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A Neon Warning

This week’s What do you see prompt from Sadje is a rather threatening Neon Sign. Where is it hanging and why the warning? What if somebody with a mission defies the warning? Let’s find out.

A Neon Warning

I hate neon signs, light pollution, and that headache-inducing flicker. When they threaten you like this one, they’re intolerable.

“You have been warned – huh, great way to welcome some to your roadside bar!”

“You, mumble something, darlin’?”

I clocked the blonde woman beside the row of motorcycles, spliff between her fingers. She was a looker in her revealing pink dress, but I wasn’t interested – not tonight. I had a job to do. “Go home.”

“Why, darlin’? the nights just get —”

“Now!” I warned as I approached the barn-like building and climbed the two steps to the entrance  

A sixties rock and roll song filled the stale, smoky air inside. Smoking rules meant nothing here, along with the hygiene ones, judging by the stench coming from the toilets right of the door. I made it two steps inside and became the centre of attention. Couldn’t have been my attire, my all-black satin suit was always perfect. Maybe they didn’t take uninvited customers here well.

The single bar room was occupied by maybe two dozen men in leathers and a couple of their ladies. Many grouped about a battered, stained pool table.

“Good evening, all,” I said approaching the bar.

“Evenin’” gravelled the bartender. His wandering nose showed a life of brawls. The sticky, dusty bar and matching glassware proved he didn’t know how to clean either. “Want a beer?”

“Do you charge extra for the listeria?”

“Watch your mouth!” the bartender stiffened. “Have a beer or get out!”

“I see you’re as friendly as your neon sign out the front,” I locked eyes with him. “I didn’t come to drink. I want information.”

“Try the library in town,” a new voice. One of the bikers, towering over six feet tall. He’d come right into my personal space.

“Thanks, Lofty. They’re fresh out of the information I need,” I stayed my ground. No good came of backing down in a place like this. “Bartender, a lady was dragged here against her will, two weeks ago. You —”

“The police already came and found nothing. She didn’t come here,” said the biker.

“Seems he knows the lady I’m after,” I kept my focus on the bartender as he glanced nervously at his feet. “I’m not the police and won’t be paid off. Where is she?”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about?” the bartender started pulling a pint of cloudy lager.

“See, now leave or the boys will mess yer up.” The biker flared his nostrils.

“Unless you abducted the lady it’s none of your business. If you touch me, you’ll be defenestrated,” I hid a smirk at the confusion I caused.

“What yer going to do to me?” the biker flexed his biceps as he reddened with anger. His companions began closing ranks now.

“Why is it, information always irks people?” I took a folding coat hanger from my inside pocket.

“That a defenestrator?”  

I ignored the stupid question and removed my suit jacket, revealing my stylish waistcoat and shirt beneath. With the jacket and my tie on the hanger, I hung it on a nail above the bar.

“Answer me you, swanky git!” the biker punched his fist into his hand.

I elbowed my way toward the pool table. “I prefer suave, maybe gentlemanly.”

“Whatever, it’s time you left!”

“I still need my information. Anyone willing to tell me about the lady?” I looked at each of the men. Then the woman in the room. One female seemed far too young for a drinking hole like this, she seemed terrified as she shrank away from my glance. “You, okay?” I asked her.

“I’m —”

Another of the men, a tattooed muscular brute shoved her behind him. “She’s mine.”

A sigh escaped my lips as I shook my head. “A lady is not an object that can be owned by a man. She is a person with the right to be with who she chooses.”

“What if she’s married to me?”

“Yeah, she’s Rocko’s.” said another biker.

“Then she gave Rocko her love, not ownership.”

He stepped closer. “You going to take her from me?”

“No, I will never take a lady by force. However, young lady. If you wish to leave, you may. Nobody will stop you.”

She sidled from behind him and made it a few steps toward the door.

“You’re going nowhere!” he flipped a table, smashing beer glasses and sending chairs askance as he seized her ponytail and propelled her onto a banquette in his corner.

I took a step toward him and felt the air move behind me. Hand up, I stopped a beer bottle cracking my skull as I seized a strong wrist. A little pressure caused wrist bones to crackle as the bottle hit the floor and smashed.

He kicked out at me but missed.

I’d already jinked aside and swung beneath his trapped arm. “Goodbye,” I said as my judo throw sent him sailing across a table. Glass and woodwork splintered as he exploded through the window beyond. “That’s defenestration.”

