World’s Great Adventure Stories – p 227
“Slide had found out what was intended, and the news sobered him instantly.”
He decided to fight back. He jumped up from his spot at the bar, and readied his fists. The three men who’d been approaching suddenly stopped in their tracks. Their advantage of deceit was now gone. Slade, six feet and a half, three hundred pounds, and known to be able to take out six average men on a night with either his words or his propensity to drink them under the table, made quite a sight.
The three – Tamson, Byers, and Rogerleth, stood ten feet away and looked at one another. The rest of the bar noticed the commotion and cleared off. They wanted nothing to do with it. Kylie, behind the bar, would have tried to shove them out into the parking lot, but she knew it was safer for her, and for her supply, if they just fought it out there and then and got it over with. She hinted at one of the other regulars at the end of the bar with a hand up to the side of her head, thumb and pinky extended, that he should make a call, and he did. The cops would show up, but and it would be well after Slade had taken care of business, but they needed a ride for the three anyway. Probably to get stitched up.
Byers reached out first. He composed himself, took a big breath, and closed the gap. Rogerleth followed, with Tamson trying to circle around the back. He didn’t make it. Slade kicked a stool at him before anyone even got within five feet, knocking him off balance and intercepting their coordination. Byers led with a punch, which Slade backed off easily, then came in hard with one to the gut. It doubled Byers over, and while he staggered off Slade took an elbow tot he side of his ribs from Rogerleth. It did nothing. The big man made a slight “oof” sound, as if he were puffing a dandelion, then launched his shoulder into the man half his size. His momentum, and the fact that he was coming down from far above, knocked Rogerleth to a knee.
By this time Tamson had picked himself up and was approaching again. Slade saw him coming and donkey-kicked behind him. He missed. Tamson grabbed for the leg and he missed.
Rogers and T now had beads and distances on Slade, so they started aiming jabs and kicks in his direction. Thumps sounded as the three closed in on him, a miniature swarm upon a massive beast, and he swirled and twirled to throw them off. Fists, elbows, knees, hair flew. Echoes of the impacts bounced off the barroom walls. Grunts and scuffs of tables being shoved out the way, the thwock of a fist against chest, grunts and moans as the three attackers thought better of their strategies and reconsidered their attack. Finally Rogers lay on the ground, bleeding form two cuts under an eye and nursing a soreness in his ribs that could only be described as excruciating. T, too, was on a knee, breathing hard, while Byers was nowhere to be seen. Witnesses later say he ducked out the back after taking a solid elbow to the head. Slade, bruised and winded, stood over his two mutineers like a lion over his pride, victorious, glorious, regal, despite the mess on his face and knuckles. He simply nodded to the two on the ground, pulled a stool back up to the bar, sat down and picked up where he had been, and went back to work. The police arrived a few minutes later and found R and T outside sitting on the stoop. When they asked what happened, R started with, “well, Slade jumped us -” and the officer cut him of with a dismissive wave of his hand. He’d had enough in fifteen years of visits to this bar. He knew better than to assume Slade was ever an instigator. He smirked. “You boys learn your lesson?” R and T hung their heads in shame. “Yessir,” T said.
And that was Tuesday.