Sitting behind Simon I could still feel his disapproval at having such rudeness displayed in his place of business. I smiled a bit, maybe not even enough to make it to my face. Along with the fat one blocking the door, Balaclava’s words were designed to intimidate, which made their intent clear. Crossing the cafe floor with this finger still pointed at me, he added, “Get up.” The third voyou, a skinny Algerian with something almost like a mustache, flanked him.
I made to push myself up from the table, a good little sheep before the wolves. It was a sin against God and good cooking, but halfway between sitting and standing I threw the plate at Balaclava like a frisbee. It took him in the chin (I was aiming for the throat), the remainder of the eggs and potatoes spinning off as it traveled, causing just enough confusion to give me a moment.
I used that to leapfrog around Simon and put a boot into the Algerian’s groin. I hit him hard enough that his feet came out from under him and he hit the floor with his head. A solid jab to Balaclava’s face kept him distracted for a few more moments, hands flying to his nose. I was mildly impressed that the fat one didn’t panic or run. Instead he made a collapsible truncheon appear from his jacket, whipping it out to its full length as he crossed the distance to me.
Only a fool fights an armed opponent bare-handed, but I couldn’t see a way past him. And if I got away I’d be leaving Simon alone with three angry, thwarted young men. So I grabbed a chair and used it like a ringmaster training an unruly circus bear.
With three quick swings Fatty turned the chair into kindling, leaving me holding nothing but a broken stick. But it got me close enough that I could grab his wrist with the baton and use my other hand to stab his forearm with the splintered end of the chair leg. He grunted and tried to push away, giving me an opening to pull him in close for a headbutt that crushed his nose.
I gave him a swift kick to keep him down. Shaking his head, Balaclava had just enough time to realize he was alone now. I could feel the blood on my forehead and knew by the expression in his eyes Balaclava could see it. Displaying an intelligence that I wouldn’t have given him credit for, he ran for the door.
I tripped him and picked up a chair by its back in one motion, swinging it around to pin him to the floor by his neck. I made to sit on it, causing Balaclava’s eyes to bulge before I had put any weight on it, but I only squatted over him holding it in place with my crossed forearms. “I’m up,” I said to him, trying to sound casual through the blood pumping in my ears. I leaned forward a bit on the chair, pressing the stretcher into his throat. “What can I do for you?”
A small amount of spittle erupted from his lips before I let the chair’s pressure off of his throat, causing the back stretcher to push into his belly. He glared at me even as his eyes bulged. He made to say something, but it came out as half-a-laugh as his eyes dodged behind me. I made to glance in that direction when a hollow clang grabbed my attention. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Simon standing over the Algerian holding a skillet that he had just used to brain the younger man, keeping him on the floor. I smiled my thanks. Simon panted, fear resolving into excitement that bloomed into a grin that made him look like the wolf he might have been decades ago.