I stepped out into the darkness and smiled at the coldness of the night. I never minded there being a chill in the air, so long as it wasn't raining. I breathed out of my mouth, to watch my breathe and the alcohol crystallize in the air, lit by the orange street lights near the club.
I then turned to Jenny. She had grabbed a coat, a simple cream coloured affair, knee length and with fake fur trim. Doesn't sound anything special, but it suited her well.
“So”, I said to her. “Are we getting this show on the road or what?”
She smiled back. “I just rang Gemma – you do remember Gemma right – and asked her to step up her leaving time and give us a lift. Aren't you cold out here?”
I had a jacket and t-shirt on, no coat, but didn't feel particularly chilly. I put it down to my time in Scotland. It was probably snowing in St Andrews now, almost certainly going by the weather reports. It rarely ever snowed down here, I mused. Quite disappointing, really.
“Nah, not really” I replied. “You planned on getting a few in Legends before your ride tonight?” I queried.
“Yeah, I thought a few quick ones while Gemma was busy doing her makeup” she rolled her eyes there “and she is the designated driver this week.”
“How many else are coming?”
“Well, Katie is doing something with her new boyfriend, and Natalie is visiting her...aunt, I think, and...” a list of names of barely remembered girls were reeled off here, when I noticed headlights in the parking lot. Looked like our ride was here.
I let Jenny go up first, she could tell Gemma I was along for the ride. I moved up as I noticed Gemma answering something Jenny said. Strangely, she didn't look too happy to have me along for the ride. I tried to think why, even as I thanked her and took a seat in the back of the car. I couldn't bring to mind any reason why she wouldn't like me – did she still hold a grudge over a careless and long forgotten insult or something? Nothing came to mind as we drove up the winding hill roads leading into Shaftesbury, though the awful RnB on the radio may have been distracting.
10 minutes later, we were in the Kings Arms, elbowing our ways to a table. Now this place was much fuller. Technically, we called the Arms a plub, a cross between a pub and club. It wasn't brilliant, but it had space and served quickly and without hassles.
After our first round, Gemma, excused herself, mumbling something about needing to see someone. She seemed to be acting more than just a little odd, though I couldn't put my finger on why. The beer could be affecting my thinking, however. I try to stick to spirits, usually my beloved scotch, but Jenny had bought me a lager and I was to polite to refuse a drink I hadn't paid for. I drained the bottle, and Jenny had vanished too! What was going on?
Standing up, I could see her darting through the crowd. It wasn't very hard though, given her height and hair, she kind of stood out. I pushed my way towards the bar, intending to get a better view of her, on the pretense of buying another drink. Looked like she was chatting to someone else, though I couldn't see who. Then she pointed in my direction and...no, the crowd shifted, lost her. And I'd lost the barmaid's attention too, it seemed.
I turned back to the bar, deciding to get a drink and sort it out in a minute, when I felt someone step into my personal zone. Its not something you really see, you notice the movement of the air and feel the absence of space a few seconds before your eyes and brain really register the person who is there. I felt a tap on my shoulder and said “hang on buddy, let me get my drink, then we can talk.” I finished fishing around for change and handed it over to the barmaid and was rewarded with a second bottle.
Then I turned to look at the man-mountain who was behind me. This guy was big. I'm not tall in any way, I'll admit, but he towered over me. He looked roughly my age, maybe a couple of years older, and had definitely been drinking in here a while. I could smell it on his breath already. And he was tense, too. Hands were clenched. Jaw was tight too. Oh dear, this doesn't look good.
“What can I do for ya, buddy?” I ask, then take a swig from the bottle. Just look relaxed, we're all nice and calm here...
“You can start by leaving Jenny alone, do ya hear?” he almost blurted out, before resuming a nasty looking stare.
What the fuck, I thought to myself. Bugger that for a game of soldiers, I don't take orders from random strangers in pubs.
“And why would I want to do that?” I asked as lazily as I could, swigging another mouthful of beer. I have to stop drinking my courage soon, but its keeping my hands busy, diverting nervous attention...
