Friday, November 25, 2011

Sheepdog-11

Just off one of the major highways in the state, on good lakefront property, there stood a bar—The Longhouse—known only to two groups of people: outlaws and lawmen. The bar catered to the outlaw biker world, yet eschewed any affiliations; the owner—a foreigner named Guiscard, said to be an Algerian ex-French Legionnaire—is a true businessman. He took any outlaw’s money so long as the fights stayed outside. This created a few things, now well-known amongst that underworld: outlaws could meet there, and drink, more-or-less in peace and that meant that clubs could do business; the law could reliably stake the place out to find out what’s going on around the county- or even further afield; and others seeking outlaws for whatever reason could reliably make contact there- if they had courage or cunning enough to do so.

Being a bar for bikers, a clubhouse away from one’s clubhouse, outlaw bikers from many clubs stop here to drink—and enjoy themselves, as it were—on a regular basis. Clubs, especially outlaw clubs, are not one big happy family of bikers. There are rivalries, feuds and other levels of conflict between (and within) clubs- but at this bar, it’s all outside or else. Inside, the rules are to keep it as cool as the beer. This is advantageous to the owner, because it keeps profits up and costs down.

It is also advantageous to lawmen, because they usually don’t have to do much but pick up a drunk or two outside and then step in for a brief talking-to before taking their man away for a night in jail to sober up. (This usually leads to a transfer to the county jail for outstanding warrants the next day, but that’s another story.) More ambitious or creative lawmen assume passable personae and become regulars themselves, using the place as a front for intelligence gathering. This was the Sheriff’s idea.

Ken didn’t need any persona. Ken just rode up to the Longhouse, knowing that the Sheriff and the other men would be listening from a close distance, watching over the place with a team ready to go if things went bad. He parked his bike next to a row of your usual Harleys and Indians, road hogs all the way, and walked in without so much as a thought. It was around sunset, soon to be dark outside, and all sorts of action went on in the Longhouse’s common room: drinking, dancing (badly), gambling (poker), chatting up the girls (or worse) and lots of talking.

If not for the jukebox, there would’ve been no sound at all once everyone recognized Ken. Ken, for his part, eyed them all and then just took a stool at the end of the bar—back to the wall—and then got himself a beer. Folks went back to their carousing, slowly, but the tension didn’t release and one of the girls waived to the bartender. He went into the backroom, and a few moments later he returned with Guiscard behind him.

Ken looked up at the foreigner as the man approached. “You’re stocking better beer now.”

Guiscard stared at Ken. “You’ve got balls coming back here.” he said, “I ought to toss you out now, after how you trashed the place last time.”

Ken took a long pull on his bottle. “You won’t. You know why, and so do I.”

The foreigner sighed. “Right. My office, now.”

No comments:

Post a Comment