's presence.

She grabbed the envelope and exampled it with a curious glance before folding it in half and tucking it into her back pocket. She returned to the table and sat back down, where Nami laughed like she'd heard a hilarious joke and promptly collapsed onto Claire's shoulder again.

Nothing seemed amiss during the extended absence into which both Cliff and Celia had vanished. No one said anything, but they all held a small grin knowing the two of them had practically vanished together.

However, the calm of the early morning ended abruptly when Celia came bolting out of the men's room and straight for the table. A trickle of blood from a cut on her lip marred her otherwise beautiful face and suddenly the whole table was alerted.

"Guys..." She gasped frantically, "The bathroom...Cliff...that guy!"

"Cliff must be a lousy lay." Marlin muttered to Gray.

Gray snorted and sipped his beer, "I wouldn't know."

Vesta smacked the table with her hand, bringing Celia's ramblings to a stop. "Calm down, you uppity little twat! What's wrong?"

"Some guy in a cowboy hat is killing Cliff!" She cried.

Gray spat out his beer onto the table. Jack yelped like a puppy who'd been kicked. Claire's head shot up from leaning against Nami.

"Oh shit!" Jack shot to his feet and he and Gray made a mad dash for the men's room.

Nami looked up and hiccupped, "Jesus, look at those two. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go."

Claire pushed Nami's head aside and she stood up. Just as she reached her feet, the sound of music in Busty's came to a stop in between songs and suddenly the sounds of cries and crashing could be heard from the bathroom. All the patrons stopped what they were doing and turned towards the men's room, where it sounded for all the world as if someone had turned look a herd of angry cattle loose inside.

"RAAGH!" A great roar echoed and suddenly Cliff's body exploded through the bathroom door, flying out and landing roughly on the middle of the floor. He lay there, crumpled like a rag doll as a few of the trannies he had entertained hours before knelt next to him to see if he was alright.

Jack and Gray came flying out of the bathroom next, landing in a pile on either side of Cliff.

The door to the bathroom was finally kicked down and out came the enraged Vaughn, stomping into the crowd. He strode like a man unafraid of death itself, his form tall, muscled, and imposing. He was like a miniature Colossus of Rhodes, a form of demi-god somehow come to life.

And he was bearing down on the three friends who had already lost a fight with him once before.

"Did you really think I didn't have friends in high places?" He sneered down at them, "Or that I hadn't arranged to find you if you ran?"

"You put a tracker in our van!" Jack said, realizing this was the only way that Vaughn could have possibly found them."

Vaughn strode up to the three boys, his hands wringing in anticipation. "Doesn't matter how I found you, I found you all the same. I was willing to let you four assholes off easy. Make me a little money, make yourselves a little money, but now that you guys have REALLY pissed me off, that bounty is coming straight out of your sorry asses!"

Gray jumped to his feet first and frantically looked around. He grabbed a nearby beer bottle and, holding the neck, brought it down on the edge of a table. It smashed, but it also broke the neck in Gray's hand and he suddenly found himself with a handful of broken glass he was suddenly trying to hold in a death grip.

"OW! DAMMIT!" He slung the glass down and looked at his poor, bleeding hand when Vaughn marched up to him and grabbed his head with one big meaty hand. He smashed Gray's head into the table, splitting the table in two with a massive CRACK!

Gray fell back down to the floor as Cliff jumped up, nursing one hand to his throat. He leapt up and latched on to Vaughn's back, but the tall cowboy sighed, barely moving as Cliff tried to put his arms around Vaughn's throat. Vaughn growled and thrust himself backwards, letting his and Cliff's weight pull them down and letting Cliff absorb the impact of their fall backwards.

Cliff cried out as if he'd been flattened by a semi-truck backing over him and his arms and legs splayed out. Vaughn simply roll back to his feet, fetched his discarded hat, and tucked it back firmly in to place with a satisfied smirk.

WHACK!

The flat side of a metal chair smashed into Vaughn's back, but the cowboy wasn't phased in the slightest. He spun around slowly and gave Jack an irritated look.

Jack frowned, "It always works so well on wrestling."

Vaughn snatched the chair out of Jack's hands, "You're doing it wrong, dipshit." He raised the chair over his head and brought it down with frightening power. The chair smashed itself in half over Jack's head as the crowd around them went "Ooooh!"

Vaughn reached down and grabbed Jack but the necktie. He hauled the semi-conscious office worker to his feet and began to throttle Jack with his own necktie. Gray got up and took a swing, but Vaughn blocked his punch with one arm, then grabbed Gray's head and smashed it into the table again. Gray folded like an accordion on the floor. Cliff tried climbing to his feet, but Vaughn gave a backwards kick and drove the heel of his cowboy boot into Cliff's face, splitting his cheek open.

