[3 of 6]
The Brazenhead, a local Irish pub, was a jumping place tonight. Groups of people sitting at tables, standing and of course occupying the two bars inside. In the background, a mix of old, Irish drinking songs and classic rock competed with the whispered voices, loud conversations and raucous laughs. The moment I stepped in from the street, the place went silent.
<Shit. And this is why I go to the bars that I go to. Why did I even bother coming here? This place is like fuckin' "Cheers">
Pausing to glare, I growled out a warning, "You got a problem?"
Gradually the people return to their previous conversation. Relieved that the spotlight was no longer on me, I made my way to an apparently hard-to-come-by empty stool by the bar.
"Whaddya have, mate?"
"I'll take 3 shots of whiskey and a Guinness. AND I'm not your mate," I respond dropping bills on the bar.
Pouring the shots, the obviously imported Irishman behind the bar commented, "Haven't seen ya aroond here."
"Just got into town a few days ago. What's it to ya, bub?"
"Jesus, put your hackles doown. I was jus' commentin' cause everyone here's a regular, even 'ol Harry who jus' walked in," calmly remarked the man tending bar placing the shots and Guinness down in front of me.
With eyebrow arched, I knocked back the shots in quick succession slamming the shot glasses down on the bar rather loudly and put a hand around my Guinness. Raising the glass for the first sip, a faint aroma of garbage, sweat and alcohol hit me full on.
<What IS that smell? It's familiar the alley the bastard that stole my shit!>
With a white-knuckled adamantium-itching grip on the glass, I glanced over my shoulder to catch sight of a hunched elderly homeless man threading his way through the crowd to the bar.
Looking up and making eye contact with the stranger staring intently at him over his shoulder, Harry stopped stunned and paled considerably then abruptly turned to hurriedly make his way out.
<THAT is the bastard that took my stuff?! You've got to be shittin' me. Calm down, Logan. He obviously thought you were dead. Whoa - hey - he's leaving.>
Before he could reach the door, Harry felt a large hand on his shoulder. Turning, he saw that the body he found in the alley was very much alive and standing in front of him glaring.
"Drink, old man?"
Close to the bar, I growled at the guy sitting next to my still empty stool causing the guy to quickly vacate his own. The barkeep with one brow raised merely looked on in slight amusement.
"Uh, no. I can't, uh, stand that stuff. Just, uh, a regular beer."
With a slight smirk, I spoke to the 'tender, "Harry'll have a beer."
When his beer was in front of him, Harry took a large swallow and turned to the previously deceased man sitting next to him, "I thought you were dead. I, uh, could have sworn that you, uh had no pulse. I, uh, checked."
"Uh huh. Where's my stuff, bub? The lighter, cigar AND the envelope."
Taking another large sip of his beer, Harry continued, "Well, I threw out the cigar," glancing at Logan briefly. "Then I pawned the lighter. Very, uh, nice lighter by the way. So I could get, uh, a couple drinks. And I kept the envelope for another day or so."
"You what?! Do you--GIVE me the envelope."
"I--I don't have it on me anymore."
"What do you mean you don't have it anymore?!"
Looking nervously around, Harry whispered, nearly whimpering, "I mailed it out this morning."
"I'm--I'm sor--sorry sir. Who--who's Marie?"
Groaning, I put my head in my hands.
<Shit. Shit. Shit. Marie. Shit.>
Decision made, I get up and walk out of the pub leaving a baffled barkeep and an equally confused and rather frighten old man at the bar. The second I left, the barkeep leaned over to Harry and asked, " What the hell was that about?"
"Oh, it's a long story. Maybe another night."
And with that last statement, Harry got up following the previously deceased man out the door and disappeared into the Toronto night.
Stepping into the cool of the night, I turned to head up the street wrestling with my thoughts.
<Should I go back? Maybe this is a chance for the kid to move on and grow damn, but I promised I would protect her. I am though, protecting her from a crass, belligerent old man. Shit Logan, you know she IS the one who changed the way you look at the world now.>
Without realizing it, I had stopped in front of a dingy biker bar, The Gryphon's Eyrie and with slight hesitation, I entered the establishment.
<Now, this is more like it. No one really giving a shit as to who comes here.>
Sauntering over to the bar with determination etched on my face, I asked for a beer and headed towards the occupied pool tables. Leaning against the wall, I watched two burly men play their game. Noticing the stack of bills on the table, a smirk broke out on my face. Feeling a pair of eyes on him, the heavier of the two burly men glared at the stranger watching them.
<Ok, take it easy Bill, he's just watching you play. Intense guy. Weird hair.>
"You wanna play?"
Glaring right back at the man, I responded, "Yeah. I'll play the winner."
Sinking the 8 ball in the side pocket, Bill looked up with a grin, "Ok, sure. That ok with you, Joe?"
Glancing from Bill to Logan, Joe answered with a shrug, "Yeah, sure."
Leaning towards the intense man, Joe whispered, "Watch out, man he'll take all your money."
Grunting thanks, I took the man's pool cue and looked to Bill, "You rackin'?"
Not wanting to upset the guy, Bill racked the balls, chalked up his pool cue and stood back to let him break. Surprisingly no balls were pocketed so I asked as I moved out of the way, "We playing for money?"
Knocking the 4-ball in the pocket, Bill glanced over to me, "Yeah, do ya have a problem with it?"
<Cocky bastard. I wonder if he'll put his bike on the line >
Replying rather harshly, "Yeah. I do have a problem with it. Play for bikes, instead?"
Straightening, Bill stared at the man standing before him.
<This guy has no idea what he's up against, stupidly putting up his bike.>
"Ok, y'er on. What kind of bike do you drive?"
<The dense bastard fell for it! Bike? Hah! If you only knew, bub.>
"A friend of mine custom built it. It's got a custom paint job and a few features that come in handy. You?"
"A black 1977 Harley with chrome pipes - the Black Cat." remarked the other man with a grin, scratching the cue ball in the corner pocket. Finishing my now warm beer, I stepped up to the table and proceeded to pocket the 10-ball.
In reply, I grunted and in rapid succession deposited the 15, 9, and 12-balls. Glancing up at Bill and noticing the slightly stunned look on his face, I smirked and moved to reposition myself to get a good shot on the remaining balls on the table. Balls 14, 11 and 13 followed in mere seconds.
<Damn, I'm gonna lose my bike. Stupid, Bill, just plain stupid!>
Whistling, Bill asked amazed, "Where'd you learn to play like that?"
Turning to face the burly man, I calmly stated, "Practice makes perfect, no?" Refocusing my attention, I sighted the 8-ball and slammed down on the cue ball. Banking on the edge of the table and just barely missing the side pocket, the 8-ball came to a stop in the middle of the table. Cursing, I straightened and moved to the side. Snickering, Bill moved in to sink the 3-ball. Seconds later, hearing the satisfying thunk of ball meeting pocket, the burly man confidently put the 7 and 5-ball into pockets but coming just short of sinking the 6-ball in the near corner pocket. Ten minutes later, I strolled out of the bar with a set of keys in my hot little hands and a cocky yet triumphant smirk on my face.
<God, that was easy. Like taking candy from a baby. Now onto more pressing matters >
Settling onto the magnificent bike, I inserted the key to start it. Rumbling to life with a throaty purr, I pulled out of the lot and headed back to the motel. Stopping long enough to grab my belongings and to check out, I started the long way back to Xavier's.