View Full Version : Man walks into a bar...

May 29th, 2014, 10:19 PM
Corporal James 'Big Jim' Reynolds walked into the Happy Bamboo Club at ten o'clock on a Saturday night lookinjg for a fight. He'd had a bad day. A really bad day. One chewing out after another. First by Sarge. Then by LT. Then by a drunk in the street who mistook him for someone else. He was ready to fight anybody but the drunk in the street. The drunk had been too big. Reynolds wasn't looking to get hurt. He only wanted to whip up on somebody to get rid of the frustration.

Reynolds paused inside the door to reconoiter the the Happy Bamboo situation. Mostly U.S. personnel were present. A cluster of Army types at one end of the bar, a cluster of Marines at the other. Three sailors in dungeree fatigues sat at a table playing dominoes..

Standing at stage centre was a lone soldier in strange looking camo; a broken pattern of a sort Reynolds did not recognise. The stranger was short, a lightweight, probably had to stand on tiptoe to fill whatever height requirement he had to meet. He was nursing a pint.

The army types had reconciled their perimeter. The marines had done the same. This left the stranger standing alone with a clear space to right and left.

Target accquired, Reynolds advanced. He chose the bit of open field to the left of the target. He bellied up to the bar with a show of enthusiasm and with an elbow out far enough to bump the target and cause the little fellow to spill some beer on his strange camoflauge blouse.

The stranger half turned and looked up at Reynolds with a bit of a frown on his boyish face.

'You got a problem, kid?' said Reynolds.

A shrug was the only answer. The jostled one turned back to face the bar, sipped his beer, and stared straight ahead.

'Hey kid, I'm talking to you.' said Reynolds.'You ain't showin' proper respect for your elders.'

Another shrug. Another sip of beer. Continued silence.

'You don't know who you're messin' with, fella,' said Reynolds. You ever hear of ''Big Jim'' Reynolds? Huh? Well, that's me, squirt.'

The one addressed answered with another shrug. He lifted his pint, studied it for a moment, took a swallow, and put the glass on the bar without comment.

'Listen you,' said Big Jim. 'I done introduced myself all proper like. You just stand there with no more manners than a billy goat. That's a insult that demands I do somethin' about it. Before I kick your butt all over Saigon I'd like to know who it belongs to.'

The stranger picked up his beer, took a swallow, and said nothing.

'I done asked you polite, now I want to know. What's your name, half-pint?' Reynolds punched the source of offensive silence on the shoulder hard enough to cause another beer spill.

The stranger put down his beer, reached into a napkin dispenser, took out a napkin, wiped his lips, dropped the napkin on the bar, and turned towards Reynolds with a broad grin on his face.

'SAS Sergeant Donald MacAndrew, at your service,' he said.

Ten minutes later Corporal Reginald Jones walked into the Happy Bamboo Club looking for a fight. He'd had a bad day. A really bad day. He was ready to fight anybody. He spotted an empty space at the bar next to a midget soldier in some weird-looing camo. Target accquired, Jones advanced.

May 29th, 2014, 11:09 PM
I like this story. It ties together neatly. I'm not familiar with the army, so I had to look up some things to be sure, but it was worth it. A few minor errors I caught: the "looking" in the first sentence is misspelled, two periods in the last sentence in the second paragraph, and a missing space in the ninth. Now, enough nit-picking. The only thing that I think should be changed is: "The jostled one turned back to face the bar". "The jostled one" seems a bit awkward to me.

May 29th, 2014, 11:22 PM
Thanks mystic575. The number of nits you point out may well have caused me to fire my line editor, if I had a line editor. I tried to use as few military terms as possible and yet keep the flavour. Thank you for your kind words.

Would it have been better to use 'the stranger' all the way in that section of the story?

May 29th, 2014, 11:33 PM
You can do that, or use another noun your character might use. For example, "the boy", maybe.

Misty Mirrors
May 30th, 2014, 02:30 AM
I don't get it.
I don't get the last paragraph.

May 30th, 2014, 02:51 AM
I don't get it.
I don't get the last paragraph.

Really? It is a mirror ploy, or loop story.

If garza had gone on, he might have included the list from the start and one more. SAS Sergeant Donald MacAndre, for the one punch that put, Corporal James 'Big Jim' Reynolds, out in the parking lot for ten minutes.