“Bastard! Kill him!” yelled the bartender.

Rocko swung for me as the room filled with bloodthirsty cries from the gang.

Catching both his wrists, I twisted and hurled him into the jukebox. The music died with a loud pop.

Something soared over the pool table.

A bar stool.

I seized and cracked Rocko in the head with it before hurling at another biker dropping him to the floorboards

“Here, black Merc – go.” I tossed the young lady my keys and rolled over a table spilling beers in my wake.

A pool cue struck my stomach.

A heel kick to the throat disarmed the owner. Turning, I cracked two men in the head and chest ending their fights before the cue broke in two.  

I dealt with another biker, too drunk to land a punch. It was then Lofty caught and body slammed me onto the pool table.

“Miss me?” he jested as he drove a fist into my stomach. “Now, I’ll gut you!”

Winded, I watched him draw a butterfly knife. With well-practised moves, he swung the blade about and locked the handles.  

The last of the woman screamed and left banging the door behind her.

“Hold him, boys!”

I took a swift breath controlling my energy as I felt sweat beading my forehead. There was a blue-striped number 12 ball at my feet.  Nothing else presented an option.

Two men seized my arms. Those going for my legs were too late. I kicked the ball. It struck the cushion and bounced into the air. Kicking again, I sent it careening into Lofty’s skull with a sickening thump.

My momentum allowed me to roll between my captors banging their heads together. Regaining my feet, I busted their noses on the pool table and let them collapse to the floor.

Another of my opponents missed his kick and sailed out of another window.  Lofty now sporting a sizeable lump on his head, staggered toward me. I put him down with a series of kicks and approached the bar. Everyone was either unconscious or gone now.

“You messed up everybody!” said the bartender looking terrified.

I brushed myself down. “Nearly ruined my waistcoat too,” I quipped whilst righting a stool and sitting. “Now, where’s the lady? Don’t make me come behind the bar. You have been warned.”

“She – She owed Jericho money. He’s keeping her until the family pay up,” he told me voice quivering.

“Good. Where’s Jericho keeping her?”

The bartender’s attention snapped to the door and back to me.

I discretely seized a beer bottle.

“Where he likes!” The ratchet of a shotgun punctuated the venom in the voice.

“I hate guns.” I kept my back to him.

“Pity you’ll feel the wrath of this one then,” Jericho stepped closer. “One bargaining chip. Give me the ten million she owes and both you and she get to leave in one piece.”

I said nothing.

“Do we have a deal?”

The shotgun pressed against my neck.

I remained silent.  

“Well?” Jericho moved toward my side. “The money or your life which —”

I swung my bottle and grabbed the gun. It went off with a deafening Blam, as the bottle collided with the gangster’s ear.

Buckshot disintegrated a stack of glasses, as I hit the ground with a ringing in my ears. I leapt up, dazed, but managed to axe Jericho to the floor with a kick to the knees.

The bartender leapt the bar. I caught, punched and dumped him through a table. Jericho rose and saw darkness as my heel connected with his jaw.

“That was fun,” I breathed as I put my suit jacket and tie on again. Walking behind the bar, I tapped a foot and grinned. The bartender told me where she was earlier. I found a brass ring in one floorboard and used it to open a hatch.

Beer cellar. The lady I came for was locked in the liquor store. With her freed, I left the bar with a last disdainful look. A white limousine had arrived since I entered. It had to be Jericho’s. I left my calling card under the window wiper. He’d be no more trouble.

I let the lady into the back of my Mercedes and climbed behind the wheel. Rocko’s lady occupied my passenger’s seat.

“Let’s get you home,” I told her as I drove away.

Let that be a lesson to you. If a man in a black suit enters your establishment and asks questions, provide answers. You have been warned.

The End

Thanks for reading my friends.

There’s more in the Poetry CornerPoetry Nook, and the Short Story Collection

Have a great day!


26 thoughts on “A Neon Warning

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  1. Mason that was soooo good. Double-O-7 good!!!! The bestEST part for me was your point on bodily autonomy —“love, not ownership”—that was especially timely as the world is now commemorating 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women [Nov25-Dec10]. Your story is artivism (art + activism)!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Dawn. Thanks a lot.

      I’ve firmly meant that point. No man has the right or power to own a woman and neither does he have the right to abuse or hurt her in any way.
      I’m pleased you loved my story. Thank you for reading!


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