by Onson Blade

"How do you people stand it?" Lehigh was almost shouting, her hands over her ears. The busy sidewalk and bleating car horns were making a terrible din, even to my ears.

"Hey, you wanted to see Chicago. Enjoy," I grinned back at her.

"Well, much more of this and I'm going to grow earplugs." She looked up at the sign above her. "What's this?"

I looked. The sign said, The Pourhouse. I thought that was rather catchy. "Looks like a bar," I answered.

"You mean one of those places where they serve alcohol and you humans get stupid?"

I smiled. "Exactly."

"Well, let's go in and get out of this noise for a while."

Nodding, I went up the two steps and held the door open for her. Inside, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the gloom even with the heightened reflexes Melanie had bestowed upon me. Lehigh was already moving past a line of men at the bar, heading for an empty table at the back.

As I came up to him, a huge man at the bar turned about, his eyes following Lehigh.

"Hey, lady! Nice ass," he said loudly! Several of the men at the bar laughed out loud. I stopped and looked up at him, waiting for him to turn back and see me. When he did, he arched an eyebrow, and sneered.

"Yes," I said, in a conversational tone. "An extraordinary ass - the likes of which an ugly, mishappen, smelly creep like you will never get to enjoy in a lifetime." I smiled. When that had sunk in, his rather popped eyes bulged even further, and without further ado, a big meaty fist, still clutching his glass of beer, swung from the bar.

It was child's play to strike his wrist with the back of my right hand, deflecting the blow enough so it was sailing over my shoulder. At the same time, my left hand had grabbed his shirt at his shoulder and was pulling him forward, using his own momentum against him. Using the combattants own force against him was the basis of an ancient fighting art called Judo.

As he spun, out of control, I switched to Karate. Sidewise to me now, I brought my knee up like a piston, driving it into the side of his right knee. There was a sicking snap as his knee separated, and I stepped back to let him spin to the floor. He landed on his back, howling in pain. As I stepped over him, I heard someone say in the sudden silence, "My God! The skinny guy took down Big Jake!"

"Shame on you, you defender of womanhood," said Lehigh, smiling, as I sat down.

"I know. It was a very poor display of self control. Many of us in the Society frown on picking fights with groundlings. It is a personality disorder I'll have to work on. But he really rubbed me the wrong way. In the future he might think twice before being such an ass." After watching a couple of fellows help Jake out the door, I signaled the bartender and ordered a gin fizz for Lehigh and a whiskey on ice for myself. I watched as Lehigh took a sip, made a face, then pushed the glass away.

"That's horrible. You humans drink the most disgusting stuff."

"True. And Lehigh does have a nice ass." I grinned at her, but her attention was rivited on something else. Looking up, I saw three bruisers approaching our table, side by side. Their faces indicated they were up to no good. "Hummm? I guess Jake has a lot of friends here." Lehigh put her hand on my arm.

"No more of you hurting people. It's my turn."

"Okay," I grinned, leaning back in my chair to watch the show, raising my glass to my lips."

I was still grinning, watching the three toughs as they came up to our table, when suddenly there was the most bloodcurdling scream I had ever heard in my life! Snapping a look at Lehigh, my hair stood on end.

Looking at Lehigh, my hair stood on end!

She had stood up, and her hands had become razor-like scimatars about ten inches long. But it was her face that made my hair standup. It was a cadaverous thing with no eyes and a huge mouth filled with snaggly teeth.

As her scream shook the room, there was a mad scramble as the rest of the customers, including the three would-be revengers, made a mad dash for the door. Within seconds, we sat there alone, the front door now hanging by one hinge. I looked back Lehigh, who had resumed her previous shape.

"Eh...hon. Promise me you'll never do that unexpectedly again. I think there's shit in my pants."

She smiled at me. "At least I don't think anyone got hurt again. Oh, I got that from watching one of your horror movies last night."

Hearing a noise, I looked over towards the bar. The bartender's head was slowly coming up - just far enough so we could see his eyes. He'd been indifferent to everything that had gone on so far, but Lehigh had gotten his attention.

"The..the drinks are on the house," he squeaked tremuously.

"Why thank you," I nodded with a friendly smile. "Much appreciated." I raised my glass to him and downed the remainder of the whiskey.

Later, I took Lehigh to a city park to escape the noise.