Not sure if the name is Scottish or Irish, but no one in their right mind, picks a bout with either.

May 30th, 2014, 08:52 AM
SAS personnel often had a cleared space on each side at the bar. Sgt McAndrews had disposed of Reynolds before Jones appeared. Jones was also headed for a thrashing.

Misty Mirrors
May 30th, 2014, 10:51 AM
Wouldn't it be better to leave Reynolds in the bar. Then get Jones to come in and make Jones give Reynolds a thrashing? That wouldbe a "Disney" story.

May 30th, 2014, 11:45 AM
No, the key to the story is McAndrews identifying himself as SAS - Special Air Service. That's one of the British Army's special forces. He maybe would have pronounced it 'sass', and you don't sass anyone from SAS. They come in several different sizes, but regardless of size you don't want to pick a fight with one.

Once we know who the little fellow is, we know what happened to Reynolds. The medics would have removed him before Jones arrived, and the last line, 'Target acquired, Jones advanced,' let's us know what is about to happen to Jones, who will, no doubt, pick a fight the same way Reynolds did and will, in his turn, require the attention of the medics..

The fates of both Reynolds and Jones are left to our imaginations.

May 30th, 2014, 12:45 PM
loop story
Sgt McAndrews had disposed of Reynolds before Yep. So uhm... Half-pint was there to have a bit of fun?

May 30th, 2014, 01:18 PM
It's been a boring week. No action. Ho hum. Happy Bamboo always full of yanks and one of 'ems bound to want to start a fight.

May 30th, 2014, 03:06 PM
Garza, I always learn something from your stories. I wasn't in the service (I was half-deaf and flat-footed)) but I figured the small SAS guy was some kind of badass. Good job.

May 31st, 2014, 04:15 PM
Garza, I liked this. The end protects the beginning mingles with the ending. Very good piece. Good work. Your language, as well, the suspense, makes the mind tingle.

Good job man.

May 31st, 2014, 05:56 PM
That was a good story!

I especially liked Big Jim's way of talking. No need to detail his personality any further I think. The way he speaks tells it all.

The climax was awesome: "SAS Sergeant Donald McAndrew, at your service." I imagined the face of Big Jim. Must have been priceless...
Although you gave some hints throughout the story (e.g. This left the stranger standing alone with a clear space to right and left.) I didn't expect the end at all. Actually, I had to read it a second time to notice those hints.

Since most of the customers as well as the protagonists were soldiers the military vocabulary in the context of the bar scene was very clever, . "reconnoiter the situation", "target acquired", "the bit of open field to the left of the target", "offensive silence",... Very clever.

Very enjoyable story.

May 31st, 2014, 06:09 PM
SAS personnel often had a cleared space on each side at the bar. Sgt McAndrews had disposed of Reynolds before Jones appeared. Jones was also headed for a thrashing.

ooh, I missed the name change. That is why I cannot be a judge in the competitions, Simple things like a name change is missed and I think I know it all.

DUH! Now I Get It.

May 31st, 2014, 06:59 PM
midnightpoet - Neither was I ever in the service. Being very near-sighted meant I had to pay my own way to go to war and the only weapons I ever carried were a notebook, mechanical pencil, and a somewhat outdated Leica IIIf camera. And as the saying goes, you don't sass an SAS guy. My experience was that the special forces types were never the ones to start a fight. They were, however, responsible for ending many fights.

danielstj - Finding a way to bring a story full circle was a technique I picked up first writing for magazines, then found it to be effective in writing news stories for radio and television. It's not always possible, but I always looked for a way to bring a story to closure by bringing it full circle while leaving a promise of more to come.

Qwentin - Listening to how people talk has been what you might call a hobby of mine from childhood. As mentioned above, I am very nearsighted. At the doctor's recommendation I was not fitted with glasses until I was five years old. In those early years everything was a big blur and I learned to identify people by voice rather than by sight to a degree far beyond normal. That is why I like to use dialogue to tell a story. People don't realise how much they reveal of themselves by the way they speak.

W.Goepner - Glad you did get it. This was supposedly a true incident. It was told to me by a retired British soldier who lives in Belize. I know it's a true story because he started telling it by saying 'This is no lie...'

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting.