Barry knew his mumbling was going to get him killed someday. He sat at a small table in the corner of the room with his view of the bar obscured by the pool table. It had long been his favourite place to people watch and this spot was the best place for it. The nearby fireplace, décor and poor lighting drenched this particular corner in gloom whilst letting him glare out and the rest of the patrons relatively uninterrupted.
Reaching in to his small stained blue backpack he conservatively pulled out the bottle of scotch which he had earlier stolen. Using a dirty glass left on the table by a previous gloom dweller he gingerly poured himself a drink. There were too many staff to notice that the scruffy but otherwise civil man sat in the corner hadn’t bought a drink but intended but stay for hours slowly topping up drink on the sly. On second thought the staff probably noticed him by paid him no attention. No one paid a man like him attention.
He didn’t care much for scotch itself but the opportunity arose and he was an opportunist by virtue of his lifestyle. He didn’t have a starving family to steal bread for so stealing a shop’s stock of luxury items to keep himself sane for another night would have to do.
“Whoever bought scotch would just piss it out the next morning just like me anyways” Barry mumbled to himself.
Setting the glass down he started on the coins he had collected during the day, they were sat in a small pile on the middle of the table. Carefully he started stacking them in the columns of ten. After being outside for so long today his filthy hands were only just starting to regain some feeling. The nearby fireplace gave off subtle but welcome waves of warmth which were all too welcome. Slowly but surely each of the coins were counted. There was enough for breakfast tomorrow, a rare treat which he would need after the amount of scotch he was intending to put away tonight.
Across from him at the bar perched on a stool sat a greying middle aged business man with a close fitting leather jacket on. Tapering in at the bottom it pronounced the man’s already amble gut. He swung on the stool nervously from left to right brushing the bar with his knees as he went. A lady approached and placed her hand on his shoulder stilling him.
Barry’s glare was broken by two men who started to approach. After briefly making unwelcome eye contact with him one man squatted down next to the pool table and inserted a coin. There was a metallic wrenching followed by the sound of balls being dispensed down the wooden ramp. The second man then started arranging balls on the table in a pattern which the two then discussed for a moment before getting their cues from the rack. They then paced to opposite ends of the table and started their game.
Between them Barry could see the business man and his female friend were now talking with their heads slightly bowed together. He was no longer swinging on his stool but his hands and forehead were now glistening with sweat. This wasn’t surprising considering the man was indoors with a jacket on. It was bitterly cold outside but in here it was hot and dry.
She sat with the man for several minutes before leaning over to speak to the bar tender to order two glasses of wine. After a few sips the business man sat back with a smile on his face. Joking and laugher continued.
A white cue ball skittered across the floor and came to a barrelling stop by colliding with Barry’s ankle. He let out an involuntary weep of pain as vivid spark of pain shot up his leg.
“Sorry, are you all right?” said the one of the pool players who was scampering over towards the table.
Leaning down Barry scooped up the ball. Under the table he saw two white running shoes parked at the end of the table, they had clearly never been used for running. Flexing back up his eyes met with the young man who was now stood in front of him. He wore a green hoodie with a shortly scraggly unkempt beard.
“Sorry, can I get you a drink or anything?” Insisted the man.
“Got one, I’m fine” mumbled Barry
“Ok…If you are sure…My name is Nathan…let me know if you want later”
Barry palmed the cue call in to Nathan’s hand and gave him a gracious nod. Nathan returned to his game, mocking his friend for his poor cue action.
After taking another few swigs of scotch Barry glanced over to the bar. The business’s man now had his hand tightly around women’s wrist. She struggled, whipping her arm around in a vain attempt to dislodge his grip. With a look of wild panic in her eyes she snapped her wrist up and smacked him open handed across the face. He wasn’t laughing anymore. Standing up he placed his hand around her neck and started to grip. Baring down on her his jacket flexed and creaked under the pressure.
Barry scanned around the room. No one else had noticed, he had to do something.
Despite the scotch he had consumed Barry sprang up from the table knocking the coins over. He circled round the pool table, plucking the cue stick from Nathan’s hands. Leaving the dim corner left him dazed by the bright stark light of the bar.
“Leave her” mumbled Barry. His grip tightening on the cue as he saw the wretched gasping breaths escape her quickly whitening body
The business man eased his grip and turned, a scowl deeply entrenched on his face.
“What did you say?!?” Bellowed the man
The room was quiet now. All eyes focused on the unfolding scene.
“…Leave her…” Barry mumbled
“Speak up you stinking shambles!” said the man as he pulled the women up by her hair.
She winced as she was forced to her feet.
“Leave her” Screamed Barry. Is he did the man span, grabbing a wine glass from the bar striking Barry across the face. A brilliantly intense fire of pain burned a furrow up his cheek.
Barry lashed down the pool cue on the man’s wrist. There was a thunderous crack is the hard wood tested itself against bone. The cue shattered spraying splinters across the room.
The man exhaled a blood curdling scream as his hand let go of the woman’s hair. The back of his wrist had been splayed open and tendons cut so that it no longer functioned anymore.
The woman backed away on her hands and knees, her face peppered with blood and splinters of wood.
“Run!” exclaimed Barry, blood spattering from his mouth.
He turned and leapt across the room towards the door tossing the rest of the cue side. They erupted out of the door in to the shocking cold night air. Despite in the pain in his ankle and stinging chill in his lungs he continued to run for several minutes until he was far away. He could hear sirens off in the distance as he slumped down in to a doorway. It was only then realised that he had left all of his money on the table. There would be no breakfast tomorrow.