see minor edit to 4b - it will make a difference
It didn't look like much from the outside. The walls were white painted cinder blocks originally; now it was white in places and gray where all the paint had been sanded off by the wind. There was the support for a sign, the actual sign that once had been there had blown away. A roadrunner had been painted on the street side wall, underneath crude block letters spelled out ROADRUNNER. This work of art looked newer, my guess was it had been done no more than five years ago. Somebody had shot at the roadrunner and his head no longer looked quite right.
About five paces from the door I was hit with an invisible wall of wrongness. This was not a good place. Bad things had happened here and bad men were inside. I smiled. This was my kind of place.
I walked in the door, it was a screen door with a metal one behind it that was propped open. I let it slam behind me. I liked the sound of screen doors slamming. It reminded me of old movies about other peoples happy lives. I liked it so much I kicked backward and popped it back open so I could hear it slam again. I stepped to my right and smiled as it banged shut again behind me.
"Hey now. Don't you love the sound of a screen door slamming?" I asked the other patrons who had interrupted important conversations to stare at me. Nobody answered. The bartender looked at me and went back to drawing designs on the bar top with his finger and a puddle of beer.
It was almost the usual place with the usual people doing the same stupid shit. Almost. This place was different for two reasons. I instantly liked both of them.
The first was the table full of bad asses. Four males, two of them Indians and not the Navajo type. Their faces were sharper, more angles than planes. They looked leaner too from what I could see. Built for going the distance rather than working in one place all day. They would be quick.
Both of them were wearing leather holsters like mine except theirs had more leather cutaway in front so they could draw faster. They also were packing butcher knives in handmade leather sheathes. One of them was fringed with what had been a nice head of blond hair. It was just getting better and better.
The two white guys were to young to have seen Mad Max but they had instinctively grasped the concept that looking like a B movie bad ass would intimidate peace loving citizens. The skull motif had been overdone when I was their age. Now, it just said, "Trying to hard!" They were probably from what used to be California.
The second reason was the barmaid. She was beautiful. Enough so that it distracted me from the staring contest I was having with the assholes at the table. I'm sure they thought they won but I didn't care.
She came out of the backroom and was carrying a fresh bottle of skullfuck, complete with worm, balanced on a little tray like this was actually someplace where people cared about presentation. She smiled at me, said, "Have a seat stranger" and was past me in a hummingbirds heartbeat.
I watched her move, she had a great ass and black hair long enough to touch it. I thought it would be nice to be that hair while I pulled up a seat at a table where I could keep my back against the wall and watch the doors.
I nodded to the old guy lost in his drink a couple of tables down. He didn't even notice. I wasn't surprised. All bars like these had an old man or woman whose job was to stare into their drink and occasionally bust into tears or rants.