“Look, its very simple, pal. She's not interested. Has said 'no' to yeh. So start backing off, now, d'yeh hear?”
The way he had said “pal” left me in no doubt as to what he thought of me. And where the hell had this all come from? Shut up, I told myself, analyze shit in your own time. Deal with man-mountain here first.
“Well, you know, I'd really like to and all” I said fairly quietly, making the guy lean in forwards, “but I don't take orders from people who piss themselves in public”, I said very loudly as I poured half a bottle of beer down the front of his trousers. My voice had caused everyone to turn, as I hoped, and I even heard a few chuckles as people saw the wet patch.
I started to grin myself, just before I was picked up and nearly bodily smashed into the bar. I had miscalculated here, big time. He had grabbed me and forced me down quickly. I heard a sharp breaking sound and suddenly felt beer down my side. The next thing I knew, I was pinned on the floor, with man-mountain's knee threatening to crush my cheek into the ground.
“Oh fuck”, I gasped. The pain was as intense as hell, and I tried to struggle, to pretty much no avail. He was too heavy to be able to simply throw him off me.
My eyes focused as he pressed down harder, while shouting obscenities into my ear. My right arm was still free up to the elbow join, despite being pressed up against the bar. I must have been spun round, I realized. But more importantly, I saw a broken bottle in my hand...
Freeze-frame here. Now obviously, the above event took place in about three seconds, at most, by my reckoning. But dealing with the changes in perspective is very important, and no perspective change is more important than the one from where you are about to have the shit beaten out of you to the one where you suddenly have an edge. Literally.
But I'm not going to just stab someone. Certainly not in front of a ton of witnesses, anyway, no matter how bad my situation is. I tried to twist the bottle in my hand, so I can use the neck as a blunt weapon, but my fingers wont work. Adrenaline rush, I realize. Screws with fine motor functions, makes nimble fingered work very hard. Oh fuck this.
I drop the bottle and strike upwards and sideways, hoping to hit some soft flesh. I'm rewarded with a cry of pain from the giant pinning me, and I take advantage. I twist sideways and kick my leg out, looping it around one of his. I bit his knee too, freeing my other arm. What now? 4 moves on the ground, 4 moves. What 4 moves? Eyes, joints, bang the head, something and something.....god damn it, what were they? Strangulate and choke! I drop my leg down and propel my body up, thrusting both hands upwards.
I have an advantage now! I may survive! He tries to break one of my arms away, but I'm working on pure adrenaline now. I kick a leg from under him as I try to get up and he goes down. Hard. Somehow though, amazingly, he doesn't hit his head. But I'm up now and he's down. And out of my grip, too. A vicious stamp to the chest and he stays there on the floor, at least for now.
Shit, I just got into a fight, in the Arms. Where the fuck are the bouncers? I looked around madly, for the black uniforms. Two push their way through the crowd to me, like a bunch of latecomers to a really great party. Each grab an arm and throw me bodily out of the place, shouting at me to not come back. It has to be in their contract or something, because I know for a fact no-one has been barred from the Arms for more than a week, ever.
Shit, I felt awful. The adrenaline rush was still going through me, but I had nothing I could with it. Plus, I had just been in a fight. I'd been attacked, damnit. And had to stamp and strangle a man attempting to beat the shit out of me. And now I was lying on the cold ground outside the pub, growing cooler with the night air.
I wasn't worried about the cops, however. One of the strange things about this area is its twisted sense of honour when it came to things like this. You could beat the crap out of someone in a bar, and that was OK, it may get you a roughing up by the bouncers, but at no times would the old bill be involved. Unless they dropped by accidentally, but that rarely ever happened.
Well, I can't lay here all night. I just about managed to pull myself up and dust myself off. Oh crap, that hurt. Everything hurt, my face, my arms, my legs, everything. I was going to have a shitload of bruises. And then I saw a glimmer of light outside the bar. Someone smoking a cigarette. Someone in a cream, knee length coat with what looked like a fake fur trim.
“You fucking bitch” I said.