Authors: Ruby Reid
Alex Dunning couldn’t remember the last time he had left a bar in good spirits and without a heavy head. It seemed to him that for the last two years of his life had been filled with nights where he had either left a bar angry and ready to brawl or with so much booze in his system that the door seemed to be revolving on him. Sometimes, if he was lucky, there was a girl on his arm. And on those nights, those ladies were apt to be disappointed no matter which state he was in.
There was no woman on his arm tonight, though. When Alex walked through the bar door (with the bartender shouting behind him to get the hell out), two of his good friends made their exit behind him. All three of them were looking straight ahead to where five men stood waiting by motorcycles that gleamed darkly in the night.
Every single one of them wore some sort of motorcycle club attire. Alex was decked out in his leather jacket with a patch on the back that read
It was a name that struck fear and respect into most anyone within the motorcycle club community and tonight was no different. The men that had accosted Alex and his friends knew of The Unknowns and that’s why, Alex supposed, they had chosen to approach them when the odds were in their favor; a five-on-three matchup was a pretty great deal. And a win against The Unknowns would solidify these men’s place in the local area for quite some time.
But first they had to get through Alex and his friends. Alex, as expected, stood in front of the two men that had come out of the bar behind him. Alex was younger than both of his friends but had quickly gained their respect. He was a good leader and seemed to be almost untouchable in any sort of physical confrontation.
And that was what they were headed for right now—a pretty intense fight. Alex knew this and accepted it with pride. Before they had even settled in the parking lot outside, Alex was pretty sure he knew how this was going to go. And if it went as he planned, he’d leave unscathed and the fight would be over in about twenty seconds.
Behind him, his friends Carl and Slim (his real name was a mystery to everyone in their club) waited patiently. They knew the drill. Alex had a routine that had never failed them. They’d been in over a dozen brawls with competing motorcycle clubs and had never been beaten when Alex was at the helm. It was actually a rarity that Alex was hit even a single time.
But that might be different tonight. This was going to be five-on-three. Not great odds, especially when one of the men on the opposing side had arms that looked like oak trunks.
“It would be best,” Alex said softly and without fear, “if you gentlemen got on your bikes and drove off now.”
” the leader of the five men said.
“Look,” Alex said. “Your turf is only five miles to the west. If it gets out that your asses were handed to you by three men, you’ll never live it down. I’m trying to save your reputation.”
“Sure you’re not just trying to save that pretty boy face of yours?” the man with the oak-like arms said. Beside him, one of the five was brandishing a small lead pipe. “Makes me wonder what kind of softies The Unknowns are recruiting these days.”
Alex shrugged, ignoring the comment completely. “How about this? Two of you against me. One-on-two. Loser leaves.”
The five men broke into hysterics. The leader seemed to have a good buzz going—something Alex saw right away. It was no secret that booze tended to make men more prone to physical altercations, but Alex knew something else as well. It made men sloppy and overconfident. Especially big bull-headed pricks like this one. Given the look of the man’s buzz, Alex figured his aim would be off by about two inches.
“Alex,” Slim whispered from behind him, “You sure about that?”
Alex nodded, not taking his eyes off of the five men in front of them.
“If that’s what you want,” the leader of the five said, “that’s what you’ll get. You made the deal, buddy. So if your other boys jump in, so will mine.”
“Fair enough,” Alex said. He then took two steps towards the five men. He hoped that Slim and Carl would have the good sense to stay put. If all five of their opposition got involved, this could get very bad very quickly. Too many bodies and flailing limbs could make this ordeal much more confusing and difficult that it had to be.
The leader and the man with the huge arms stepped forward. Alex gave them a quick once-over and figured out his plan of attack within seconds. He’d been getting into fights for more than twenty years—ever since he was five years old. He knew how men fought and could usually tell how men were going to attack.
This time was no different. The leader, eager to prove his role, came swinging first. Alex had been right in assuming his aim would be off. Alex sidestepped it quickly, tilting down as he did so. He tilted down because the second thing he assumed also turned out to be correct; when the leader’s hit missed, the large man instantly took a swing. But, being a muscular idiot, he swung with brute force and no finesse.
Alex felt the man’s fist go sailing a few inches over his head. He retaliated by springing up and driving his elbow into the soft spot beneath the man’s chin. The large man’s teeth clinked together and his eyes rolled into his head. He hit the ground hard.
By the time he was on the ground, the leader was rearing back to swing again. Alex caught the man’s fist, twisted it, then grabbed his arm. He then forced the man to bend over slightly and brought his knee up into the man’s ribs three times in rapid succession. He then released the leader and watched him drop beside his big friend.
It had all taken less than ten seconds.
Alex expected at least one of the other three to come and he wasn’t wrong. What he
been expecting was to see the small lead pipe come sailing at him through the air. He dodged it by quickly leaping to his left and giving a warning cry to Carl and Slim.
Carl caught on a little too slowly. He saw it coming, but too late. He lifted his hand to block it and Alex heard a bone snap like wood…likely one of Carl’s fingers. Carl let out a yelp and a curse. Slim started forward to retaliate, but Alex gave him a quick shake of the head. Slim looked furious, but he obliged.
