The Star Captain and the Bartender
12 / 14 / 1789 New Starfaring Era

    "Hey there pretty thing...you ever been with a space captain before?"

    As he said it, the captain leaned in, black hair curling lustfully across his temples.  He was fit, thought the bartender, as most Confederate men were; and he no doubt pictured himself dazzlingly handsome in that heavy brown Galaxy jacket.  He might have had a chance with the girl, but, alas...
    The bartender picked up a glass to wipe the counter beneath it.  "You're talking to a poster," he said. 
    The captain craned back, focused his eyes on his two-dimensional conquest, then smashed his fist into the bar.  "Damn!" he said, with the drunken tone of a chubby middle-school bully.  "I knew there were no girls with boosters like that on this rust-eaten rock!"
     The bartender threw his rag down beneath the counter, thinking of his wife, who had a pair of the biggest boosters he had ever seen.  "If you don't like it here, why don't you hop in your big missiley spaceship and leave.  Our women won't complain and neither will I."
     "Your women won't complain because they don’t exist! There's naught but ugly old men in this dive!"  The captain rocked his chair to and fro as he slurred; the bartender wasn't sure which was more cacophonous, the chair legs racketing against the floor, or the sibilance spitting off his lips.
     "Pshh.  You're the ugliest one here.  I don't recall putting an Ugly Man Special on the board tonight, but something must have brought you here.  Maybe it was the desire to be with those of your own kind."  The bartender scanned the dark of the room again; there were plenty of ugly men, but there were no more Confederates tonight.
     The captain tilted his head, as if straining to hear something.  "I don't like your tone."  He tried to stand up from his barstool, but his knees knocked against each other and he tottered back down.  "I'm a starship captain and I'm used to being treated with respect."
    The bartender started to turn away.  Then he stopped.  Turned back.  Put both of his hands on the counter and leaned forward.  "And I'm used to fools like you coming in here every other day, hollering at the top of your lungs, driving away all the women with your attention, and destroying my place!  Now shut up and drink your beer or I'll kick you out."
    The captain took a second to study him--and guffawed.  "I dare you to try, fatty!  Can those thick arms even reach--hey!  Give me back my beer!"   
     The bartender smiled pleasantly.  "I think you've had enough, sir."  He put the captain's glass under the counter.  Then he scowled.  "Now scram!  No one calls me names in my own bar!"  He polished his knuckles with the palm of his other hand.
    "You can't make me leave," said the captain.  He smiled, villainy in his green eyes.  "I can have Confederate troops in here in five minutes--"
     "And how many times have I heard that one, I wonder?"  The bartender stepped back and crossed his arms.  Then he pointed at the captain and said, "Every last one of you says that, every time you come.  But the troops never show up.  And you know what?  Let 'em come.  We're not afraid of the Confederacy here."
    The captain's eyes widened.  He scowled and leaned forward to confide a secret.  "You should be.  I have enough rank to get this whole asteroid blown into the next dimension.  All I need to write in my report is, Rebellion Activity Found."
    The bartender waved his hands.   "And yet our rust-eaten asteroid is still here, after all the courageous Confederate captains who have come before you.  I'll say it again--I'm not scared.  You wanna know why?"
     Now the captain found enough of his legs to properly stand up.  He grabbed the edge of the bar counter and growled.  "Yeah.  Why."
     The bartender laughed and bent over.  When he came back up, he was cradling a shiny black submachine gun in his arm, below the bar where the other patrons couldn't see it.  "I'm not scared of you, nor anyone else in your damn Confederate army, because I’ve blasted more of your kind out of this life than I can count!"
     The captain stood still as if at attention, his foggy eyes intent on the weapon the bartender held.  A weapon that could fill him full of holes in an instant.  He opened his mouth, closed it, licked his lips.  Groaned: "You wouldn't."
      "I might, I just might," said the bartender, patting the load of the gun against the palm of his free hand.  "You see, I, too, am a captain--or used to be.  A captain for the Kadalver Crux.  And if we'd had more planets, more ships, more men, we would have beat you--because we definitely had more balls."
    "I knew it!  I knew you were here--"
    "If you had known, you wouldn't have come.  I've had enough of you cowards.  Get the hell out."
    "Ha—I will!  And I'll come back—I'll come back—and laser this hovel to the ground!"
     "I'll be waiting for you.  Right here.  With Ole Bessie."  The bartender gave his gun another loving pat, then cleared his throat as racuously as he could.  "I told you to get out once, don't make me say it with bullets."
     After the captain left, the bartender put up his gun.  He picked up his rag and cleaned the counter where the captain had sat.  A grin slowly broke out on his face.  The bar was quiet for the rest of the night.
   




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