Suddenly, a loud THUD hit the floor. Vaughn turned around just in time to see Vesta landing next to him after she'd launched herself off a nearby table to get over the crowd. Her massive hands grabbed Vaughn by the collar, spun him around, and with all the grace of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at an "All-You-Can-Eat" buffet, she bellowed, "GET YER HANDS OFFA HIM!"

"Or else what, King Kong?"

Vesta's enormous fist plowed into Vaughn's gut with the force of a speeding tank. Vaughn doubled over, wheezing as the air was forced out of his stomach. Vesta took an armful of his collar, hoisted him up and drove her forehead into the soft cartilage of Vaughn's nose.

A sickening CRACK echoed through Busty's. The crowd of half-naked transexuals all winced as blood exploded from Vaughn's nose and the cowboy staggered backwards, falling back onto a table loaded with beer and nachos. Vesta scowled and spat on Vaughn, "That's what you get, Brokeback Mountain!" A great cheer went up amongst the gathered throng of drunken bikers at Vesta's victory.

Vesta reached down and picked Jack up off the floor, hauling him up in her arms and cradling him like a small child, "Jackie boy! Oh, Jackie, did he hurt you?"

"Ribcage!" Jack wheezed, trying to pry out of Vesta's bear hug on him.

Celia and Marlin helped Gray and Cliff off the floor. Claire ran in and grabbed Jack's face, "Jack, are you okay?"

"No." Jack coughed, rubbing his neck.

"How the hell did he find us?" Claire asked.

"He followed us." Jack said, gasping for air.

"How?"

"He followed the sound of your nagging!" Cliff declared as he held a hand to his busted cheek. "How else do you think he found us? He probably bugged our van!"

"We gotta get out of here." Gray said.

"Call the cops." Gray said as Nami and Marlin picked him up.

"No, don't call them!" Nami yelped, "They'd shut this place down if you knew the shit they'd find! Don't take this place away from me…away from the girls!"

Gray gave a glance around at the heavy jawlines and thick cheekbones of the "girls" in Busty's and sighed, "Well, who am I to turn down such pretty girls?"

"Besides, the cops couldn't hold him last time." Jack noted.

"RAGH!" Vaughn gave a vicious roar and leapt onto his feet off the table. He put his Stetson back on his head and fixed the four friends with a stare that could cut through the core of the earth and find them on the other side. "You four assholes are dead! Especially you, you little gutter whore! You owe me for this!" Vaughn held up his hand with the missing index finger at Claire.

"Nobody lays a finger on my friends, in my home." Vesta turned to the crowd and said with a smile, "Girls...show him how to play rough-Busty's style!"

The biggest and nastiest looking trannies in the crowd stepped forward and dog piled on top of Vaughn. Five against one and they were an incomprehensible mish-mash of flying fists, jeans, and black leather. The crowd cheered them on, reveling in the nature of the fight. But as the fight wore on, it became apparent that Vaughn was still on his feet in spite of the beatdown being put on him.

The Four Friends felt happy knowing they had good friends to defend them. But their smiles turned to frowns as one tranny biker after another began to list away from the fight with a bloody nose or arm bent in a way an arm wasn't supposed to bend. One of them grabbed a wooden bar stool and yelled, "Heads up!"

The stool smashed over Vaughn's head, doubling him over and bringing him to his knees. But as the chair swinger heaped a reward of congrats from the crowd, Vaughn wrapped his hands around the bar stool's leg and broke the support pieces off. He came up swinging, smashing the tranny in the face with the stool leg and then spinning around to bring it across the face of anyone in sight.

Suddenly, Vaughn had a weapon and as the Four Friends found out, he was deadly with it. The crowd of trannies and bikers charged Vaughn, but for every one that managed to hit him, he took three out with his improvised weapon. He struck quickly and with fierce ability to inflict a crippling blown. Each aimed punch was countered with a blow to the elbow, or a smashing blow to the knees. Anyone who got close enough to Vaughn came away not wanting to go back in.

One daring girl-a buxom blonde in fishnets and a halter top-stepped forward and produced a gun. Vaughn spied it and tossed his improvised bat into her hand, sending the gun spiraling on to the floor and lost in the crowd. Two steps forward and Vaughn cold cocked her in the side of her head. She crumpled to the ground-out cold.

It became very obvious to everyone that Vaughn was one dangerous son of a bitch.

The entire patronage of Busty's either leapt into the fray or scattered. The once happening party was now a confused and mad scramble to either jump into the fight or find refuge from it.

"I think this is a good time to bug out!" Jack declared.

"What? No way!" Vesta cried, "Let me at that little turd one more time!"

"No, Vesta!" Celia stepped in front of Vesta, halting her charge. "Please, I don't want you to get hurt! You and Marlin are the only family I have!"