Alex walked forward slowly, as if inviting the three men to come. The man that had thrown the pipe stepped forward hesitantly. Alex took one dash towards him and brought his right arm back. When the man raised his arms to fend off the blow, Alex quickly lifted his right leg. He drove his foot hard into the man’s crotch and then he, too, was also on the ground.
Behind Alex, Slim had picked up the lead pipe. Carl was hunched over, making hissing sounds and holding his injured hand. When Slim came up beside Alex, he grinned.
“You have twenty seconds to leave,” Alex said, “or else we’ll finish fighting.”
There wasn’t even a discussion. The two remaining men had looks of shocks on their faces when they straddled their bikes and kicked the engines to life.
As they pulled out of the bar’s dirt lot, Slim patted Alex on the shoulder. “How in the
do you do that?”
“I don’t know,” Alex said. “I’ve always just been good at it.”
And behind that was another sad thought that he would never dare tell Slim or Carl or any of the other guys in the club.
And even though I’m good at it, I wished to hell I wasn’t.
They met at one of their rendezvous points a little over an hour later. Carl’s pinky was snapped, but he managed to drive slowly. The meeting place was a small little ravine on the outskirts of Reno, a place along a dirt road in the woods that they used a lot because there were no cops around for at least twenty miles. Yet, to call the place
was a stretch. The trees were all mostly dead, giving way to the harsh and uncaring desert that took over less than a mile to the east.
Only two people were there waiting for them: Jameson, the club leader, and his wife, Karla. They were drinking beers by the edge of a small stream that wound through the forest.
“We good now?” Jameson asked after they had parked their bikes.
“We’re good,” Alex said. “The little territorial dispute has been resolved.”
“Anyone seriously injured?” Jameson asked.
“At least two of them are going to have pretty rough headaches in the morning, but other than that, nothing serious,” Alex said.
Jameson nodded and as he did, his eyes fell on Carl’s hand. They had stopped at a drugstore along the way and purchased medical tape and a metal splint. It would need real medical attention tomorrow, but for right now it would have to do.
“What the hell happened to you?” Jameson asked him.
“He broke his pinky,” Alex said. “Someone threw a lead pipe at him.”
“It was that bad?”
“Hell no,” Carl said, grinning like a loon. “It wasn’t bad at all. Alex wiped the floor yet again. Took down a steroid freak that outweighed him by one hundred pounds easy with a single lick.”
“That’s my boy,” Jameson said. “So they know not to be dealing dope on our side of the turf anymore, right?”
“Absolutely,” Alex said.
“Well done. Look…I want to lay low for a while. Before we head across country, I think we should take some time away from each other. So take about a week to do whatever you like. I don’t care what it is as long as it doesn’t raise the eyes of the law. But whatever you do, make sure you’re in Chicago on the seventeenth. Meet up at the hotel we talked about yesterday. Am I understood?”
Alex, Slim, and Carl all gave a “Yes, sir,” in unison.
“And Carl, get that finger taken care of. It looks like hell.”
The three of them started to go back to their bikes, but Jameson spoke up before they could leave. “Alex, hang back for a while.”
Alex nodded and then waved to Carl and Slim as they got on their bikes. He took a seat on a fallen log by Jameson and watched the only real friends he’d ever had since high school drive back into the night down the dusty dirt road.
“You’re one tough son of a bitch,” Jameson told Alex when the roar of the engines had faded. Karla looked Alex over as Jameson spoke. She smiled at him in a way that made Alex very uncomfortable. She was in her early forties but dressed and behaved like a woman in her early twenties. She’d had a boob job, which was always on display in low cut shirts and push-up bras. Tonight, it was only a shirt, her breasts nearly spilling out and her nipples clearly outlined through the thin fabric of the shirt.
“Thanks,” Alex said, making sure not to look in Karla’s direction. The woman was a lunatic, yes. But Alex had always been a sucker for a nice set of breasts and Karla’s were just about perfect, albeit surgically so.
“You’re a hell of a fighter and you have a good head on your shoulders,” Jameson continued. “Now, you haven’t been with us long enough for any sort of leadership position, but I want you to know that I’m going to push for it. You’ve floored me, kid. Really.”
“Thanks,” Alex said again. It was all he
Jameson intimidated the hell out of him and the fact that his wife practically undressed him with her eyes every time he was in their presence made it worse. Jameson was in his late forties but had lived a hard life that made him look closer to sixty. He was thin and wiry but had a voracious strength that took most people by surprise.
“I need to know something, though.”
Jameson looked to Karla and gave her a knowing grin. She returned it and then looked to the campfire. “You’re tough as nails and I don’t question your loyalty to the club at all,” Jameson said. “But look…if I’m being honest…you seem to have a good heart. Maybe
good. Sure, you don’t mind handing out an ass whooping and you can drink damn near anyone under the table. But…I don’t know. You don’t strike me as the kind of young man that would stay in a club like this. And we need that, you know? We need loyalty.”