"Well I am in trouble with Sturgess." Replied Tom.
"Well then you're in a lot of trouble, Tom." Dave shook his head.
"What's the deal with Sturgess, anyway? Who gives a flying fuck what he thinks about anything?" Tom sort of chortled to himself. Then he thought better of it and Tom's eyes darted around the room surreptitiously.
"Sturgess is an asshole, Tom." Dave replied curtly. "I don't mean that in a bad way. He's what they call a nice guy. But he's an asshole at the same time. You'll meet people like that."
"Well then why'd you say I'd be in trouble with him?"
"I meant you're in trouble with me. Everyone is. That's the way I am. Fuck Sturgess. It doesn't matter a damn what Sturgess thinks about you as long as you're here with me." Dave adjusted a blue-billed cap above his brow.
"Suck my dick, Dave."
"Is that what you think, Tom? Real smart way to talk to the guy who is gonna be your boss."
"There's no more to this plot than what you make of it, Dave. You're no one's boss unless they let you boss 'em."
"Well here's what I think, Tom, is when you tell me to suck you off, I think about other stuff. I think about what you owe Sturgess, but I don't think that much about Sturgess. I think about the respect you owe me. And I don't think you're paying it up. I won't be your boss if you're out in the gutter upside down."
Tom started to shuffle a little bit with his feet under the bar stool. He didn't usually mouth off to Dave, especially when he was right about the boss bit. Dave might very well end up bossing Tom around. But what could anyone do about that?
"Just suck my dick, Dave." Tom stammered. "I mean that when I say it."
"Sure you do, Tom. The only thing you don't mean is that you mean it. If you know what I mean. You just haven't got it in you." Dave adjusted the hat one more time.
"Give me a fucking pitcher." Tom shouted to the bartender who was with a young female customer at that point. "I want a pint."
"Shut the fuck up, Tom." Dave said. Their eyes met. "Look you don't know what's good for you. Get a beer to go and get the fuck out of here."
Tom was tempted to tell Dave to suck him again. But this time he noticed something. "You mean Sturgess is on his way up to the joint?" Tom's eyes widened and he looked like he might bolt after all.
The pitcher arrived. It was a golden-brown lager and smelled like shit. There wasn't much on tap here other than a bunch of Southern brandies and some suds that went for a few wallet pages. Anyway it wasn't wildly attractive. Tom picked up the pitcher and poured it into a flimsy cup sifting its way across the counter top on foam and spilled ale. Suddenly the solution struck Tom.
"You know Sturgess can suck my dick, too." A big paw fell across his shoulder and Tom suddenly went sailing across the room.
"Hi Sturgess," Dave muttered. He looked over his shoulder casually to see Tom stumbling back to his feet with a blade clutched in his hand. Suddenly a flying chair took him in the sternum and Tom went back to the ground with Sturgess rushing above him. Sturgess was a good hundred pounds heavier than Tom--who was really a bundle of twigs. Dave thought about it and poured a glass from the pitcher of shit beer and turned to watch Tom get his face pounded into the planks of floor.
Soon after a cloud of blood rose from a puddle of spittle, teeth, and crimson whiskers that had been Tom's face. The knife lay a few feet away, its dull blade reflecting yellow lanterns strung around the walls.
"That's what I mean about Sturgess," Dave said to no one in particular. "Hell of a guy and not one to cross."