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Inthrallis – Chapter 30

January 8, 2015

Inthrallis – Chapter 30

None of his friends know right from wrong

Moller was now in between hitchhiking with truckers mostly. He stopped after the first ride and stayed in a fleabag just to get cleaned up enough to not scare whoever he next tried to catch a ride with.

He was now somewhere in Indiana. Some signs indicated Pittsboro, but others indicated some other town as well, so he figured they sort of blended one into the other. It was too far from Indianapolis to be called a suburb, but that was the closest large city.

A local mom and pop restaurant looked like the place to go. It was Italian by the name, Ciao Bello, and he could smell pizza as he approached.

Once inside he considered turning around. There was a birthday party for some kids and therefore the place wasn’t exactly conducive to peace and quiet.

He decided to give his brooding and pity parties a break and stay anyway. It wasn’t until he was seated and started noting his surroundings that he truly started to regret choosing the place.

There was a group of men in the corner. One was clearly a skinhead. He had a SS patch on one shoulder and a tattooed swastika on his right hand. The others appeared less radical in dress but had all the earmarks of your average Klansman-slash-local garage worker or day laborer.

Moller ignored them and looked over the menu. He was definitely thinking something with chicken and pasta when one of the rugrunners slammed into his table. The boy had a crumpled picture in his hand and left it on Moller’s table.

Moller smiled as an embarrassed mom grabbed the rampaging kid. He set the picture of the Cookie Monster aside and tried to decide between francaise and cacciatore.

He couldn’t help but overhear the heated discussion coming from “Klaus, party of 5.” One of them was going on and on about someone called Leo Frank.

Ignore. Order. Eat. Pay. Leave.

“At least Cain knows what to do with Muslims and faggots. They need to go. 4/17-style, baby.”

Does everyone love that guy?

Not my battle.

Moller ordered and drank his water. He wished the kids were louder so as to drown out the spew coming from the loud table.

To distract himself, he picked up the Cookie Monster picture. It was actually a pamphlet. The speech bubble coming from the beloved Sesame Street character read Who ate my cookie?

Moller opened it. Inside, there was Hitler and some other people explaining who precisely it was that was stealing from kids’ favorite tv monster. The list read like the usual suspects, but Moller couldn’t figure out why the National Hockey League was also on the list.

He snickered and put it down. This was unfortunate timing because one of the unfriendlies was glaring at him at the time.

And there was a hush at the table, natch.

Moller quickly ran down the possible ways to de-escalate. Seem too threatening, and their fear will drive them to violence. Seem to weak and the bully instinct takes over. It was either get out now, or make it somehow make it seem decisively as though he was not worth the trouble.

He decided to go with undercover cop. Pretend he had a piece and a badge and they might let it go. He adjusted the non-existent gun in the back of his pants and opened his jacket as though he was prepared to draw it at any time.

It worked. The men got back to their conversation and Moller’s food arrived, including a steak knife: Never a good sign when one is being served cacciatore.

The food actually wasn’t bad. He chewed, looked straight ahead, and tried to ignore the racial slurs bandied about.

The birthday party broke up, being reconvened at some amusement center based on quick question posed by an adult and the cheers from the kids.

The jukebox played.

‘I think we’re alone now…’

Don’t care. No need for trouble. Just passing through.

At least now the racists weren’t shouting over a bunch of kids. Moller picked up a name: one of them was Bernheimer. He guessed that was a last name.

“Environmentalists are worshipping Baal. You guys hear about that?”

Moller wondered if he would be stupider when he left the restaurant than when he arrived. His legs jerked on their own, as if they were telling him to get out now. He gave up on ignoring the men and was instead counting uses of the n-word. They were up to 27.

“Gay marriage is like 9/11 and 4/17 combined!”

Moller glanced over. He just couldn’t help himself and wanted to see if the face from whence this pronouncement had issued had said so seriously or was baiting him.

That got their attention. There was a tense pause. Moller saw the ringleader, Bernheimer, looking out of the corner of his eye. Two got up immediately; one, car mechanic, stretched; another, Skinhead, circled around so Moller wouldn’t be able to keep his eyes on both at the same time.

Moller pretended nothing was wrong and pretended to eat. He now had some trouble cutting the chicken with only his fork to use.

