Saturday, 16 January 2010
STAKEOUT by Matt Tuckey
Matt enters the fold in style...
I saw his reflection in the back-bar mirror. He didn't see mine. I turned when he snapped the pool cue over his knee. His mate hung over his shoulder.
They must know.
I knew what these idiots were like after a few scoops. Normally pubs were a safe haven for me. I'd worked in a few. They're really called 'public houses.' There's something welcoming about that. And none of my real enemies would come to a noisy place like this. Not their style. It's the quiet ones I've got to watch out for, normally.
This time, however, I was in the shit. Not even the mainstream middle-of-the-road jeans and t-shirt combo kept me disguised among the masses. You've gotta give these morons credit: all they do is look for trouble, but they know how to find it.
I got off the stool, trying to look as passive as possible. Cue-man stared at me, holding the snapped-off stick not like a bat but more a baton. His stripy-jumper mate glared at me, hanging off his shoulder.
'Chill the fuck out, lads,' I said. 'I'll finish my cranberry juice, and I'll go.'
'Fuck off. I know what that is,' said Cue-man. 'I know what you are.' He looked about eighteen. Bulky. Acne-scarred. 'Roid abuser. I could smell it on him, his odour blending with the stale beer and cleaning agent and the aging tobacco embedded in the pub's worn carpet.
The bar maid emerged from the glass room, nervous. She eyed the drink. She knew she hadn't served it.
I stepped to the door but Cue-man put his hand on my chest, staring intently, eye-level at my sternum. Because my stance was wide the swing was perfect and my fist slammed into his jaw, cowboy-style, with such force that he was lifted through the air of the room. His head landed on the edge of the bar-top with a crack and he slumped to the floor, already out.
I turned back to Stripy. He'd vanished.
There was a scraping sound across the floor behind a table. I leaped on top of it from across the room, hearing the barmaid gasp in shock - not in the anticipation of further violence but at the sheer distance I'd managed to clear. On one knee, hooking my back foot on the lip of the table for balance, I reached down with both hands and yanked Stripy up by the neck. I bit into him and sucked, tasting the alcohol that dulled the metallic tang of blood.
Matt is a writer from Manchester, England. He has been published previously in Flash Fire 500, BadHap, Gemini, Writer's Bloc, Aphelion, The Manchester Evening News and The Oldham Evening Chronicle. He trains in Mixed Martial Arts and works in Communications at his local council.