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Mini-Story Monday, Episode 5: The Coming Storm, Part 4

He placed the two glasses on the bar and waited for the bar tender to notice him. The room was more crowded than when he had first come in. He looked and saw a table full of ex drivers. He turned quickly, hoping that, because he wasn’t in uniform, they wouldn’t notice him. He had no such luck. “Do my eyes deceive me or is that the good captain Briggs,” a voice came from behind him. He cringed, felt his body tighten. He kept his eyes forward like a child avoiding a bully, thinking that by remaining still, ignoring the danger, would make it all go away. “Say, captain, why don’t you come join us for a drink.” He didn’t turn. “Captain.” The voice persisted. “no need to be rude, captain, I mean, you just help to destroy our jobs, ruin our lives and fuck with our futures, the least you could do is have drink with us.” Briggs noticed the ambient noise in the room had stopped. He turned his head slowly and every eye in the room was on him. He nodded and turned his whole body. He felt exposed and naked. “I’m sorry,” he said, his voice sounding small and reedy, “I am truly sorry that things are bad for you.” Nothing, the table of men stared at him, the rest of the room looked back and forth between the two of them, like people watching an exceptionally slow tennis match.“Well,” one of the men said, looking at the rest of table, “he’s sorry, I guess that makes things all right.” The sarcasm in his voice caused the room to chuckle and murmur. Briggs nodded and turned back to the bar. He heard the sound of chairs scrapping on the floor and turned quickly to see three of the drivers had stood up and were moving slowly toward him. “Don’t you fucking turn your back on us,” the leader said, a man Briggs knew only as Carl. He was moving, along with the other two, slowly, menacingly across the room. Briggs’ mind raced. “Guys,” he said pressing his back against the bar, “I know things are bad, hell, things suck for me too, if that helps.” The men kept moving. “I mean, look at my face, see this,” he pointed to the black eye and the cut on his cheek, “my wife gave me that, kicked me in the face just before she walked out on me. So …” The three men were standing right in front of him now, pressing in close. They were quiet, the room tensed with anticipation. The three men looked Briggs over. “Your wife kicked you in the face,” Carl said and Briggs nodded, “she walked out on you.” “That she did,” Briggs said. “So,” Carl said looking back at his two buddies, then back at Briggs, “then it’s be okay if I fucked her.” He said and the other two laughed. Briggs felt his anger explode into his eyes and he took an ill advised swing at Carl. The punch missed, passing fecklessly under Carl’s chin, sending Briggs staggering. The room gasped. “bad move captain Briggs,” Carl said and stepped forward, his arm raising up, ready to crush the captain’s face. Briggs tensed, tried to ready himself for the blow, knowing full well it would just possibly kill him. Suddenly, a person stepped in front of him. “Easy Carl,” the man said and Carl stopped. He stepped back and looked at the new arrival.