Unconscious, in a rapidly enlarging pool of his own blood, a man lays in the middle of the dance floor at the Wayside Tavern.
The hushed circle of patrons stand back.
The lights come on, the music goes off.
Trade slows to a trickle.
The Ambulance is called.
One a.m. on Sunday morning.
The Wayside Tavern was really hopping!
This was the busiest couple of hours of the week.
More staff are at work than at any other time of the week. The dance floor is standing room only, the backyard is likewise. (Post-smoking laws, the backyard of a pub is usually busier than anywhere else.)
Stalwart Security Guards patrol the premises, indoors & out.
Every precaution that can be taken has been.
Floodlights turn the enclosed backyard into a football field.
Every patron has their ID scanned & recorded at point of entry.
Security cameras record onto watermarked hard drive.
This wasn't enough. In a split second one fellow on the dance floor has struck another with his fists. The damage is extensive. In the after action summary it seems that there may have been provocation.
The victim is knocked out. This is quite rare, for most pub dust-ups (especially among the middle class) are notable for the lack of damage done. This time there is quite a lot of blood, it forms an increasingly large pool around the prone victim's head.
The victim remains knocked out. He stays out for Ten minutes. In Mine Host's considerable experience, this is possibly the longest anyone knocked out in his pub has remained unconscious.
The ambulance attends, they take quite some time to load the patient. Then the pub staff commence mopping up the thick lake of blood.
It has been 45 minutes from first punch until the pub can trade again. About half of the day's gross profit has been foregone in this time.
The victim refuses to press charges.
The police decline to even charge the attacker with disorderly conduct on licenced premises. (They usually do decline, a legacy of last year's "improvements" - courtesy of the State Government - to the police prosecution process)
So continues life behind the bar.