The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
As workmen create places to display artwork, the students rise to the occasion. Tourists stop and photograph/video each new creation, puffing up the artists to greater efforts. Friday is a bonanza day, with both artwork and refrigerators coming in for praise.
Perfect end to a perfect week, at least in the education department. Unbelievable how much relief that roof gives, thinks Despina as she heads hovel-ward. Now if I could just get my personal life to behave, as well!
The sound of Paul Peter’s jeep breaks into her train of thought.
"Come on if you're going with me. The ac is calling."
"It's only mid-afternoon. You just want to bend your elbow. If you start now..." Despina frowns as she stops talking, watching his back as he threatens silently to leave without her. "Hang on. I need to gather my laundry."
"You're taking dirty laundry to a motel room without running water?" Paul Peter sneers.
Despina doesn't answer. Instead, she brings her cooler full of dirty clothes and situates it in the back of the jeep.
After they get their room at the Dareyata Rest, Despina tries to get information about the local laundromat out of the desk clerk. Failing, she walks down to YOWH to ask Mickey, whose car is nowhere in sight yet.
Entering, she is very aware of every eye on her. Blinded by the dark at first, she instinctively turns toward the far wall. Deliberately putting her back to the stage, she sits.
"Takin' up drinkin' again?" one familiar face inquires, giving Óscar a nod. Soon, a pitcher of ice water and clean glass are placed on the counter for her.
While I can‘t seem to remember HIS name, he obviously has no trouble remembering ME.
Despina feels her face flush with embarrassment. I met an awful lot of people all at once, her conscious excuses her memory lapse. "I didn't come in here to drink and be entertained."
Unnoticed, Paul Peter has approached, "You mean you plan to do your laundry in that pitcher of water?"
"Get real, PP."
"Oh, so you decided to take me up on my offer to manage your jello wrestling career?"
Paul Peter plops down at the next table when the chair he originally heads for is full of her purse.
"I just came to pick the sheriff's brain. I don't want to stay very long."
Ignoring the bar's patrons, Despina asks Óscar when Mickey generally makes an appearance. Before he can answer, the door is slammed back and several tough-looking bikers enter.
The leader stares at Despina, giving her the sort of lewd glance that says he's imagining her naked. One of the other bikers picks up Paul Peter's fresh beer, drains it, then dares Paul Peter to do something about it.
"Set 'em up, barkeep. The lady and I will take doubles of whatever she's drinking," the leader directs, cutting her off as she tries to head for the door. Óscar stiffly hands her the water pitcher and a glass, then fills a glass textured like Despina's with vodka.
"Straight? I like that in a woman." Tossing back the liquor, he keeps his eye on her while motioning for another.
Despina turns and marches to her table next to Paul Peter, again sitting with her back to the stage. "I think I'll be more comfortable back here. It gives me more room to work," thunking her pitcher down.
Practically breathing down her neck, the leader reaches for it. Despina blocks him, sheltering it with her body. "You're a big boy. Go buy your own."
Leering, he signals Óscar, who slowly prepares another pitcher, of 200 proof vodka. Before he gets it to the leader, his companions pull weapons of odd shapes and sizes, plowing several shots into the ceiling. A few patrons tip over their tables, cowering behind them.
"Back to your seats," roars the leader, intercepting Óscar with his pitcher.
One man hunkered down by the back wall does not sit. Two big bikers grab him by the scruff of his neck and give him a vicious shake, throwing him against the wall. Everyone else empties their pockets as instructed once the weapons turn their way.
When his henchmen have shaken down all the patrons and scooped out the cash register, pocketing their money, drinking their drinks, and snatched a few bottles from behind the bar before heading for the door. Nobody raises an objection. Seeing their leader settling in with a pitcher and a woman, one calls, "We'll see ya back at the camp grounds."
The bar is quiet as the door closes on the bikers. Despina looks around, noting for the first time the lack of a telephone. Her eyes flit to Paul Peter's.
"Right," he says, pushing his chair back. "I'll go." He heads for the door.
The leader stands, pulling a wicked-looking pistol from his boot top as he rises. "Not until I say so."
"Right. I'll just take a seat," says Paul Peter, carefully easing back into a chair facing toward Despina, who has stood up, one hand on her pitcher.
"Aw, Pina, you really don't want to do that," comments Paul Peter.
Turning to see what she's doing, the leader is faced with a changed woman. A come-hither smile, an alluring shift in her posture, a top button undone. He smiles, returning the gun to its former resting place. Reaching for Despina, he is surprised to suddenly find the table between them.
"You don't want to try that," warns Despina. "The last fellow who grabbed me before I was ready ended up lying flat out on the floor, knocked out cold, and had to be carried out by the sheriff and two other men."
A sneer greets this.
