New Management

It wasn’t closing time yet, but everyone paid their tab and got the fuck out of dodge when he walked through those doors. A grin spread across his face, so sinister made the bar girls cash out and leave their tips behind, slamming the door shut behind them. Music from the early 2000s played loudly as more of his goons flowed in behind him, the last one of twenty locking the door behind him.

He was a taller man, lithe and limbs. He wore a very loud orange jumpsuit with matching gators that made his dark amber skin glow under the smokey florescent. His black hair was silk pressed, the neatly clipped ends seemed to actually be very thin razors. He had a mustache and beard that was confusingly artistic, his eyebrows neatly arched and running into his sideburns. He looked like a campy, stripeless tiger but he loved it.

The chatter from the old patrons and the new didn’t change, but something felt “off” for the boss in the back. He rolled up his sleeves as he pushed himself away from the desk, his own cronies getting up with him.

“We are about to fuck shit UP,” he said, jumping up on the bar and knocking over all the vodka bottles behind it.

The boss stopped walking, his hand inches away from the doorknob.

“That voice,” he murmured, his heart racing, his skin getting hot. Ten men stood behind him, their faces stone, showing no signs of fear or confusion. But they could feel their boss’s anger.

The boss thrust the door open, a beer bottle missing his head on purpose.

“Nick! Baby! I’m back!” he said, that grin up in his eyes now.

Nick and his loud dressing patron were around the same size in height, but Nick would be considered a tank compared to him. He was dressed like he was ready for a shift at a local “Italian” chain, a red stain on his shirt that could have been spaghetti sauce if he was in food-service. He had arms that could have been made up of three small children standing together. His core was sturdy, a nice healthy mixture of good food and drink as well as exercise and… other activities that keep him busy at odd hours of the day. His clothes were tight in areas because of his size. He had scars on his arms, most old, some fresh and pink on his bronze skin. He had a goatee that had speckles of grey in it. Every Tuesday morning, he shaved his head. It was Monday night.

He took a few steps forward on the bar, his eyes crazed as he stared down Nick.

“My, my. You’ve got my bar looking like a house of glut–“

“One more word, Lucian, I swear to fucking GOD–“

Lucian looked down at Nick before slowly bending down to meet his eyes.

“…Did your wi–“

Nick’s forehead met with Lucian’s nose with the force of a car door hitting a divider on a windy day. Lucian yelled out, falling back, tumbling onto the bar stools and onto the floor, head first. Nick grunted, grabbing one of the stools next to him and swung down towards Lucian. One of Lucian’s flunkies jumped in the way of the swing, the stool breaking on their back. Another flunkie tried to tackle Nick at the waist, but could barely get him to stumble. Nick grabbed the flunkie by the shoulder and flung them at one of the occupied tables.

Then the brawl actually broke out.

As two of the flunkies got Lucian out of the heat of the battle, Nick and three of his own cronies were swinging more bar stools to back up the modestly-but-equally-as-loud dressed crew. Two of Lucian’s men had grabbed pool cues and started to charge at Nick, but he managed to grab the cues, pulling them in closer before grabbing their faces with his large hands and smashing their faces together with a loud CRUNCH, tossing their limp bodies behind the bar. A beer bottle hit the back of his head, the cold liquid mixing in with warm blood started to fall down the back of his neck. One of Nick’s men was taking on three on their own, slapping one in the face, kicking one in the shin, and elbowing the last in the stomach. One of Lucian’s men came up behind him with a running knee to the back of his head.

Nick cried out as someone hit his back with one of the smaller tables, falling down to his knees. Four men piled on top of him. He roared, slowly standing up under all the weight but charging into the nearest wall, knocking the wind out of two of them. He fell onto his back, crushing the other two, one of them letting go, the other still weakly holding on. Nick grabbed his limp body by the arm, like a child would a doll, spun in a circle, and let go, flinging the limp body into a group of five.

Teeth and blood went flying through the air, a table went through a window and slammed into someone’s car. Glass and legs from tables and chairs scattered the bar floor. Lucian was still trying to come to with the help of another behind a booth, the helper yelping when one of their cohorts was thrown into the wall next to them. The bar was quiet now, only the loud breathing of Nick and one of his own that still stood. Lucian’s men laid limp on the floor or started to crawl towards the door, faces swollen, teeth missing and cracked, noses shattered. Nick held onto his own side, nursing broken ribs and a bloody wound from getting stabbed with a bottle. His face was scratched, his left eye was swollen and he had blood coming from his mouth.

Lucian grunted but a hand covered his mouth to silence him. A silent plea that Nick would leave the main part of the bar so they could flee with Lucian entered their heart but had left through their bladder as Nick leaned over the booth and looked down at them. Lucian’s eyes tried to focus on Nick but the concussion he was fighting off was the one kicking his ass the most.

“I never want to see you anywhere near here. If I see you in the streets outside of here, you have 10 seconds to get the fuck out of my line of sight. You brought her up. Your life is forfeit. Tell our boss about what happened here just in case you wind up dead in the next few days.”

Nick’s silhouette watched Lucian’s battered and bruise entourage from the shattered bar window, watching them limply get into their vehicles before slowly driving off into the foggy early morning. He turned around a large, happy smile on his face.

“Well, fellas! Time to update this shitty ass bar finally! We refuse to go back to old management,” he said, eyes going to a group picture behind the bar. He was younger and smaller in this picture, with his braces and his high top fade. Lucian was in the photo also, shorter and shy, hiding in an oversized sweatshirt. Several other children were in the photo as well, some who had joined them in this same career, other’s had wanted nothing to do with them after they “rescued” the only adult in the picture from prison. Nick’s greatest heist was now his only regret. It was an easy fix, however.

Business takeovers were never clean and it wasn’t his first cleaning job.

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