A Rabbi, a biker and a thief walk into a bar.
In the old times, that would have been the start to a joke. I have it on good authority from the old man who sits in the corner of the bar that things were different then. If you can believe it, Rabbis didn’t have divine powers back then. In fact, the difference between a Rabbi and a Priest was a lot easier to tell back then. Before the Second Coming and the walking man, humanity was filled with all kinds of petty squabbles about whose Saint was holier than whom, whether it was Mohammed Ali, Tommy Chong, or Apostle Jon Stewart.
The three came in together – obviously some sort of gang. They were a curiosity, but none too rare in these parts. These types of dives used to service a lot of bikers and truckers, on their way from one coast to another – or at least, from Chicago to Memphis. Now, though, there are precious few truckers willing to brave the wilds, and only the most serious biker gangs still travel the wild. You still get your precious few idiots. Most of them seem to only go one way. These more…eclectic gangs, though, they might visit the same bar two or three times, doing odd jobs for food or picking up tips as to where to find some loot.
As I said, there was a Rabbi with this one, so odds are they weren’t out for looting. They might still be in it for the kicks of beating up ‘spawn – Rabbis weren’t as bloodthirsty as your average biker, but they had a vindictive streak a mile wide when it came to beating up ‘spawn. Some of them had the dream of catching the Antichrist before the Second Coming did, some of them I just couldn’t figure. This was the first time this particular gang had visited the Swollen Foot, so I didn’t have a bead on them yet.
The Rabbi had a bit of a swagger. I pegged him for about 28, 29, which means that his swagger wasn’t so much from experience as it was from youthful cockiness. He might have kilt one, maybe two ‘spawn. If he had faced more than that, there’d be more weariness to his step. He’d have that expression that comes with the knowledge that they’re just going to keep coming.
The biker, though, I could believe that swagger. They didn’t tend to get as weary – not until they were at that age that Rabbis got their swagger back. Bikers that were born on the field started to kill ‘spawn at a young age; word has it that their coming of age test was to drop the kid off in the middle of a ‘spawn-ridden field and wait and see if they made it to the nearest bar. Not so sure if the rumors are true or not; nobody’s been dumb enough to walk up to a biker and ask them. Or at least, nobody that dumb has walked away and told anybody else.
Thieves, on the other hand, had sometimes been known to travel from as far away as the big cities. They were usually the only people outside of Rabbis to come through here with a formal education. Granted, many of them never finished it, but at least they could read and write, which is useful for those hazards on the backs of bottles. That’s probably why thieves were usually the best person to trust out in these parts if you need medication.
This thief, though, didn’t look quite so worldly. She was a small girl, probably no older than about 16. It was hard to tell certain things with thieves – their experience usually wasn’t related to their swagger. They don’t face ‘spawn face to face the same way other people do, and they’re extremely talented at conveying confidence (or lack thereof) when they want to. I judged her to be about five foot two, about average for a young thief. She was good, though – I wouldn’t have even known her chocolate skin belonged to a girl if she hadn’t ordered a drink. She’d learn to throw you off her voice eventually, I was sure, but she was at that stage where changing the pitch of her voice was about as far as she could go.
These guys weren’t too shy. I pride myself on it being on account of “Loose Caboose” being the most righteous dive in Illinois. They must have known none of us were ‘spawn. I mean, these gangs look out for stuff like that, right? Rabbis are pretty smart.
All three of them split up. The Rabbi, dressed in tan robes, spoke to the bartender. He was a tall man – at seven feet, he easily dwarfed the bartender and even his biker companion. His tall black hat and long beard only made him appear even taller. He spoke softly, and his hand gestures, while animated, were kept close to the chest and reserved.
The Rabbi’s biker friend, on the other hand, only seemed quiet in the context of the half dozen other bikers that he immediately blundered into. About halfway between the heights of his two companions, he wore a battered down leather jacket that had probably belonged to his grandfather. Or grandmother. There wasn’t much difference in the biker community. What skin wasn’t covered in leather, dark glasses or black hair was deeply tanned.
It was the Thief that found what they were looking for, though. She moved along the crowd, flattering, accepting drinks but never sipping, rarely staying at one table for long. By the time she reached the end of the table, though, she was slipping a rolled up piece of paper into her pocket. She didn’t do too poorly – of the three drinks she threw into the trash can, she actually sipped the one that wasn’t drugged.
Her weather-stained, brown-and-tan sweat shirt slipped out the front door, and at an unspoken signal both the Rabbi and the biker cordially ended their conversations (as cordially as a biker ever ends a conversation) and made their way toward the door. Through the open door, the young thief could be seen unrolling the page in her pocket as they disappeared into the night. Nobody spoke of them for a few hours, and the were all but forgotten. After last call, a prospector shouted something about a map missing from his pocket. It didn’t matter by then, of course. The Rabbi, the biker and the thief were long gone.