I step inside the packed bar and take off my sunglasses. It takes a minute for my eyes to adjust to the dark building after coming in from the blinding sunlight of the beach.
Looking around, I check out the enormous two-story club. Bikers from all across the southeast are lined up at the two bars running the length of both sides of the room. A few of their faces I recognize, some of them friendly, and others definitely not.
I blow out a long breath. How the hell am I going to find my brothers and the rest of the Steel Infidels in this mess? I manage to squeeze my way through the crowd to an empty spot at the closest bar and order a whiskey, straight up without ice.
As I size up the various motorcycle clubs scattered around the tables, I’m hoping there won’t be trouble this week during the bike rally. At the bare minimum, there will probably be a few fights breaking out between rival clubs. If that happens, I won’t be surprised if the Steel Infidels are caught right smack dab in the middle of it.
My crew can’t seem to stay out of bar brawls, and I suspect they secretly enjoy beating the shit out of people. As long as there aren’t any fatal shootings or stabbings and nobody gets admitted to the hospital, I’ll consider the week to be a raging success.
“Jesse Mason!” a loud booming voice calls out from behind me before a heavy hand clamps down on my shoulder. “Where have you been hiding? I thought you would show up yesterday, son.”
I turn around and grasp the man’s hand to shake.
“Roger! Good to see you. There were a few last-minute things to take care of before I could leave town, so I’m running late. I’m here now and ready to party. How have you been?” I wave a hand at the noisy room. “Business must be great. This place is so crowded that you couldn’t squeeze ten more people in here.”
Roger is the owner of the Silver Shark Saloon, a bar catering to the party crowd in Panama City, Florida. The centrally located bar on the beach strip is the happening place to be during the bike rally and known by everyone as party central.
“Business is going gang-busters,” he replies with a chuckle. “I love it when the bike rally is here. You guys sure know how to party. Thank God bikers aren’t like those cheap-ass spring breakers coming to town with nothing but fifty bucks in their pocket and a hard-on.”
He grabs a toothpick from the bar and sticks it in his mouth. “Money is money, but sometimes I wish those spring breakers would go somewhere else for a change. They’re beginning to get on my last nerve.”
I laugh and down the rest of my whiskey in one swallow. “I bet they are. So have you seen my brothers and the rest of the MC? We’re all supposed to meet up tonight. I’m sure they’re here somewhere and have most likely started the party without me.”
Roger tilts his white golf cap back on his bald head and points across the room to where three scantily clad girls are dancing on a long wooden bar. “Last time I saw them, they were hanging around in that general direction.”
I watch as one of the girls leans over to give a bearded biker a full view of her braless breasts straight down the front of her tight white t-shirt.
“Well, that’s not a surprise,” I say. “The Steel Infidels never miss a chance to ogle the ladies. You didn’t happen to mention anything about the bachelor party to Flint, did you?”
“Hell no,” he replies, clearly insulted. “You told me it was a surprise bachelor party, so mum’s the word. The private room, booze, and strippers are already arranged. All you guys need to do is show up the night of the party ready to see some pussy.”
“Strippers too? Wow, you are a man with connections. I thought I would have to round those up myself.”
“Don’t you worry about a thing. I’ve got you covered. Every year I bring in a group of traveling strippers for the rally. You’ll be glad to know I checked them all out personally from head to toe. Or should I say tits to pussy. I think the Steel Infidels will be pleased with my choices.”
He leans closer.
“And if you need anything else, let me know. I have to warn you though. The cops are hanging tight this week. The word on the street is that there’s going to be trouble.”
“What kind of trouble?” I motion for the bartender to bring me another whiskey. “I was hoping for a quiet, no-drama week for a change. I have a gut feeling Flint is only going to get married once, so I want his bachelor party to go smoothly. For us, that means no arrests, no drunk driving, and no trips to the emergency room.”
“I wouldn’t worry much about it,” Roger says. “The rumors are flying that there might be a couple of the one-percenter clubs showing up. Trying to settle some scores left over from that mess in Waco.”
He shakes his head in disbelief.
“What a fiasco that turned out to be. Most of those bikers are still sitting in the county jail out in Texas. The authorities don’t know what to do with them. If you ask me, they should throw them all in a cell together and the problem would be solved in a hurry. Think of all the taxpayer money they'll save.”
I shrug it off. “The MC doesn’t have any beef with the one-percenters. As long as they stay out of our way, we’ll stay out of theirs. Now if any of those fucking Liberators show up here, that will be an entirely different story.”
“Did something go down with them?” he asks. “I haven’t seen them around yet this week and hope I don’t. That Big Roy is one nasty son-of-a-bitch. I don’t need his kind of business.”
I hesitate before answering. Roger is a friend, but not a confidant. The decades-old feud between the Steel Infidels and the Liberators is a known fact. What isn’t widely known are the brutal events that have gone down over the past few months.
After the Liberators murdered one of my crew members and shot Flint, the MC made the decision to permanently take them out.
By whatever means necessary.
Unfortunately, we were only partially successful. Several Liberators were killed during a shootout. A few others were arrested for the prostitution of young girls for sex and pornography.
Even after all this, the leader of the Liberators, Big Roy, and his top crew members managed to escape. Someone from the police department tipped them off before the raid. Being the fucking cowards they are, they let their newest members take the fall for the club.
The Liberators have been in hiding for months now. Nobody has seen or heard from them. Or if they have, they sure as hell aren’t talking.
The thought of Big Roy still out there somewhere eats at me like a festering wound every single day. I know he will show his ugly face sooner or later. He isn’t the type of man to hide out in a mountain cabin forever because he likes terrorizing people too much to lay low for long. When he comes out of hiding, I’ll be there waiting for him.
Roger doesn’t need to know any of this though. I believe in sharing information only on a ‘need to know’ basis.
“Nothing major happened,” I finally answer, downplaying the situation. “Same old shit, you know. The FBI is looking for them, so I highly doubt they will show up here. You don’t need to worry about it.”
“Good to know. I don’t want any trouble this week.”
“That makes two of us.”