Vesta looked to Celia and then to Vaughn, who was obviously winning the fight against the rowdy crowd after managing to send so many away with terrible injuries. She was contemplating just barging in there and knocking him around when Jack's hand landed on her thick arm.

"Vesta, this man is out for blood. That makes him very dangerous." Jack pointed to the door, "We'll slip out before he notices us. You risked your life to help us when you didn't have to. I don't want to see you hurt, ok?"

Vesta gave Jack a pat on the arm, "Anything for you, Jackie boy. Come on, everyone. Let's roll out!"

The eight of them dashed out into the parking lot, but turned away from the general parking area and ran to the side, where four bikes sat next to one another. Jack saw them and whistled, "Nice bikes!"

"We love our rides." Celia said, her smile beaming with pride. She leapt on top of her sleek black Ducati Monster 696 and tossed a smile to Cliff, "Hop on, cutie pie." Cliff grinned and complied.

Marlin hopped on top of a dark blue bike and Gray whistled as he leapt onto the back, "A Harley Davidson Sportster 883 Low. Not bad, Marlin."

"It gets the job done." Marlin grinned. "Might not go as fast as Nami's though."

"No one goes faster than me." Nami said, jumping onto a candy apple red Kawasaki Ninja 650R. "This bitch goes zero to sixty in three seconds flat and it hits 145 miles per hour at 11,000 RPMS."

"Then it looks like I'm riding with you." Claire said, jumping onto the back. "Fast is what I like the most.

"Japanese crap." Vesta declared. "I'll take Boss Hogg any day over that tin toy." Vesta put her legs over the low frame of a customized jet black Harley Chopper. She tossed a wink at Jack. "Come on over, Jackie boy, and feel the power between your legs."

Jack, having no choice in the matter, hopped behind Vesta.

Vesta grinned as she signaled to her three companions, "LET'S RIDE!"

The four of them kick started their bikes, which roared to life with a deafening thunder. The eight of them rolled on of the parking lot and hit the road, engines gunning in the darkness of a three am escape from a transexual nudie bar.

XxXxXxXxX

Two hours later, Vaughn sat at the bar, freely partaking in a whiskey bottle. Every so often he pulled a long swallow from the bottle and set it back down. He used his kerchief to wipe the blood off his nose and every so often his eyes winced at some hidden pain, but he subdued it with another swallow of whiskey.

Around him, the fallen bodies of drunk and violently beaten bikers, girls, and would-be girls littered the floor of Buster's Busty Babes and Casino (Hot wings! Hot Girls! Hot Tables!). Those who hadn't managed to get away from the ensuing brawl had split for the open road-including the no good deadbeats he was chasing.

Vaughn was not one to turn a blind eye to a good opportunity. He had ransacked the cash register and looted every unconscious form that was in sight and made a tidy profit for him. Once it became apparent that the cops weren't going to show up, he took his time in helping himself to whatever the facility had to offer in the way of food and booze. A man had to eat.

He looked down, disgusted that his favorite black Stetson had gotten stomped on and torn up in the ensuing chaos. A glance around and he stumbled across a black Stetson that was almost identical, sitting on the head of a disgusting little tramp wearing a black leather get-up similar to his own attire-though the butt cheeks were cut out from these.

Vaughn stalked over to the tranny with the honey-blonde hair, enormous breasts, long legs that didn't know when to quit, and promptly hauled her up and tossed her into a corner booth. Vaughn recognized her as the one who had pulled the gun on him and his mouth screwed into a vindictive smile. With a casual swagger, Vaughn left and entered the kitchen, where he searched for the coffee and made himself a full pot.

He hummed a diddy by Johnny Cash as he waited, watching the brew percolate and drip slowly until the pot was full. He took it back to the booth and carefully set the table aside.

"Time to sober up." He said, pouring himself a steaming hot cup.

Vaughn took a whiff of the steaming, scalding hot Columbian brew and the promptly tossed it into the girl's face. She woke up, screaming and wiped the coffee from her face frantically. Vaughn reached up and forced her down in the seat. "Sit!" He ordered.

At once, the girl obeyed and glared at him with wide eyes and a shaking head.

"Please...please don't hurt me."

"You pulled a gun on me." Vaughn said, "Tell me why I shouldn't hurt you."

"I'll-I'll-I'll do whatever you want." She cried. "Anything you want, just take it!"

Vaughn poured another cup of coffee. "What's your name?"

She blinked. "What?"

"What's your name?"

"J...Julia."

Vaughn tossed another cup of hot coffee into Julia's face and the girl screamed in pain, brushing the coffee off her with shaking hands.

"I asked for a name and you lied to me. Every time you lie to me..." Vaughn held up the cup, which he had refilled.

"That IS my name!" She cried, tears spilling down her red and blistered cheeks.

"The name you were born with." Vaughn said calmly, "The name that goes along with that bulge in your pants. The name your parents gave you."

