** Note that this is the 2nd chapter of a novel I am writing about a young heroine in a world where about 10% or so of the population has developed "super powers". There are state sponsored licensed super hero squads. Villains, of course, exist alongside the heroes. It is set in a fictional town in Tennessee about 60 years or so in the future. To read this, one should first check out my 1st chapter, easily accessible from my story list.**
Chapter 2 - Bartending Blues: In Which Josh Faces a Pissy Situation
“S’up Josh? Trouble in paradise?”
Pulling out a stool, Josh Whitman sat and put his elbows on the stained bar, resting his forehead on his palms. “Bud Lite, Ais. And keep them coming.”
“Sure thing,” the bartender replied. As Ais went to get his beer, Josh eyed the other patrons in the bar. A couple of aging bikers were shooting pool in the back corner as classic metal blared too loud from the jukebox. A third biker, his leather jacket - covered with sewn on skull patches and various symbols - too small to zip over his sagging beer belly sat at a nearby table nursing a beer he had just poured from a pitcher. The guy was smashing peanuts from a bowl and shoveling them into his mouth like he was starving. The bearded mans’ denim clad ass cheeks looked like they were about to spill off the plastic chair that sagged underneath him. A couple of twenty something punks were tossing darts and huffing triskot in the far corner past the pool table.
There were about fifteen or so other patrons in the bar, scattered in groups of two to four at various tables. Most appeared to be engrossed in whatever they found so fascinating in their phone screens – porn, Twitter, InstaFrazz…, whatever. A couple of women, too much make up applied in an effort to cover the age wrinkles, heavy mascara obscuring the bags under their eyes, too short skirts exposing varicose veined legs that hadn’t been built for pantyhose in at least twenty years, sat holding hands at a corner table. As he glanced their direction, the two met his eyes for a second. He could see their instant dismissal as they turned back to their conversation. Josh wondered idly if they were lesbians, trans, or possibly aging drag queens. It was hard to tell these days.
“There you go man.”
Turning back to the bar, Josh picked up the draft and took a large drink. “Thanks.”
“So, what’s up Josh? Where’s Tina tonight?”
“Screw that lazy bitch,” Josh replied. “Hey, did you know her daughter is one of them mutant freaks? Little freak tried to stab me last night.”
Ais arched his eyebrows. “Really? I thought you knew.”
“Knew what?” Josh looked up at the bartender. Ais loomed over the bar counter like a gorilla, huge arms bulging as he used a rag to dry glasses. In the dim lighting the big man’s skin was so dark he would blend into the night like a panther.
“Tina’s old man, Joe Wilson…”
Still seething internally over his humiliation at the hands of a fourteen-year-old girl, Josh figured feigning ignorance of who that dead bastard Joe Wilson had been might gain him some useful information. “What about him? The bastard’s dead ain’t he?”
“Joe Wilson was a Leper. The Marauder.”
“The Marauder? Crap! That explains it. Wasn’t he some sort of telekinetic superhero guy or something?”
Ais looked at the guy sitting there with his little pot belly and his stupid haircut. Josh Whitman was a loser, and a stupid abusive one at that. Ais truly wished the widow of his old friend would wake up to reality…, for her sake and her daughter’s. Still, best to just chat with the idiot until he found out what had really happened. Picking up his rag he wiped a spill from the counter. “Yeah. Until the night he killed someone in a training accident or some such and got drummed out of the squad. A real shame for a guy like that to end up dying in a convenience store robbery.”
“Huh,” Josh grunted. “Guess so.”
“So, what happened? You said the daughter is an enhanced with powers? Guess it really is genetically inherited.”
“Yeah. Carmen; the little mutie freak. She fracking threw a knife at me without ever touching it. Almost cut my dick off too.”
“Any particular reason why a fourteen-year-old girl would try to cut your dick off?”
“Screw you, Ais. I never tried to touch that little piece of jailbait. Her mama and I were just having an argument. Wasn’t nothing to get worked up over.”
“Uh huh. Well, sounds like you got off easy to me. Gotta watch out these days. Ever since these powers started cropping up in people you never know what you’re dealing with.”
“Well, frazz that anyway. A hot lay ain’t worth that kind of crap.”
“Maybe you should watch how you treat the widow and kid of a true hero bud.”
Turning on his stool, Josh looked at the man who had come up so silently behind him. It was the third biker, or ‘glider’ as they were now known in this age of electric vehicles, in the leather jacket. The man’s beard was speckled with crumbs from the peanut shells he had been cracking. His breath stank of old beef and gingivitis and his nose, red from years of drinking, canted to the right a bit like it had been broken a few too many times and not healed correctly.
“What’s it to you?” Josh queried.
“The Lepers saved my life when some punks hyped up on triskot tried to shoot up our club. The Marauder even took up a collection to repair the place. Those guys are the real shit.”
“Fine. I apologize. No disrespect intended.”
With a final glance up and down Josh’s still seated frame, the old biker went back to his buddies. Josh noted the name MARAUDER’S RIDERS in large red letters on the back of the slob’s jacket.
“Well, ain’t that just the perfect frackall?” Josh muttered. Turning back to the counter, he downed his beer in a quick gulp. Spluttering and gagging he spit the last of it out onto the floor. “What the hell! This beer tastes like piss!” Josh looked accusingly at Ais who just shrugged and moved down the bar to serve a heavyset woman in an old, stained Maxwell For Congress tee who had just walked in.
Josh slapped his thumb on the pay button inset in the counter by his digitized picture and headed to the bathroom to take a leak. He noted the biker watching him as he crossed the cheap plastiwood flooring.
Behind the bar, Ais was talking quietly into his holopad with the image projector turned off.
About the Creator
Andrew McDonald is a 911 dispatcher of 30 yrs with a B.S. in Math (1985). He served as an Army officer 1985 to 1992, honorably exiting a captain.
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
Compelling and original writing
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