The wrong words can explode into a barroom brawl. Divine Fury. Chapter 10
January 1, 2013
HALF-TON PICKUPS, some new and others rusted out, dominated the parking lot at the Anvil Bar on Oak Avenue outside of Manteca. At 7 pm on a Monday, it was half-full. Mounted deer heads with full racks decorated all the walls. There were two pool tables in the back.
The noise level dropped noticeably after he and Connors walked in. It was immediately clear they were out of place. Two urban exotics – a black woman with a half-Chinese man – in a redneck bar. Lee hesitated just inside the door but Connors walked straight through like she owned the place. She had a no-nonsense air that pulled the woman bartender over to her immediately. Connors flashed her badge and asked for the manager.
The bartender pointed toward the back, down the hallway. Connors headed that way while Lee took a seat at the bar and ordered a Coke. He felt the bar relax as the noise picked up again and everyone returned to their drinks. Maybe it was his own mood, but Lee thought he could feel everyone getting over their tough Mondays with a few beers that would grease the rest of the work week.
He was halfway through his Coke when Connors came back shaking her head.
“Waste of time,” she said. “Guy stopped working here a week ago. Just stopped showing up. Let’s go. Too many ‘yahoos’ around here for me.”
They threaded their way through the dozen tables toward the front door.
Three men sat at a table near the entrance, each with a mug of beer in front of him. The skinny one in the middle looked around 45, wore a black T-shirt with the sleeves cut off and a filthy red bandanna around his neck. Lee could tell he was trouble from 20 feet away. The guy watched them approach with a nasty sneer splashed across his face.
“Nigger cunt,” he said under his breath as Lee and Connors passed by.
Connors was in front and Lee saw her flinch but keep walking, eyes focused straight ahead.
Lee took two steps. Then he stopped, turned slowly and walked back to the table. He stared at the man who gazed back with the sneer unchanged. Lee grabbed the mostly full mug of beer closest to him and slid it hard. It ran off the table and into the fellow’s lap where he juggled it for a moment, spilling most of the contents on himself, before the mug hit the floor and shattered. The guy jumped up, rage on his face and his hands balled up in fists. His companions stood up as well, more surprised than angry but looking ready to jump into any action that might develop.
Lee was prepared for whatever came next. He moved back a half step to maneuver without having the table in his way. He expected the black T-shirt guy to come at him and he waited for him. But the guy didn’t move. He was frozen in place, his hands still in fists at his sides. The sneer had softened to an angry glare and he was looking past Lee.
When he was sure the guy wasn’t coming for him, Lee looked back over his shoulder. He saw Connors standing behind him, hand on her hip so the left side of her jacket hung open. Her gun in its shoulder holster was plainly visible. She had a small smile on her face.
Lee turned back to the trio, dug into his front pocket until he found a $5 bill which he tossed crumpled onto the table. Then, he turned back toward the doorway and left the bar with Connors at his side.
As soon as the door closed behind them, Connors cracked up. She put her hands on his shoulders from behind and steadied herself as she laughed.
“Oh my!” she finally said. “Where did that come from?”
“Italian side,” said Lee. “Or Scottish. Whatever. Guy just ticked me off.”
“I like it,” she said, still laughing so hard she leaned against Lee for support as they walked. “I truly do.”
They were well on their way back to San Francisco before Connors’ giggling fits finally subsided.
Chapters of the serial are published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
You can learn more about Divine Fury on Amazon.