La Discoteca Blanca
Of all the coffee shop/soda fountain/record store/teenaged dens of iniquity, in all the towns, in all the world, he walked into mine.
Ran into mine.
Was chased by wild gunmen into mine.
I don't even know who the guy is! Never seen him before in my life. Way too old for my usual client base, I know that much. Older than those four idiots in the band. Probably almost as old as me.
Anyway, this nutjob comes roaring in the place - and I mean R-O-A-R-I-N-G, yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, running about three hundred miles an hour, hair flying, arms pumping, feet kicking like somebody on a Hanna-Barbara cartoon - and he goes sailing over the tables! Like a bird in flight!
And you know he landed on the stage, in the middle of the set.
So here's what you need to know about the idiots on stage: IDIOTS. There's degrees of idiocy, sure, but basically once you've crossed over into idiot territory, there's kinda no going back. (Yes, I hire idiots to entertain the sugar pumped, hormone ridden, snot nosed little jerks who come in my store. Only an idiot would work here. Wait, that didn't come out right…) So, anyway, idiots. The little one is a vain idiot, the big skinny one is a bossy idiot, the curly one is a loud idiot, and the blond one is a complete idiot. Makes the other three look like rocket scientists.
So these idiots on stage get bumrushed by the running man with the pistol-packing heavies on his tail, right? Do they get out of the way? Do they duck for cover? Do they hit the deck and wait for the fur to quit flyin'?
Nooooooooooooooooooo. That's what regular people would do. Idiots don't do that. Idiots declare that the show must go on, and they just keep right on a-playing. They don't even stop when Running Man pulls out a gun of his own! (Probably because half the kids in the place are still dancing - these guys have a very loyal fanbase. Crazier than a fox in a full moon, but loyal to the teeth.)
So now Running Man is Shooting Man, except he's only Shooting Man for about three shots, and then he's Picking Up Tables and Throwing Them at Gunmen Man, then he's Climbing Up The Stage Rigging Man, Swinging off the Chandelier Man, and eventually, What The Hell Are You Doing Behind the G*&!@#n Bar With Me?!? Man.
"Hey, how ya doin?"
That's what this fool says to me! All pearly teeth and innocent face! And then he starts grabbing empty soda bottles from the trash, and flinging them over the bar willy-nilly. He's hitting the back wall, the jukebox, the amplifiers, some of the turned over table tops, some of the poor kids - basically everything but the gunmen.
Then there's this squawk from the stage, and I look up, and one of the gunmen has the blonde idiot - you know, the biggest idiot of all? The other three figure it's probably okay to stop the show, and come scrambling to the bar. I don't want them back here, I don't want The Artist Formerly Known as Running Man back here! Why the heck would I want these idiots back here??
"Wait, wait, guys, help!"
Yeah, that's what I say! Go back over there and help out your friend, and get the heck away from my bar! But oh-ho-ho-ho no! They start crawling all over me and Sitting Back Here With Me Man.
So I'm thinking I should just throw in the towel - I've got a little house in Reno, there's plenty of running water, I can grow a garden and just live off the land, maybe roll into a casino if I just need some cash or I get bored because nobody's come and wrecked my joint in a while - and hightail it out of there. But the guy holding onto Goldilocks up there starts making demands.
"Okay, Ethan. Just give us the MacGuffin."
"No way," says Still Sitting Behind the Bar Flinging Glass Man. Or, apparently, Ethan.
"Give us the MacGuffin, or I'll blow his head off!"
"OH GOD ETHAN GIVE HIM THE MACGUFFIN!!" The tall bossy one is real tall and real bossy - and real loud, too. Both me and Ethan are digging fingers in our ears, trying to hold ruptured eardrums together.
"Ethan, I would really appreciate it if you'd give him the MacGuffin," comes the warbly voice from the stage.
"I can't do that - what's his name," Ethan asks me. How the hell should I know? I don't know any of their names, I just give the tall one a copy of my repair bills in lieu of their pay, and give them some ice cream on the house.
"Peter," the little one says, and I swear he's making eyes at some chick across the room.
"I can't do that, Peter," Ethan says. "The whole world is at stake."
"That's okay, I'm a vegetarian."
I could feel Ethan asking me WTF. I can still feel it, even now. He's gonna be asking WTF for the rest of his life, probably, because I've been asking myself that ever since I let these idiots on the damn stage. Anyway, he's digging around in his pockets, pulling out wires and little flashy boxes and a stick of gum that he lays down all gentle on the floor, some tweezers, gloves that kinda sing and hiss and stick to the side of the cabinet underneath the bar, and, finally a pink, fuzzy, rabbit's foot. "All this trouble for this little thing." He twists the metal top off, shakes out what looks like a little glowing marble, and sticks that back in his pocket. He grabs the gum and starts smushing it together. "If I give you the MacGuffin, how do I know you're gonna let Peter go?"
"Hey," the curly one whispers, "What is all this stuff?"
"Classified," Ethan whispers back. "Well?"
"You have to trust me."
Ethan wrinkled his nose. "Peter?"
"Don't try to keep the MacGuffin. Let him have it, okay?"
"I thought we were having steak?"
At this point, I'm wondering why all the fuss about a pink rabbit's foot with a marble inside, and why a stick of smushed but not chewed gum is a good substitute for a marble, and how the heck do I explain any of this to the insurance company.
Ethan throws the rabbit's foot, and there's all this scrambling. I peek over the bar, and the gunmen run off, rabbit's foot in hand. Peter's just standing there, like nothing ever happened.
So the other three idiots go slobbering all over him, because they're basically a bunch of big, stupid puppies without a mother or a master. Meanwhile, Ethan's still next to me, staring at the open door. "No bang," he says. "There's no bang."
I've got no idea what the heck he's on about, but I send him on his way (but not before I get a business card from him, so I can send it to the insurance company), and get the band to help me put the furniture back in place so we can get on with the business of raiding school kid's pockets. (My customers are used to holes in the wall. They say it gives a place character.)
Anyway, the band plays for about five minutes, and I'm cleaning up the mess Ethan dropped behind my bar. Everything gets bagged -wires, gloves, more gum - and tied off, and I head out to the dumpster in the back, and I throw the bag in like usual.
I'm gonna assume that's when Ethan's bang happened, because next thing I know, officer, I'm flat on my back on the other side of the alley, talking to you, and looking at a big ol' hole in my joint. But don't worry. See, I've got Ethan's card right here.