And then the small bar was filled with a thunderous crash, as if Zeus himself had sent down a barrage of lightning to punish some dumbass mortals for some inconsequential transgression. Bootsy flinched and dropped to the floor just as five men to his left got shredded in midair as they were lifted forcibly from their feet and landed in limp, gory piles on the floor. Bootsy's confused mind reeled, and his eyes actually flitted to the ceiling in expectation of another lightning bolt sent from Mount Olympus, but then the thunder cracked again and more men were turned to hamburger, leaving a single man standing. A tall guy, wearing black shades and a thin gray ponytail hanging past his shoulders.
Bootsy's mind finally caught up, and he realized that no deity had come to his aid, it was the bartender with his sawed-off. Bootsy looked behind him, saw the wide-eyed look of shock spreading like a glacier across his features, and he quickly snatched the gun from the stunned man's hands.
“Hey,” the bartender argued feebly, but Bootsy eyed him.
“I don't know what the hell happened in here,” he said, “but I can sure as shit guarantee that you don't want this anywhere involved. Just tell the cops some whack-job came in here and started blasting, or something.”
“That's almost exactly what you did.”
Bootsy looked sadly at the bloody carnage surrounding him and shook his head, “No it wasn't.”
“It wasn't? Sure looked like it to me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I appreciate that you saved my life, and the bar, but seriously dude... you've got to be some angry ninja on speed to come in here and do what you just did to, like, two separate gangs of thugs. I am officially scared as shit of you right now.”
Again Bootsy shook his head and said, quietly, “Self preservation. After you're in the joint for a bit, it doesn't take long before you can smell when something extra fucked up is about to happen. I don't know if it's the extra sweat in the air, or fear, or testosterone. I don't know. But whatever it is, there's this sour smell that hangs in the air, like something rotting in a dumpster, and that's when you have to make a decision: strike first or get the hell out of there. If you remember, I had a dozen guns trained on me; I wasn't going anywhere. Believe me, I wish I could have just hit the brakes and backed right on through that door and kept walking to the next bar.”
“But you didn't.”
“I didn't. Throw me a rag?”
The bartender found a dish towel behind the bar and tossed it to Bootsy, who caught it deftly and began wiping down the bar, the weapons he'd handled, and even the door handle at the front, just in case he'd touched it. He wasn't sure. “Well,” he said, “the good news is: we're alive.”
“Yeah, but the bad news? You're going to have a whole platoon of cops here in about a minute. This is going to be the longest night of your life. Don't worry none, you weren't a part of it.”
Bootsy squinted and stared hard into the bartender's eyes. He asked, slowly, “You weren't a part of it, were you, bud?”
A furious shake of his head, “No! I just picked the wrong night not to call in sick.”
“Well, whatever. Don't worry about me. I can melt into this city. Cops won't find me. But I'm taking this off your hands. You should thank me,” Bootsy waved the gun in the air above his head.
The bartender pointed at the lone survivor and asked, “What about him?”
“Give 'em to the cops, maybe they can figure out what the fuck happened here.”
Bootsy was about to take the three steps to the the door when the perfectly still guy with the ponytail and sunglasses suddenly pulled a butterfly knife from inside his vest pocket and swished the blade free. The barkeep was just about to open his mouth to warn Bootsy but everything seemed to happen to fast for his lips to work.