Bikers without bikes gathered around a table next to us in a dark bar. It was too cold for motorbiking or for pretenses. Based on their snarls in our direction, it was clear that we were not going to be friends.
Each of the men had an arm around a bleach bottle blonde as they pulled out chairs and settled in for the night. The women wore black t-shirts and rough faces with dark eyeliner. No one in the group was easy on the eyes,
“Couple of buckets of Bud,” one of the men shouted at a woman whom he presumed to be a server.
The woman rolled her eyes and walked away.
He must have guessed right as three buckets of beer arrived shortly afterwards. The appearance of the beers produced a childlike delight in the group. They cheered joyously.
Our small table grew very quiet as we watched the group, uncomfortable and curious. We waited and watched with a certainty that something exciting would happen.
Before going on, I should note that we had no business in a strip mall bar without a proper name in a small country town. In truth, we were the outsiders as we watched like a cluster of flies on the wall but we were also well-behaved, paying customers. So we were tolerated for the night.
The gang delivered on our expectations.
“Shots,” another man shouted as a different female presumed to be a server passed by the table.
They no-name bar excelled in customer service because not much time passed before a tray full of cheap liquor in tiny glasses was delivered. This was good as the group had moved onto a new focus while waiting for the server to return.
A handful of pills were pulled from the pocket of one of the bigger guys and passed around to everyone at the table. It was surprising that everyone had the same medical condition and treatment, but this was a small town. I suspect it was something in the water and was glad they were treating it aggressively.
Naturally, the shots were used to wash down the medication. It was just enough liquid to push the little tablet down their gullets. One by one, the shot glasses were slammed down to the table with a celebratory yell. Although, it was in an unintelligible language, I believe they were cheering to one another’s health.
Then one of the bleach bottle blondes made a request. She grabbed the sleeve of the first waitress to make their acquaintance and drew her down within whispering range and made a quiet little request. A basket of celery, plain and pale, was delivered to the woman. She began to greedily eat as quickly as she could mash down the stringy sticks with her soft teeth.
All of this was par for the course. I felt a heightened sense of awareness but didn’t feel afraid until one of the guys took off his leather jacket. His arms and fingers were covered with tattoos, the homemade kind, like a person might get in prison.
He loudly complained, “This gun is really diggin’ into my side.”
Against my will, I had to look at the speaker to assess the threat. I didn’t want to look or draw any more attention to our table, but I had to see his face. I looked just in time, too. The man’s shirt was pulled up to show his friends how the gun that was shoved into the waist band of his jeans was indeed digging into his fleshy stomach.
Poor guy, I almost said, and then realized that was a real gun shoved into this guy’s pants. I think most people use some kind of a holster or holder but then again I’m naïve to gun carrying protocol. Perhaps the best way to transport a gun into a dark bar is shoved into one’s waist band. I’ll look into it and provide an update if I learn anymore on the topic.
In any case, the bouncer was just as interested in the gang as us. As soon as he noticed the man showing off his gun, he strolled over and grabbed the man’s shoulder for a one-on-one in the corner. I prepared to take cover under the table, fully expecting bullets to start flying in 3, 2, 1….
And then nothing. The biker without a bike who had just been mixing shots with pills and washing it all down with cheap beer totally understood the bouncer’s concerns. He shook the bouncer’s hand and put his arm around his massive shoulders.
I think he said something to the effect of, “I love you, man. You saved my life tonight.” Without another word to his group, he left for the parking lot where I assume he stashed his weapon in the glove box with the rest of his guns and drugs.
We watched him walk out and come back un-phased. Our friends who had been to this bar before promised, “Just wait until the band takes the stage, then we can really start people watching.”
In this, the bar did not disappoint.