"You can ask anyone. Most of these same people were here. You might get hurt."
He starts around the table. Turning to meet him, she raises one hand in warning. "I'm not warmed up yet."
Now that his back is toward the door, one of the regular patrons who has been in the rest room slips out. The door makes an unmistakable clank even though the fellow has tried to be quiet.
Whirling, the leader stares at Paul Peter, who pops out of his chair as if he were a jack-in-the-box. "Who was that?"
"No idea. Just someone who wanted ta come in. Guess he changed his mind when he saw the mess. Can't say I blame him," slurs Paul Peter as if tipsy.
Looking carefully around the room, the leader sees that nobody has moved. Relaxing, he focuses on Despina again. "Well, I reckon I can arrange to warm ya up a bit."
Stepping toward the leader, Despina acts as if she is going to lean on him, but douses him with her ice water instead. Paul Peter snatches the pitcher of vodka instantly, banging him over the head with it, spilling nary a drop. Settling on his shoulders once he drops to the floor, Despina holds him flat, one arm cranked high behind his back, banging him again with her pitcher whenever he shows signs of rousing.
A mass exodus leaves even more tables bumped or leaning. Coming around, the biker begins to buck under her, with her slamming him down repeatedly.
When the sheriff finally enters, Despina has the vamped "Hell's Angel" type face down on the floor, sitting on top of his shoulders. She calls out to Mickey, "I hope you aren't going to tell me your hand cuffs are broken, or something lame like that."
"Despina, did you attack him first?" Mick’s right eyebrow shoots up.
"You think the only way I can knock a big guy down is by surprise?"
"Don't get all huffy on me, Dee. This has a very familiar look to it."
"Yes,” Despina admits, “I guess I did."
"Why did he let you come close enough to nail him?"
"I, sort of, you know, smiled at him, looking, um, trying to look, ah..."
"She vamped him good and proper, and we were all cheering her on, after what had happened," elucidates Paul Peter succinctly.
"Have you ever heard of entrapment?” Mick taps his nose as he studies her face for an answer. “In a case of entrapment, arresting him would be a waste of time and entail a lot of extra paperwork."
"Entrapment? I didn't trick him. I WARNED him. Is it entrapment if he found my warning far-fetched and thought it didn't apply to HIM?"
Looking around, he sees confirmation on Óscar's face, so he kneels to cuff him.
Despina, who has scooted up onto his shoulders so Mickey can get the man’s arms behind his back, says, "Watch out for the side kick," as she starts to get off.
The sheriff turns just in time to receive a tremendous blow from one leg, which he takes full in the mouth.
Promptly, Despina plops her full weight back down on him, eying the sheriff reproachfully. Patiently, as if talking to a four-year-old, she explains, "I discovered as a kid when I used to have to take down the boys who’d mess with my sister that when your opponent is flat on his belly on the floor, a side kick is his only weapon." She rolls her eyes expressively.
"Not a partner," Mick clarifies in self-defense, pointing out her double entendre.
"No. They've all left with everyone's money, after taking everyone’s drinks and roughing up one fellow, and plan to meet him at the campgrounds. It appears that, with my help, he doesn't need a partner to handle you."
"Now what would your highness wish?" Mick says in a syrupy, let’s-humor-the-little-woman voice.
"I don't want to tell you with you already so uppity and all, Mick."
"When you are a woman and suggest something sensible to a guy in charge, he goes all he-man and charges off immediately and gets hurt."
Gently fingering his mouth, he says, "Try me."
"Call for back up."
He rolls his eyes, puffs up his chest, ready to do just that, then lets the air out when he sees her cover her eyes with her hand and start to shake. Turning, he leaves long enough to call in from the car radio.
Shortly two deputies screech into the lot, so Despina dismounts again, allowing them to take the guy out.
Despina glows as she looks at Mickey. It is a contest between her and the bar tender to get there first to see to his cut lip.
"Your sucker sucks," Despina announces.
A drunk Paul Peter, who has been sipping the vodka ever since the leader's capture, leans over, peering closely up at it. "Not for the next few days, it won't," he quibbles.
"Oh, Mickey, I only came in to ask you, is there a Laundromat in town? I'm so sick and tired of grit from the river water in my 'clean' clothes."
"Yes, on Waterworks Street, along the south edge.” Rapid directions follow. “It's not the best part of town." Glancing around the thoroughly disreputable bar, he adds, "That shouldn't slow you down much, though."
Last updated 3/17/10 Corrected back up.3/10/10 Corrected hovel-ward. 2/13/10 added more clarification (Where’sMeKilt) 2/6/10 added more “tells”. 1/10/10 Added artwork material at start, intensified ending. 1/2/06.
Word Count: 1888
Reading Level: 4.9