Julia finally understood and she swallowed hard. "It's...you don't understand...I wasn't born right."

Vaughn's eyes narrowed. He lifted the cup of coffee in his hand in deft reminder.

Julia broke down, her head in her hands, and as she wept she said, "It's...it's Justin."

Vaughn lowered the coffee cup. "Now that' we're being honest for once, Justin, I want to ask another question and this time I had better hear the truth again. Who is that ugly butch woman what headbutted me in my nose?"

"Vesta?" Julia looked up, "She's...she's just some lady who comes in here every other weekend."

"Where does she live?"

"I don't know." Julia's eyes widened as Vaughn's hand readied to toss a cup at her. "I DON'T KNOW, I SWEAR IT! Her friend Nami lives near here and Nami is the assistant manager here. Celia's a local and Marlin is her brother and he comes here for the girls. That's all I know, I swear! I don't know where she lives or any of them, I just party here and I see them a lot. They're not my friends! Please! Please let me be."

Vaughn sat back, watching Julia break down in front of him. He didn't think that Julia knew where they were or knew them personally. That wasn't too hard to surmise. He had to try anyway. Part of being a good tracker was running down every lead.

"Now that's one damn fine hat." He said, reaching out and plucking the black Stetson from Julia's head and placing it on his own. "Compensation for my trouble here tonight. I'm sure you won't mind."

"Take it." Julia muttered. "Just please let me go."

"Hold on." Vaughn said, holding his hand up, "There's still the matter of the gun you pulled on me. There used to be a time in this world when a man could fight another man hand and fist and they'd both walk away. One winner, one loser, both content to get their feelings aired out. No guns. No knives."

"I'm not a man." Julia said, defiant.

Vaughn hurled the cup into Julia's face and watched her break down into hysterical screams and craze apologies, sinking to the floor on her knees. The skin on her cheeks had begun to peel away and bleed. Vaughn stood up and Julia cried at his feet. He reached down and stroked her head of honey-blonde hair, then wrapped his hand around it and hauled her to her feet by her hair.

"LET ME GO! OH GOD, PLEASE!" Julia screamed.

"You keep lying to me!" Vaughn snarled. "On top of trying to shoot me. And now you're just flat out sassing me. You owe me more than a hat, but since you don't own the equipment down there that I prefer, I suppose we'll have to make an adjustment."

Vaughn reached behind him and produced the five chambered .38 Special that Julia had drawn on him. Her eyes widened. He released her hair and ejected the chamber, letting all of the bullets fall out. He picked one up, stuck it in the chamber, spun it around for a few seconds and then with a flick of his wrist set the chamber back in place.

Vaughn aimed the gun at Julia's crotch.

"Oh Jesus, please don't! Please, don't shoot me! I'm so sorry!"

Vaughn cocked the hammer back, "You'd better think of a way to decompensate me for my troubles. You had better figure out how to repay me...or you really won't be a man anymore. I'll be doing your reassignment surgery for free."

"No." Julia wept, her terrified eyes glistening, darting back and forth and all around.

Vaughn sneered. CLICK!

Julia leapt and cried as the sound of the hammer fell down, though no gunshot followed. She broke down into hysterical tears, but couldn't move as Vaughn held her in place by her hair.

CLICK!

"NO GOD, PLEASE! SOMEONE HELP ME! PLEASE!"

CLICK!

"AAAGH! HERE!" Julia's hand darted up, her shaking hands holding a set of keys.

Vaughn eyed the keys and a small grin broke out. Well, that was something, at least. he took the keys from her shaking hands and raised the revolver up. He looked down at the horrified Julia, bleeding, blistered cheeks and hands, weeping hysterically. Vaughn reached onto a nearby table and grabbed a paper napkin and flicked it at her.

"Clean yourself up, son."

Julia collapsed to the ground, a broken, bloody mess and Vaughn strode out of the strip club. Outside, he tossed the gun away. Never was a fan of them. He preferred the personal closeness of using his hands. Guns were too quick and explosive for his taste.

He checked the make and model on the key and then finally found Julia's bke: A sleek Silver Harley Davidson Fat Boy.

Vaughn slung himself over the bike, kicked the engines into start, and was roaring off into the dawn's light, leaving behind him a night of violence, but tasting sweet vengeance just up the road.

To Be Continued...

XxXxXxXxX

Author's Note: Yes, that was Julia from Sunshine Islands. I wasn't picking on her, but I do prefer familiar faces as opposed to making up someone new. I know this chapter was a bit shorter (and a lot more bloody) in comparison to the ones that followed, but I assure you that the break in pacing warrants it. Next chapter: The Gruesome Foursome get to try their hand at farming and when the alcohol isn't flowing and everyone is living is close quarters, some people start getting sweet on other people-and secrets can be hard to keep in a small town like Forget-Me-Not Valley. Later! :)