The outbreak of violence was sudden and almost gleeful. At one minute the darts match was friendly, if a little rowdy, the next second the air was full of curses, thrown punches and broken glass.
Mickey crouched down behind the bar, pulling at Charlie’s trouser leg until he too ducked under the sturdy wood.
“Get down Chas. It ain’t worth getting hurt for a few bottles of cheap hooch.”
For an instant he looked as if he was about to argue, then his shoulders slumped and he sat down. Mickey passed him a thin, black cigarette and he lit it moodily.
As they sat smoking, a bar stool flew through the air smashing into the optics ranged behind the bar. Charlie winced, and Mickey patted his shoulder. There was a further loud crash before the welcome sound of sirens split the air.
The atmosphere in the bar did another abrupt flip-flop as the navvies and stevedores who had been happily exchanging punches suddenly found lots of other places they needed to be.
Charlie stood up for a look, just a second too soon, as he was hit in the side of the neck by a shard of glass from the last salvo of broken pint mugs. He slumped back to the floor and Mickey grabbed him.
By the time the police got to them, Mickey’s hands were slippery with blood, and her face was slippery with tears and snot as she cradled her dead brother to her skinny chest.