Monday, June 02, 2008

bloody knuckles


i got into a fight.

it was in front of the bar. it started out as an innocent confrontation that turned into a shoving match which then mutated into a beat down and finally evolved into an all out brawl. i dont think i started it, but i guess, in a way, i did.

it all started with a cigarette, or more to the point, my desire for one. i was at the bar having an animated conversation with my friend CT when the very familiar urge to inhale nicotine swept through us both. we put napkins on our drinks and headed towards the door. no one was fighting yet.

the door opens outward and in front of it, preventing our exit, was a kid, about 20 years old, shirtless and in sagging shorts, pushing a girl around his age into the door. it looked as if they were playing - one of those aggressive, sexual games that involve a lot of contact - and i just said to them, "you cant do that here, you have to move out of the doorway."

thats when the kid freaked out. i dont know what his problem was, maybe he and the girl werent playing, and he was really angry at something she had done. maybe he misheard me and thought i'd actually said, "i fucked your mother." maybe he had taken some bad steroids and they'd just kicked in. maybe he has father issues and i look just too damned similar. i dont know what it was, but the kid was furious.

he's screaming at me unintelligibly. angry, hateful gibberish that im sure we have all spouted off at one time or another. at first im kind of shocked, then confused. remember, i'd initially figured he and the girl were just having fun, so the change was so sudden it seemed like i had hit some dreadful switch in his psyche that indicated BRING THE PAIN. i had to stare at him a moment and gather if he was serious or not. i'm not a small man, and although he had his shirt off and could act extremely peeved, i wasnt as afraid of him as i was bemused.

he was pushing up against me with his chest, a torrent of curses and challenges roaring from his mouth to my face. i pushed him away from me and i think said something to the effect of, "you better back up off of me kid." he didnt. his tirade just grew in fury. he was pushing me, still wild and screaming. i stared at him a second, hoping maybe he would calm down. he didnt. he pushed me a few more times. i waited for him to throw a punch but then he just pushed me again.

so i socked him in the jaw.

the next two seconds were long and somewhat dramatic. the first second was filled with us looking at each other. he looked confused that i had hit him and i looked confused that he looked so confused. the next second was filled with a gasp. then someone said "ooooh."

then they were upon me.

the rising sounds of grunts and yells swelled in the street. voices heading my way. an army of growls. i look and see about ten kids storming my way. fist clenched. all baggy clothes and screwed up faces. a herd of angry teenagers barreling straight towards me. thats when i think "ok, im gonna get my ass kicked. i better just brace myself for it."

i move from the doorway so as not to be trapped.
i push someone, i dont know who, away from me, and three kids are already at me. i cant remember if they are punching or shoving or what. i see a long arm come at me from over the top them and it connects with my temple. there is that ringing white light you see and hear when getting hit hard. more yelling. hands everywhere. i'm pushing people away. shoving. not throwing punches, trying to keep my arms close to protect myself. more kids are on me. fist rain down on my head and body. my shoulder slams against a wall. i continued shoving and pushing, keeping my arms close. my friend Griddy comes from no where and punches a guy whose hand is clawing for my face, connecting squarely with his jaw. i see the kid crumble a bit. then half the kids go for Griddy. then im backed in a door way with 5-7 kids on me and im pushing them away. someone is pulling kids off of me and someone is saying whoa! whoa! whoa! and arms are flailing everywhere. it is pandemonium.

there is a small moment of calm while everyone assesses the situation. i am in front of a door and three kids are in front of me. one of them being the kid i hit. he makes his approach and then a foot flies from no where and kicks him back. i wonder where it came from and i realize im standing behind CT, towering so far above her i dont even realize shes in front of me. she says, "you better get back!" and the kid steps back. i just stand behind her, waiting, when
i see some guy on the ground getting kicked. its Griddy. so i race over there and start pushing kids off of him and lift him from the ground. he is a little hurt but he stands firm, adrenaline firing on all cylinders. fist still clenched. we look around, prepared, but the kids then scatter. all of them. they leave. up the block. under cars. behind bushes in the shadows. suddenly they are gone.

the police come and ask questions. my hand is bleeding where i split my knuckle. i tell them what happened and we all just shrug our shoulders and say, "kids." i go back in the bar and we talk more about what happened over whiskey shots and beer and cigarettes. a complex rush of violence, fear, and testosterone shivers through me. i ask myself over and over weather or not i should have hit the kid but can only come to one conclusion: what else could i have done?

now i have to be wary of the neighborhood i work in, which is unnerving to say the least.

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Creative Commons License
:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.