By Judy A Knox (written in 2015)

The assignment was to write about a waitress’s Saturday night at the local bar and grill.

You never know what’s going to happen at the Rowdy Riders Bar and Grill. For instance, last night started out just like any other Saturday night, the usual crowd – a few locals and all the bikers. Out-of-town guests looking for a meal and/or a drink would usually drive right on by when they saw all the Harleys parked around the place. The bikers do get a little noisy sometimes, but for the most part they’re nice enough once you get to know them. Waitresses put up with a lot sometimes, but at least I had developed some rapport with these guys. I prefer waiting on them than some of the other people who come in.

I really like working there. When my husband, Pete, was alive it was one of our favorite places to stop for a quick bite or to while away a couple hours people watching. Joe, the owner, had become a friend, and after Pete died he offered me the part-time job on Friday and Saturday nights. It was fun, and we joked that it kept me off the streets. It also supplemented my pension just enough to keep me in stylish hairdos and nice manicures.

I may be on the chubby side, but I still take care of my appearance and most people are surprised when they hear that I’m 72 years old. Another advantage of the job, besides being close to my home in Fountain of the Sun, is that Joe always lets me leave at 11:00 so that I can be well away from the place before, as he puts it, it really rowdies up.

When I came in yesterday at 5:00, things were quiet, but the decibel level rose steadily as the place filled up, especially after the band started playing. I noticed a biker I had never seen before. The other guys seemed to know him though. They called him Big John. And he definitely was big – big and scruffy looking. I remember thinking, I sure wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alley. Funny I was thinking that, now that I look back. I couldn’t help noticing that he downed a lot of burgers and beer, especially beer, as the evening wore on. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait on him. Jenny Sue had that pleasure. But his loud guffaws and rude remarks made him pretty hard to ignore. 

There was another new customer, too. He came in around 7:30 and took a seat at the far end of the bar. He looked a little out of place among the bikers. He was dressed casually – jeans, leather jacket, and cowboy boots – nothing unusual about him. I must say I admired his beautiful head of hair, almost white with dark grey streaks, freshly cut, very handsome, and his neatly trimmed mustache. He looked, well, healthy. That’s the best word I can come up with. I couldn’t really tell how old he was. He certainly didn’t look as if Rowdy Riders was the sort of place where he usually spent his time. 

He seemed lonely. He said his name was Mike. He was just passing through town on his way to visit his brother in California. He asked me about the area, and a little about myself. He seemed harmless enough, but I was careful not to reveal too much private information. In these days of identity theft a person can’t be too forthcoming with personal data. But every chance I got, I would stop by and exchange a friendly word or two to make him feel welcome. Leaving shortly before 10:00, he thanked me for being so hospitable and left a nice tip.

At ll:00 I hung up my apron, grabbed my purse, and walked toward the door. “Thank you, Sally!” Joe called as I made my way out. As I headed toward my car, the loud voices and sounds of music from inside suddenly became louder, indicating that the door to the bar had opened. Someone else must be leaving too, I thought, as I unlocked my car door. I tossed my purse onto the floor of the passenger seat and was about to climb in when I felt someone grab my left wrist from behind. 

“Hey, cutie! Why don’t you and me go for a little ride?” It was unmistakeably the voice of Big John, though his speech was slurred. “I like fat girls, and I know fat girls are hungry for lovin’. I’m yer man. Get in and slide over. I’ll drive. I’m gonna take ya places ya’ve never been before.” The smell of beer was strong on his breath as he reached around and snatched the keys out of my right hand. 

“Dear Lord,” I prayed under my breath. “Please help me!” I stood frozen. I wasn’t sure what to do, but whatever it was certainly did not include going for a ride with Big John. Not if I could help it.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was Mike. He may have looked distinguished, but he quickly grabbed Big John in a hammerlock as if he had done this many times before. A couple of swift blows and Big John lay flat on the ground, out cold. Mike asked to borrow my cell phone and called 911, then waited with me for the police and paramedics to arrive. “I’m so glad you came back,” I told him. “I had no idea how to get away from that guy.”

“I didn’t really leave,” he replied gravely. “I saw how that man was looking at you all evening and I figured he was up to no good. I was just keeping an eye on you to see that you got safely on your way.” I couldn’t think of anything to say. I was so shaky it was a miracle I didn’t collapse and end up flat on the ground next to Big John. 

The paramedics and police arrived. Hearing the sirens, some curious customers came out along with Joe, who kept asking, “Are you sure you’re OK?” I answered a million questions for the officers and EMTs, who assured Joe that I was relatively unharmed. 

“Now tell me again,” asked the policeman. “How did this man get that bash on the head?”

I repeated what I had told him before. “One of the customers, Mike, pulled him away from me and hit him on the head.”

“Mike? Mike who?” I looked around but somehow Mike had slipped away unnoticed while I was distracted by spinning red lights and endless questions. Who knows? I thought. Maybe he has a record or something and doesn’t want to get in trouble. I shrugged my shoulders. The least I owed him was enough time to make a clean getaway.

Joe brought me back inside, sat me down in a booth. Bringing two steaming mugs of tea, he sat across from me. He said the typical consoling things and offered to drive me home in my car, followed by another man in his. “The only thing I don’t get,” he told me, “is who is this Mike you were talking about?”

“You saw him. The white-haired man with the mustache who was sitting at the end of the bar? Distinguished looking, leather jacket, drinking 7-Up?”

“What are you talking about? There was no one sitting at the end of the bar tonight.”

I wasn’t going to argue with my boss and good friend. “I guess I just imagined him then.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Joe replied. “Kinda weird though.”

Well, I may be fat and I may be, as they say, getting up in years; but I have never been prone to wild imaginings, and was certainly not hallucinating. That man was there at the bar, and he was there in the dark alley behind the bar to save me from whatever Big John had in mind.

Now I think I can explain what really happened. As I was getting ready for bed last night, I opened my Bible to read for a few minutes, and came upon this verse, Hebrews 13:2 (ESB). “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Such things usually only happen on TV shows or in Hallmark movies, but this time it happened at the Rowdy Riders Bar and Grill.