Bootsy had no idea what he had just walked into, but he instantly knew it was bad. Animosity left a scent in the air so thick you could taste it, everyone in the bar was on their feet choosing partners, and two guys immediately to Bootsy's right as he stepped in had switchblades to each other's throats. The last note from the jukebox hung corpulently in the air like a rotting pinata, as if trying to restore the balance of the evening through song, but in the end it was going to come down to violence. It always did, it was as inevitable as the tides. Bootsy didn't really mind, he was no stranger to it, certainly. He just hated having his dick in his hand when the shit was about to hit the fan.
And even though his blood still raced, and his first instinct was to smash one of the dudes to his right and take his knife, he managed to exhibit a shred of coolness and stuffed his hands in his pockets nonchalantly and rolled his eyes, “Jesus Christ guys, take it outside, will ya?”
He walked over to the bar and addressed the keeper with a nod, “Can I get a Jack on the rocks, please?”
The barkeep had been sidling over to the register, where he no doubt kept a sawed-off underneath to intimidate the rabble should things get out of hand, but Bootsy shook him off from that idea with a grimace. The type of people occupying the floor at that particular moment were all surrounded by an aura of violence that Oda Mae Brown could see, the type of people who looked as though they could handle weapons with the same ease others might use a remote control. The type of people Bootsy wanted nothing to do with, just then.
Instead he pulled out a ten and left it on the bartop. “Keep it,” he said to the barkeep, and settled into a relaxed stance by the register, all the while using his periphery to assess the scene around him.
It was enough to raise his blood pressure a tick, that was for sure. Seventeen armed men with sweaty brows and iron jaws looked at each other with stony eyes about to engage in mortal combat. Though nothing was as yet drawn, Bootsy was certain that at least a dozen of them had concealed sidearms under jackets and inside sleeves. He shook his head inwardly and cursed choosing a bar that played Country music.
There were two sides to this conflict, evenly opposed, and though he didn't know if it was drugs, or weapons, or merchandise more representative of retail shopping, Bootsy knew a bad deal going down when he saw one. Things were about to get hectic.
The barkeep was a big dude, but was probably more accustomed to breaking up drunken fights between day laborers than he was holding his own in something as intense as was about to happen. Bootsy tried signaling the man with his eyes to get down and stay down, but he wasn't sure if the guy realized what was about to go down or not. Whatever, he couldn't hold everybody's hand.