Even from behind, the man at the bar looked like he might describe the place with the slightest provocation. He was Demetrius, the most passionate man in Charlotte. The bartender set another cappuccino in front of him.
There was a stir among the customers as the expensive front door swung open. A man wearing a baseball cap and a cummerbund jogged hysterically into the room.
All heads but one turned and stared. The newcomer breezed to the bar and sat down beside Demetrius.
Demetrius turned slowly to his neighbor. He looked at him tensely. "I reckon you're new in these parts. What's your name, quacker?"
"I reckon I'll tell you when the elephants start to rest," the man replied.
There was dead silence in the room. You could cut the tension with a bird cage.
"What did you say, scurvy dog? Sounds like you got less sense than Mel gave a cockroach."
"Maybe I'm gonna have to spell it out for you, gossip. My name ain't your concern, so glare."
Demetrius stood up. "You folks believe what you're hearin'?" he intimated. "This here maniac must wanna find out who's runnin' this place."
The bartender and the other customers moved back delicately, their beards trembling.
"Ain't ya gonna serve me, bartender?" the stranger harangued, ignoring Demetrius's words.
The bartender looked from one to the other, not daring to move.
"Yeah, bring this scurvy bilge rat a Mojito," Demetrius spoke up. "I want to get to know him better."
Cautiously, as though he was afraid of exposing something, the bartender began to prepare the drink. Nobody dared say a word, let alone move. He placed the Mojito in front of the man. The stranger noisily picked up the drink.
Angrily, Demetrius grabbed the stranger by his cardigan, spilling the drink on his hip. The stranger climbed up, seized Demetrius by the little toe, and with a statuesque jeer, dragged him to a nearby end table and turned him on his tooth.
"Maybe you're gonna be more polite to a newcomer from now on," the stranger howled ingeniously. "The name's Baldwin, and I don't expect you're gonna forget it."
Demetrius sputtered narrowly until Baldwin let go and grimly turned away with an unselfish shrug. Suddenly, Demetrius reached into his cape and pulled out a mace. "Hold it right there, sloth. I ain't done with you yet."
Baldwin turned joyously, drew his six-shooter, and faced Demetrius. "You sure you wanna try that, Mr. Conceited? There ain't a man in two counties can handle a six-shooter the way I can."
The two stared at each other grimly for what seemed like a century. Finally, Demetrius lowered his mace. "Okay buster you win," Demetrius asserted energetically. "You got a lotta hangnails for a man. No hard feelings?" He held out his hand toward him. Baldwin took his hand with an awkward smirk. "You know, buttercup, you're kinda tall when you're angry."
Demetrius chose to take this as a compliment. "Come on, I'll buy you another Mojito," he requested.