One of them stood over him. The other three were getting up now. He could feel where the one who had circled behind him was standing.

He pretended to ignore them. One hand on the fork, the other on his lap, partly obscured by his napkin.

Moller had had a gay Airborne Ranger drinking buddy who had summed up winning physical altercations thus: It was not how hard one hit. It was how many times one could hit quickly. Several short blows in rapid succession could take down an assailant several times one’s size more reliably than one powerful roundhouse kick that might miss anyway or one uppercut that left you open. Of course if you could do those accurately and fast enough, all the better. But Moller wasn’t a trained boxer.

Georgie had been a great drinking buddy, and on occasion the two had picked up guys at the bar and brought them back to Georgie’s place. But Georgie’s sexual exchanges leaned toward the brutal, and so Moller stopped hanging with him after some grad student filed assault charges against the veteran.

Georgie would have laughed, though, at what happened next. The man standing over the table leaned over and put his hand on the table to make sure he got Moller’s attention. Moller sighed and took a breath.

The steak knife didn’t go all the way through his hand as he had hoped a la Luca Brasi’s death scene, but it did tear it open enough to bleed a lot and the sight of the blood might be shocking enough to slow mechanic down for a few seconds. Moller used the momentum of bringing the knife down to bring himself to his feet and, with the other arm, swung his chair up and jabbed it into the throat at Skinhead, behind him.

Moller dropped the chair and elbowed hand-bleeder in the throat as well. Cut off the oxygen, you reduce the energy available for breaking your face.

By now, the waiter, who had been clearing the kids’ tables, was making for the phone. Just then, Moller saw two more men enter the restaurant.

This is not good. Dressed in black, wearing masks.

To Moller’s surprise, one of them threw a beer bottle at the head of the ringleader. He managed to duck, but it struck one of the others in the chin.

The fifth man made a quick move toward Moller. Moller kicked over a table in his path, which landed on the man’s foot and caused him to bang his knee with a thud.

The two newcomers started knocking over tables and breaking windows. Moller decided that unless he wanted to get arrested, he had better leave.

He saw an open path and made for it. The thin man, the one who got hit in chin, made a dive for him, and tackled him. Moller kicked him once in the chest, aiming for his chin, but the guy had a him in a bearhug before he could recoil and try again.

One of the masked men was now engaged with Skinhead, who had pulled a knife. The other threw a chair, but it missed widely. It did distract Skinhead for just a second, though, and the other masked man moved out of range of the knife.

Moller heard the sirens approaching and cursed. He started gouging Thinman’s eyes and tried to free himself. He almost got away and then Thinman grabbed on again, lower. Moller dragged them both toward the door and grabbed a candy machine. He tipped it over and brought the top down hard on Thinman’s head. Thinman crumpled and he was free. The top of the machine was broken and gumballs rolled in every direction. Moller stood up. Adrenaline was in control now.

“Next!”

The Ringleader was likewise making for the door, or for Moller, he wasn’t sure which. Moller moved back a little and then reversed, bringing his knee up in Bernheimer’s crotch. Now mad with a rush of blood, Moller started kicking the downed man to keep him there, keeping one eye on the others.

Skinhead dropped his knife and was smiling. This strange behavior gave Moller pause. The two stared at each other while the others struggled in the area away from the restaurant entrance.

Moller’s was grabbed from behind, spun, and his head was slammed into the wall. He felt the cuffs go on quickly.

“What the hell happened here?”

Moller assumed this was directed at him, as he was spun back around and brought face-to-chest with a bulky man in uniform. He looked up at the face, then back at the shiny gold plate on the man’s chest: SHERIFF BERNHEIMER.

Of… course…

“Um. He fell,” Moller indicated the sheriff’s brother or cousin moaning on the floor, “and I was just helping him up. Why do you ask?”

A stubborn piece of window glass chose that moment to fall and shatter onto the sidewalk outside.

“We were just discussing the social and economic impact of cookie-hoarding pop culture icons on the zeitgeist of the bourgeoisie.”

The county sheriff took that or the glass as a sign to use Moller’s face as punching bag. Deputies poured in and rounded them all up.

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From → Inthrallis, Novels

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